@Letter Bee@Creative Chaos
The gray haired Arms Master was training in the woods, mostly to focus his attention away from the past few days. It had been utter chaos after Tian Fei was…annihilated. Honestly, Nico was more surprised by the fact the volcano had diamonds than the fact they won. He wasn’t usually one to care for money or shiny things, but he grabbed a few small chunks, if only for insurance.
It was a windy day out, and Nico was doing his usual practice with Helios Rod. Between swordplay and unarmed combat, he trusted his hands far more than his blade. That was an issue in his eyes. “My sword can cut steel like air, why can’t I just use it? Wait…that’s exactly why I’m careful.”“Merde.”
His punches sounded more like artillery fire, their impact increased by his Noble Arm, which was balanced on a rock to keep from burning the ground.
He could hear someone approaching him, not even bothering to hide the sounds of his movement. The blond man wore only a tank top, trousers, and combat boots; he had no pistol or other mundane arms. He then muttered once in hearing range, "So this is the person the First Arms Master is seeking; doesn't seem like much, to me..."
This man then called out, "Oi! As one volunteer to another, wanna spar?"
A test of the man's ability to tell friend from neutral or foe.
Nico stopped mid-swing to look at the newcomer, giving a short wave. He picked up his sword from the rock it was on and lazily pointed it at the stranger.“I’m going to need a reason for you to know me.”
The man introduced himself, "I am Diligence, shard
of Industria of the Seven Virtues."
He then stretched out his right arm and hand, and a golden hammer appeared.
"This is the Hammer of Creation, the twin of the Hammer of Masters, and I don't mean the destroyed organization," he named his weapon. "I am here to test your resolve, and if your resolve is found wanting, I will make sure that The First Arms Master
cannot have his hands on you for his unknown goals."
He then grinned, "So, want a scrap?"“Huh.”
He squinted at the newcomer, Diligence. “Great. I actually ran into a Seven Virtues goon.”
At best, Nico actively tolerated the organization. He agreed with the message, but not the methods or reasoning. But what the blonde said about the first Arms Master made Nico think a bit, then burst out laughing.“Are you joking? You’re saying the first Arms Master is after me. Me. I mean, I’m always up for a scrap, but at least come up with a better lie than that.”
His Greek and English accent was thin but noticeable.
"The fact that you don't feel any pride from what I've said proves you're worthy of a scrap," Diligence said as he held out his hammer, gripped it with both hands, and said, "But no, I'm not lying, including about testing your resolve
And with that, he swung his hammer down onto the ground, and as the hammer's head hit the floor, a bright flash of light sparked and from the ground burrowed out a giant spider, twice as large as a full-grown man and just as tall.
"As said, Hammer of Creation," Diligence said before gesturing for the spider to rush at Nico, it’s maw dripping with venom.“Hey!”
Nico hopped to the side and moved around the spider, taking a moment to catch his balance before taking up a fencer’s stance while looking straight at Diligence, the Helios Rod pointed right at him.“Did you get donated that hammer by those Seven Virtues pricks?”
His gaze was hardened , but his stance was a little wider than the typical fencer, keeping Helios Rod’s edge far away from his body. “At least it isn’t a snake.” “Also, why a giant spider?”
"The Hammer can be donated to those who sign up for our cause," Diligence said, "But no; a Noble Arm as important as this must be wielded by a fragment
of one of the Virtues. And by that, my main body is in a more exalted plane of existence; this form is merely a fraction of the power of Industria."
He then chuckled as he swing sideways in the air, and several snakes
were hurled at Nico.
"You don't understand what I'm talking about, do you? As for spiders and snakes... To test your resolve, you have to confront petty fears."
Yes, he had been stalked.“But there aren’t any-Oh no!”
He froze at the sight of flying
snakes, the fear in his eyes obvious. He shivered a bit at the sight, but swung wide in an attempt to burn as many of them to ash as possible. He squirmed and stabbed the ground to kill any snakes that he might have missed.
