High School DxD:Volume 22 Life 5
Life.5 Go, the Sekiryuutei Team!
Ten days had already passed since the beginning of the World Tournament—.
All of the members of the [Sekiryuutei of the Blazing Truth] team were gathered in the Hyoudou household — in the room that belonged to me, Hyoudou Issei. Everyone showed a bitter expression. All of us were watching the news program displayed on the television screen which was being broadcast from the Underworld. —The news program was introducing us. This section was introducing the events of the World Tournament that started not long ago, which is why there was also some commentary on us.
“The highly anticipated hope of the Underworld, the [Sekiryuutei of the Blazing Truth] team has a proud record of three straight wins since the beginning of the qualifying round, but they always seem to have their flaws and loopholes exposed by others during the competition, and this surprising outcome led to the emergence of disappointed opinions. Regardless of whether this is from the general public or critics, they have been on the receiving end of some harsh judgement—”
The video that was played back was of our situation during the matches. We had won three straight times to date, but…. In the recording of me that was shown, the opposing team had just revealed one of our flaws, causing us to receive an unexpected counterattack, so to be precise, we did not achieve total victories. For now, we have won matches against teams of Devils, human special ability users, and Orcs. The television program was playing back one of the areas where we did not perform well, and it was actually quite ridiculous. Playback of scenes where my attack missed, Xenovia was attacked from her blind spot, Irina was penalised for violating special rules, and so on were shown one by one. The cameras turned towards the general public who were in the audience. They also seemed to show complicated expressions on their faces.
“Since he’s had a very early promotion to become a High-class Devil, we’ve all been looking forward to a lot. After all, the [King] Princess Rias who allowed him to grow and develop truly is incredible.”
…Other teams had also been penalised for breaking the rules, and also appeared to have losses in a few aspects. My team was the only one to be presented in such a manner. The next section was an interview of a mother and her child. The child was holding a figurine of the ‘Oppai Dragon’ in its hands.
“My child is a fan of the ‘Oppai Dragon’, so we came together to cheer him on, but it feels as though every match is rather disorganised…. Watching the matches of the other young Devils is actually somewhat more comfortable.”
This time it was time for the child who was a fan of mine to speak—
“I want to say that the matches of the ‘Oppai Dragon’ don’t feel very interesting. That’s because if they’re not running all over the place, then they’re releasing super gigantic light beams. Also, the Oppai Dragon doesn’t even say oppai oppai.”
That really is some merciless criticism. …They specifically chose people who cared about us, and then criticised us to such an extent. I really hate these media reporters. They even went as far as to show the criticism from the child…. The stream then returned back to the news room. The host was listening to the critics’ opinions.
“Under ordinary rules, Hyoudou Issei-shi relies on sheer power to suppress his opponents with light blasts, but under the special rules, his actions are actually unfavourable. It is evident that Hyoudou Issei-shi, who has attained various honours in actual combat does not actually have a very good understanding of the Rating Game as it is an entirely different thing.”
The critic sighed, and then continued onwards.
“After all, he was formerly a player who was a symbol of strength for the Rias Gremory team that tends to rely on power to win. When put in the position of commander like this, it’s no wonder that he is unfamiliar with the rules and is unable to adapt. Not to mention that the same power-type contestant Xenovia—”
Ravel simply switched the television off, without any intention of listening to the rest of the critic’s opinion.
“Even if the situation is evident, it can’t really be helped.”
Xenovia said bitterly.
“…Are they planning to talk about my situation next?”
“Yes, it certainly is a very ruthless critique of us one after the other.”
Irina also nodded silently. Ravel summarised what had just been stated on the television program.
“What they’ve said is the truth. But it won’t help even if we concern ourselves with the public’s evaluation of us. We need to cheer up. I believe I said this before the start of the qualifying round, in order to progress into the final group, the number of wins is not an absolute condition.”
“The important thing is the number of points, right?”
“In order to enter the finals of the tournament, we must be one of the top sixteen teams by the end of the qualifiers. Points are ordered from highest to lowest, we gain points by winning, and we lose points by losing. In other words, a high score is not equivalent to the number of matches. If we were to have losses and wins continuously, then we won’t be able to obtain a high score.”
Regardless of wins and losses, all that was needed was a high score at the end in order to enter the final sixteen. Before the tournament started, I spoke with Kiba and the others about this while we were simply chatting. Ravel continued
“Everyone is somewhat jumbled together at the beginning of the qualifiers. Scores are generally the same, so for the time being, there are a lot of people who are simply observing. The real difference should appear during the middle period. From then on, the higher-ranked teams will have a clear goal, and that’s when the race begins.”
Also, no matter if they win or lose, the number of wins of a powerful team will definitely continue to increase, and there will inevitably be a gap between them and the weaker teams. And the time when this becomes the most evident is at the halfway mark. Rossweisse-san took over as she continued
“Towards the latter half, there may be powerful teams that deliberately abstain from participating in matches.”
Ravel nodded in agreement.
“Because there are so many participating teams, it’s not easy to predict which team we may go up against. If we run into a difficult team and lose, then the points that we’d have accumulated up until then will fall. That’s why the score at that time will become the highest score of the team, and then all that’s left will be to sit and wait for the qualifiers to end. In the latter half, trying to squeeze into the final group from a low position will probably be very difficult.”
In other words, avoiding matches is also a strategy. Also, as long as we make it into the top sixteen, all we have to do is avoid any actions that will lower our points, moreover, our stamina isn’t limitless either. Ravel raised her index finger.
“The most important thing in this tournament is the time when our team should participate. It is impossible to keep our physical condition and momentum in the best possible condition throughout the entire competition period. So we need to look out for opportunities to break through during the qualifiers, and then build up all our points at once. Of course, if there are matches that we can avoid, then we should do so.”
We should avoid competing against the God-class beings who occupy the upper ranks. However, according to the rules of this tournament, if we run into them and have no other choice, then it’ll be important to take good care of the team’s overall state during that time. Ravel then turned the conversation towards me
“—Ise-sama, the idea of wanting to defeat everyone is impossible. From a social perspective, you should accept challenges from others, but your team has a limit, and if you accept every challenge, then the team will fall apart because it cannot cope. Remember that you shouldn’t allow your score to decline unnecessarily. The lives of the entire team have been entrusted to you as the [King], and deciding which is a suitable match is also the responsibility of the [King]. If the occasion arises where you must decline, please be determined to do so. The primary goal here is to enter the finals.”
My strategic advisor-sama truly has a perfect grasp of my psyche. I shrugged.
“Alright, I understand. Since everyone has entrusted their lives to me, I won’t do anything reckless. If I think that what lies ahead is not good, I also have the tolerance to step down and retreat. But — knowing that it is a match that we must face, running away and not facing it head on is not like me…and it’s not like us either, right?”
I asked my members. Xenovia folded her arms as she nodded firmly.
“As expected of Ise. That’s right, when we’re going to go, we should charge to the end all at once.”
My [Pawn] who had been shrunk to a miniature size — Bova, seemed to have become so emotional that he shed tears.
“That’s right, my lord! Ooh, this is the very reason why I became a subordinate of the Sekiryuutei!”
This dragon always has a grateful look whenever I say anything or do anything, and acts like this as well…. When I was looking for members after I had just become a high-class Devil, he appeared before me. He lowered his head and begged me several times, simply because he wanted to fight with me. He didn’t ask to become one of my servants, he simply wished to become my subordinate. Since he had already said so much, it wouldn’t do any good to ignore him. Moreover, he’s also my great benefactor Tannin-ossan’s son, so it would also be rude of me to refuse. So he was not one of my servants, but simply a subordinate. —At that time, Irina raised a question.
“Speaking of which, our [Queen]…Bina-san doesn’t seem to have come, could it be that she is dealing with her usual work? If I remember correctly, she is a Devil?”
Xenovia then said
“Although I only know her through Ise’s introduction, she really is a figure surrounded by mystery. But she is certainly very strong.”
Indeed, our [Queen]…a Devil named Bina Lessthan is a masked woman. For some reason, she appeared before me, and also for various other reasons, she eventually became our [Queen]. Of course, she isn’t one of my servants, at most she would be one of my team members for this tournament. Rossweisse-san said with a bit of unease
“…I’ve only met her a few times, and I’ve also spoken with her a few times, but since I’m not clear on her true identity, I’ve been a bit uneasy…but she really does have experience with the Rating Games.”
Uh-huh. We met in late March — during that time, I was busy looking for team members. And it was early April when my peerage and team first met her. There is a secret underneath her mask. At present, the only person aside from me who knows her true identity — is Ravel.
“Her strength is real. After all, the three matches so far have been good proof of that.”
Just as Ravel said, Bina-shi’s ability among the members of my team was second to none. So far in the tournament, she’s been able to defeat her opponents, and unlike us, she hasn’t displayed any flaws as of yet. She defeats her opponents with minimal movements, and has not received any damage so far. Even on television—
“Regarding the Sekiryuutei team’s [Queen], that is, the masked player; her splendid battles are always quite stunning.”
