High School DxD:Volume 22 Life 4

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Life.4 The Opening Ceremony of the Rating Game World Tournament, the “Azazel Cup”![edit]

Part 1[edit]

It was already slightly past mid-April—.

After school, I — Kiba Yuuto, started our club activities in the club room.

“Today’s activity is an investigative report on the Youkai.”

Asia-buchou gave us this task and we were now presenting the results of our report. Koneko-chan distributed a copy of the report to everyone, which was compiled from the information that all of us had previously researched and summarised. As new first year students, Le Fay-san and Bennia-san began to read it with great interest since they were also new members.

“So there are also Youkai in this town, but I wonder what kind of Youkai they are.”

<< There are many things that I do not know. Based on my knowledge, there should be a high variance in their appearance. >>

Both of them seemed to fit in to Kuoh Academy’s uniform very well.

“Umu! I will join you as well! If it’s about Youkai, then you can leave it to me!”

It was Kunou-san, who came over to visit us after her primary school classes ended. She moved into the Hyoudou household starting from this Spring, and then officially enrolled into Kuoh Academy’s primary school. Because she had to mingle with humans, her ears and tails were usually concealed, just like Koneko-chan’s. There was also a new face in the club room—.

“…Umm, Isaiah. How do I read this kanji?”

Tosca asked me as she looked at the report. I immediately taught her how to pronounce it with

“This is—”

Indeed, Tosca also transferred into Kuoh Academy’s middle school division. Although there were many areas that she was unfamiliar with, her new life was slowly, yet surely beginning. She was also able to come here to visit us after school. She was able to learn a lot more at school, experience so many more things, and laugh more as well, so I was happy for her. Of course, your middle school uniform also suits you, Tosca. Like this, there were new members who joined our newly restructured club during the new school term. However, there were several members who were absent today. Kunou threw a gaze at the vacant seat.

“Ise and the others haven’t come yet huh.”

Kunou-san’s mumbled words revealed a trace of loneliness. Indeed, Ise-kun hadn’t yet come today. Likewise, Ravel-san wasn’t here either. Asia-san apologised to her.

“I’m sorry Kunou-san, Ise-san is—”

“I understand. —He’s preparing for the Tournament, right?”

Indeed, just as Kunou-san said, as the leader of his team – the [King] - he was constantly recruiting members for the Rating Game World Tournament, as well as training his team since the beginning of the Spring break. It was because of that that he was late today. Asia-san and Xenovia originally wanted to accompany him, but both of them were unable to be absent due to their positions. Ise-kun had also said to them

“You two absolutely must be there as the Kaichou and Buchou[1].”

Then again, tomorrow will be the opening day of the Rating Game World Tournament. Time is running out, Ise-kun. Although our team doesn’t have you, what’s surprising is that we’re not only completely prepared, but everything has gone so smoothly that it’s hard to believe. —At that time, the sound of rushing footsteps came from the corridor. The door was forcefully pushed open as Ise-kun and Ravel-san made their way in.

“We’re late! Sorry!”

Wow, despite how busy he was, he still came for the club activities, as expected of Ise-kun.

“Well then, let’s all go over the report once more.”

After they heard that from me, the activity of the new Occult Research Club with all its members present officially began. The third years consisted of the Buchou Asia-san, me as the Fukubuchou, Ise-kun, Irina-san, as well as Xenovia who occasionally dropped by. The second years consisted of Koneko-chan, Gasper-kun, and Ravel-san. The new first years were Le Fay-san and Bennia-san. There were also our preliminary members consisting of Tosca from the middle school, and Kunou from the primary school. After Rias-neesan and Akeno-san left the Occult Research Club that they reconstructed, our members began their activities, and it became splendid and lively again—. But, Rias-neesan and Akeno-san occasionally come here in the afternoon after their lectures have ended. Well, tomorrow is going to be the opening ceremony of the Rating Game World Tournament. After our activities, Koneko-chan, Gasper-kun and I will have to join Rias-neesan and the others for a strategy meeting. Ise-kun, I’m looking forward to it. Your new team!

