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'Let's return to the present for a moment…'
/Not long after Ais and company made their way back to the Dungeon…/
'Closing the door behind her, Loki left Finn's office, leaving her top Executives to organize things on their own.'
"I don't need to worry about them."
Well then, this should be a good time to check on the others.
'She would never admit that she was bored, even if they knew that was exactly the reason why she left in such a sneaky way...'
Just a shame I can't show the others the recording...
'For obvious reasons.'
'What they needed now was stability, and if Loki were to show them the video, not only would it delay the processing of the materials they collected, but it might also affect everyone's mental state just like Ais' and the others'.'
'Even if they learn of what happened in the last few days, which is impossible to prevent, they would see it as a spicy piece of news, as its harder to believe in something you never saw, even more so when it's this impossible...'
'Of course, she would eventually share the video with them... If she managed to keep the Magic Item with her for that long that is.'
'The Guild wouldn't take kindly if she just kept it for herself, despite her willingness to do so.'
'Whistling as she walked, Loki went down the stairs to welcome her children and to see if they were doing well.'
'Even if not necessary, her pranky antics were a welcomed sight for the members of the Loki Familia, because for them, it meant that they had finally arrived back home from the heelish Dungeon.'
/A few minutes of going around causing trouble and being herself.../
'Amidst the many things being transported back to the Manor, something caught her attention.'
"Oi! Ana! What's that you're carrying?" She asked as she approached a cat girl
'Her hair was black and her armor was light, she seemed calm, but she shouldn't be trifled with.'
'She was the strongest Level 4 in the Familia after all.'
'Turning her head as she stopped, she said "Hm? Loki-Sama, you're here." as her tail moved in the air.'
"As for what I'm carrying... These are paintings."
"Huh?... Uhuh... Paintings you say?"
I expected many things... Not exactly paintings.
'Loki's attention couldn't be taken aback now.'
"Didn't you hear it from Finn?" Anakitty asked with a confused expression as her tail made an '?' in the air
These paintings are already well known among the others, Tiona was very proud of hers, so she showed it all around.
Raul wanted one of his, and I wanted one too, but we didn't get the opportunity to ask him for one.
A shame, but I guess there's always tomorrow.
"I did hear that ye all met with Hestia's kid, but the details weren't shared with me." Loki said with a sharp gaze as she thought about it all
I let Finn and the others rest first as they should, but it seems I almost missed something interesting…
'Loki felt there was more to this story, and she would dig it up.'
"Can I take a look at them?" She asked with a smile
'Ana looked around as she moved her tail around, thinking.'
"Hm… Hm... I don't think that's a problem, but how about we do it inside? This is supposed to be the last one, and the sun's quite strong…"
'Loki didn't mind waiting a bit, and Ana was right, the sun was damn hot.'
'So she followed her as they moved inside and into the storage room where many things were scattered about with people coming and going.'
"Though I would like to stare at them again, I already appreciated them long enough on our way back, and I have things to do…"
"Sure, I can handle myself just fine, good work out there." Loki said with a thin smile
'Ana smiled as well before turning around and leaving the room.'
'Left alone, Loki opened her eyes slightly.'
"Without further ado, show me thy contents!" She said as she pulled the rug that covered the painting, revealing its contents…
'It was Tiona's portrait.'
"That's… Surprisingly good." Loki said as she nodded
It's extremely vivid as well, it almost doesn't look like a painting.
"Well… What about the rest?"
'One after the other, she saw the paintings, squinting her eyes with each painting she saw.'
"I didn't know he was so good at it, he made all of these in the Dungeon?"
"I might have to call him again to make a few more..."
Lefiya's is definitely my favorite so far, though Ais' is also pretty…
I want them all!
'She deflated a little.'
"They wouldn't let me stay with them would they?..."
There are two more left, who else did he paint?
'She pulled the rugs of the painting in front of her, revealing…'
"OH DAMN!!" She exclaimed as she saw the painting of Riveria in a swimsuit
Now that's what I'm talking about!!
'At that moment, the lingering thought of having Silver paint something to her went from an idea to a future plan…'
"This one's definitely staying with me… Hehe." She said sneakily as she hid the painting behind some boxes
'She then stared at the last painting, it was bound by several ropes, as if the person that did so wanted no one to see it.'
"What's this? Who would do such a thing?..."
It's so damn tough!
