High School DxD:Volume 18 Joker
After passing through the gate, I arrived at third heaven — one of the levels Heaven is composed of. Because I had just arrived here, no one noticed. There was a white path which was leading down to a single door. If I took that path, I should be able to go to ‘heaven’, but I didn’t have time for a tour right now! I must continue! When the next door was in sight, someone called out to me —
“Oh hohohohoho ♪ Hello ~ ~ ~ ♪ I’m already here”
The witch was dressed as a gothic lolita!
That’s right, it was Walburga of the purple flames! But she’s in heaven right now! Then, another figure gracefully appeared before me.
“Today, Crom also came.”
Next to Walburga was — a man dressed in a black suit.
The man who didn’t speak, I was familiar with him. This was because I fought him once in the country of the vampires. — Evil dragon, Crom Cruach! The legendary dragon who fought in a human form! This evil dragon was able to fight evenly matched against Vali and I. Walburga laughed.
“Ahhahahaha ♪ Today, the two of us will be your opponents!”
…Having come here, I did not want to fight against these two! But, it doesn’t seem like they’ll let me get past them for free!
“There’s only one option here.”
Xenovia and Irina got into position! I was also about to get ready, but—
“Ara Ara, Looks like you’re in some trouble.”
The one who said so jokingly — Joker Dulio! He flew over with his wings! Oh! To meet him again here! Dulio flew to my side. Walburga smiled seeing the appearance of Dulio.
“Oh wow ♪ are you Joker? Oooh lala, to meet such incredible people—I say, did you come to Third Heaven to find evil dragons?”
Walburga asked Dulio. Indeed, after coming to Third Heaven, there weren’t any evil dragons around! There were a large number of them in Second Heaven, but almost none here! Dulio scratched his head.
“Ah, oh that. There’s currently a battle there. — there’s not much left though.”
Dulio pointed into the distance, far away there were thunder clouds, and flashes of lightning. Asia looked in the opposite direction. I also turned my head that way — indeed, in the distance was an immense tornado, and some dark shadows being sucked into it. …Thunderclouds and tornadoes were being used to carry out a large scale attack. …In other words, he was the one who did all that…! While I was fighting those evil dragons, others escaped. And most of the evil dragons have been defeated by Dulio’s sacred gear…. Once again, I realise that this man is strong! In times of crisis in heaven, as the brave saint’s Joker, his power was used the most. Hearing this, Walburga narrowed her eyes. Her eyes appeared to be happy, yet also vigilant.
“Ooohlalala, this was beyond my imagination”
Joker stood beside me. …Truly, it was quite reassuring. Because he was such a powerful man, and he was on our side! And also our leader! Dulio said to Walburga
“…This is Heaven. Peace must be maintained. Don’t you think the souls here are cute? After their lives on earth, they came here so they could live peacefully.” Even though you are joking, the look in your eyes – it's serious. Previously, Dulio once said to me
“Say, Issei. I think religion is very important.”
He then continued
“People like you and I are strong, but, aren’t the rest just weak humans? For people like that, I think something to believe in is a must. As long as there is faith, there is someone watching over them, doesn’t that make them happy?”
Dulio looked towards the sky, with a solemn expression.
“But, God no longer exists…”
He was also aware of the truth. He said to me with open arms
“That’s why, I think that if angels can take the place of God then everyone will be just fine.”
What Sister Griselda once said to me, came into my mind. She told me about Dulio.
“Dulio is a war orphan. After being involved in a certain country’s civil war, his parents died. He had been living under the care of the church, and during that time he awakened the power of his sacred gear. Because he possessed one of the most powerful sacred gears, his life changed dramatically.”
After awakening his power, Dulio was removed from the church to undergo training in one of the church’s institutions as a soldier. Despite his own wishes, he was trained due to his remarkable talent showed at a young age. She continued talking.
“In the church’s institutions, there were children with innate talent, but also those with none. Because everyone was in the same situation… Dulio would call everyone “brother” or “sister”, and loved them like family.”
The children in those institutions… most of them died before becoming adults. The children with no talent, were killed while trying to obtain power. Dulio saw all this through his own eyes. Dulio went on. …His eyes looked sorrowful.
“In this world, there is a lot of delicious food. There are a lot of people who would want to eat it but can’t.”
Dulio…he travelled around the world, tasted food, experimented with it, so that he could recreate it in the church. After countless failures, he was finally able to make these dishes for the children in the church — for the children who couldn’t leave. So that… So that at least the children could eat delicious food, Dulio travelled around the world.
“There are many people in the world. But, these children… after eating such delicious food, seemed to be truly happy. At least I think so.”
He said so with a smile on his face—but, it was a sad smile.
“The main reason why he became Joker… was to reach the souls of children in Heaven. As the reincarnated angel Joker, he was able to set foot there. Hyoudou Issei, those children…”
Griselda-san continued with tears running down her cheek.