Thus, she received a favourable and positive evaluation. Nonetheless, Bina-shi seems to be committed to being one of our team members until the end, so the final decision was always up to the team — or perhaps subject to my own judgement. In April, I spoke with Ravel and Bina-shi about a variety of things. In the end, she basically left everything that was related to the competition to us. …After all, it seems like Bina-shi wants to see my qualities as a [King]…. As the meeting progressed, we also discussed other teams. Vali, Sairaorg-san, Sona-senpai, Dulio, Cao Cao, Ikuse-san and the others had all progressed smoothly and successfully. Seekvaira-san had encountered a God-class being as soon as she entered, and despite fighting until the end, she was still defeated. All that can be said is that she was unlucky, but this was all part of the format of this tournament. The God-class beings had basically won all of their matches, but there were still teams which had yet to participate. One of those was the Heavenly Emperor’s team. Was this just for observation, or was it for….
The display finally showed Rias’ team. Rias had also obtained several straight wins. Compared to us, she had won much more gracefully, and had also received a highly positive evaluation. Coupled with Rias’ natural popularity, the media was presenting her in a favourable manner. Ravel said
“She really is impeccable. During this time, Rias-sama has continued to obtain victories, and has been steadily building up her score.”
—At this point, the video stream cut over to show Valerie, who was treating an injured Koneko-chan in the midst of a game. A Holy Grail appeared, and liquid from within it was poured onto Koneko-chan’s injury. After a brief moment, the wound had healed.
“…So Valerie is a healer huh.”
Ravel nodded in response to the thought that I had spoken aloud.
“It looks like that’s another way of using the [Sephiroth Grail]. Its characteristics can be changed and it can also be used without affecting the user.”
…Simply by producing a cup, its adjustment ability made it possible to produce a liquid that was capable of restoring team members. In this tournament, unlike its predecessor, the Rating Games, the restoration item ‘Phoenix Tears’ are not provided. After all, as a result of Qlippoth’s influence and the destruction caused by Trihexa, ‘Phoenix Tears’ had been distributed everywhere, thus it was not a situation in which more could be provided. They had been replaced with recovery points throughout the tournament venues, and one’s injuries could be treated by going there. Irina said
“Unlike Asia, Valerie-san does not seem to have a high rate of recovery…but I believe she has a few other tricks up her sleeve.”
Well, I also agreed with that. This was an ability that was originally related to life itself. Although its ability to heal other people was similar to Asia’s, that was not its actual power—. Perhaps there was also something they were hiding from us? Oh— oh—, on the other hand, Gasper’s Balor had easily sent a bulky opponent flying. It seems as though that guy has succeeded the role of the power representative since I left them.
“Speaking of which, this person in Master Rias’ match is rather concerning.”
Xenovia was focusing on a particular person in the Rias Team. —Indeed, after Xenovia seemed troubled for a moment, she eventually added ‘Master’ before Rias’ name. The person whom Xenovia was referring to was the new female swordsman who was a [Knight]. She had black and white streaked hair, and she was also dressed in the same battle suit that Xenovia and Irina wore as Church warriors. Asia said
“It’s Rias-oneesama’s swordsman…san huh. She’s the one who has replaced Xenovia as the team’s—”
“—Lint Selzan. Moreover, she does not appear to be a member of Rias-san’s peerage.”
Irina also looked at her thoughtfully. Speaking of which, her name is Selzan. Her face is actually quite similar to the face of that annoying guy in my memories. However, she doesn’t make any vulgar facial expressions like that guy did. It seems like she just resembles Freed a lot! Her combat style also involves wielding a gun and a sword. She wielded a sword imbued with the power of light, and also used a gun as she ran about during the match. Xenovia quietly murmured
“So she’s only a combatant for this tournament huh…Selzan. She and Freed should be related in some way.”
“When looking at her, she really is like…. Based on this footage of the match, she doesn’t seem to be as crazy as he was…. Xenovia, have you heard of her name during the time when you were still with the Church?”
In response to Irina’s question, Xenovia shook her head.
“No, including Freed, I hadn’t heard of them even once while I was still a Church warrior. …Could she possibly be from a secret division that has concealed her identity?”
“…Well, if I was to go to Heaven, I would probably be able to find some clues.”
Irina seemed to be just as worried as Xenovia was. After all, she seemed to be from one of the warrior training facilities, she wore the same type of battle suit, and her surname was also Selzan. It was only natural to feel concerned about her. I also couldn’t help feeling troubled by it. Even when I asked Rias, she replied to me with something along the lines of
“Ufufu, I won’t tell you about Lint. This is a team secret, so it would be bad if I let it slip out, you know?”
However, since even Rias was giggling when she replied to me like that, it was an indication that she wasn’t a particularly bad person…. Xenovia noticed something on the screen, and then pointed towards something on the television.
“Among other things, the sword of flames that this person is wielding…is purple.”
Irina also murmured
“Flames of purple…purple flames…is that how it can be considered?”
Ravel seemed to have done some prior research on it, and she gave us the report to read.
“The Vatican headquarters and the Grigori; these two factions have jointly handed her over to Rias-sama. …That is to say, it’s exactly the same as what you guys have guessed. That Longinus has selected its master, and it has now been transferred.”
This was the girl that the Vatican and the Grigori had both entrusted Rias with. Not only was she related to Freed, she also possessed — a sword of purple flames that originated from the Longinus [Incinerate Anthem].
“The deeper we go, the harder it is to believe her existence. Just who is this girl…”
Xenovia placed her hand against her chin and squinted her eyes as she spoke. Rossweisse-san then said
“Regardless of what her identity is, Rias-san’s team…could be described to already have the power of three Longinuses. If you leave aside the God-class beings, then she should be one of the leading teams in this tournament.”
Three Longinuses—. Even though Gasper’s Sacred Gear is treated as a special case, it has also been recognised as being in the same class as a Longinus.
“I heard that there is also another member present…but they haven’t participated in any matches yet.”
I said. According to her registration, Rias’ team also has a new member as a [Pawn]. And as Rias’ original [Pawn], I was rather worried about this. Ravel then said
“All we know at the moment is the name that was used during the registration process. …[Mr. Black]-san. I believe that is most likely a pseudonym. Because of the rules of this tournament, a [Pawn] with eight pieces on its own is a major threat. I wonder if it’s someone that rivals a God-class being’s power, or is perhaps even a god themselves…”
—They had a value of eight pieces in this tournament. Even if they were limited by the value of the [Pawn] piece, having eight pieces meant that they were incredibly strong, right…? Has Rias dragged in even the power of a god into her team? This was truly remarkable. Irina also said
“A god in Rias-san’s team…. Rias-san is also the core of [DxD]. If she extended an invitation, I wonder if a god would accept…”
But Xenovia expressed her doubt on this.
“So this is the substitute for Ise? Ise has forced Rizevim into a corner, defeated the Heavenly Dragon-class Apophis, and fought against Trihexa’s core in the Evil Dragon War. Even a god wouldn’t be able to casually accept an invitation to replace Ise.”
I felt honoured to receive such praise…but, was it really that hard to find a replacement for me? Would I be used for comparison? Well — hmm. Rossweisse-san also nodded in agreement with Xenovia’s opinion.
“I also agree with Xenovia-san. Ise-kun has now become a [King], but he is still Rias-san’s [Pawn]. Even if it’s only for this tournament, I find it hard to believe that there are gods who would readily accept being judged like this…. After all, the entire world will be comparing them to Ise-kun.”
Unless they were up against a powerful opponent, Mr. Black would not come out to fight. Perhaps I’ll just look forward to that time then. …Perhaps he’s the kind that doesn’t care about looking forward to things, or perhaps that guy is just ridiculously strong. At that time, the program changed scenes to show Kiba instead. Kiba relied on his prided speed and swordsmanship to instantly cut down his opponents. In the footage that was played back, there was not a single person who was able to catch up to Kiba, let alone attack him. A few days before the tournament began, Kiba said to me
“I — swear that I will remain Rias-neesan’s [Knight] for my entire life. Before you, I had already been recognised as Rias-neesan’s [Knight]. So, now that you have your own team…from this point onwards, you and I are rivals. Even if you and I are friends, if we happen to fight, I will not hesitate to stand before you as Rias-neesan’s sword.”
Before I could say anything else, my friend Kiba continued
“Ise-kun, at that time, we’ll both show off our true skill! —Being able to have a serious fight with you, that is something I look forward to!”
…Kiba, if I really have to fight against you or Rias…I will definitely stand up for an honest showdown. I definitely won’t lose to you guys!
Ravel pulled me back from my reminiscence of Kiba.
“Ah, oh, what is it?”