'She tried to unbind the ropes, but she got tired, the ropes were too well bound together and they were extremely tough.'
"You there! Bring me a knife… A sharp one!"
'The guy she was talking to froze in place before running away.'
'Because there was one thing he knew, and that was to never refuse Loki's orders!'
'Soon enough, he came back with a knife and under her guidance, cut the rope loose before going on his way with a relieved expression.'
'Loki, on the other hand, smiled evilly as she held onto the rug.'
"Now… Reveal thy contents to me!!" She said as she pulled the cloth
'What she saw shook her to her very essence… And then…'
'She started laughing and wheezing, dropping onto the ground as tears left her eyes.'
'Many turned to look at her, but due to the angle, they didn't see the painting.'
'In the end, most decided to simply stay away, or they might be dragged into whatever trouble she was brewing…'
"HAHAHA… This… HAHAH! Is pure… Golll…D… HAHAHAHAHA!"
'Laughing in-between her words, Loki tried to get on her feet before staring at the painting once more… Finn's painting…'
'This Finn was half naked, holding a thin towel, standing in front of a door...'
'The towel did little to cover his body, but it did enough to cover everything it should… Half of his ass and his front.'
'Finn was in a profile stance, with his head over his shoulder, looking back at whoever is watching the piece... Looking in a very embarrassing way.'
'The exact definition would be... Submissive, or as others would say, looking... Breedable?'
'His skin was light and his pose made him look weak, adding to his embarrassed and frail expression, he even looked like a girl…'
'The best way to describe this was… Finn had been painted as a femboy…'
'It was the painting of an effeminate Finn, holding his towel, trying to cover his body as he passed through a door, embarrassed at whoever was gazing at him.'
"I… I… I can't… This is too perfect… HAHAHAHA!"
M-My knees are giving in!
'Loki cried as she grabbed the painting, but she suddenly remembered something, so she covered it.'
"I see now why this one was hidden, Finn would've burned it down if he saw it... No can do, I can't lose such a precious specimen."
"I'll put you in a place where you can be enjoyed, hehe." She said with a large smile
If Finn sees this... Alright, everything makes sense now.
'Loki could already envision what happened, Tione liked was the culprit behind this piece of art's existence.'
'Unfortunately for her, Tione's proud painting, the one Finn believed to have destroyed… The same one that he restored under Tione's request, was now stolen by Loki.'
'And who knew what she would do with it… Regardless of it, Tione would rage once she realized she had lost it.'
'Trouble was coming...'
/Later that day…/
'Back in the Hearth Manor… Five girls stood together in one of the many rooms of the mansion.'
'One sitting on a chair, another right in front of this girl, holding medical supplies, and three girls staring at this scene with similar yet varying expressions.'
'Wearing adventuring clothes, they all looked rather haggard, likely due to just returning from the Dungeon.'
'However, instead of taking a shower and commemorating their return, they all sat around a table, helping a girl heal from her wounds.'
"Ouch!..." The one sitting on the chair complained as another girl applied something to her face, it was clearly bruised
'She was a pretty cat girl, her tail jumped from time to time as her pain spiked whenever her face was touched.'
"Don't move, else it'll hurt more." The other girl replied seriously
'Her skin was tanned and her hair was short, she was an Amazon.'
'It was actually Igva, one of the 'Executives' of the Hestia Familia and one of the few Level 2s
"It's not doing much…" One of the girls watching on the side said with a helpless expression, she was a Human girl with shiny brown hair
"Shouldn't we… Just use a potion?" One of them asked with a concerned expression, she was also a Human, although her hair was black, and her eyes were a beautiful tinge of green
"And then? Who is going to report it to Daphne regarding the potion wastage?" Igva asked with a frown
"It's just a simple basic potion, we can just say we used it in the Dungeon."
"That is true, but then we would receive a scold for not paying attention on the upper floors, you know how she is regarding that…"
"Better than telling her what actually happened…" The cat girl on the chair said in a low tone as she closed her eyes
"We can buy one and take the slight damage, it won't hurt much..."
'They all nodded when...'
"Well then, why not share it with me?" Daphne asked as she stepped into the room
'All this time… Was she hearing what they said from the corner behind the wall?!'
'Daphne walked slowly, but her first priority was the cat girl.'
'She stopped near her and carefully touched her face.'
"This isn't an injury that is made in the Dungeon… Unless one of you punched her in the face by mistake… Or if a goblin punched her face… You guys aren't going to use that as an excuse, right?"