He turned to the giant spider and stabbed it behind the head, twisting Helios Rod a bit to make sure the arachnid stayed dead. He stabbed it again, just to be safe about it before turning to Diligence, any trace of respect gone from his voice. “Okay, none of that! I don’t care about you being a fragment of Industry or whoever! Why do you know me? Be truthful about it, you bellend. If you know me so well, you should know what my sword can do.”
The man sighed and said, "The Seven Virtues have slots filled for Charity, Kindness, Patience, Chastity, Temperance and yes, Industria, also known as Diligence in English. However, they don't have someone to fill the 'slot' for Humility/Humilitas, making them only six. Get what I am trying to say?"
Nico let go of Helios Rod, the sword vanishing before it hit the ground.“You want me to work for you? What are the perks?”
"Umm, no; we want you to become our leader
," Diligence said a little testily. "Basically, you get to transcend your physcial existence - That means losing your body and becoming energy - but you can send pieces of yourself back to this world with powerful Noble Arms instead!"
Then the man continued, "However, in order to become our leader, you have to keep yourself humble despite the temptation to not be humble."
Diligence hid the fact that Nico would have to give up his name
, his worldly status, and his possessions, hoping that the man would not catch on.
Nico walked up to Diligence, looking him right in the eye. He took a deep breath, actively trying to calm down, but his eyes still showed his inner anger. “You want me to turn into energy, lose my life, and become your leader? Really? What a boring existence that must be.”
"Truly humble people are hard to find," Diligence said back, his tone firm, "And the Seven Virtues' goals are to find out if there is an Afterlife, Gods, or a God and coexist with all three peacefully if there are, and if there isn't an Afterlife, to create
one. Either way, it's actually good that you don't want to be our leader; this means you're even more qualified."“I want to know something.”
Nico stepped back and turned away, putting his hands behind his head. “If I actually do decide to be your leader and become energy, then what? Do I get to head back to Athens and see my family? Can I go back on my journey? Can I still save people?”
"Well, as our leader, you can rewrite the rules we live under, just don't change the theme we go by and our goals," Diligence explained as best as he can. "So yes, you can send an avatar of yourself to see your family, go on your journey, and save people all at the same time
, with seperate avatars."“But I’d be energy in some random place. It wouldn’t be me, just an imitation.”
Nico turned around, looking up at the sun. “Regardless of the likeness, an avatar of me wouldn’t be me. It’s like playing a video game and saying that I did everything the player character did.”
He looked to Diligence. “Why does the first Arms Master want me?”
Diligence muses, "Two reasons; one, he wants a 'control sample', aka a normal Arms Master to serve as an example of what normal Arms Masters who don't have abnormal psychologies or Noble Arms are. You see, he is interested in that girl's sapient Noble Arm and that small boy's mental 'reprogramming'. As for the second reason, once he has... examined those two, he plans to test your resistance to temptation to see if you are really
humble..."“So you’re saying all this to just me even though there are actual children at risk? Why didn’t you warn Sison about it?”
Nico clenched his hand but took a deep breath. “Alright, alright.”“If I go with you, can I keep my lucky button?”
"You're accepting that quickly?" Diligence wondered. Then he stretched out his hand, saying, "Sure, take my hand."“No, I asked if I could keep my lucky charm. I just got a couple diamonds and I’m looking to keep them as a nest egg. Can I keep my stuff if I go with you?”
He didn’t move to shake Diligence’s hand.
"Sure," was the answer. "You're not doing this because of pride, and you're not supposed to be Charity/Caritas, so sure."“Alright, here’s my answer.”
Nico manifested Helios Rod, pointing it at Diligence’s forehead. “I’m sure you can find someone who is more worthy than me. I’ve got priorities to take care of.”
Diligence smiled and said, "You really are humble. This makes you more worthy than ever to be our leader, but if you must refuse, then you must refuse."
He then swung his hammer again, and the snakes and giant spider vanished. His next words were, "Until next time; there will come a moment where you'll have to accept."
Then he just faded into thin air.“And don’t come back, you prick!”
Nico let Helios Rod disappear before heading back to the barracks. “Alright, a lot of shit happened. No more waiting for future me to solve my problems. I have to do this.”
He shook his head and started to wrap his knuckles.END