Chapter 65: The Goddess of Change
After crossing the portal, we arrived in the courtyard of the God’s realm.
From the intense evil energy of Exfolia to the pure aura of the God’s realm. The gap was tremendous.
「Ah! We finally came back! 」
After inhaling and exhaling big amounts of fresh air into my lungs…
I heard a familiar voice and I turned around. In the middle of the courtyard…Aria stood under a garden table with a parasol. She looked at us with surprising eyes. She stood up from her chair and came running on my direction.
「I was worried about you all this time! 」
I remained in Exfolia for nearly a week before coming home. That means that it has been two years in the God’s realm because of the different time flow. The gods living in the God’s realm, including myself, had eternal lives. Their sense of time was different from human beings. For gods, it didn’t matter much how many hours or years it takes. However, Aria had tears in her eyes and looked extremely delighted to see me again.
「The crystal ball didn’t show anything about Exfolia and I heard that the enemy had weapons with the power of the Chain Destruction…I was so worried about you two!」
「Thank you, Aria! But, somehow, everything went okay! 」
Aria smiled at me. Nonetheless, after seeing our outer appearances, her smile faded away and she looked quite sad.
「Really? Even though you look so worn-out? 」
I lowered my eyes and looked at my body. I was covered in mud and my skin was dirty because of the long underground life. Then…
「She’s right. You don’t look like a goddess… 」
「And…the smell is terrible too, Li…Lista… 」
I heard familiar voices. When I looked up, I saw both Celseus and Adenela. They pinched their noses as they approached me.
「No…No, I’m like this because I lived under the soil for a long time! 」
The three of them looked closely at Seiya without paying attention to my excuse. Likewise, Seiya looked dirty…
「Seiya looks…somewhat wild! 」
「Ye…Yes. So…So cool. 」
「His vibe is totally different from Lista’s. I feel like her bitterness has increased. 」
「Wha…!? Why!! 」
I shouted at them.
Seiya lived in the same harsh environment as I did, but even so, I was the only one dirty and stinky!? I didn’t understand the reasoning behind all of their remarks!!
When I got upset, Celseus gave me a cup of steaming coffee.
「Just drink this. It’s an Expresso. 」
Suddenly, I noticed a difference in Celseus’ attire. He wore a vest and had a bow tie on his lapel.
「Why…Why are you wearing those clothes? 」
「Ah, this! Actually, some things happened while you two were gone! I finally started the cafe shop that I desired so much! It’s called “Cafe de Celseus”! It’s a wonderful place where everyone can relax for a moment! 」
「Is…Is that so… 」
If I looked closely at my surroundings, I could see that several garden tables scattered around in the courtyard. It looked like an open cafe.
That’s why both Aria and Adenela were gathered in the courtyard…But, wasn’t Celseus the Swordsman God? Why did he become a cafe’s master? Well, if everyone was okay with that, then I guess it was acceptable…
After serving me a hot coffee, Celseus offered me something that looked like several “branches of a tree”.
「It’s my new churros! They’re delicious! 」
He even grabbed my hand by force!! He put the plate on my hand immediately!!
I usually didn’t eat his food. But, I was extremely hungry. I ate the churros that he presented to me on a plate.
「How…How is it? Are they good? 」
「Delicious! They’re delicious! 」
「Yes! They’re far better than Death Earthworms! 」
「I see. I’m glad…Wait, did you say Death Earthworms!? I don’t know anything about that, but I’m not that thrilled to have that sort of comparison with my food!!」
Celseus looked at me with distrustful eyes. I coughed when the mood changed between us. Therefore, I moved sideways and presented some of the churros on a plate to Seiya.
「Aren’t you hungry? Would you like to try this out? 」
However, Seiya looked at the plate with scornful eyes.
「I don’t want death churros. 」
「Why did you call them “death churros”!? They’re normal and delicious churros, you know that!?」
Seiya looked directly at Aria after ignoring a screaming Celseus.