'She turned to look at Igva, her expression showed some disappointment, but it changed once she saw that she was also injured, bruised just like her.'
'Upon turning her gaze to the others, she saw that they were fine, not hurt in the same way.'
'She really had no idea of what happened, no matter how many times she tried to think about it...'
'They all looked away, not wanting to be the one to answer.'
"Lying or keeping yourself silent won't change anything, I'll call the Goddess… Or worse, the Captain."
'Albeit he did many reckless things, Silver was known by all as a reliable person to consult and talk with, answering and helping them whenever they had a problem.'
'Be it when they were having trouble learning how to heat an ore or studying for something, Silver would be there to help them.'
'From mundane things to more complex things such as a girl that had an argument with her sister to another girl that was unsatisfied with her progress in the Dungeon.'
'He was there to help, just as Hestia was, albeit he was... Informally seen by all as the person to go to as Hestia wasn't exactly capable of giving someone an answer, though she was good at encouraging them...'
'Nevertheless, that wasn't enough most of the time.'
"Anything but that!" The Cat girl said suddenly
'She then realized how sudden she was and closed her eyes, looking at the ground in shame.'
"So?" Daphne asked as she looked at the Amazon
"Well… Sigh, guess there's no point in hiding it now." Igva said as she scratched the back of her head
"Where to start... Well..."
"You see, we just came up from a successful expedition into the 9th floor, as that's the best place to train…"
We could go beyond, but it's a bit too soon for that.
"We sustained almost no injuries!" The fifth girl, that so far had been silent, said proudly
'She wore a nice cloak that was both light and offered decent defenses, in fact, her cloak was made with the hide of a monster from the Lower floors, so it gave her enough protection for her to be impervious to damage from Level 3 monsters.'
'Though it wouldn't save her from being pushed around if such a monster were to punch her, it might prevent her from being cut, but her body will still suffer a bit.'
'The same can be said about the others' gears, they were all of high quality and it may be seen as a waste from the perspective of other Familias.'
'Even then, for them to go into the 9th floor and return with few injuries despite how little time they were given as adventurers...'
'It's a pretty decent growth rate.'
"That's good, you're all improving at a fast rate… Though now's not the time for such commemorations… Continue." Daphne asked seriously
"From there, we returned as per usual, spending around 5-6 hours in the Dungeon, any more and Iris might fall flat on the ground." Igva said as she looked at the fifth girl, a beast person
"... I'm a mage, it's good enough that I can follow you all!" She replied with a pout
'Their expressions varied as they looked at her...'
"In any case, we stopped by the Guild on our way back to exchange our findings… That's when it happened."
'Igva's expression grew a bit remorseful as it contained a bit of self-loathing.'
"As we came back, in order to cut down time, I had the stupid decision of using a side alley to go from the main street into one of the side ones…"
"And you got mugged?" Daphne asked with a frown
"Pretty much…" Igva said in a low tone
"I find that difficult to believe, you're telling me that you were mugged despite being a group of 5 consisting of 4 Level 1s and 1 Level 2?"
"They… Weren't normal thugs."
"That I figured, but this is getting complicated…"
If they were mugged... Then this might be difficult to resolve quickly.
Hiding this from him and the Goddess will be problematic, it's possible for a day or two, but over time...
"At least, did you find out anything about them?"
"We did." Iris said with a nod
"They smelled of alcohol." She said deeply
"Is… That… All?"
'Iris got slightly embarrassed, so she looked at the side to avoid Daphne's gaze.'
"Not quite... I saw their Familia emblem." Igva pointed out
"When we passed through the alley, we were ambushed and our two exits were blocked, meaning they tailed us."
"It seems they were after our money since the Guild, as we made quite a lot for a Low-Level party, around 42 thousand."
"They were both Level 2, and quite experienced too, I had to use everything I had to block one, but by the time I realized, everyone else had already…"
'They all looked at the ground.'
"The bastard used Jin as a hostage to force us to stop, and once they mugged us, grabbing even our weapons." Iris said as she clutched onto her cloak
"Once they robbed us, they actually dared to go and beat Igva!"
'Daphne's expression darkened.'
"The only reason why they left was that we showed them the emblem of our Familia, once they saw it, they left in a hurry with their tails between their legs!"
"That's why only Igva and her are injured while we…"
'Daphne closed her eyes, already understanding the gist of it.'