“Really, please focus. Ise-sama is our [King], right? Even if I can give you advice, the final decision still rests in your hands.”
Hahaha, our manager-sama really is strict. She actually became even stricter after becoming one of my peerage members. But this is all for my sake, so I’m counting on you, Ravel. At that time, a knocking sound reverberated over from the door. After answering, the people who came in were — Le Fay and Kunou, as well as Lilith.
“U-Umm, has your meeting concluded yet?”
Le Fay asked us nervously. She was holding a tray in her hands, on top of which was some tea.
“Oh, it’s Le Fay. I was just looking for a time to take a break. Everyone, is that alright?”
When I asked, everyone smiled as they nodded. Upon seeing this, Kunou took the red tea that was on the tray and served it to everyone.
“Please have some tea, Ise.”
“Oh, thank you Kunou. But, uh Lili — no, Lith.”
Whilst I wasn’t paying attention, Lilith sat down on my lap again. It seems that aside from Koneko-chan, the people who compete for my lap are increasing, with Ravel and Lilith now among them as well. By the way, Lilith has now been entrusted to us. Because we previously had taken care of Ophis, it naturally became the case that the Hyoudou residence became the default place for keeping someone hidden. And precisely because of this, the Ophis (Lilith) who was being controlled by Qlippoth was proclaimed to have disappeared during the battle. But going back to the main point, like Ophis’ name, Lilith’s name couldn’t be exposed in front of Kunou, so it was shortened to Lith. Either way, the name isn’t too different.
The Lilith on my lap seemed interested in the cake on the tray, and after receiving a portion from Ravel, she began to eat it in big mouthfuls. Just like Ophis, she seemed to be a big eater. The cake that Ravel had prepared for everyone was a chocolate cake.
“I also prepared a cake for everyone, so please enjoy it.”
So it was Ravel who personally baked it. While Kunou tasted the cake (the edges of her mouth were stained with chocolate), she said
“That’s right, constantly talking about difficult topics will only cause your brain to slow down, so we should rest a little!”
Although she said that, it was really just to vent the fact that she was unable to play with us, which is why she found an excuse to come over to us. Hahaha, Kunou really is cute.
“Le Fay, Kunou, have you gotten used to school life?”
I asked the two of them.
“Of course! I immediately made friends! I didn’t think the people here were so easy to converse with.”
Indeed, Kunou didn’t come to the Occult Research Club after school sometimes, so she was probably playing with her friends at those times. That was good, it was good to hear that she was able to make friends. Le Fay said with a calm expression
“For me, high school life is a new starting point, and although there are a lot of areas that I’m unfamiliar with…it’s all very fresh to me, so I’m enjoying it.”
I then asked about the Vali team’s situation.
“How about the Vali team?”
“After the new team members, the current Sha Wujing-san and the current Zhu Bajie-san joined our team, we immediately headed into a match, so it was a bit overwhelming.”
Indeed, the new members of the Vali team were the current ‘Sha Wujing’ and the current ‘Zhu Bajie’. I had also only just heard about it this Winter, and had also met the two of them. The first-generation old man Sun Wukong said that he wanted to train the two of them for the sake of inheriting the positions of ‘Sha Wujing’ and ‘Zhu Bajie’; thus he entrusted them to Vali. They were supposedly reserve members…but it looks like they’ve become part of the official team for the tournament. A contemporary Journey to the West combination had been formed within Vali’s team, and it would really be worth watching if they went up against the first-generation’s team. I then asked Kunou.
“It seems that there are also Youkai participating in the game?”
“Uh-huh. From each of the leaders, three teams have been elected to participate in the tournament. Kyoto also has three teams. The team to which the strongest member in each area belongs is said to be strong enough to act as the leader’s representative. Ise and you guys, if you encounter them, you definitely can’t be careless, okay?”
Kunou said that whilst eating, but at that time, the door was opened once again.
The one who had arrived was Ophis. But, she wasn’t in her adult form, rather, it was the girl version of Ophis. Upon seeing that someone had arrived, Kunou also welcomed them.
“Oh, Phis-dono! Have you returned from the shrine on the rooftop?”
Oh, from time to time, Ophis goes to the miniature shrine that was built specifically for her on the rooftop. She really likes sunbathing up there. Everyone here also goes there occasionally to visit, and puts some money into the donation box. This is treated as pocket money for Ophis to spend. I looked at Ophis, and muttered quietly.
“…I didn’t think that it was possible to revert back to this appearance.”
It was exactly as I said. In order to save me, Ophis’ figure and many other factors had been restricted, but…. Irina quietly told me
(This is a specially-made change that was done so that Kunou-san isn’t surprised. Also, I usually find this appearance to be more calming.)
A change huh. A body transformation into a loli. Kunou would indeed be very surprised if she saw an adult version of Ophis. We were also more accustomed to her current appearance. Seeing Ophis and Lilith stand side by side — it was really hard not to laugh. Including Kunou, this was kawaii times three!
“…Also, having Ophis and Lilith stand together like this makes it feel as though nothing is out of place.”
Just while I was in the midst of talking to myself as I watched this laughable scene, a magic communications circle next to Ravel’s ear was deployed.
“Ara, it’s a message from the tournament’s coordinators.”
Oh, it’s a message from the tournament.
“—Hmm. We were so immersed in our discussion that we even forget about the pairing.”
Ravel quickly took out a tablet, and then logged on to the organiser’s site. What was shown there was — the date of our next scheduled match, and our opponent.
“…The opposing team for our next match has already been decided.”
We were all surprised upon seeing it! Ravel said
“—The team’s name is [Lightning]. An entry from the Grigori…and the [King] is Barakiel-sama.
…This was the international tournament that all kinds of people had returned to compete in…! The incident that had occurred at this very moment in time finally allowed me to grasp an understanding of it; this kind of confrontation was even more realistic than I had expected! I didn’t think that I would be matched against someone we were familiar with so soon! We had encountered our first major obstacle.
After we confirmed our opponent for the next match, we went downstairs to lighten our mood. We happened to run into a familiar person speaking with Akeno-san in the living room on the first floor. The person who had come here was a well-built man — it was Barakiel-san!
I never imagined that I would come face to face with the man himself right after reading the announcement! Barakiel-san also noticed me.
Based on his tone of voice, it was evident that he knew that he would be facing us in the next match, and Akeno-san also seemed to know, and the atmosphere suddenly became quiet. I steadied my breathing, and then sat down on a nearby sofa.
“Did you come to see Akeno-san?”
“Yes, there were a few things that I wanted to ask about university life. But, speaking of which—”
Barakiel-san dove straight into the main topic right after the greetings were over.
“In the next match, my opponent will be you. Let’s both give it all we have. As a representative of the Grigori, I will do my best to enjoy this match.”
“Yes, I feel the same, I'm looking forward to it.”
Both of us were passionate men, who also stood as the mutual leaders of our own teams, so our competitive spirit towards each other was naturally beginning to leak out. However, Akeno-san was looking at me and Barakiel-san alternately with a troubled expression.
“Ara ara, Ise-kun actually has to compete against father…I don’t know which side I should cheer for.”
Barakiel-san asked his own daughter with a hint of shyness.
“…A-Akeno, if you could only cheer for one side…which side would you support?”
That was the facial expression of an expectant father! I couldn’t help thinking of the time when Barakiel-san cried at the graduation ceremony! As a parent, he was absolutely looking forward to hearing that his own adorable daughter was going to root for him! Akeno-san! Under such circumstances, you should cheer for your dad! I sent this suggestion to Akeno-san in my mind! Just think, if Akeno-san chooses me, then Barakiel-san will—.
“That’s right, let me think…”
After Akeno-san seemed troubled for a moment, a mischievous smile emerged on her face, and she then pressed her body towards me — she tightly embraced me.
“Of course, it’s Ise-kun ♪”
It looked like Barakiel-san had taken a serious blow to his heart right in front of me! It had already gotten to the point that his eyeballs were popping out of his eye sockets, and several blue veins also emerged on his temple! Barakiel-san had become so angry that he couldn’t help trembling! His face was also unnervingly scary! With his finger pointed at me, he furiously shouted!
“Argh, you! I definitely won’t lose to you in the match, you Oppai Dragooon!”
After saying that, Barakiel-san ran off in tears! …Aaaaahhh, my rapport with the opposing team’s leader has just collapsed right before the match! He’ll definitely come at me with 120% of his strength in the match! Upon seeing this, an impish smile appeared on Akeno-san’s face.
“Ufufu, father, you’re too adorable.”
Akeno-san, you’re making fun of your dad again…. However, Akeno-san suddenly revealed a sorrowful expression.
“…But, in reality, my feelings are complicated. Regardless of whether it’s Ise-kun or father, I want you both to win. But, since you’re opponents, a victor will have to be decided…. Although there is the possibility of a draw…neither Ise-kun nor father wishes for this outcome.”
