High School DxD:Volume 15 Life 2
Life.2 Scarlet and Crimson
—Who am I?
When I, Himejima Akeno, was young, I kept on asking myself that question.
I, who had lost my mother by the hands of those who detest the Fallen Angels, disagreed with my father Barakiel, and continued to have a lifestyle where I travelled to different places by myself when I was ten years old. It’s an age where it was practically impossible to live on one's own.
I even remembered how my younger self believed strongly that I still have to keep on living on my own. I definitely can’t rely on my father. If I do……I feel like my heart will break from the sorrow of losing my mother and being scared at the hatred others had towards my father.
What I had in my hand was my pocket money with only a bit of savings in it. ……I was thinking of buying a present for my mother on her birthday using that money.
I did my best to not use that money, but I couldn’t overcome my empty stomach that had reached its limit, and I ended up using it while I kept on apologising to my mother inside myself. The memory of that time is still buried strongly in me.
There is a limit to money. It’s not infinite. I didn’t have my father and my mother. I needed to somehow make some money despite being a child.
However, there was no way that there were places that would hire a child that was merely ten years old.
……My merit is the ability to control lightning that was passed down from my father and the power to purify spirits that I learned from my mother.
It happened on a certain day. I helped a child that was possessed by an evil spirit by chance. Then the child’s parents gave me a small quantity of snacks.
I thought that this was it. That this was the only thing I was able to do—.
From then on, I started to talk to the people that were possessed by evil spirits, purified them, and had a lifestyle where I received a bit of money and food from them.
I couldn’t have a luxurious life. I didn’t have any place to live. However, I was able to survive.
—Akeno, I will teach you how to drive away scary ghosts.
……What my mother taught me helped me to survive. It was lonely to sleep by myself……however I didn’t want to die yet.
After that, I travelled around Japan, I started to learn how to communicate with abnormal beings, and was able to take my distance from humans.
If I had to be grouped, then I would be grouped with the abnormal beings. Even though I have an appearance of a human, I carry the blood of a Fallen Angel. So it isn’t wrong for me to be classified as a non-human being.
I had realised that despite being only ten years old. It was easier not to be hurt when I interact with others while telling myself that.
There were those that wanted to take me in from the people who I had saved from the evil spirits. If there were people who actually mean it, there were also people who had other intentions. I was even able to realise that.
I even found myself being chased. I was also targeted many times, like the time I stepped foot on the territory under the jurisdiction of the Church that detests Fallen Angels, and also by trainee monks who saw me as a hindrance to their job.
A year and a half had passed since I had a lifestyle like that—.
Around the time I had started to become familiar with travelling around the country purifying evil spirits, I had become friends with small Oni, and was able to control them.
It happened when I sneaked into this certain town located in the T-prefecture. I had contact with a human that was capable of talking to spirits for a temporary time due to making a pact with a Devil. That person accidentally spoke to an evil spirit, got possessed by it, and almost got killed by it. I ended up saving that person.
I should have ignored that person, but I didn’t have any choice since that person muttered out, “Save me”. By the time I realised it, I had saved that person from the evil spirit.
It was only afterwards that I would come to know that he was someone that had been making a pact with the servant Devil of the current Head of the House of Gremory. But at that time, I realised it was my mistake for stepping foot into the Devil’s territory.
The fact about the Devils fighting against the Fallen Angels was knowledge that I attained during my journey. I am a being that carries the blood of a Fallen Angel. If I step my foot into their territory, it wouldn’t be weird for me to become their target.
There was a high possibility that the Devils knew that I got into contact with one of the humans they have a pact with.
……There are many Devils that have strong pride. If they come to find out about a mere Fallen Angel girl getting in contact with their client…… They will come to eliminate me to get rid of their disgrace.
I hid myself in the abandoned temple within that city, and decided to observe silently for a while. It was best to not get involved if you get wrapped into such cases.
For a child like me it was impossible to fight a grown up Devil.
It happened several days after I hid myself in the temple.
I sensed a presence that was coming closer to me. I tried to look outside timidly from the broken door. And what appeared in front of my eyes was—a crimson.
A beautiful crimson hair. A girl who looked like she was the same age as me. That girl who has an aura of someone who isn’t a human like myself, was looking around the surroundings.
I hid my presence, and hid myself behind the tree after exiting the temple without making a sound.
Staying inside the temple won’t be a good idea. A location that is known is the same as an easy target for them, and there won’t be anything left of me if I were attacked first.
The crimson haired girl says it with a loud voice.