Part 2[edit]

And so, although that was what I was looking forward to yesterday, when it came to the day of the opening ceremony, none of Ise-kun’s team members had arrived yet. It was right before the opening ceremony was going to begin. In front of us, Rias Gremory’s Team, was the enormous stadium where the opening ceremony would be conducted in. It had been newly constructed within the Maous’ territory of the Underworld for the purpose of the Tournament. The size of the facility was beyond belief, and if it was compared to the size of the Tokyo Dome[2], its width would be greater by at least ten times. Helicopters had begun filming from above the stadium and there were media cameras set up everywhere within the stadium, as it would not only be broadcast live throughout the entire Underworld, but also across every faction's territory. The audience was composed of visitors of every faction who had come here today so it was full to the brim. Those of us who were contestants had all gathered in the centre of the enormous Game Field. Not only were there the Devils that the Rating Game originated from, but there were also Angels, Fallen Angels, Humans, Youkai, and many other races. There were even God-class beings amongst them.

With Rias-neesan acting as the [King], the rest of our team included Akeno-san, Koneko-chan, Gasper-kun, our newly added members, and myself. The person who seemed a bit overwhelmed by seeing a crowd of so many other players was — Valerie-san.

“There sure are a lot of people.”

“Valerie, don’t leave my side.”

Gasper-kun was tightly holding onto Valerie-san’s hand out of fear that she would get lost if she left his side. Indeed, a new member of ours was Valerie-san. Naturally, she was not participating as one of Rias Gremory’s servant Devils, but as a non-servant member of our team in this tournament.

“Oh dear me, there are people everywhere I look.”

The person who spoke was a cloaked girl who had put the edge of her hand against her forehead as she gazed out into the distance. The girl’s white and black streaked hair was tied up above her head. The cloaked girl said to Koneko-chan

“It seems like there are more than a thousand teams participating. If memory serves me, it was one thousand and forty five. That said, it seems like not all team members will be present here.”

“Nonetheless, the presence of more people doesn’t make a difference to me.”

The girl revealed a faint smile as she said that. I asked the girl

“Is it your first time at a large event venue like this? —Lint-san.”

“Well, it is the first time for me. After all, I’ve been in the training facilities affiliated with the warriors’ training institution for a long time. No, but there are simply humans humans humans, Devils Devils Devils, Fallen Angels, Angels Angels, and occasionally even Gods? Really, I wonder what is going on here?”

Lint Selzan’s tone was completely light-hearted. The new Gremory Team also had another new member. She had been added in as a [Knight], like me, to fill in for the vacancy that Xenovia left behind as a sword-wielder. Details aside, both the Church and the Grigori strongly recommended her, so she became a member of our team. By the way, similarly to Valerie, neither of them are members of Rias Gremory’s peerage. At present, they are simply members who have been invited to our team for the sake of the tournament…. Selzan—. If she was introduced to Ise-kun, he would definitely be so surprised to hear that name that he would be left speechless. After all, even I was rather astounded when I heard of it. After meeting her, I could more or less see that person’s shadow. Their frivolous tones were quite similar, but she wasn’t vulgar in comparison to that person. In fact, our team actually has another new member, our other team member…. But it looks like he isn't here. Well, whatever, I’ll see him when the time for our match comes anyway…. However, according to that person’s temperament, if the opponent isn’t immensely strong, then they may not even show up…. At least after having completed the registration of members, there isn’t a problem even if he doesn’t show up at the opening ceremony…. Speaking of which, the opening ceremony only requires either the [King] or the [Queen] of a team to attend. In our case, almost all of us are attending.

Now then, I’ll briefly explain the general outline of this tournament. The first is eligibility for participation. There aren’t any particular restrictions on the participants, and Devils are able to participate in teams that aren’t the peerage they belong to. The only one who is essential for the registration is the core of the team, the [King]. As for the rest of the team members, all they have to do is finalise their registrations before the beginning of a match, and at the same time, changes of team members are also allowed. (Although there seem to be a limit on the number of members who can be changed at a time), but only the [King] cannot be changed. It is also forbidden for players to participate in two different teams. If such a thing is discovered, they will be immediately disqualified. There is also a penalty for the teams the player belonged to. That is to say, team members can be constantly replaced in this tournament, and new members can also be added to the team. Our team still had some vacancies, and so it was not complete.