“Yeah, a winner will have to be decided since we’re competing against each other. A winner will need to be decided regardless of whether it’s Barakiel-san’s team, or Rias’ team…”
I gave a serious reply to Akeno-san. Since we were contenders, even if it was Barakiel-san, and even if it was a relative of Akeno-san, we still needed to win. If this wasn’t the case, I wouldn’t have any reason to form my own team. —Since I’ve decided to fight, I will aim for victory no matter what. This was our goal! Akeno-san’s face blushed slightly, and she continued to stare at me…. All of a sudden, Akeno-san said
“…Truly, I envy Rias. She has such a strong man who can say that he wants to stay together with her forever…”
Before Akeno-san could finish what she was saying, she said “It’s time for me to talk to Rias, I have to go.” and then exited the living room. I wonder if I should have said that to Akeno-san today. No, it isn’t a question of whether I should or not, it’s something that I must say. But it was somewhat disappointing that I couldn’t say it now…. …Akeno-san, in fact, I always—.
And so, it was now the day of the game. The place we were going to was in the Underworld — the new stadium that was built in the Fallen Angels’ territory for the tournament. There was already a swarm of people within.
The name of the stadium was ‘Azazel Stadium’, and a bronze statue of Azazel-sensei had also been erected at the entrance. And right in the centre of the stadium were — the two teams who stood within the field. The opposing team’s [King] was Barakiel-san, and their [Queen] was also a Cadre of the Grigori—.
“Griiiiigoriiiiiiiiiii! Long time no see, Oppai Dragoooon—! Guhahahahaha!”
This unique manner of speech belonged to the Cadre of special effects, Armaros-san! I never imagined that this person would participate in the tournament, and as a member of Barakiel-san’s team as well! Although the other members were not Cadres, they were all high-ranking Fallen Angels who had survived a countless number of fierce battles. Just like us, the [Lightning] team had not suffered any losses so far. During the period when both teams stared off at each other, the announcer and guest commentator began their explanations over the microphone.
<<Today’s match is the centre of attention, the highly anticipated [Sekiryuutei of the Blazing Truth] team versus the [Lightning] team! Both teams are powerful competing teams from the Three Factions, and everyone is simply holding their breath to see what will unfold in this match! Our guest commentator is from the Devils’ side, Princess Rias Gremory’s father! Well then, Gremory-kyo, thank you very much for being with us today.>>
I didn’t expect that the guest commentator would actually be Rias’ dad! Moreover, today was also our match against Akeno-san’s dad, Barakiel-san; it seems like fathers are present wherever we go today!
<<No no, it is my pleasure, thank you for having me. From a personal perspective, I do want to cheer for my daughter’s fiancé, Hyoudou Issei-kun, but I will provide a serious commentary for everyone today.>>
Rias’ father politely greeted the audience. Say, he actually said ‘fiancé’ during that commotion!? Did he already hear about the oath that I made to Rias about our future, or was that something he just said in the spur of the moment!? The announcer began to explain today’s rules.
<<The format of this match is [Object Break]! The team which destroys the most target objects in the game field within the time limit wins! Also, as with the previous rules, the entire field will be divided into different areas, just like a chessboard.>>
A chessboard-like area appeared on the enormous display screen. As soon as the match starts, we will be transported into the dedicated battlefield, and begin our fight there. We will not actually be fighting inside this stadium. The field was tremendously vast, and even if a Devil had to fly from one side straight to the other at full speed, it would take nearly thirty minutes. But depending on my position and situation on the field, I could fly from one end of the field to the other in a matter of minutes? The announcer continued to explain the rules
<<A total of thirteen [objects] have been prepared within the game field! As long as one team finds and destroys more [objects] than the other team within the twelve hour time limit, they will be declared the winner! Of course, and needless to say, the other rules of this tournament are still in effect, so defeating the other team’s [King] also results in a victory.>>
I had heard about the rules for counting the number of destroyed [objects] beforehand.
<<Going by a simple calculation, as long as either side destroys more than half of the [objects], in other words, the first team to destroy seven [objects] will be declared the winner, and the game will end there.>>
…Although fighting was also important, finding and destroying the [objects] was the top priority.
<<Some of the prepared [objects] have been placed in the field in their original state, whilst some are in less noticeable positions, and some possibly even hidden in obscure places. The two teams will have to race through this broad field, and whilst the players are fighting each other, they must also find these [objects] and destroy them.>>
Now then, I wonder where these things are hidden…. Supposedly, the shape of these [objects] will be revealed to us at the beginning of the game.
<<In addition, if the twelve hour time limit is exceeded, and both teams have destroyed the same number of [objects], the match will be determined to be a draw.>>
It’s possible for a draw huh. But, all that lay on my mind was the thought of victory.
<<There have been similar matches in the Rating Games of the Underworld in the past; even when a lower ranked team with a large power gap between a higher ranked team are set against each other, lower ranked teams have been able to destroy an equal number of items to the other team, and then engage in a defensive battle until time runs out to successfully draw a tie. This subversion of expectations and the plethora of limitless possibilities is one of the charms of this game.>>
…In terms of strength, the outside world may have always believed that we were more dominant, but according to these rules, we also had the possibility of facing defeat. Rias’ father said
<<In other words, it is sometimes the case that neither of the two teams can find all of the [objects] within the allocated time limit.>>
<<Well, nominally speaking, because the [objects] are placed randomly, there may be rare situations in which they cannot be found. This would result in an unexpected scenario, and some teams may give up on searching, and choose instead to defeat the opposing team. Of course, if the [objects] in a field can be easily located, it is more likely that we will see an early destruction of the [objects] rather than an attempt to defeat the opposing team.>>
In other words, if the game progressed into the latter half, we may as well switch our strategy to defeat the opposing team, rather than continue to search for these [objects].
<<One point to add is that after an [object] is destroyed, special rules will apply to the area in which it appeared. The [King] of each team cannot enter that area. In other words, as the game progresses, and as [objects] continue to be destroyed, the areas in which a [King] can move around in are gradually reduced. How the two teams will consider and integrate this into their strategy as they move is also one of the highlights of this game.>>
<<This means that as the battle continues, the [King] will be left with nowhere to escape to at the end.>>
—In this way, the announcer and Rias’ father thoroughly explained the rules of the game in detail. …The last rule meant that the [King] would not be able to enter an area where an [object] had been destroyed, which was going to be troublesome. Standing beside me, Ravel whispered
“I have something that I need to confirm.”
“What is it?”
“—It’s whether an [object] can be moved or not.”
…Whether an [object] can be moved huh. Ravel continued
“Based on the [objects] prepared in the previous [Object Break] games, there have been both stationary and moveable ones. If there happen to be moveable [objects] this time, it will become somewhat tricky.”
If they can be moved, then it will indeed be trickier, so it was necessary to confirm this fact.
“So, when we encounter an [object], we need to confirm whether or not it can be moved first.”
I responded to Ravel’s strategy.
<<Now, the game will begin right away! After both teams are transported, and have confirmed the shape of the [objects], the game will begin!>>
The announcer’s words encouraged the audience to heat up, and we were then wrapped in the light of teleportation magic—.
After we were transported, what appeared before our eyes was — a vast natural environment. There were towering mountains spreading out around us. There was also a lake not too far from the forest of trees. By the looks of it, a mountainous terrain had been used as a template for this field. In one particular corner — stood a steep cliff where our base camp was situated on top of. A table and a set of chairs had been prepared atop the cliff. A full map was laid out across the table. Just like a chessboard, it was set out in an eight by eight grid, with a single line drawn across the middle separating the north and south sides. The northern half was the opposing side’s territory, whilst the southern side was ours. We also confirmed the location of the ‘recovery points’, with each side having one. Then, a projection from the table showed a three-dimensional image of the [object]. The [object] was — a statue of a woman with the wings of both a Fallen Angel and a Devil. …The [object] inevitably reminded me of Akeno-san. —At that time, the field resounded with ring of a bell to signal the beginning. Most likely, after both we and our opponents had confirmed the shape of the [objects], they announced the opening. And like that, the game began. Ravel cleared her throat as she said
“—Well, everyone. I will now begin to explain our strategy.”
While we listened to our strategic advisor Ravel’s instructions, we began to prepare for the game—.
One and a half hours had passed since the beginning of the game. I had been instructed to explore the western side of our territory. Bova also came along with me to explore the west. Speaking of which, because the field was so vast, there were places that weren’t possible to see with the naked eye. Well, as I flew in the air overlooking all that was below, I couldn’t find anything that appeared similar. Sometimes I would descend into the shade of the trees and into the valleys, and I would even check out the river occasionally, but still came up empty handed. After all, we were not told of how large the target item actually was. Without knowing what its size was, if it was a small object, it’d be even more troublesome. In the end, I wonder if it’s possible to find the number required to win ahead of our opponent…. Just at that moment—. An announcement was broadcast across the entire field.