「Aria. I want to practice with the god I asked you before. Is it possible to go now? 」
「Ye…Yes. We’ve talked about that a long time ago, but… 」
「Let’s go then. 」
「Wait…Wait a second, Seiya!! Don’t you have to change your clothes!? Don’t you want to take a bath first!?」
「I’ll leave that stuff for later. 」
Seiya walked out with Aria, leaving behind a very upset Celseus, who held his “death” churros on a plate, and a sad Adenela, who wanted to talk with Seiya for a bit longer.
「I think it’s okay to take a little break once in a while… 」
I tried to complain with a proper reasoning. And yet, I was completely ignored.
At this precise moment. Seiya followed Aria, who climbed a soft slope of a mountain.
We were heading for the “Heavenly Mountain of Seclusion” from the God’s realm.
I’ve seen the majestic sight of this mountain from the temple, but I never climbed it before. I’ve heard that gods skilled with the art of senjutsu* inhabited the “Heavenly Mountain of Seclusion”.
After walking for a while by stepping pebbles, we arrived at a hut on the foot of the mountain. It resembled a log house.
Aria knocked on the hut’s doors.
「Rusti. It’s Aria. Are you inside? 」
I followed both Aria and Seiya, who entered the hut instantaneously…When I stepped inside; I was so surprised that I fell back immediately.
There was a cyclops inside the hut!
「Ehhh!? Why is there a monster in the God’s realm!? 」
Yet, soon as he grabbed a book on the bookshelf, the cyclops glittered with light. Then, the large body of that monster shrank in an instant. When the light faded away, I saw that a girl stood there with a book on one hand. It was a young girl like Eich of the Light of Hope. Still, she wore a silk garment and behaved like an adult woman.
The girl explained after she saw my astonishing expression.
「The bookshelf is too tall for my height. That’s why I changed into a cyclops. 」
Aria smiled and introduced her.
「This is Rusti, the Goddess of Change. 」
「Goddess of Change…? 」
When I gazed at Seiya in a confusing way, he began to explain as if it were bothersome.
「Exfolia is a world full of monsters. So, originally, I wanted to master the art of change before starting the quest. I thought it would be safer if I transformed into a monster myself. Well…that was the original plan until someone screwed it up.」
I was embarrassed and I kept silent. Yet, Seiya continued to stare at me.
「That “someone” is…you Lista. It was your fault. 」
「I…I perfectly know that!! You don’t have to constantly remind me of that!! 」
I wanted to change the topic, so I approached the young girl. I bent my knees and showed her a smile.
「Well, nice to meet you, Rusti! I am Listarte! You can call me Lista! 」
Soon after, Rusti wrinkled between her eyebrows.
「Hey you, how dare you treat me like an idiot? I am a superior goddess unlike you. 」
「Lista! Rusti is a goddess who has lived for ten thousands of years! 」
「Is…Is that so!? I…I…I’m truly sorry!! 」
But, I…I didn’t know about that! Both her appearance and voice resembled those of kindergarten children!
Rusti looked at me with repulsive eyes.
「You’re full of dirt and you stink. Are you, perhaps, the “Goddess of Filth”? 」
「I…I’m not!! I’m a Goddess of Healing!! 」
I tried to deny it desperately. Then, behind my back…
「Get out of my way. Goddess of Filth. 」
At the same time, I screamed after the shock I received on my buttocks!
Seiya kicked my butt and I rolled to the other side of the hut!
「Eh!? You two aren’t getting along well!? 」
「About that…many things happened since then…it seems that I’m less than a weed now. 」
Aria looked astonished because Seiya kicked me in the butt. I tried to explain in a reasonable way. And then, Seiya spoke to Rusti as if nothing happened.
「A question. Can I become transparent by using the art of change? 」
「That’s impossible. I’ve only transformed into a person or monster so far. And, of course, the abilities and status won’t change just because you transformed into something else. 」
「Hmm. That’s fine. Well then, I’d like to learn the art of change as soon as possible. 」
「Okay. If you have the proper qualities of a hero, I think you’ll be able to master the art of change in one week.」
「No way. I want to learn it within 10 hours. 」
Soon, Rusti’s face became clouded.