“If you are here, then please come out. If you are willing to talk seriously about the reason for you to enter the territory of someone close to me, then I won’t do anything like blaming you for it.”
……I can’t trust what a Devil would say. Like I expected, it seems like they found out about me who purified the evil spirit.
She’s a Devil despite having a cute face like that. And from what I can understand by searching through her aura, I can see that she is a child from a high quality Devil. ……I probably won’t be able to stay alive if I go against her.
Even after that, she starts to talk in a persuasive manner, however I did not show myself in front of her. I simply have to turn my presence off and wait for her to leave. However, since she has found out about this place, then it will be good for me to leave here right away. I will need a new place where I can hide myself.
When I was thinking about the dangerous situation I was in, the crimson haired girl sighs, probably because I didn’t show myself.
She then says this.
“……The truth is, there are mountaineering ascetics that are looking for you. Those humans came to negotiate with us. They said, “Can you leave the Fallen Angel girl to us?”—.”
Hearing that, my body shivered. It’s most likely them.
The group of mountaineering ascetic that started appearing in places where I visited since a year ago. They aren’t after me because I’m a hindrance to their job—.
The crimson haired girl then says this.
“……Before those people appear in front of you, come to my side. I won’t treat you badly. As long as you explain the situation to me, I will give you the most support I can.”
Her words were so gentle…..that it sounded like my deceased mother.
Yes, that girl was Rias—.
—I had a dream. A carefree life from back then I dearly miss.
“Hey, Kaa-sama. Will Akeno also make a friend?”
“Yes, you definitely will. Akeno, what do you want to do with your friend when you make one?”
“Umm……Akeno wants to go to see different places, go to the same school, and join the same “club” as her.”
“……Do you want to go to school, Akeno?”
“It’s okay. Akeno will be alright as long as Akeno has Kaa-sama and Tou-sama.”
“……I hope that you make a kind friend.”
“Yup! And Akeno wants a husband who will be strong and kind like Tou-sama!”
“Ufufu, if your father hears that, then he will be troubled.”
“That’s because, your father—.”
When I open my eyes, I realise that there are tears in my eyes.
After packing my bag quickly, I left the abandoned temple that I was using as the place to sleep.
It’s exactly about time for the sunrise. While the morning mist is still up, I sprinted through the forest that is next to the highway.
The reason why I didn’t make my move during late at night is because the time during then is the active time for Devils. If it’s this time during the sunrise, then I will be able to leave this town safely—.
If it’s now, I can understand I had a naïve way of thinking due to being a child back then.
When I was about to exit the forest—.
Something covers me from the side while grasping hold of me.
I then had a feeling that the aura coming from my whole body is disappearing right away. –When I looked, there is a net around my body.
……It’s not a mere net. The more I struggle, the more it feels like it will drain that much of strength from me. It must be a net with a special spell on it.
RING RING ……Then a unique sound of a staff echoes throughout the forest creepily.
“—I have found you.”
There was a single low-voice of a man.
“—The cursed daughter born from our Himejima bloodline.”
From behind the trees,
“—The child that carries the blood of that black Angel.”
—Several mountaineering ascetics sedge-woven hat who are carrying a staff appears.
“—It has been a while, Akeno.”
A voice with dignity says that to me. I’m familiar with this voice.
The mountaineering ascetics make a path and the one who appears in front of me is man who has passed his middle age. He takes his sedge-woven hat off, and looks at me who is captured by the net. His eyes are filled with sadness.
Yes, this old man is someone from the Himejima. To me, he is my granduncle from my mother’s side.
Himejima are a clan that has been affiliated with Shinto since ancient times. My mother’s family is also entrusted with a Shinto shrine with history behind it. The other mountaineering ascetics must be the relatives of Himejima.
Granduncle says it to me while bending down.
“I won’t let you escape now. I must get rid of Himejima’s shame today. You understand me, right?”
For them, it’s said that the daughter from Himejima was taken and used by a Fallen Angel, and I……am known as a cursed child that was born from them. For that reason I am a shame to them.
Himejima is a Shinto clan with historical background. For that reason, breeding with another kind is an unforgivable act.
If it gets found out by the Japanese God they serve, they won’t know what kind of penalty they will receive.
……The oath and cleanness towards the rules of Himejima are absolute, and as a result, my mother died—.
I, who have lost my mother and have rejected my father, wandered throughout the country, and ended up being targeted by those from Himejima. A child that will taint the name of Himejima must be a being they can’t allow to exist.