<<Confirmation that the [Lightning] team has destroyed an [object]. They have gained one point.>>
—What! They’ve taken the lead!
<<Whoa! The first [object] has been destroyed! This action has come from the Grigori’s [Lightning] team! But the game is still in progress, which side will be the ones to destroy the next [object]!?>>
A calm message from Ravel reached my ears.
“Please do not get impatient. They have simply taken one point.”
…Although that was the case, and my mind was clear, I couldn’t help trying to speed up. …Ah, no, I can’t. If I did that, it would be a dereliction of my duty as the [King]. I had to calm my own emotions. Ravel, who was in charge of our strategic command, as well as Asia, who was our healer, remained at our base camp…in an inconspicuous area not too far from it. Since it was dangerous to stay in an unguarded base camp, they had hidden in a more discreet location. Given the possibility that there could be an [object] nearby, Asia summoned the four Evil Dragon brothers to search. —Good news suddenly arrived at my ears.
“This is Xenovia. —I’ve found an object. It’s roughly thirty centimetres in size.”
It was communication from Xenovia who had gone to explore the eastern side of our base camp. Ooh, we’ve actually found one! Ravel said
“Understood. Please confirm whether you can move it before destroying it.”
“…It can be moved. Ravel, Ise, what now?”
“Since it can be moved, we’ll need to change our strategy for this game. We won’t destroy it, but we’ll keep it as a weapon of our side.”
“…We’ll move it first, and then destroy it in a location that will be favourable to us.”
I said. Since it was moveable, we’d do just that. As a last resort, it could be used as a weapon when fighting against their [King]. After all, carrying something that was just 30 centimetres in size was rather convenient. Ravel reaffirmed my statement.
“Indeed. This can be treated as a weapon against their [King]. The way these [objects] are used will change the direction of the entire game.”
Rossweisse-san said through the communications channel
“Given that’s the case, perhaps our opponents have already found other [objects], and destroyed one, but are holding on to the rest of them, waiting for the right time to use them.”
“T-They shouldn’t have gotten their hands on three of them already, right…?”
Irina (responsible for searching the eastern side) nervously asked. Ravel replied
“Given the vast extent of the field, it should be impossible to have three, unless they were extremely lucky. However, the probability that they’ve found two is quite high. But taking into account these small possibilities, for now, we should act as though the other side have already captured three.”
“So what about this one? Should I destroy it? Or should I keep it?”
Xenovia asked Ravel.
“In my opinion, this one should be saved. Finding the second one as soon as possible is the most important thing. What do you think, Ise-sama?”
“Yes, hold onto it first. Let’s continue to find more of these target items and so that we can go ahead advantageously.”
As long as they don’t get stolen, and we hold onto them safely, we could destroy them all at the right time. After all, we weren’t clear on what the other side was planning, so it was best to hold onto them for now.
“After Xenovia-sama and Rossweisse-sama regroup, please analyse the [object]. Rossweisse-sama, I’m leaving things up to you then.”
Upon hearing Ravel’s instructions, both Xenovia and Rossweisse-san responded. Rossweisse could use magic to analyse the [object], and then formulate a technique to search the field for them; this was our plan. If successful, then we would easily be able to find all of them. Rossweisse-san said
“Analysis of the [object] and creating a searching technique will take a significant amount of time. …And it may also be unusable for people who are not familiar with searching techniques.”
I’m exactly the type who can’t use it! I’m sorry that I’m not good at techniques! Anyway, aside from myself, there are a lot of people who aren’t good at searching techniques either, moreover, the reincarnated Angel Irina is also present, so coming up with a technique that was compatible with everyone would take a lot of time. Ravel used a direct channel to me only to confirm our strategy.
“Ise-sama, regarding the ‘check’ we talked about earlier…I’ll contact you after watching the combat situation for a while.”
“Yeah, when that time comes, I’ll go all out.”
Ravel told us about the strategy immediately after the game began. It was truly bold, and truly fearless. But, I was also very fond of it. …I would wait until that time, and then I would let Barakiel-san and the audience bear witness to it. Ravel issued instructions to Bova.
“Bova-san, please transform into a miniature dragon form from time to time so that you can sneak into the opponent’s territory and scope out the situation. If there are any changes, please let me know. However, please do not go too far.”
Completely ignoring the opponent’s position was also very dangerous. The next two and a half hours were spent exploring. After Irina had located another [object] on the eastern side, she destroyed it.
<<Confirmation that the [Sekiryuutei] team has destroyed an [object]. They have gained one point.>>
Immediately after we destroyed it, we heard an announcement that Barakiel-san’s team also destroyed one—.
<<Confirmation that the [Lightning] team has destroyed an [object]. They have gained one point.>>
…It was obvious that they were provoking us. They had already obtained a few of them? Our original plan was caught up in such thoughts. But as soon as we destroyed one, our opponents also followed by destroying one. So after about ten minutes, a message came from Irina.
“This is Irina! I’m being attacked by the opponent!”
—What! They’ve started attacking!
“Please engage them, and try to find out what they’re up to at the same time.”
Ravel immediately gave instructions.
“This is Bina. I am also being attacked.”
Another area was also being attacked! Bina-shi and Rossweisse-san had both been ordered to explore the central area of our territory. Both our central and eastern sides were being attacked at the same time! I didn’t expect that we would shift from search mode to attack mode before even half of our time limit had passed! What was their intention!? They definitely had some kind of tactic going on here! Just while I was thinking about that, a sudden flash of light appeared in my field of view! I quickly evaded, and although I had avoided my opponent’s attack…. But that just now was — lightning! I looked towards the person who had attacked me — it was Barakiel-san!
“…I didn’t imagine that I’d encounter you. This must be fate.”
…I didn’t expect that the person to attack the western side would be Barakiel-san! Not to mention the fact that this developed into a battle between the [Kings]. I immediately equipped my crimson armour. Let alone my ordinary Balance Breaker, after that Evil Dragon War, I could now also equip my [True Queen] form immediately. And not only that, my strength had also been increased due to influence of Dragon Deification. Even if my opponent was Barakiel-san, I wouldn’t be at a disadvantage.
<<Wow! A battle between [Kings] has suddenly kicked off right now! We’ve really been caught off guard, Gremory-kyo!>>
<<This is really something to look forward to. He is my daughter’s fiancé, fiancé, you know? Fufufu, he really looks handsome while wearing armour.>>
Rias’ dad!? What are you saying!? Don’t keep firing off the word fiancé just like that! You’re making me feel embarrassed! I can’t even focus on fighting!
Even if I asked, Barakiel-san simply wasn’t going to wait for me; rays of lightning burst forth from his hands, and he continuously fired them towards me! I continuously evaded his attacks in the air. The bolts of lightning which missed struck a corner of the field, generating an enormous explosion! His power was truly extraordinary. Although I’ve recently had to fight against people who were stronger than me, Barakiel-san’s strength was not to be underestimated. Whilst evading the bolts of lightning and closing our distance at the same time, I was able to enter into a melee battle, which I was best at. Barkaiel-san easily dodged my punches, and I was struck by one of his punches in return. Although I had been hit squarely by a solid punch, it didn’t carry enough power. This was all thanks to having fought against those strong opponents so many times. —Even if I was fighting against Barakiel-san in melee combat, I still had an advantage over him! I began to go on a rampage against Barakiel-san in mid-air. Sometimes I would close our distance, and sometimes I would pull away from him. We continued our battle like that in mid-air. In the midst of our fight against each other, Barakiel-san suddenly asked me a question.
“Hyoudou Issei-kun! —Regarding Akeno, I have something to ask you!”
“W-Why does it have to be right now!?”
“It has to be right now!”
Asking something about Akeno-san right now!? You can’t be serious! What’s happening to today’s game!?
“You — how far have you gotten with Akeno!?”
Barakiel-san asked me with absolute seriousness.
“Ah…! W-Well, that…!”
It’s hard to say! It’s very hard to say! This morning as well, she approached me in bed completely naked! Although it didn’t happen, I did feel her oppai!
“Why aren’t you saying anything!? C-Could it be that you’ve already reached the point where it’s unspeakable…!?”
Barakiel-san was trembling!
“N-No! I-It hasn’t yet…!”
I quickly retorted! What kind of situation is this! Barakiel-san charged at me with his fist raised in the air!
“Are you holding hands together!? Dating…I’ve seen it…!”
Ah, he saw us on our date! When Loki attacked us last year, Akeno-san and I accidentally went to a street full of love hotels and happened to be seen! At that time, I was so embarrassed that I didn’t know what to do! Barakiel-san then continued asking!
I asked in return, and with a downtrodden expression, Barakiel-san asked me
“—Have you kissed!?”
—Kiss. He was asking about kissing…? W-Well, that’s something we’ve done before. We had a very long and wet one before the graduation ceremony….
After I gave an honest answer to him—.
