The moments I go through the magic door, darkness fell around me like a curtain. I seem to have landed inside a tunnel-like cave made out of pure black rocks. At the far end of this tunnel, I can see a small dot of reddish-yellow light, dimly illuminating this place and also indicating the opening of this tunnel.
Hmm… It’s a different place this time. Interesting…
Walking towards the source of light, I reach the tunnel end in just a few minutes.
*THUNK* *THUNK* *THUNK*
As I leave the dark tunnel, a flash of bright light blinds me for a few seconds, though I can still hear a loud clanging noise of metal hitting metal.
Sigh, he’s still forging, huh?
As my vision starts to come back, I find myself standing in the corner of a really large, and really hot room. Even if ten men of my height stand on each other’s shoulders, they still won’t be able to reach the ceiling.
And about its width— well, I cannot measure it exactly due to the sheer amount of things obstructing my view in every direction. There are uncountable types of different metallic devices tinkering and making noises on the floor and on the work-tables, lethal-looking yet extremely beautiful weapons hanging on the walls, and shiny sets of armor standing majestically after every few meters.
I couldn’t focus on these beauties at the moment.
Because of the intense heat filled in this room, threatening to roast me alive.
Damn it… I need to find Hephaestus and be done with this place quickly.
Moving forward and getting past a small mountain of what looks like broken or defective items, I finally find the source of the loud hammering noise.
In front of a large furnace, a huge bulky dude with really thick arms and slightly hunched back is beating down a piece of red-hot metal on an anvil.
“Tch… Here again,” he mutters in his heavy and grumpy voice, without even turning around to look at me.
“Yup, I am here again, Hephaestus,” I say, walking close to him calmly, though sweating buckets at the same time.
“I have told you to not use that door unless absolutely necessary! Do you even know what will happen if some God decides to spy on us!?” Hephaestus asks, his voice turning angry out of nowhere as expected.
“You mean to say that there is a God who can spy on the great Hephaestus in his own workshop!? Are you, as a God, admitting your failure in detecting unwelcomed presence!?” I ask, trying to sound shocked and slightly mocking.
“I am not!” Hephaestus roars, dropping his hammer and turning around furiously— finally showing his face.
Short brown hair with a long bushy brown beard, small brown eyes, red face that is heavily scarred with numerous welts, and a meaty round lump for a nose. Now that he’s turned around, one can easily notice his heavily lopsided shoulders and weirdly angled right leg, keeping him from having a straight posture.
All-in-all, the God of Blacksmiths and Fire looks exactly like everyone describes him— extremely ugly, deformed, and crippled.
“There is no way anyone— Even Zeus— could enter my workshop without me knowing about it!” he thunders.
These prideful Gods, they are so easy…
“Oh well, then I guess we can agree on the fact that no one can spy on us and that it’s completely safe for me to visit you whenever I want, correct?” I ask with a smile, unperturbed.
Hephaestus opens his mouth in anger but then closes it again, frowning and looking a bit awkward.
“Made me contradict myself… bastard,” he mutters grumpily, slowly bending down to pick up his hammer again.
“Anyway, what do you want now!?” he barks.
“Oh, we are directly getting on the topic? Nice!” I say cheerfully.
“So, I want you to give me a magical chariot that can fit in around 15 to 20 people comfortably. I know, there are only seven of us now, but there is a chance that other people might join in.
“And obviously, I need some good and powerful horses to pull the chariot. So, I hope you will provide them as well. Also, it would be nice if you could spare some weapons for my other sisters, similar to those you gave me and Lucy. It’s a dangerous journey— if a fight breaks out somehow, I want them to be fully prepared.
“Oh, and one more thing! I want all of these things by tomorrow morning. That’s when we are leaving,” I tell him.
Without saying anything, Hephaestus just folds his arms and begins glowering at me.
“Eh… I am finished,” I say.
“Oh, you are finished!? Are you sure you don’t want to demand anything else? Because I will happily give you anything you want,” He says in a light tone, heavily dripping with sarcasm.
“Wow, thanks, but that’s all I need for now. I will come later if I remember something else, okay? Bye then!” I say with a smile before turning around and starting to move away from Hephaestus.
“STOP!” He bellows.
“Yes? Any problem?” I say, turning about with a smile.
“Do you think of me as your servant, mortal!? How dare you order me around! Out of generosity, I have already given you a bag full of my treasured gadgets! I even gave you and your sister weapons that are forged through my magic! There is no way I will give you anything anymore! Begone, fool!” he shouts in anger.
Well, expected reaction, to be honest. I will have to use my trump card now.
“You won’t? Damn, that’s unfortunate…” I mutter in a sad voice.
“Well, I was just planning to enslave a few gods in this journey— you know, to get more powerful— but that’s utterly impossible without the chariot and some more weapons.
“And as you already know, unless I enslave some minor Gods first, it’s impossible for me to start targeting the Olympians. So, I am sorry, but no matter how much I want to, I won’t be able to fulfill our deal,” I tell him, lightly shaking my head.
“You bastard! Don’t try to pull our deal in this matter! You have already agreed to that!” Hephaestus barks.
“Yes, but I also stated in our deal that you will have to help us wherever it is possible and necessary. Otherwise— just think about it— this whole thing is just insanely unachievable even in anyone’s wildest dream,” I say, now getting serious myself.
“Anyway, it’s your choice, Hephaestus. I won’t try to persuade you on this matter. Just know that the less cooperative you are, the less chance there is that you will be able to get your revenge on those three Gods.”
As I was hoping, this makes Hephaestus go silent immediately, but his face is showing greater anger than ever. Undoubtedly, he knows that the partial reason why I am saying this to use him and make him agree to my demands. And it’s known to everyone that all the Gods absolutely hates to get used, especially by powerless little beings like humans and demigods— well, knowingly, that is.
Looking in Hephaestus’s eyes, I can tell that there is a great internal war waging inside his mind— whether to ignore my insolent behavior, give me what I ask for, and get one step closer to his eon-awaited revenge, or just squash me like a bug with his huge hammer and burn me to crisp.
Thank god Lucy isn’t here, or she might have had a heart attack…
“You… You do remember that the deal won’t end with just enslaving them, don’t you?” Hephaestus asks after a few seconds, gritting his teeth in frustration.
Phew… It looks like the former won!
“Yes, of course, I remember. And rest assured, I will make it really entertaining for you!” I answer promptly.
“Ahaa! Very well then, you little brat! I will give you a… a bloody chariot and some weapons. Now, get the hell out of my workshop before I make your head explode!” he bellows, accidentally shooting fire through his nose.