“Dulio, as the strongest within the church—and also one of its most kind youths. That child, was too kind.”
Dulio opened his wings, and the confrontation with Walburga and Crom Cruach began.
“I’m sorry, I cannot allow you to go any further. Inside — my brothers and sisters do not want any more painful memories, this is the place where they can be free, so that’s why you will not disturb them.”
Dulio showed a smile, but, his body was releasing a powerful presence.
“—It makes sense that an angel would be protecting Heaven.”
In the next moment, Walburga’s eyes shined with a strange light! Pillars of purple flame appeared all around Dulio, and slowly surrounded him! But, Dulio didn’t show the slightest concern, and simply waved his hand. The purple flames instantly froze! The pillar of flames became a pillar of ice. Dulio said to Irina
“Alright, Ace Irina. Advance, and quickly open the door.”
“Joker-sama! I have—”
Joker shook his head at the battle-ready Irina and Xenovia. “These are formidable enemies, I will find a way. …I am their opponent.”
Indeed, right now we must go quickly. …if we use our energy here, we don’t know if we’ll be able to save Irina’s father. Anyway, in front of us were eight serpent-men, and Rizevim hasn’t shown up yet either! But, they didn’t seem to be my opponent.
“I wish to fight against the Sekiryuutei one more time!”
Crom Cruach narrowed the distance between us! And started attacking me at close range! Whilst dodging his punches and kicks, I decided, and began the chant for Cardinal Crimson!
“—I, who is about to awaken, am the Sekiryuutei who holds the truth of the king up high! Holding the infinite hopes and unbreakable dreams, walking the path of righteousness! I, will become the emperor of the crimson dragon—!” “And I will lead you to the path of Heaven glowing in deep crimson light—!”
A deep crimson light enveloped me, and my armour gradually changed to crimson! My power was increased! But—
[“Ah, that’s right, partner. Hold up. The energy expended using Longinus Smasher has not been restored yet. If we try to go past the limit, it’ll just end with an explosion!”]
…I know that, Ddraig! Is the “exploration” over already? I asked Ddraig. Because Ddraig and Albion were working together to regain their abilities they possessed when they were alive, they opened up the channel between the two sacred gears and were exploring the depths of the sacred gear. So, even the power of God’s holy book and the seal could be explored. Ddraig sometimes dived into the depths of the sacred gear, along with Albion, to explore the seal. In fact, they should show some results soon. Ddraig said
[“…Almost. Though this is awful timing, but, in order to keep up, I’ll dive back into the sacred gear.”]
Oh, come on, partner. Ddraig said that one of his abilities when he was alive could be effective against Rizevim! At the same time as I was talking to Ddraig, I was still fighting with Crom Cruach! If I land a hit, he comes right back at me! And that guy just struck a blow…! If I get hit I’ll be sent flying back and may lose consciousness from the shock and damage! If I was hit by a combo, my armour will be crushed to pieces! My crimson armour was already covered with cracks all over! In the instant he hit, I used [Rook] to defend … but, he didn’t flinch! This evil dragon is still the same, he is very good at close combat! Even in the midst of an intense battle, he still smiled!
Xenovia and Irina raised their swords to show their support, but, that bastard Crom Cruach was able to knock away the holy swords with a single punch! Even the duo of Xenovia and Irina was caught off guard! —But, fighting against two more opponents created an opening! Just as I was about to fire a dragonshot — in between me and the evil dragon, a flame cross appeared, and blocked the way! However, the one who was angrier than anyone else — was Crom Cruach.
“—Don’t get in my way, witch!”
Crom Cruach roared at his supposed partner Walburga. The witch simply laughed loudly.
“Haha, you dislike it. I was just trying to help you ♪.”
Seeing the laughing Walburga, Crom Cruach stopped fighting. He said in disdain
“…Because of this, I don’t like complicated battles. In fact, I’d most like…”
Whilst in a battle with ice and fire against Dulio, she said
“You really think that? Because of this, big brother Crom lost his master, and even had a difficult time right?”
Hearing this, the evil dragon looked down, shook his head, and walked off in a completely unexpected direction.
“…You’re on your own now. I’ll wait for you to get killed.”
Even Walburga was surprised at what Crom Cruach just said. It wasn’t serious, it was just a joke, but now he looked completely unmotivated.
“Lies! Now is not the time to be sulking, we have to fight together right?”
“I can’t work together with a witch who looks down on dragons. If you’re dead, it just means I’ll be fighting against the Sekiryuutei and Joker right?”
The helpless witch sighed deeply.
“…Grendel is good, the charcoal dragon (Aži Dahāka??) is good, Apo (Apophis primordial dark dragon) is good, you are good, and all these dragons are hard to understand.”