Barakiel-san was shocked. His body stiffened up in mid-air, and he began to cry manly tears….
I nervously asked him…. Dark clouds began to appear above Barakiel-san’s head, and the sound of thunder began to rumble. With thunderclouds in the background, a dangerous gleam appeared in Barakiel-san’s eyes as he said to me
“……You’ve already gotten to that stage, so if y-you don’t take responsibility, as a father, I can’t rest assured!”
“Responsibility!? R-Responsibility as in!?”
“Do you even need to ask this type of question!? A young man and woman have kissed! You must take responsibility for this!”
What responsibility!? Because of a kiss!? Then what about what lies beyond it…touching her oppai! I have to take responsibility just for a kiss!? Barakiel-san’s entire body was clad in lightning! It was an unimaginable aura! —I hadn’t seen this kind of power even in the battle against Loki! I-Is it because of his daughter that his wrath and jealously towards me has arisen!? Clad in lightning, Barakiel-san charged directly towards me! Even if I was able to dodge his fist, the shock of the lightning would be transmitted to me through my armour. My entire body would be paralysed by it! It’d be bad if I was hit by a direct attack! After all, light is a deadly poison for Devils! Barakiel-san’s power of light combined with lightning — it would be dangerous if I was hit by that lightning! I began to retort as I countered his attacks.
“Umm, I heard from Azazel-sensei before that Barakiel-san is also a very erotic person!?”
“Avoiding the topic!? It’s just like this!”
I heard very clearly that he used to do SM play with his late wife! E-Even I have not set foot into that territory! Barakiel-san used his lightning to form a long spear!
“As things are now, I must test you as Akeno’s father! With this, let me have a good test of how compatible you are with my daughter!”
Like this, the battle between the two [Kings] became more and more complicated! I transformed my right arm into its Welsh Dragonic Rook form as I attacked, but Barakiel-san retaliated fearlessly. Even if I increased our distance and used Dragon Shot, Barakiel-san would fire off an enormous lightning bolt at me. But whether it was for better or for worse, I had fought against several legendary existences. Barakiel-san was finally struck by one of my direct attacks, and was knocked backwards. Barakiel-san panted in deep breaths as he wiped away fresh blood from the edge of his mouth with his hand.
“…As expected of you. So this is how strong you are…. As expected of someone that Azazel trained.”
Indeed, it’s all thanks to Azazel-sensei that I was able to become this strong. Barakiel-san smiled as he said
“With strength alone, the present me can no longer defeat you. —But, this is a Rating Game.”
Barakiel-san raised his right hand, stretched out a finger, and released a single bolt of lightning towards the sky. After that, Barakiel-san retreated. Just when I chased him in order to reach an outcome for our battle…. An urgent message came from Ravel just a second later.
“Ise-sama! There are three of the opposing team’s players coming towards you! Moreover, they’re all — holding [objects]. —What! What happened!? Did the lightning that Barakiel-san released into the sky have this kind of purpose? Because of that, three opponents with [objects] are approaching me now! Could it be that they want to destroy those [objects] in front of me? I couldn’t understand what their plan was at all — but I immediately saw a change in the scenery in front of me. Some kind of barrier appeared to be forming—. Barakiel-san was on the other side of the barrier. Precisely because it was a barrier, although it was only as thick as a layer of skin, it separated Barakiel-san and me apart. At the same time, an announcement was made.
<<Confirmation that the [Lightning] team has destroyed three [objects]. They have gained three points.>>
—Three! If that’s the case, then they’ve already destroyed five of them! Regardless of that, what was this barrier in front of me!?
Because of the change that had occurred before me, I couldn’t help but feel surprised, while Barakiel-san calmly said
“—This is the area change because [objects] have been destroyed. The announcer should have mentioned this as well at the beginning of the game. If an [object] is destroyed—”
The area in which an [object] is destroyed — a [King] cannot enter!
“Speaking in terms of a chessboard, you are currently on the edge of [B1]. I am in [C2], and the areas that we cannot enter are [A3], [B2], and [C1], which form a perfect diagonal line. Which means that since you are in [B1], you cannot go past this diagonal line.”
“This was your plan from the beginning!?”
Since I was on the far side at [B1] and I couldn’t enter the area that was divided by the diagonal line, the only three areas that I was able to move around in now were [A1], [A2], and [B1]. It also meant that I was no longer able to move into any other area. They had cleverly chosen the areas that couldn’t be entered so as to form a barrier, without a single gap! Barakiel-san continued
“In fact, meeting you here was purely coincidence…. But this is the outcome that I obtained. …We were aiming for this when we thought about where to place the [objects]. It just so happened that you and I fought against each other, and I thought that it was time to implement this plan, so I contacted my teammates. The plan was originally to lure the [King] into one of the four corners of the field, and then use the rule that a [King] cannot enter the areas where an [object] has been destroyed to create this barrier. There have been teams in the [Object Break] games of the past that also used this tactic. —This strategy is known as [Imprisonment].
True to its meaning, I was now trapped in the area of these three squares! Barakiel-san’s attitude took a sudden turn, and he became rather cold.
“By mentioning Akeno, you became confused and I was able to implement this strategy. It was to prevent you from noticing that you were being lured into a corner. As expected, you were confused by my words and didn’t take notice of our intentions at all. I said it just earlier, it was a test for you. Brute strength on its own is not enough, being able to face various circumstances on your own is also necessary. It’ll be a worry if the man that my daughter likes is an idiot.”
…Damn it! Because he brought up Akeno-san, I was completely fooled…. I completely fell for it! But, my team won’t be taken down so easily.
<< Of the [Lightning] team, one [Knight] and one [Bishop] have retired; three [Pawns] have also retired.>>
When it came to combat, it seems like my team has the advantage, as demonstrated by that announcement.
“Ise! Although we don’t know what’s happening to you right now, we trust in you as our [King], and we will continue to fight.”
“That’s right! If there’s something you need to slice apart then leave it to us! Xenovia and I are your [Knights].”
I received a message from my reliable companions. Xenovia and Irina both seemed to have continuously defeated the opposing team’s players. On the other side of the thin barrier, Barakiel-san said to me
“Hyoudou Issei-kun, the Rating Games will bring a variety of challenges. If you wish to lead your team to participate in professional games in the future, remember that there are sometimes situations in which power alone is useless.”
Barakiel-san then looked back as he prepared to retreat towards the rear.
“Now then, I have to support my teammates. You stay there and work out what to do with your teammates.”
After saying that, Barakiel-san waved his feathered wings and flew off. Because of the barrier, I had no way of getting to the other side! At that time, Ravel spoke to me.
“Ise-sama! What’s going on!?”
“I’m sorry, Ravel, I was fighting in a corner of the field…and then I was trapped in by [Imprisonment].”
After I concisely explained the situation, Ravel immediately gave me a good idea.
“—Hmm. …There’s a way to fix this. Ise-sama, do you know about the chess rule where only a [King] can change locations? Remember when you were present during the peace talks between the Three Factions and it was done.”
During the peace talks…change positions…. Ah! The one that was used to rescue Gasper!
Ravel and I said it together at the same time! Aha! I have seen it once! In order to rescue Gasper who was left behind in the old school building when the [Khaos Brigade] first attacked us, Rias used her unused [Rook] piece in the club activities room to transport herself into the old school building via ‘castling’. Right now, it should be possible to make use of that! Ravel continued
“Yes, it’s just as you say. Swap places with Rossweisse-sama. According to the rules, ‘castling’ can be performed once as long as the [King] is not in a ‘checkmate’ situation. You will be able to perform ‘castling’ once with Rossweisse-sama. In that case, Ise-sama will be free to move, and since Rossweisse-sama isn’t a [King], even if she swaps places with you, she can still enter the modified areas.”
Ravel had also included Rossweisse-san in the plan. Really, having Ravel by our side is truly encouraging! She immediately came up with a solution! No, this is something that I originally should have thought of! Perhaps this is what Barakiel-san was trying to lead me towards. This is also related to my worth as a [King] in the future. It was not long before word from Ravel came again.
“I have already contacted Rossweisse-sama about this, so please immediately begin preparations for ‘castling’!”
I called the name of the move as I thought of the Evil Piece in my chest. And then — I was surrounded by the light of teleportation. The next instant, I was above the lake! It seems as though I really did change positions with Rossweisse-san!
“Awesome, it worked!”
I rejoiced! Next, as long as my [Rook] Rossweisse-san passes through the area that a [King] cannot enter and returns here, there won’t be any problems! However, Ravel’s voice had a tone of surprise when she contacted me again.
“How could this be…!”
“What is it, Ravel?”
“The place that Rossweisse-sama transferred to — is the same place that Ise-sama was in, but there’s a new opponent! It seems like it was an ambush!”
Ambush!? C-Could it be that after the [objects] were destroyed, one person stayed behind on that side, lying in wait for Rossweisse-san who would go there by ‘castling’!? And the instant that I heard the name of the ambusher, I was stunned!