「Don’t underestimate the art of change. Disguise and change are different. Voice, smell, physique, presence…This divine skill has the power to transform into anything, even into our enemies. You can’t learn it overnight.」
Rusti rose her tinny arm on our direction.
「Just observe. You must remember the monsters that lay within your subconscious…And then, you invoke a spell of this skill…」
After the spell was cast, Rusti’s arms glittered and they transformed instantly into a mighty cyclops’ arm!
「It takes at least three days to do this. It seems easy, but, in fact, it requires a considerable effort to make it happen.」
「Is that so? 」
Seiya transformed his arm into a cyclops’ arm exactly the same way like Rusti’s spell.
「Yo…You…Have you learnt the art of change? 」
「No. It’s the first time I’m using it. 」
「Actually, it’s harder to change your voice! You need to cast this spell while recalling your opponent’s voice…Then, your voice will change into a thick voice like, for example, a cyclops’ voice…」
Rusti began to speak in a lower tone that resembled a cyclops’ voice…
「Oh. Do you mean it like this? 」
Seiya’s voice transformed immediately into a cyclops’ voice.
…Aria and I left the hut with a peace of mind. We smiled at each other while walking down.
「He’ll be able to master that skill quite quickly! 」
「Yes! Maybe he won’t even need the 10 hours! 」
Seiya’s formidable learning abilities were no longer surprising to Aria. But, Rusti was so astonished that her eyeballs almost popped out from her face…
「Ah. That’s right, Lista. You must go to Lady Isister’s room. She wants to talk with you. 」
「Eh? What is it? 」
「I don’t think it’s anything bad. It’s okay for you to take a bath first and get dressed up before going to see her.」
After descending the mountain, I returned to the temple and took a hot shower in the bathroom. I changed into a clean dress, arranged my hair and I headed to the Great Goddess Isister’s room.
「Listarte. I’m glad you’re safe. 」
As usual, the Great Goddess Isister sat on a chair while she knit pleasantly. She gave me a warm smile upon my arrival.
「I apologize for making you worry. 」
「I heard from Adenela. She told me that the enemies in Exfolia had weapons with the power of the Chain Destruction…」
The Great Goddess Isister hardened her expression after saying those words.
「There’s one thing that bothers me. The mist that covered Exfolia disappeared for a brief moment when you destroyed the Cursed Sphere. I could see some of that world through my crystal ball. However, I couldn’t feel the presence of the Demon King Artemaeus.」
「Wha…What does that mean? 」
「I don’t know. Even now, I can’t feel anything from there. Yet, I have a premonition that horrible things are about to occur…」
Afterwards, she slowly stood up from her chair.
「I think saving Exfolia is beyond the rules of your punishment. Let’s head to the almighty world of the innermost gods. I’ll ask them to reduce your punishment.」
「Thank…Thank you very much! 」
I was deeply grateful to the Great Goddess Isister for her kindness. The Great Goddess Isister was gentle like a mother. However…will it work?
The almighty world of the innermost gods…I never been there myself even though I knew it existed. I also didn’t know where it was.
The Great Goddess Isister went to the “room that stops time”. That place stored all of the god’s souls that lived an eternal life. No one was permitted to access without proper authorization, except for the Great Goddess Isister.
The Great Goddess Isister cast a spell to unseal the door. As soon as I stepped inside, I felt a soft and mysterious feeling.
「This way. 」
I walked quietly behind the Great Goddess Isister. I saw countless of shelves in a row containing the souls shining “lamps”. After walking for a while, the shelves ended. At the end of the corridor stood a large decorative painting displayed on the wall. The mysterious painting showed a winding road that connected a temple to a cliff.
「This place is the almighty world of the innermost gods. 」
The Great Goddess Isister held my hand and walked towards the painting!
I went inside the canvas… I realized that I was on a winding road. On the other side, I saw that a temple that stood on a cliff. We went inside the painting for real.
