"P… please don't, aunt Angela. I am already old enough to be a father."
"You are a father, you imbecile!"
Angela raised her hand in the air as she threatened to teach Charles a lesson. But before Angela's air could even sway in the air, Charles suddenly disappeared from his spot.
Van could not help but slightly flinch as he heard a voice behind him. Golden flickers of light emerged from his eyes as he moved away before the hands that wanted to grab his shoulders could touch him.
"Oh, aren't you a fast one," Charles awkwardly clapped his hands as he failed to hide behind Van, "I knew mother wouldn't just willy nilly bring someone here if he wasn't someone special."
Van remembered Elton mentioning someone named Gary or something who was supposed to be faster than him-- faster than him while he was still in the Academy, that is. But Angela never mentioned Charlotte's son. He was able to move from one place to another without even any effort.
Doesn't that mean that he was one of the people faster than Van? No, he might even be the fastest in the world. Suddenly, a slightly crawling heaviness started to weigh on him. How would he even defeat someone that can practically move faster than him by leaps and bounds?
Van didn't even feel Charles behind him until he heard his breaths behind him. Perhaps he could defeat him before he could even--
'What did I say about thinking too much? Charles is weaker than you.'
As soon as he heard Angela's affirmation, Van's thoughts quickly cleared out.
"Oh, I see aunt Angie is also your teacher?" Charles looked back and forth between the two as he noticed them exchanging glances. After a few seconds, he then let out a sigh of relief, "Of course, of course. There's no way mother would have taught you. She's no teacher, after all."
The tone of Charles's voice slightly became sedated as he said his last words. But afterward, the careless smile on his face returned as he clapped his hands and gestured to the three to follow him.
"Come on. I'll tour you to my temporary home."
"I thought you just got here, Charlie? Where in the world will you be touring us?"
"All Portals are the same one way or another," Charles said, "This one, however, you'll have to be blind in order to miss the main attraction. It's legit just like out there that it's crazy."
"What is it, aunt Angela?"
"Did you perhaps see a man here wearing a Standby unit uniform?"
"Sadly not. Did your scout go missing?"
"Yes, it's probably been about an hour or so."
"That's quite a bummer, isn't it?" Charles let out a sigh before continuing to guide the three, "He'll show up sooner or later. First, you'll have to see what I found. Did you guys know that the monsters here don't attack people?"
"It's the same as the other Portals," Angela said, "Well, that is if a special someone doesn't enter."
Van finally realized something as he heard the conversation between the two. When he entered the Portal, the message that he was overwriting the influence of a god did not pop out. Probably because that said god is really here. The Goddess of the Hunt? Just what kind of god is it? Is he the same as Hercules?
The name itself already sounded dangerous enough, though. Van just hoped that this Olympian is as friendly as Hercules-- Van thought, completely ignoring the fact that Hercules executed Latanya's henchman right in front of everyone.
"Are you and your son not close?" After a few seconds, Van then noticed that Angela was the one walking beside Charles, and not Charlotte. In fact, Van even had to step back a meter or so just so he and Charlotte could walk side by side.
The surprise on Charlotte's face could not be hidden as Van's words reached her ears. Charlotte always seems to forget that Van was already a 17-year-old young man, and so somewhat mature questions like this would come from time to time.
"Well…" Charlotte was going to answer jokingly at first, but seeing as Van was not really foreign when it comes to family problems, in fact, he might even be more of an expert to it than she is. And so, for the first time ever, she chose to take him seriously like the budding adult he actually is.
"...I have never once touched my son."
"No! Not like that, I am not your father!" Charlotte almost snarled, "I… was already at the level I am now when he was born. But back then, my control was even more abysmal. I… made it my mission not to go near him. I haven't even hugged him once."
"It was a good thing that Angie was there. She's the one who took care of Charlie when he was just a toddler," Charlotte continued her story about Charlie's childhood, "Growing apart seemed inevitable with the way things were. I am sure my son hates me in some way… but even now, I can't seem to go near him too much."
"Pft. I know it's nothing compared to your family situation," Charlotte let out a slight chuckle, "I wanted to be there, but the only thing I could do was provide for him… and that seemed to even distance himself from me even more."
"I see. Is that why he's like that?"
"He reminds me of Harvey but at the same time he's more… chaotic."
"I get what you mean," Charlotte could not help but chuckle from Van's statement.
Charles slightly glanced back as she heard Charlotte laughing together with Van. But after a few seconds, he continued to lead the way. The four continued to walk deeper into the Portal, almost walking for 2 hours before Charles finally stopped.
"That's the anomaly that I was talking about. I told you you won't miss it… or rather her."
Van, Charlotte, and even Angela slightly backed away as they saw where Charlotte was pointing to. He was right, it was hard not to miss her. How could they? When she almost clouded the entire sky itself, her hair almost reaching the clouds.
It was a gigantic woman, maybe even taller than the New Wall that the Locals built back in America. Her luscious green hair almost made a gradient with the sky, creating a sort of ocean-like hue as her hair and the sky met.
"What… the fuck is that?" Charlotte could not help but curse as a pressure she has never felt before started to crawl through her skin, "It… it doesn't seem to be a Cyclops. Could it be that this was the thing that your mother was talking about?"
"A god!?" Charles gasped as soon as he heard Charlotte's words, "Wait… what god!?"
"It is," Angela nodded as she looked at Charlotte, "It's a Pure God."
"Wait, what? Can someone fill me in about what's going on here?"
"Have you made contact with it yet?"
"Not yet, aunt Angela. It doesn't seem to even be acknowledging me even though I already said hi to her."
"Understandable," Angela sighed, "She probably sees you as nothing more than an insect, not any different from the rest of the wildlife in the Portal."
"Wait, wait, wait," Charles waved his hands in the air, "What do you mean by god? Is she really a god?"
"You could say that."
"Oh… ohohoho," Charlie rubbed his hands together, "This is starting to get interesting. We would probably be noticed if you and mother punch her."
"There's no need for that," Angela shook her head, "Mr. Evans is with us."
Before Charlie could even finish his words, the ground started to tremble. And soon, a whisper that almost pierced their ears thundered in the air.
"Hermes? Is that you?" The gigantic green-haired woman then turned her head towards their position, causing the four of them to completely froze on the spot, "Is it you, Hermes? Are you here to send me back? I heard about you and Athena's plan."
Slowly, the colossal green-haired woman leaned closer to where Van and the others were, her hands, pushing away the trees that blocked her path. The trees, however, seemed to be alive as their roots crawled to the sides, once again planting themselves.
Even with the colossal green-haired woman's face only meters away from them, the four didn't move. How could they? When one single casual movement from the woman caused the air to slightly snap.
"H… hi?" Van was the only one able to speak as the green-haired woman's face was already covering their entire horizon. However, his tone was a bit held back as his heart seemed to be playing by itself. As soon as he saw the colossal woman earlier, a certain feeling inside him started to grow.
It was a creeping sensation similar to what he felt whenever Victoria, Latanya, and Nisha were near him. But unlike the weak throbbing that he usually felt, this time was completely different. Van's eyes could not even choose where to land as the uncomfortable feeling inside of him continued to grow.
The woman's almost porcelain-like skin, her voice which whispered into Van's ears as if a lullaby. Her seemingly soft lips, which Van could almost reach with the tip of his fingers…
...she seemed perfect, Van thought.
For the very first time in Van's life… his heart skipped a beat for a woman.