“…It’s the Fallen Angel Cadre Armaros-sama!”
—What! The ambusher was actually the Cadre of special effects, Armaros! Ravel exclaimed in regret.
“The opponent is an anti-magic specialist! For a magic user like Rossweisse-sama, he is the worst possible opponent! …I see, this is what they were aiming for! Trapping Ise-sama was just a feint! Their real goal was—”
Rossweisse-san…! We gave the task of analysing the [object] to Rossweisse-san—. Did they also predict that…! Ravel continued
“…In a game with special rules, magic users who are able to wield a variety of magic are valued. Especially Rossweisse-sama who is using magic to locate the [objects], she is particularly important to us. …I never expected that our opponent had even predicted this and even made preparations for it…!”
…The ultimate aim of Barakiel-san, who had trapped me there, was to ambush Rossweisse-san…. We’ve really been deceived at every single turn…!
“…Rossweisse-san is trapped, and I can’t use ‘castling’ again either. But the game still goes on…. I see, so this is a Rating Game huh. Compared to participating as a [Pawn], it really is much tougher as a [King]—”
I couldn’t say a thing as an expression of anguish coloured my face. Gnashing my teeth and tightly clenching my fist, I endured my sense of regret. If I didn’t do that, I would probably roar at the top of my lungs. Daammmnnn itttt! This feeling of regret was completely different! …Rias…so this is what you felt like. Because I didn’t think things through, Rossweisse-san was now pinned down there. I was unable to use my team members flexibly, and I was even strung along by the opponents’ tactics every step of the way! This feeling of regret that I felt was different from what I felt as a [Pawn], and the pressure of it felt even heavier because of my responsibility! It’s frustrating, it’s truly frustrating! Ravel said
“…I think there is more than one member of the opponent’s team who is specialised in searching, there should be two of them. After all, researchers do account for the majority of the Grigori. Being able to find five of the [objects] in less than half of the allocated time limit is the best evidence of that.”
…After all, it is the organisation that Azazel-sensei commanded. The number of Fallen Angel researchers is truly horrifying. In order to deal with a variety of Rating Games, a variety of people were elected for the team. Ravel continued her speculation
“Most likely, in order to find [objects] as soon as possible, they prepared many different strategies. They must have also entered our territory. Since we haven’t found many [objects] on our side, our opponents must have been searching for objects on our side whilst they engaged in combat with us.”
…In other words, the time left for us was running out. Our searching magic has been sealed off, whilst the opponent’s searchers are still active. After a while, the [objects] that are on our side will be taken away, and they will be destroyed, leading to our defeat. Our opponent just needs to find and destroy two more [objects] to become victorious in this game—.
After Hyoudou Issei used ‘castling’ to perform a swap of his own position with Rossweisse, appearing before Rossweisse was the [Lightning] team’s [Queen], the Grigori Cadre Armaros.
“Gwahahahaha! I remember how you used to be a Valkyrie! You’re also good at magic, but I won’t be allowing you to pull any tricks!”
The person who stood in front of Rossweisse was a Fallen Angel Cadre who wore armour, a cloak, and was armed with an axe and a shield. He had a bearded face and even wore an eyepatch…it was unclear whether or not he only had one eye. Based on appearances alone, he looked like an extremely eccentric character that would leave people confused. However—. Rossweisse unleashed a full-powered attack of each attribute — only for it to be
Just one steady swing of his axe caused all of those attacks to be annihilated! They were not blocked, and neither were they deflected. He had used the impact of his axe swing to completely eliminate all of the incoming magic attacks. Even someone like Rossweisse, who had great confidence in her own magic attacks, couldn’t help but be stunned upon seeing what unfolded before her eyes.
“It’s my turn now! Hyaaaaaaahhh!”
Armaros lifted the axe up high, and then slammed it down in an instant! The resulting shockwave and its blinding speed destroyed the surface of the ground as it gradually approached Rossweisse. Rossweisse immediately erected a defensive magic circle. This was a technique that she had learnt from the Norse mythology, and when combined with her own characteristics as a [Rook], this could be described as an indestructible high defence magic shield. It was impossible for normal attacks to—. In the very instant that the shockwave from the axe came into contact with her magic circle, the sound of its shattering reverberated throughout the air, and Rossweisse’s prided defensive magic circle was easily destroyed!
She couldn’t even leak a single sound to express her surprise. This was the defensive magic circle that had defended against numerous powerful opponents in the past. It had even endured against the fierce attacks of Evil Dragons. Yet, a single attack from this Cadre of special effects far exceeded Rossweisse’s expectations. In this game, even if Armaros was bolstered by the characteristics of the [Queen] piece, something like this was unimaginable. Upon closer examination — the enchantment of a technique was inscribed upon Armaros’ axe. And that technique seemed familiar because she had seen it somewhere before.
…Armaros’ anti-magic — she had heard about his tenacious study of anti-magic…but she had never imagined that he would be able to eliminate her magic so easily. Although she was aware that Armaros relied on physical methods to eliminate magic…she never thought that such an outcome could be obtained by enchanting his own weapons with the results of his anti-magic research…. Rossweisse communicated her current situation to Ravel. In order to analyse the [object], she had received one of them from Xenovia. That was why she absolutely could not act carelessly. She could not allow the [object] to be destroyed by her opponent either. Ravel said to Rossweisse
“I will think of countermeasures.”
Rossweisse judged that facing him head-on would be the worst possible situation for her, thus she quickly flew into the air. By using magic, she could enhance the abilities of her own body and increase her own speed, and after that, she could then cast a barrage of magic attacks. Since she had the advantage in speed, all she had to do was fire off magic towards a blind spot—. Just as Rossweisse was considering this, Armaros raised his shield. The same enchantment that was present on his axe appeared on his shield.
“How sly of you! You’re toooooo naive though!”
His shield shone with a radiance that enveloped the entire surrounding area! And as for Rossweisse who was bathed in this…she realised that her own speed had suddenly reduced. All of the physical abilities that she had enhanced with magic had disappeared! What was even more shocking was the analysis technique that she had been using on the [object] — it had been also eliminated by this radiant light! The shield that Armaros was holding in his hand actually had the power to decompose magic!
“Guhahahahaha! When set against the flow of magic, my axe will tear it apart, and my shield will eliminate it! My research on anti-magic is not just limited to theoretical knowledge!”
The announcer’s cry was then heard.
<<Ooh! The magic of Rossweisse-senshu who is a talented magic user now appears to be helpless against Armaros-senshu! Armaros-senshu, who is better known as a researcher of anti-magic is indeed a Cadre of the Grigori! The effects of his anti-magic are extraordinary! Just like their previous games, the true strengths of Hyoudou Issei’s team have not been utilised!>>
The announcer commented on the situation rather loosely. Rossweisse shamefully clenched her teeth, and once again decided to strengthen her offensive and defensive magic. But Armaros’ axe tore her magic apart one by one, and due to the effects of his shield, even her speed-enhancing magic had been eliminated. At this moment, Rossweisse was convinced. —Her compatibility with this Fallen Angel was the absolute worst. The opponent most certainly must have taken this into account, which is why Armaros was facing her. She was good at using magic for offense and defense, hence an anti-magic expert with the worst compatibility with her was sent here. Strategically speaking, this was a natural decision…but she never imagined that her own attacks would be completely useless. Her overly naive thoughts were exposed. Indeed, Armaros was a colleague of that Azazel. He was a powerful man who had overcome all kinds of battles and survived—. But there still existed magic that was effective against Armaros.
The very thing that Rossweisse had been researching in the battle against Qlippoth were sealing techniques. Even Armaros, who was an expert in anti-magic, would not be able to fully eliminate a barrier. The problem was…that to devise a barrier that would be able to seal Armaros away would take a long time. If she only made a half-baked barrier, Armaros would definitely be capable of destroying it from within. It had to be something that could fully seal him. In this case, she really needed time in order to construct the technique—. If another one of her allies came here, then it could be done. But they were currently engaged in combat against the opponent, so it would take a significant amount of time for one of her allies to arrive. Moreover, it was already taking all of the effort that she could muster in order to deal with Armaros’ attacks under the current circumstances. Just as Rossweisse was thinking this, Armaros shortened the distance between the two of them and swung his axe down!
Rossweisse instantly expanded several layers of defensive magic circles — but they were destroyed layer after layer. Rossweisse immediately added another defensive magic circle. But Armaros’ axe mercilessly destroyed Rossweisse’s magic circles one after the other. The shockwave that was generated by the swing of his axe passed through the magic circle and was transmitted to her body. …Immense pain coursed throughout her entire body. If hit by a direct attack, it was very likely that she would be forced to retire from the match. This was the one thing that she had to avoid! Rossweisse endured the shockwave of the axe, and even created an enormous crater as she crashed into the ground. Just as the final layer of her defensive magic circle was destroyed—. A blast of energy was unleashed from behind Rossweisse. Armaros immediately responded to this by dodging this blow. Armaros directed his eyes to the person behind Rossweisse.