We walked on a path that led to the stone steps in front of the temple. Then, the Great Goddess Isister stopped and knelt down. I imitated her and knelt down as well.
「Our innermost gods, the three pillars of our world…Brahma, the God of Creation. Nemesil, the God of Reason. Chronoa, the Goddess of Time…I am Isister, the high-ranking deity in charge of the God’s realm. I, thereby, stand by your presence to request an audience with you…」
I could hear a majestic voice of a male god that came from the depths of the temple. Yet, I didn’t see any physical form.
「What do you want…Isister. 」
「Lord Nemesil, the God of Reason. I have a sole wish to make. It regards the punishment given to goddess Listarte. She was sentenced to save the SS-rank difficulty world Exfolia without any of her powers. However, this punishment restrains the possibility of a triumph.」
…The Great Goddess Isister explained that the enemy of Exfolia had weapons that could destroy the souls of gods by activating the Chain Destruction. Continuing with the quest meant that the real soul would be in permanent danger. It could be destroyed forever. However…
「Isister. The judgement is absolute. It won’t change. Listarte and Ryuguuin Seiya will have to save Exfolia on those circumstances.」
After we heard that harsh voice, the Great Goddess Isister responded with a calm tone.
「Then, wouldn’t it be better for goddess Listarte to retain her powers at least? 」
「No. That’s a punishment. She won’t be forgiven. 」
Her request was denied immediately. On that moment…
「Nemesil. Aren’t you too harsh on them? 」
I could hear a goddess’ voice that emerged from the depths of the temple.
「We, as parents of all gods, have a duty to protect our children. Although saving Exfolia is an unchangeable punishment, some exemptions are necessary as long as the enemy has a weapon capable of killing gods.」
「Goddess of Time, Chronoa. Are you against the punishment order that I have appointed as the God of Reason?」
「Well then, Nemesil. Are you okay with this even if our children are killed? 」
「That’s not what I was saying. 」
「Yet, you didn’t deny what I was saying to you. 」
The ethereal atmosphere turned into a divine quarrel between the innermost gods. Soon, a neutral voice echoed unexpectedly.
「Both gods. Calm down. 」
Then, both Nemesil and Chronoa became silent like water.
The Great Goddess Isister whispered on my ear.
「The foremost authority of the three pillars of our world. It is Lord Brahma, the God of Creation…」
This new voice belonged to our Supreme God…Brahma, the God of Creation!!
The tension increased after I heard Brahma’s voice, the father of all gods!!
…Wha…What was Brahma’s opinion on this matter!? Would he take my side!? Or, would he take Nemesil’s side after all…!?
Brahma’s voice echoed majestically through the almighty world of the innermost gods.
「Nemesil. Chronoa. Listen carefully. In fact, without the Order, Listarte’s healing powers are the same as that of medicinal herbs.」
!! Lord Brahmaaaaa!????
I almost cried when I heard the harsh words of the Supreme God. Chronoa and Nemesil were both indignant.
「Medicinal herbs…you say? 」
「Even though, she’s a goddess…? 」
Nemesil asked Brahma the following.
「Are you saying that her healing powers are not strong enough? 」
「Yes. They’re excessively useless. 」
The Supreme God just said that my powers were “excessively useless”!!
After a moment of silence, Nemesil, the God of Reason, professed the following command.
「All right. In that case, I’ll release the divinity order of restraint held upon the useless goddess Listarte…The healing powers shall be available for now on….」
When we came back from the almighty world of the innermost gods, the Great Goddess Isister put her hand on my shoulder and nodded silently. I wanted to ask her about many things. But, I finally managed to get my healing powers back. I was grateful. Therefore, I suppressed my feelings for now.
*Senjutsu means both “Sage Arts and Sage Techniques”. Simply, to be a sage, one must conquer their inner metaphysical reality, obtain great wisdom and knowledge, and master their physical reality (martial arts = power), all of which compose the essence of Sen-ju-tsu.
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