“……I simply want to live.”
I said that while actually meaning that. There isn’t any falsehood behind that.
I……am an outcast who couldn’t go after my mother and couldn’t follow my father. However, it feels like I will be rejecting all the experience I had in that house if I were to die, and I simply hated the idea of that happening.
Granduncle breathes out in grief, and shook his head to the side.
“Do you really think a human with black wings will be able to experience the life of a normal person? In the past one year and six months, you should have realised it when you travelled to different areas. ……You are a smart child after all. For a monster to attain the living style of a human, did you not come to realise that it isn’t something you can achieve with an ordinary strength?”
……Yes, I have witnessed it. While I was travelling throughout the country, I came to understand that in order for someone who has an extraordinary power, you would need a strong determination and strength to live like a normal person.
I still don’t have a strong determination and strength. For that reason I became scared many times. I started to think that there isn’t any place for me in this world—.
—No, I am here!
I am living here! I still…..can’t die! I don’t want to die!
I make lightning within my hand and released it towards the Himejima mountaineering ascetics!
While making a bright flash, my lightning strikes between them. Possibly due to the power of my lighting being stronger than they imagined, it seems like I got them while they let their guard down, and they didn’t know where to aim their staff at.
Granduncle makes a loud voice. It seems like a strong spiritual power was released at the same time, and it disperses my lightning.
……It looks like my lightning won’t work on granduncle. Even though it ended like this, I did increase the power since the last time I fought him……
The mountain ascetics fix their stance, and increase their hatred toward me.
“Damn! The power of her “Light and Thunder” is getting more powerful as days pass!”
“If we don’t take her down quickly, we will be the ones getting killed eventually!”
The mountain ascetics direct their staff at me—.
The small Onis stands in front of me to protect me from the mountain ascetics.
No! All of you will be wiped out!
I desperately move my body despite being wrapped in the net, and use my whole body to protect the Onis.
“……So you will protect the Onis huh. Looks like you have also inherited the blood from that girl Shuuri.”
Granduncle points his staff at me cold heartedly, who is protecting the Onis. A powerful power gathers at the tip of his staff.
I will most likely die if I get hit by it.
“I’m sorry, but this is the end for you. It seems like the black Angels aren’t interfering. The least I can do is to send you off without any pain.”
……I hate men. I really hate adults. They were only worried about how they will appear to others, and didn’t forgive my mother at the end……! They also see me as a disgusting creature.
I hide my hatred towards them and tell my Granduncle my last wish.
“……Please spare these small Onis.”
“……Sure, very well.”
“One more. ……Please put my grave next to Kaa-sama’s……I beg you.”
“I cannot allow that. You are an existence that was not supposed to exist. I will only promise you the matter regarding the small Onis.”
……I didn’t have that much expectation for him to approve the latter wish. However, it was a faint hope I held that it was possible.
However, as long as the small Onis will be safe then it’s all right.
The small Onis are shedding tears because they are worried about me.
It’s all right. Thank you for serving me until now.
It’s okay. Live on behalf of me.
All of you shouldn’t hold a grudge against them.
It seems like the small Onis understood what I want to tell them without saying it to them.
Granduncle’s staff gathered even more powerful spiritual power, and it happens when he was about to unleash it towards me. When I close my eyes, I hear a voice.
The light gathered around the staff disappears due to that voice.
The mountain ascetics and my eyes move towards the depth of the forest.
The one who appears from there is a crimson haired girl, —Rias Gremory. Next to her is a middle aged man wearing butler’s clothing who has a refined look.
Rias then says.
“There are some personal questions I want to ask that girl.”
Since the mountain ascetics know that the identity of this girl is a Devil, they point their staff at Rias.
Granduncle says it to Rias without getting that shocked.
“The Gremory’s daughter. I’m sure I had talked to you regarding this……”
Rias continues on while putting on a fearless smile.
“Yes, you sure did. I do think this problem is the matter of your clan. However, tell me one thing. What will you do with this girl? Are you planning to kill her?”
“……And what will you do if that’s what we are planning to do?”
She then says this to what my granduncle said.
“If you are planning to kill her, then I will be taking her.”
The mountain ascetics starts to stir up at her words.
“Who the hell do you think you are?”
“This is the problem of our Himejima clan!”
They start to say abusive words to her. Granduncle then calms them down.
“Calm down, all of you. ……Gremory’s daughter, are you planning to interfere in our problem?”
The two sides then glare at each other, and the man who was next to Rias gets in-between them and tells my granduncle while smiling.