Next are the tournament’s rules for team formation. Like the Rating Games, there are at most one of the [King] and [Queen], there are at most two of the [Rook], [Bishop] and [Knight] roles, while there can be a maximum of eight [Pawn] positions. This caps the maximum number of team members to sixteen. Players are registered according to their respective roles. As mentioned earlier, the composition of a team is not restricted, so the [King] is able to register their players to roles in accordance with their preferences. Although a Devil might have originally been a [Knight], it is permitted for him to participate as a [Rook] in this tournament. According to the original [Evil Pieces] and the rules of the Rating Game, the value and number of pieces used to turn someone into their servant varies based on their natural qualities and abilities. But, this concept has practically been abolished under the rules of the current tournament. The special characteristics of each of the chess pieces will activate at the beginning of a match. Even for people who aren’t using the Evil Pieces, as long as they are registered as a [Knight], they will gain the characteristic of increased speed at the beginning of a match. As for the Devils who use the Evil Pieces, if they are registered under a different piece from their original, their inherent piece’s characteristics will be overridden by their tournament piece’s characteristics at the beginning of a match.

For example, if I were to participate as a [Rook], then I would lose the characteristics of my [Knight] piece during a match, and instead gain the characteristics of a [Rook] piece. This was what I thought were one of the most interesting rules of this competition. Secondly, the concept of a pawn piece’s value had been invalidated in this tournament. Even if a servant originally possessed multiple pieces, it would become equivalent to having one unless they were a God-class being. A simple example would be Kuroka, who possesses two [Bishop] pieces, but according to the rules of this tournament, she is counted as having only one. That’s why it would be possible for Vali to register both Kuroka and Le Fay-san as his bishops.

For those who are God-class beings, a single God-class being takes up two of the [Rook], [Knight], or [Bishop] pieces. For those who are regarded as powerful Gods, if they were considered in a one-to-one ratio with others, the competition would become too unbalanced. As such, under most circumstances, one God-class being is considered as being equivalent to two [Rook], [Knight], or [Bishop] pieces. Of course, for the people whose strength is comparable to that of a God-class being, they are also judged according to this standard. However, there is a limit to the conversion of a piece’s value. The limitations for [Pawn] pieces are very strict. It is because a [Pawn] piece can be promoted to a [Queen] that such limitations are in place. Otherwise, there would be many [King] players who would register their strongest players as [Pawn] pieces, and thus the outcome of the Game would depend entirely on the pawns. If there were eight Ultimate-class Devils registered as [Pawn] pieces, who all then promoted to [Queen], the Game would become rather terrifying. Similarly, when God-class beings are registered as [Pawn] pieces, there are many limitations.

What follows are the so-called ‘basics’, which have essentially been abolished. Even though the number of God-class beings participating is less than ten percent, they are still opponents who cannot be underestimated. Among the Gods participating, the most famous one is Śakra[3]. He is one of the most watched figures. He was also attending the opening ceremony, and occupied a corner of the stadium. There was no one who dared to approach that God. When Śakra announced that he was going to participate, there were many other Gods who gave up on the tournament. He was the leader of the magnificent Four Heavenly Kings — Dhṛtarāṣṭra, Virūḍhaka, Virūpākṣa, Vaiśravaṇa[4]; he had immediately become the most favourable candidate.

“……”

And then there was the one who was staring silently at Śakra, the Prince of the Asuras, Mahabali. He had already entered a state of vigilance, and he seemed ready to unleash the fierce aura that covered his body onto Śakra at the earliest opportunity. And the person standing a slight distance away from him and watching on was—.

“Hohoho, you want to fight it out with the Heavenly Emperor? Don’t worry; it won’t be too late to think about it even when the time comes.”

It was the first generation Sun Wukong, the Victorious Fighting Buddha.

“Hey, monkey, why isn’t this opening ceremony thing starting yet?”

