The clanks of metal echoed in the hot air as Hephaestus swung the short, black hammer in her hand. Embers flew up from the flames and extinguished like shooting stars, not before casting a radiant glow on Hephaestus’ face.
Two people admired the unique charm of Hephaestus from VIP seats.
“Smoking hot, isn’t she?” muttered the dark-skinned woman with long black hair and an eyepatch on her left eye. “Those gods got shit for eyes.”
Asahi shook his head. “I disagree. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, remember? Thanks to their stupidity, Hephaestus became the mother of my daughter,” he proudly declared.
“Whaaaat?” Tsubaki shouted in disbelief. “My goddess has a daughter now? When did that happen?”
Hephaestus could no longer ignore the two. Putting down her hammer, she turned to Tsubaki with a glare. “Our bet was for you to take a day off. Why are you sitting here?”
Tsubaki only went out for three hours before returning with Asahi.
Asahi raised his hand. “Fei, it’s my fault. I ran into her outside the dungeon and asked her about your whereabouts. Well, she preferred showing over telling.”
He had left Rini to take care of Ais even though the loli was eager for training with him.
Tsubaki grinned. “My Ladyship wants me to go? Is it to rendezvous with your secret husband?”
“I’m not her husband yet,” Asahi said with a lamenting sigh. “I still need to win her heart. Any advice, Tsubaki?”
“Not telling for free… give me the ring you promised. My promised magic ring!”
Asahi immediately got a ring from Klyscha and put it in Tsubaki’s palm. “Time to fulfill your side of the bargain.”
Tsubaki pursed her lips. “My goddess wants—”
“Tsubaki!” Hephaestus yelled. She threw a skeptical glance at Asahi. “Why are you behaving like this?”
“I… I want to be closer to you.”
“...” Hephaestus stared at his innocent expression. Even though she knew it was an act, she couldn’t berate him for it.
‘Astraea, take away your madlad lover…’
The little activity on her head reminded her of the sleeping fairy. Chiaki woke up and poked her head out of Hephaestus’s wavy crimson hair. “Pa!”
The giggling fairy made a beeline toward her creator. Asahi gaped at the words uttered by Chiaki. It was the first convincing word Chiaki said other than her usual murmurs.
“How…?” Asahi asked the smug fairy. “Say it again.”
“Pa… Pa! Pa!” Chiaki darted through the air while chanting the same word.
An arrow imbued with cuteness went through his chest. He suddenly regretted not being able to teach anything to Chiaki. “Am I a bad father?” he whispered.
“The worst kind…” Hephaestus gave a confident grin, taking more pride in this achievement than she ever thought. Her lone ramblings had persuaded the fairy to practice speech. It didn’t even take Chiaki a week to say small words like these.
Tsubaki was stupefied by the fairy’s appearance. The half-dwarf had only heard of spirits and such in legends. Seeing one with her eyes was a different experience.
Hephaestus returned to hammering the red metal and revealed tidbits about Chiaki to Tsubaki. Chiaki would have been exposed a lot sooner if Tsubaki came to the workshop more often. Alas, the half-dwarf had more affection for smithing than the outside world.
“This cute little fairy is my goddess’s daughter.” The adventurer aliased Cyclops gazed at Chiaki in wonder. “A fairy… a real spirit!”
“Don’t let it fool you from the fact that Asahi created her.”
“Oh…” Tsubaki gave Asahi a surprised look. “What a frightening talent the Demon King has…”
“It’s undeniable,” Hephaestus replied.
“My Ladyship, isn’t this enough proof?”
While undesired among gods, Hephaestus had some admirers among her disciple smiths. Too soft to break their heart, Hephaestus had given them a chance to win her over. They had to forge a weapon. A stunning weapon. Unfortunately, none of them managed to do so.
Hephaestus shook her head. “I don’t know.”
Although she despised noise, she treasured the times Asahi and Loki invaded her workshop. She also admired Asahi’s tremendous talent in the creation of both living and nonliving. Apart from his relentless teasing, she had no problem with Asahi’s character. Above all, he was working on a skill to heal her eye.
‘If he succeeded in curing my mark… I won’t have anything to say.’
If it came down to that, she'll give this a try. What could possibly go wrong?
Asahi was too busy with Chiaki to care about the fierce monologue happening in Hephaestus’s mind. The fairy took full advantage of his defenseless heart and forced him to spend more time with her. She undeniably loved her creator and father more than Hephaestus even though the goddess had only showered her in affection.
Since he was here, he decided to help Hephaestus with forging swords and improve his skills.𝒊𝘯𝑛𝐫ℯ𝒂d. 𝐜𝘰𝓂
The next day was the day of meeting with the leaders of the 72 pillars and such. The gathering was nothing but a formality at this point. The high-class leaders had no choice but to swallow their feelings in the face of strength they couldn’t fathom. So they gave up their pride and offered full cooperation with Asahi’s reign as the Ruler.
The group consisting of Shiori, Saeko, and Aimi weeded out those with extremely dark intentions and invited them to a different room. Saeko and Aimi got rid of their rebellious nature with their merciless methods.
Asahi also made the formal announcement of his marriage with Gabriel and Grayfia that would be taking place next month. He didn’t need to announce Astraea and Loki’s names. He was still surprised Loki agreed so easily, possibly going along with the flow instead of overthinking. The rest of the girls were in no hurry to marry, including Alise.
Gabriel’s name on the brides’ list left the devils stunned.
“Y-Your Majesty, please rethink your decision…”
“Angels are not made to be wed—”
Some devils tried to persuade him, only to be shot down by Asahi’s glare.
An old man mustered the courage to praise the beauty of his granddaughter, trying to marry her off with Asahi. After all, any clan with links to Asahi’s clan would enjoy better treatment and would be free from the risk of getting slaughtered at a whim.
“You all are hopeless.” Asahi rubbed his forehead and called off the gathering.
Asahi was in his room, teasing Alise for chickening out of the wedding.
“I-I don’t need a luxurious ceremony like that…” Alise confessed, looking away in embarrassment. “I’ll be happy with a small reception at the Hostess of Fertility.”
Alise’s face turned crimson as she imagined her adventurer friends teasing her nonstop.
“True,” Astraea agreed with Alise. “This is also a different experience...”
Asahi poked Alise’s cheeks. “We can do it twice then. One here and one in Orario.”
“Asahi,” a young voice interrupted Astraea.
A black-haired goth girl had appeared out of nowhere, almost getting a scream out of Alise.
The dragon god stared at Asahi with wide eyes as if she couldn’t fathom the strange aura around him. The uncomfortable feeling of the mortal world had disappeared as soon as she stepped into this place. She narrowed her eyes, sensing an energy field around Asahi. The unknown energy gave her a similar cozy feeling as that of her home—the Dimensional Gap.
Alise looked back and forth between Ophis and Asahi. “Nobody introduced me to this girl.”
“I’m also not acquainted,” Astraea said, eying the strange goth girl. Ophis's unusual sense of fashion was very much like her fellow gods.
“She is Ophis, the Dragon God of this world, and my friend.”
“God…” Alise had learned to judge people not on their appearance since some gods of Orario looked more than peculiar. Even so, she couldn’t sense any power in the little girl. She had to stop herself from coddling the cute gothic girl. “I-I’ll catch you later.”
Alise decided to run away before she made a wrong decision with the Dragon God. Astraea giggled and followed Alise out.
“Ophis!” The gauntlet signaled Ddraig’s arrival. “She is real… but what is this form?”
The Heavenly Dragon was shocked to see the Dragon God as a little girl.
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