“Now now, please calm down. I am the [Bishop] of the current Head of the House of Gremory, and the one that is in charge of this area, Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa. Please call me Agrippa.”
Yes, I entered the territory of this person called Agrippa who happens to be a servant of the current Head of the House of Gremory.
The man with noble atmosphere who called himself Agrippa points towards the depth of the forest and says it.
“How about we have a little chat over there? Don’t you think having the children listen to the circumstance of us adults will only make them learn unnecessary abusive words?”
Since he is able to say this in front of Rias who is the daughter of his Master, it proves how much faith she has in him.
My granduncle and others, the mountain ascetics, disappear into the depth of the forest. Rias removes the net around my body right away.
“You will be fine now.”
She shows a smile to me like a girl of her age. Rias then says it after staring at my black hair.
“You sure have beautiful black hair. I love the black hair of the Japanese people.”
Why is it? Her words are making me feel happier.
Is it perhaps because she is calling me “Japanese”? Or is it because she praised my black hair?
No, maybe because I’m feeling as though I was rescued by her attitude that is speaking to me while accepting who I am.
After a while, the mountain ascetics and Sir Agrippa return.
Granduncle says this to me who got untied.
“……Promise me two things. I will swear to you that we won’t lay our hands on you if you keep those promises. First, you must not step foot into the territory that is under our surveillance. Second, to stay besides that girl with crimson-hair every time you do something. As long as you keep these two promises, we will swear to you that we won’t lay our hands on you ever again.”
Granduncle said something that makes me believe this isn’t real. It was certainly something that I didn’t predict.
The mountain ascetics leave silently from me who has my mouth opening wider by the seconds. I can’t help it, so I ask him one question.
“…………May I introduce myself as “Himejima” from now on?”
Granduncle says it without turning back.
“……There are many others that carry that surname. Do as you like.”
Saying just that, granduncle and the others leave from this place.
The only ones left are Rias, Sir Agrippa, and I. Then Sir Agrippa says it to Rias.
“Now then, princess. I will leave the rest to you.”
He says it cheerfully.
This is something I found out afterwards, which is that Sir Agrippa suggested an idea to my granduncle that the House of Gremory will carry on the existence of me and my past history.
Then if I do something from now on, they will make it that “The one who serves the House of Gremory did that”. It seems like there were other suggestions from their side, but I heard that Sir Agrippa accepted all of their suggestions.
As a result, I did not get myself targeted by them ever again.
“Was it okay, Agrippa? Didn’t you need to do something due to the issue about our territory?”
Rias tries to confirm with him. Yes, I purified the human who has a pact with this person on my own. However, Sir Agrippa smiles gently.
“I do not have a hobby to pass a judgement on a small lady after all. However, it was fortunate. I will be leaving from this area next month and it was planned for me to work in a different country. If the Devil from a different household that will be taking this territory were to meet with this lady……that Devil wouldn’t have been merciful.”
Yes, I was fortunate. If I came here a month late—I probably wouldn’t be alive.
Devils……I thought they were a scary existence. However, these people I met who are from the House of Gremory—are Devils that are kind and strict.
Sir Agrippa pats my head.
“I’m very sorry for the fact that we, the Gremory, took everything from you which includes your birth. You probably had your reasons and you even had the history of your life till now. However, this was the only way to save you.”
I shake my head to the side, and put on a smile that I couldn’t show for a long time.
“No, I’m grateful that I was able to be safe like this.”
At that time, I said that while actually meaning it.
Even if the Himejima-clan were to forget me, just my existence will be the biggest proof that my mother, Himejima Shuuri, existed.
This is something I found out afterwards by some connections, but when I was being chased by the ones from Himejima, the one who saved me when I was in danger……was Azazel who was secretly hiding himself.
The thing that granduncle said that time, “It seems like the black Angels aren’t interfering” must mean him.
It must be an action he took on behalf of my father who wasn’t able to show himself in front of me. That person watched over me simply because I’m the daughter of his war buddy—.
Maybe he can’t forgive himself by thinking that he was the one that killed the wife of his war buddy.
Except, he doesn’t say anything.
No matter what time, he simply shows a smile of a naughty child to me—.
What I witnessed when I stepped foot into the Underworld by having Rias take me was—a gorgeous and luxurious castle.
The one I met right away was Venelana-sama who happens to be Rias’s mother.
“How do you do? You must be the Fallen Angel lady that Rias mentioned. It’s nice to meet you, I am Rias’s mother, Venerana. It’s okay for you to think of this house as your own.”