“…Grruu I’m hungry.”

The ones beside him who complained were a bearded elderly man, and an old pig-headed man. They were the first-generation Sha Wujing, Golden-bodied Arhat , and the first-generation Zhu Bajie, Cleaner of the Altars.

“Aahhh, aahhh, why do I have to join you as well!?”

Whilst on the other side, a miniature Eastern Dragon was weeping — Yu-Long. In order to suit the opening ceremony, he reduced his own size.

“……”

The person who sat down silently in meditation was a boy wearing clothing of a lotus design — the Nezha Prince. This line-up was the team that the first-generation Sun Wukong originally led in the ‘Journey to the West’. They had been pushed into the category of being most noteworthy to watch due to their popularity. We had also greeted them earlier.

Next was the Flame Giant who had come from Northern Europe — Surtr. This Flame Giant was probably the most conspicuous person present. With a height of nearly twenty five metres (even this seems to be after a height limiter), a clone of him known as Second-sama was among one of Sirzechs-sama’s peerage members, but this one was the original.

[Gahahahaha!]

Amongst the people gathered in the stadium (at present), the largest one was a blue-skinned giant who was thirty metres tall. He had wings on his back, the upper body of a human, and the lower body of a snake. He was a player from the Greek Mythology, the King of Monsters — Typhon. There were also Gods who had come from other mythologies, but the few who were just mentioned are the most unique Gods among them. Most of the Gods who were regarded as the most powerful beings from various mythologies participated in the Evil Dragon War against Trihexa as part of the main force…but from the looks of things, there are still quite a few powerful Gods remaining. However, in regards to Gods being able to participate, many had the view that the competition would become unbalanced…. This concern was not incomprehensible. But precisely because this tournament exists, the participants also include a few strong contestants who can compete against the Gods. Moreover, we’ve also overcome that brutal Evil Dragon War, so our own strength has considerably improved. Even if our opponents are Gods, we won’t go down against them so easily.

This World Tournament gathered the strongest forces of every faction, so there was even the possibility of seeing an unknown team take down a God with strategy alone. According to the rumours, Champion Diehauser Belial, who should still be imprisoned, seems to have registered. It seems like it was something that the Maou Ajuka Beelzebub-sama did. Apparently his [Queen] is attending the opening ceremony on his behalf today. Under the circumstances that he is able to participate, knowing his personality, he would probably make some kind of statement, right…? Well, that’s also somewhat noteworthy.

Among the people who had formed a team within a short timeframe, they had other reasons aside from simply their reputation or honour. This was because the winning team of the tournament would receive a ‘victory prize’. —Being able to fulfil as many wishes as possible. That was what the ‘victory prize’ was. The VIPs of each faction had all supported Azazel-sensei and Sirzechs-sama who advocated the tournament, so they also made efforts to prepare the ‘victory prize’. The research of the Grigori, the technology from Heaven and the Underworld, the World Tree of Norse Mythology and so on, the mysteries of each mythology would be assembled together in order to fulfil the wishes of the champion team. There was no doubt that this announcement was the driving force behind the drastic increase in the number of participants. The participating Gods were also aiming for the ‘victory prize’. In the meantime, the request of ‘Please make the world more chaotic’ had already been denied in advance. Those who carried a wish gathered together. And as a result, the number of participating teams in this tournament was beyond measure. However, in order to enter the actual competition — there would only be sixteen teams in the final tournament. Looking at the number of participating teams, it would be very difficult to squeeze into the top sixteen teams.