The evil dragon which lost its will to fight stayed silent. Walburga was now alone. I pointed my arm towards her, and the sword wielding duo also pointed their swords towards her. Including Joker, there were four opponents against her. Also, our healer Asia was also with us. …Without too much trouble, we should be able to take her on. Walburga covered her entire body with flames, thus protecting herself! However, Dulio sent all of his icicles at once to attack her! Walburga made a wry smile.
“…Haha, I haven’t used my balance breaker yet…. But, today I’m very tired, so I’ll be leaving.”
The witch also seemed to have lost her motivation. In the battle at Auros Academy, when I went after Euclid after he abducted Rosseweisse-san, she used her balance breaker. Even though I heard that it wasn’t a bad fight, but against a dragon’s power—in balance breaker, using her sacred gear without balance breaker would make it difficult for her, thus after giving up the fight, she was no longer serious and her only option was to retreat. In other words, from the very beginning she was never serious in the fight. Gasper in his dark state had a good fight, but that witch seems more interested in messing around on the battlefield. Sona-kaichou had commented on Walburga.
“She will fight while she has the advantage, but in a situation where it is evenly matched or at a disadvantage, she will definitely not fight for a long time.”
Walburga shifted her feet and made a magic circle. It looks like Sona-kaichou’s assessment of her was right. Dulio smiled after seeing Walburga’s attempt to escape, then clicked his fingers. Then, thunderclouds began to gather over her! He intends to release it right below!
“Here, this is a gift.”
With that, Dulio unleashed the lightning! At the same time, all around Walburga were countless icicles! Walburga’s lips quivered, and she suddenly released a large amount of purples flames!
“Don’t underestimate me!”
Walburga used the purples flames to dissolve the icicles everywhere, and the lightning which came from above — Walburga threw her parasol into the air, so that, when the lightning struck, she insulated herself. However, one of the icicles was able to scratch her clothing! Although I was able to see Walburga’s white skin, she disappeared into the light. She was already prepared to escape. Just before she disappeared, she had stuck out her tongue and given us the middle finger. …This was because Dulio was there, but her body language did not translate to that of revenge.
…The situation after the witch disappeared. The evil dragon who took a brief glance — Crom Cruach, since his partnership with the witch was now over, the atmosphere became tense again. …and the fight continued! Dulio looked like he was full of energy and the evil dragon made a wry smile.
“Aha, hahahaha. Compared to the user of the flame cross, this evil dragon would be more troublesome, and even more powerful. She was annoying — but, you won’t let me go will you?”
Of course, the evil dragon did not nod.
“The Sekiryuutei and Heaven’s Joker, as opponents, it’s a rare combination. Against such strong opponents and in such a situation, I have no reason to retreat.”
“Aha, a battle maniac? I really don’t want to compare you with Vali-san…”
And then, Dulio — made a suggestion.
“Evil dragon Crom-san. —If it’s just me, will that make you unsatisfied? Don’t look at me like that, I have also defeated many dragons.”
…Dulio plans to take him on by himself! Crom Cruach made a fearless smile.
“So you say. —I can’t see a single opening in you. So you plan to let the Sekiryuutei and the others go ahead first. Haha, fine. I’ll let Joker the dragon slayer entertain me.”
They locked their eyes onto each other. Without letting his eyes wander from his opponent, Dulio said to me
“Well then, it has been decided. Now, go. —I’ll need my balance breaker. Although it is banned from use in Heaven, this is an urgent matter.”
…Dulio, is planning to go all out! I and the church trio silently agreed, and decided to go ahead! Forget about two against one, it was now one on one…! Certainly, the opponent isn’t just a simple dragon. In comparison to Walburga, this is a much stronger legendary evil dragon! Suddenly, Dulio said to Asia
An innocent smile appeared on Dulio’s face.
“Next time, shall I take you to the institution where you grew up? Of course,with Issei-san beside you and your friends will all go together. —Everyone really cares about you.”
…Did Dulio look into where Asia was born…? Hearing his words, Asia covered her mouth with her hands and looked very emotional. Dulio raised his index finger and said
“My rules. The children who grew up in church facilities are all my brothers and sisters. So, Asia-chan and Xenovia-chan are like my little sisters. That’s why, brother must try his best.”
Having said this, Dulio opened his ten wings and engaged Crom Cruach.
“—Go now, Issei-san. Leave Crom Cruach to me. Because I am not only Joker, I am also the leader of ‘DxD’, so, I should also show my handsome side right?”
…Really, why are guys who are my partners…! Without turning my head I said to Dulio
“Dulio, don’t die. Indeed, you really are a nice guy.”
Dulio — our leader waved his hand back as a response. —Guys who are my comrades, they’re all stupid and try to play the handsome guy. A fierce battle had started behind me, but I picked up the pace and raced forward!
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