Just like she said, I was welcomed into the Gremory’s castle with a special treatment.
She even taught me the way a lady should act, different kinds of knowledge, and even studies.
I went into a brilliant world that makes me think that the life I had until now wasn’t real.
About six months had passed since I started living in the Underworld, it happened when I was reading the book about monsters together with Rias in her room. I asked her.
“Hey, why are you doing this much for me?”
“Why are you asking me now? We may have met by a chance, but we are family now, you know?”
I felt as though I was really saved by Rias who said that.
Rias says it while she takes the chess piece on the chessboard into her hand.
“That’s right, I will be receiving the [Evil Pieces] soon. That’s why there is a part of me that is thinking of gathering my servants.”
“……So you are asking me to become your servant because I carry the blood of a Fallen Angel?”
“You saved a person that was possessed by an evil spirit in that town right? Why did you do that?”
“……That person was asking for help so I couldn’t resist.”
She makes a big nod with her head and then smiles.
“Yes, that! “A kind Fallen-Angel”! It sure did make me want to turn you into my servant!”
……I’m astonished. The truth is I thought of her as a weird Devil girl.
That’s because she wants a “kind Fallen-Angel”.
When I started laughing with amusement, Rias made a strange look while tilting her head.
“D-Did I say something weird?”
“Yup, I’m sure you are quite weird.”
“A-Am I……? But I thought you were a kind girl, that’s why I wanted to rescue you back then.”
“—! ……Rias, thank you. I was really happy back then.”
I was so indebted to Rias that I can’t thank her enough—.
After that, I started to gain knowledge about the Underworld, the Devils, and the Fallen-Angels, while living in the Gremory castle.
I usually stayed beside Rias, and had a lifestyle where I go between the human world and the Underworld with her. Rias took me to many places. There were many places in this world I didn’t know about.
“Look, Akeno! That’s the Niagara falls! But the great falls we saw in the Underworld before was even more amazing!”
Rias showed me all sorts of her expressions. Like when she was angry, when she smiled, and when she cried after being lectured by her mother. I always stood by her side and at times I cheered her up, at times I laughed together with her, and at times I argued with her.
Without realising it, she became someone who is irreplaceable.
Sirzechs-sama, Grayfia-sama, and their servants even treated me well. It was around then when I met Sona.
And around the time when Rias entered junior high, she received her evil pieces from her father.
“Akeno, will you become my [Queen]? ……Will you become a Devil and support me by staying next to me?”
I gave my answer, yes, to Rias who asked me with anxiety. There was no reason for me to refuse by this time.
After that, Rias took in Koneko-chan who was moping due to the troubles her actual sister, Kuroka, caused and then made Yuuto-kun into her servant.
Around the time when we moved up to the high school division of Kuou academy, Rias said this to me.
“Akeno. I’m thinking of joining a club when I enter the high school division of this Kuou academy.”
“What will you be joining? Sports club? Cultural club?”
She opens the pamphlet for the entrance to the high school division of Kuou academy happily.
“Now, what should I do? Sports club does sound wonderful and so does the cultural club, so it sure does make it hard for me to choose. Ufufu, I can imagine Sona becoming the student president of the student council.”
It seems like she is really happy that she will be entering the high school division of Kuou academy. She then takes an interest in the book I’m carrying.
“Akeno, what is that book?”
“This is a human’s book written about monsters and mysterious phenomenon. It’s a book with occult taste in it.”
She then says it after hearing my answer while looking through the books.
“Occult…… Then, let’s join the Occult Research Club!”
“Occult Research Club? B-But I’m sure that I saw on the documents that the club got abolished because there weren’t enough members……”
Rias then says it boldly and fearlessly at my words.
“I will revive it! Yup! I’ve decided! I will join the Occult Research Club! Akeno will be the vice-president! The members will be……Yuuto and Koneko, and then I shall form the club with my servants I still haven’t met with yet!”
She then tells me her big aim.
“Ufufu. Sure. Why not. I will be the vice-president. Let’s graduate from high school together.”
“Oh, I’m planning to go to University as well, you know?”
“Then, I will be tagging along with you until then.”
When I said that, she suddenly says no.
Rias takes my hand, and says this to me face to face.
“Akeno will be my [Queen] and my friend for the rest of my life.”
Yes, I understand. I am your [Queen]. So I will be staying by your side all the time.
I will be your friend forever. So let me say this.
——Thank you, Rias. Please take care of me from now on as well.
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