According to Rias-neesan’s predictions, as the tournament progresses, the number of teams that abstain will slowly increase…. The qualifying rounds will begin tomorrow, and in comparison to Kuoh Academy’s schedule, it was good that it would continue until the end of our summer break. The system of qualifying rounds is based on the original Rating Game of the Devils, where the number of wins and losses — is in the form of points. This rule was borrowed from the game of chess that the Rating Game was based on. To begin with, each team had 1500 points, and they would accumulate more points by playing matches. If they defeated a team with a higher score than their own, they would receive more points. On the other hand, if they were defeated by a team with a lower score than their own, then their score would fall sharply. Matches in this format would last until the end of summer. At the end of this period, the sixteen teams with the highest score would progress into the final tournament. Since there are more than a thousand teams participating, with even Gods also participating, the threshold to progress into the finals is incredibly high. In addition, participation in the qualifying rounds was decided exclusively by each team. If they wanted to fight, and if they wanted to gain points, then they would register with the organisers, and they would then be matched to a team that also wanted to fight. In other words, the management of a team was entirely dependent on the team itself. Tuning the team’s status as well as its command was key. Rias-neesan said

“The adjustment of the entire team is the most critical thing. The key to victory is not about winning, but to avoid engaging in meaningless fights.”

“If you don’t plan out the schedule properly, you’ll only end up suffering.”

Akeno-san added. The most important thing would be the total number of points earned on the final day of the qualifying rounds. Even if there were several losses, as long as the final score was high enough, it would still be enough to pass the qualifiers. This was what Rias-neesan meant in that the key to victory was not winning. However, having more wins may well be a good thing since points could increase with every win. Even if there was a loss, it would not put anyone at a significant disadvantage. Therefore, it was important to adjust the whole team, so that when it came time to earn points, it wasn’t about winning every single match, but to manage the points in the most optimal manner. Speaking of which…Ise-kun is really late. I looked at my watch as I confirmed that. It was already time for the opening ceremony. There had also been a broadcast announcement saying ‘The opening ceremony will begin soon’. Gasper-kun also seemed worried about Ise-kun as he said

“Ise-senpai is somewhat late…. The minimum requirement for the opening ceremony is to have the [King] or [Queen] present…”

Could it be that someone new whom we don’t recognise has come here as his [Queen] on their own while he’s resting…? I don’t think that’s the case. After all, Ise-kun did say to me ‘I’ll definitely attend the opening ceremony!’. Just while we were worried about where Ise-kun was — the venue became even noisier than it already was.

“H-Hey! Look at that!”

Despite not knowing who shouted that out, we all looked up at the sky. As soon as we looked up — we noticed that there was an enormous object flying towards the venue! It was a flying boat with a hull that was reminiscent of a dragon! Every one of the media’s cameras turned to capture that scene, and the host of the venue also exclaimed loudly.

<<Wow! A flying boat has appeared in the sky above the stadium! What’s more, it’s a flying ship adorned with the design of a dragon, and it has just appeared directly over the stadium! Ah! If we take a look at the footage from the helicopters, it appears as though there are people on board that airship!>>

The large screens within the stadium displayed a live stream. Upon seeing the figure of the person who was on the screen, we couldn’t help but feel amazed. The people who appeared there were Ise-kun and the others wearing a crimson uniform! Rias-neesan exclaimed in surprise

“Ise!? T-Then, that flying ship is Ise’s familiar?”

I see! There was a high chance that that flying boat was Ise-kun’s familiar! The magic boat that Sirzechs-sama’s [Rook] Surtr Second-sama had given to Ise-kun. It was originally so small that it looked like a model ship…but after a while of not having seen it, it had actually become such an enormous airship! Perhaps because of Ise-kun’s growth, it had also grown large in proportion. After growing to such an extent, it had naturally become a flying fortress. Ise-kun’s Dragon Deification may have also influenced its exterior dragon-like appearance. Ise-kun clicked his fingers, and the flying boat became enveloped in a dense smoke — and then became small. Ise-kun and the others then jumped directly down into the stadium, followed by a splendid landing. Ise-kun held Asia-san with a princess carry before letting her down, and moved towards us as soon as he caught sight of us. Ise-kun, Asia-san, Xenovia, Irina-san, Ravel-san, and Rossweisse-san weren’t wearing Kuoh Academy’s uniform, but a similarly styled red uniform; this was probably their team uniform. Following behind Ise-kun was a dragon who was more than ten metres long and with an appearance that was quite similar to the Devil Dragon Tannin-sama. He was Tannin-sama’s son who had wanted to assist Ise-kun. So he also became a member of his team. With the body of an enormous dragon behind him, Ise-kun was really becoming more and more ‘king-like’. However, there was also another member that we didn’t know. It was a masked person who wore a red cloak. The mask was also red, and one couldn’t help but think of a dragon upon seeing it. The player had a slender body, so it was probably a woman…. Ise-kun smiled wryly as he said

“Ah, sorry to make you all wait. We finally finished our uniforms, but only at the last minute.”