'Someone locked onto them from the start, perhaps envious of their wealth despite them being newbies.'
'Once they saw an opportunity, they acted.'
'They might've done something else were it not for them showing the emblem of the Hestia Familia.'
'Igva likely asked them to not act so as to not aggravate the situation, but before she had the chance to do anything, the robbers mobbed her, and she was attacked.'
'The others probably tried to intervene, and when they did, the thieves fled.'
'Robbers are one of the many problems Orario has, and even if the Ganesha Familia tries to keep things stable, they can't look everywhere.'
'Albeit its stupid to bring pride and ego into this sort of thing, they can't rely on their Captain forever, this is the kind of problem they had to resolve themselves.'
'If they leave small problems like this to him... For now, it might be manageable, but in the future, when the Familia increases in size?...'
'If a problem occurs and he isn't here to resolve it, what will they do?'
'Frowning, Daphne said:'
"... I'll call Cassandra, she'll heal you all, and make sure to clean yourselves well before the Goddess comes back."
"She isn't home?"
"No, she left not long before you all came… Now go, Jin and Igva stay behind."
"You… Are you going to report this to the Captain?"
"Not yet." Daphne replied
'They exhaled in relief, but then they tensed.'
"If the Familia that did this to you all is beyond what we can handle, I'm going to pull him into this mess… But I'm sure none of us want that."
"The Captain is undoubtedly tired and hurt from the War game, and despite him trying not to show it, everyone saw it."
"Not only that, if he were to learn of what happened… I'm afraid he may just do something… Rash…"
'They all knew that.'
'If the Captain were to learn of what happened to them, he might as well just bulldoze through Orario until he finds the culprit.'
"As for you, draw me the emblem, I'm going to research it and see what I can find."
The first problem is how weak we are... To not even be able to defend themselves.
Even then, I can't rule out the possibility of this having been planned by some other party.
If we were, then it would be wise to warn him beforehand, just in case.
There is also their pride, they're all brimming with anger and embarrassment.
Also, their equipment wasn't cheap at all, their gear is something even most Level 2s like myself would covet, gear that when put together would be evaluated in the Millions.
The Captain will notice their disappearance, he's really perceptive in that regard.
And once he does… It's going to be a pain to explain it.
It's also bad for the others to learn about this.
Now that we passed through a small crisis, the Familia is in a slightly tense state, not everyone can forget what happened or pardon his actions that easily.
A Familia moves together, and he didn't do that at all... Even if I can perfectly understand his actions... And encourage them.
Everyone in this Familia is good people, but they may also feel betrayed and hopeless.
Though this is something he's trying hard to make up for, it wouldn't be great if they were to learn we were robbed, especially if he were to go after them and cause more trouble.
That's why this is something I… We, as a Familia should resolve, not him alone.
If the others were to learn his reasons, they would surely agree... But some of them are really young, they don't deserve to see such darkness... Not yet.
That's why only the Executives know of this, the group leaders, and the goddess.
'Thinking deeply, Daphne turned her face to the side slightly.'
"As you all go back, call Cassandra for me, if anyone asks, come up with an excuse for now, and make sure to have it planned beforehand so it fits."
""Understood!"" They all said with a salute
"Sigh… Come on now, there's no need to be that serious." Daphne said in a low tone as she scratched her nose
Now… It's time to figure this out, ideally, we get this done with before the next recruitment.
If we have the emblem, tracking them down won't be a problem, we need to end this by today else our equipment might be lost forever...
If it reaches that stage, then I'll have no other choice but to contact him.
Because, just as he's trying to become a proper Captain, I must become a proper Vice Captain, and report to him whenever something happens, whatever small.
'Daphne struggled, should she share this with him, or should she keep quiet until they resolve it?'
'What would he do were he to tell him? Would he watch and encourage them to resolve it alone?'
'It was tiring in many ways...'
I'll leave that for later, I have to continue the preparations.
'Obviously, now that their fame had reached the skies with the news traveling the country and beyond via many means, it was time to schedule another recruitment.'
'How many would they accept this time? 40 is already a big number, and if they were to accept more, they may go into the realms of hundreds.'
'Freya herself has less than 200 members under her banner if they don't count the non-combatants of course.'
'The growth of the Hestia Familia seemed unstoppable… And so were their growing problems.'
This chapter was pretty big, still, due to laziness, I edited it half-heartedly.
See you all later!