"This is the longest Van has been gone..."
...maybe he's dead?"
The volume of Vanya's voice was enough to make the trees around them tremble, causing some leaves to separate from its branches. But instead of falling down, the leaves did not even move away for more than a foot, as they just floated near the branches where they once lived.
"If father is dead, I would feel it," Vanya then said as she stared at the horizon, which was filled with almost nothing but darkness-- only lit by the sprinkles of light from far away.
"But a few months ago, didn't you say you could no longer feel him?" Gerald then breathed out as he joined Vanya, "You got the others worked up when you said that."
"He's alive," Vanya insisted, "I can't feel him, but I know he's still running around somewhere."
A few months ago, Vanya woke up from her sleep as she could feel the connection with Van fluctuate. Like it momentarily disappeared, before once again emerging… only to disappear again after a few seconds.
It truly made Vanya anxious, but something inside her knows that her father is alive. It was the same with Artemis-- it felt as if a part of her was severed; like she was a leaf falling from a branch.
"Should you not be more worried about your brother?" Vanya then as she turned her head towards Gerald, "Ms. Elton said he is in the hands of the Aesir now."
"I always knew they were going to lose," Gerald breathed out as he momentarily glanced at Vanya, "They didn't have me on their side."
"...Shouldn't you at least visit him? He's your last remaining kin, Gerald."
"No, he's not," Gerald said as he suddenly kneeled on the ground and faced Vanya. And slowly, his head slowly leaned on Vanya's stomach; closing his eyes as he stopped his breaths, shutting down any noise except for the heartbeat that was quietly drumming on his forehead,
"...I can't wait to see the look on Van's face when he realizes he's a grandpa now."
"..." Seeing the condescending and somewhat excited look on Gerald's face, the only thing that Vanya could do was let out a sigh. But after a few seconds, she gestured to Gerald to stand up and looked him straight in the eyes, "I am serious, Gerald. Even though Ymir and I have long separated in our ways when he died, I still felt a sense of grief when he died. Go visit your brother."
"...Visit him?" Gerald then let out a small chuckle as he looked towards the horizon, "That's not going to be easy now, would it?"
A leaf then landed on Gerald's face, which he immediately carefully removed and let go; but once again, instead of falling to the ground, it remained floating in front of him-- only flying away when he blew it.
The leaf rose up, continuing to float through the darkness above, overlooking the ocean of colossal trees that covered the entirety of the 10th Realm, seemingly serving as its skies. The leaf continued to float and float away, revealing the entirety of the 10th Realm…
...which also in itself was seamlessly floating across the darkness. Attached to nothing, separated from Yggdrasil which once connected it to the other Realms. A year after Van had left the 10th Realm, Athena and the others came up with a plan. A plan to hasten the clearing of the Portals that had suddenly once again shown themselves throughout the Fragmented Worlds scattered throughout the expanse of space.
Moving back and forth from the 10th Realm and the Portals using Leaves took a very long time, sometimes even months of travel.
And so, Athena opened up an idea-- to surround the 10th Realm itself with the branches of Yggdrasil; therefore allowing it to separate with the others and shortening the distance the Leaves travel between Portals as they clear it. Of course, it was seen as a ridiculous idea at first; but by using Vanya's inherent ability, it was made possible.
And so, right now, the whole 10th Realm itself…
...became a small planet that is able to be navigated through space.
"You… you're not from around here, are you?"
Back in the strange world that Van found himself in, a small crater formed beneath his feet as a sword even bigger than himself threatened to cut him down. And considering that webs of crack were slowly starting to form across his shield, he would have probably been severely hurt if he was not able to block the strike of the heavily armored man that suddenly rushed towards him.
The man adorned in a set of heavy golden armor-- Van could only assume that this was the country's warrior king, King Uther.
The horses once again became frenzied, as the ripple from the strike had still not dissipated, blowing dust and debris towards the soldiers that were actively spectating the scenery in front of them.
Emrys, who was pushed away by Van just a few moments earlier, had his arm stretched as he summoned some sort of blade of fire, which slashed its way through the air as it threatened to burn King Uther.
However, the only thing the blade of fire was able to do was dissipate as soon as it made contact with his armor.
"...Interesting," King Uther then retracted his sword and leaped away a few meters as he turned to look at Emrys, "You can use magic even with the collar on? When a report came in that my idiot brother was taken hostage, I thought it would be by bandits…
...But to think it was only three people."
"Wait, King Uther!"
Arthur, who was waiting for an opportunity to escape, could not help but suddenly kneel on the ground as soon as he heard King Uther's words, "I… I am not with these two! I am only a lowly servant trying to survive his lowly life!"
"You do not seem to be struggling."
"...Eh?" Arthur slightly stuttered, but as soon as he realized where the King's head was turned to, he quickly hid his bag filled with all sorts of jewelry behind him, "I… I appraise treasures, your Majesty."
"Men, capture these sinners!"
The captain of the army was about to order his men to advance, but before they could even take a single step, King Uther raised his hand,
"Let's not waste the time I already wasted by coming here," he then said before turning his attention towards Van, "I think I know what is happening now. I assume you caused all of this chaos by yourself?"
"I did," Van then nodded as the shield on his hand disappeared, causing King Uther to slightly squint his eyes behind his helmet.
"And I can feel you're not from around here," King Uther then muttered, "Pray tell, stranger; from which land do you hail?"
And as soon as King Uther placed his question, Van slowly raised his hand, pointing a finger towards the sky, "From out there."
"From… out there?" King Uther breathed out as he looked at the sky, "So you are telling me… you came from the skies?"
"Beyond that," Van answered, and as soon as he did so, the soldiers surrounding them began to clamor.
"You dare scorn the name of the Lord!"
"The Devil! He is the Devil!"
"Silence!" King Uther pierced his sword through the ground, causing the ground to ripple like water as his roar thundered through the air, "You dare disrupt me while I am talking!?"
And with the King's words rippling through the air, all the soldiers within the vicinity kneeled one by one; even those on their horses dismounted and bent their knees.
"..." Perhaps Van should try shouting like this once he's back in the 10th Realm, he thought.
"You claim to come from beyond the skies?" King Uther then breathed out before removing his helmet; revealing his luscious golden hair which was pulled to the back, and a majestic beard that slightly grayed from its roots.
"And may I ask for your name?"
"I apologize for doing this to your brother, but I saw the opportunity to get you here as fast as possible," Van then introduced himself, slightly bowing his head towards the King, "My name is Van…
...my people call me King Evans."
And as Van's words reached the ears of those present, they all could not help but look at each other in confusion. None of them dared to speak up, however.
"So, you are telling me that you are a King that came from beyond the skies?" King Uther then let out a tiny smirk as he looked Van directly in the eyes, "So are you telling me you're God?"
"...No," Van squinted his eyes, "Well, I am a god, but probably not the one you speak of."
"There is only one god, son."
A heavy thud then drummed through the ground as King Uther suddenly started removing his top armor, starting from his gauntlets, "And I am sure…
...that he doesn't bleed!"
King Uther then suddenly rushed towards Van, leaving his sword planted on the ground.
"...You're not using your sword?"
"I don't think I will be needing it!" King Uther roared, "I don't know what you are, but my sword only bathes in the blood of magic!"
"...I see," Van then said as he dropped his hammer on the ground, "Then I apologize…
...because my fists bathe in the blood of kings."
And while the two were exchanging one-liners, one man's eyes glistened with opportunity. He knew that he would get caught, but for some reason, there was something that was whispering inside Arthur…
....Telling him to steal the sword of the King.