I see, so they were late because they were preparing their clothing. Rias-neesan asked Ise-kun

“Then that flying ship — is Ryuuteimaru?”

Asia-san nodded.

“Yes, in fact…its recent growth is what caught Ise-san’s attention…”

…So he only noticed it by coincidence? Well, after all, since he wasn’t always looking at it, perhaps even Ise-kun, as its master had almost forgotten about it. Unusual things always seem to happen at the beginning and end of the year.

“You finally came, Hyoudou Issei.”

—At that time, upon seeing Ise-kun’s flashy entrance, familiar faces began to come over one by one. The first one was Sairaorg Bael-san. Ise-kun also looked pleased to see Sairaorg Bael-san.

“Sairaorg-san! Yes, I’ve come. —Along with my team.”

The next person was — Cao Cao.

“Hehe, it looks like I’ll have an opportunity for revenge.”

“Cao Cao! Yeah, I’ll defeat you head-on this time!”

Ise-kun courageously responded to Cao Cao’s challenge. Then, a special man stood before him. —Vali Lucifer.

“Hyoudou Issei, so you’ve come. Excellent.”

Vali extended his fist out, to which Ise-kun also extended his. Their two fists bumped with each other.

“Yeah, Vali. Let’s have a good battle as the Heavenly Dragons.”

Afterwards, Rias-neesan majestically declared to Ise-kun as his master, lover, and opponent

“Ise, since you’re participating, we’ll be opponents. —I won’t lose to you.”

Ise-kun held Rias-neesan’s hand.

“Me too. Rias, I will defeat you!”

Beside her, Koneko-chan also said to Ise-kun

“Even if it’s Ise-senpai, I won’t let you defeat Rias-neesama. Right, Gya-kun?”

“Of course! —Ise-senpai, since we’ll have to fight, I’ll fight head-on!”

Gasper-kun also fearlessly declared that to Ise-kun. Ise-kun replied delightedly

“Yeah, Gasper. That’s right, us Gremory males have to show our talents.”

I also frankly declared to Ise-kun

“Me too, Ise-kun. I’m also looking forward to a serious match against you from the bottom of my heart.”

I — am Rias Gremory’s sword. Even if the opponent standing in front of me is Ise-kun — I will still cut through him. Ise-kun thrust his fist towards my chest as he said

“Kiba, wait until that time. There’s no need to worry. —Fight me with your true skill!”

After we told each other our true thoughts, our rivals who have fought side by side with us gradually gathered together.

“It looks like we’re all here. Well well, it looks like this competition will become quite interesting.”

“Ufufu, I won’t lose. Rias, Ise-kun.”

“Rather than the [Rookies Four], it would be better to call this a competition between the elites of every faction.”

“Since you’re here to participate, that’s better than anything.”

Dulio-san, the Sitri team, Seekvaira Agares-san, Ikuse Tobio; the members of [DxD] had all gathered together. And then, the official announcement for the opening ceremony was broadcast.

<<The time has come. The Rating Game World Tournament, the opening ceremony of the [Azazel Cup] is now officially starting. Would the teams please—>>

Just like that, our short and long final high school life began with the opening ceremony of the World Tournament.


Translator's Notes and References[edit]

  1. Council President and Club President respectively.
  2. A multi-purpose squarish stadium in Tokyo’s Bunkyo Ward, with a width of approximately 216m.
  3. Śakra goes by various names, such as Indra, The Heavenly Emperor, and Taishakuten.
  4. The romanised Japanese names and their meanings respectively: Jikoku-ten (he who upholds the realm), Zōchō-ten (he who causes to grow), Kōmoku-ten (he who sees all), Bishamon-ten (he who hears everything).
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