“Hohoho, so another one has come! I have to say that you have excellent taste in choosing a mask to wear!”
Rossweisse also turned around to look — the person who had appeared behind her walked forwards slowly, she wore a red mask and was the [Queen] of the [Sekiryuutei of Blazing Truth Team], Bina Lessthan. Bina stood in front of Rossweisse and said
“Are you alright?”
It was the voice of a young lady — it sounded like she was in her teen years. Bina then confronted Armaros. At the same time, a message came from Ravel.
“Rossweisse-sama, Bina-sama has rushed over to your side. Please team up to take Armaros-sama down!”
It seems it was under the directions of Ravel. Indeed, her intention was to deal with the opponent’s [Queen] right here. Ravel understood that this opponent was troublesome. Armaros seemed rather happy upon seeing Bina’s entrance, and instantly began to close in on her. He swung his axe horizontally near her waist. But it was easily evaded by Bina. At the same time, from her hands — she unleashed an extraordinary amount of demonic energy! A red magic circle — it was a pattern that she seemed to have created herself, yet it was reminiscent of a dragon. To be expected of Armaros, he immediately realised the danger. But Bina did not mind, and relentlessly let loose a cannon of tremendous demonic energy. That bombardment of tremendous demonic energy — destroyed everything that was in sight, it was so powerful that it seemed inhuman. This wasn’t the kind of demonic energy that just any high-class Devil was capable of producing. And upon seeing this, Armaros couldn’t help but become ecstatic. Bina said to Rossweisse.
“I will take care of the fighting, you construct a barrier sealing technique.”
After saying that, Bina began to face Armaros head-on. Rossweisse went along with Bina’s intentions, and began to construct a technique. While constructing it, she also began to think.
—Although I don’t really know who Bina Lessthan is, I feel like I can trust her.
The [Queen] of the [Sekiryuutei of the Blazing Truth Team] was far more reliable than she had ever imagined—.
On the other hand, Xenovia and Irina, who were exploring the eastern side, were also under attack from the opponent. Their opponents numbered — a group of three people. They were mostly likely a group of [Pawns] who had gathered together to launch an attack. According to information that they had obtained beforehand, the opponent’s [Pawns] numbered eight in total. The previous announcement stated that Irina and the others had already defeated a [Bishop] and a [Knight], as well as three [Pawns]. More specifically, it was Irina who defeated the [Bishop] and one [Pawn], whereas Xenovia had defeated the [Knight] and two [Pawns]. Perhaps the reason why the opponent sent reinforcements was because Irina had defeated their [Bishop]. Irina was exploring the region that she was assigned to, and coincidentally found several Fallen Angels who were searching for [objects] in that area. She had defeated the [Bishop] that probably excelled at searching, as well as a [Pawn] who was assisting. Whether or not this resulted in a major blow to the other side was still unclear, but since the other side sent reinforcements here, it meant that—. Irina moved closer to Xenovia and whispered
(It seems like there might be an [object] nearby.)
(The reinforcements indicate that something major is happening huh.)
Indeed, the number of players in a Rating Game were limited. When fighting in such a vast field, if the situation was not at a critical junction, then it was highly unlikely that their combat power was going to be focused on a single area. —Since this was the case, it was obvious that this was a very important area for them. The opponent had already destroyed five [objects], so victory was almost within their grasp. Right now, even if they had to make some sacrifices, they were most certainly after another [object]. After all, the rules this time allowed a team to win without having to defeat the [King]. In this way, the existence of an [object] was extremely important. Having to obtain one, and allowing one to be taken away were very troublesome. —Perhaps this was a key moment?
Irina smiled wryly as she used her eyes to signal Xenovia. It seemed like Xenovia also planned to fight here. At times like these, communicating with Xenovia simply via eye contact like how they used to when they were a duo caused Irina’s confidence to double. Both sides leapt into action at the same time. The opponent was dominant when it came down to numbers. And after a few clashes, it was clear that the opponents were far from being as simple as mere [Pawns]. A female Fallen Angel wielded a large sword forged by light in her hands, and based on the speed of her attacks, it almost seemed like she was a [Knight]. Her movements also seemed rather skillful…after all, they were also people who had survived numerous battlefields, and would not be defeated so easily. One Fallen Angel pulled away and began to fire arrows of light as support, but Irina swung Hauteclere to unleash a shockwave. They dealt with the more bothersome one first. Although the bow-wielding Fallen Angel dodged the shockwave, he was quickly cut down by Xenovia who had predicted the position that they would evade to. At times like these, even if they didn’t use words to communicate, Irina and Xenovia were able to understand each other’s thoughts process, and could immediately pursue. Soon afterwards, the bow-wielding Fallen Angel was enveloped in the light of retirement, and then disappeared from the field.
<<Of the [Lightning] team, one [Pawn] has retired.>>
The announcement was made. It seemed like the one that they had defeated just then was one of the opponent’s [Pawns]. There were two people remaining.
As long as Xenovia and I are a combination, we can do it! As long as we can defeat the next two players, we’ll be able to search for the [object] that is possibly in our vicinity.
While Irina thought that—. Thunderclouds appeared above Irina and Xenovia, and from there, fierce rays of lightning sprang out. Along with the arrival of the thunder, a man appeared—.
“Hmm, I’ll help out too.”
Barakiel — the Fallen Angel Cadre who had once been called the [Lightning of God], and currently the vice-governor of the Grigori. This man stood before Irina and Xenovia. …He was more experienced in life and death struggles than the two people currently before him combined, and if someone was to be struck by this man’s lightning, they would not escape unharmed. Especially for a Devil such as Xenovia, light was a highly toxic poison.
(Ise-kun, I’m sorry if I get defeated.)
For now, she apologised to her team’s leader in her heart. Needless to say, even if she was defeated, she would do everything that she could before that. The combination of Irina and Xenovia began to challenge the lightning that threatened them. The lightning that Akeno and Barakiel released as their allies now seemed so cold and terrifying—. But no matter what happened, he — Hyoudou Issei - would surely determine the victor at the very end. This was the conclusion that Irina and Xenovia drew from their past experiences.
(So, darling. Use that…that unrivalled and impossibly powerful attack so that everyone can see!)
Indeed, although he was fated to accept a variety of evaluations, whether it was actual combat or a Rating Game, his strength was capable of overturning the entire situation—.
“—To sum things up, Irina and I are currently fighting against the other side’s [King]. That’s all, from Xenovia.”
“—Just as planned, we’re stalling the opponent’s [Queen], Armaros here.”
I — Hyoudou Issei - listened to the status reports from Xenovia and Rossweisse; both sides were in a heated fight.
<<Battles are continuing in various places. Since the beginning of the game until now, Hyoudou Issei-senshu’s team has had the advantage when it comes to combat, whereas the [Lightning] team has had the advantage in terms of the number of [objects] destroyed. So, will the [Sekiryuutei of Blazing Truth] gain a difficult victory just as they did in the previous game, or will they lose as a result of the [objects] being captured and destroyed!? Victory cannot be obtained by relying on force and power alone, for this is a Rating Game!>>
…Damn it, this announcer is actually saying such ridiculous things during the commentary! However, I’ve also realised that the situation is not optimal right now! Just at this time, Ravel finally gave the signal.
“Ise-sama, it’s time. This is already enough. —Please enact the plan that was mentioned earlier.”
“—Alright, I understand. Although I regret it a bit, this is something simpler that I can use to make them understand.”
“Yes, please show them the results of a simple and clear answer.”
I began to carry out the plan that Ravel had proposed earlier — I began to fly towards the centre of the field. Hovering above a deep valley, I began the chant for power.
“—The Crimson Red Dragon dwelling within me, awaken from your dominance”
A dazzling crimson glow was emitted from the gem on my right gauntlet.
[—The Crimson Heavenly Dragon I possess within me, rise up to become a King and roar]
Ophis’ voice echoed out from the gem—.
The gem on my left gauntlet unleashed a jet-black aura.
“—The jet-black God of Infinity”
An incredible crimson aura enveloped my entire body.
[—The glorious God of Dreams]
The jet-black aura of infinity was then encased over it—.
“[—Watch over the false forbidden existence we shall become that transcends the boundaries]”
This verse is slightly different from the past. The difference lies in the addition ‘false’. My crimson armour was then tinged with a jet-black pattern. The power of the Dragon God had fully manifested. And then we recited the final verse together—.
“[—Thou shalt dance like radiance within our inferno]”
“<<[D∞D!! D∞D D∞D!! D∞D D∞D D∞D!!!! D∞D D∞D D∞D D∞D D∞D D∞D!!!!!! D∞D D∞D D∞D D∞D D∞D D∞D D∞D D∞D D∞D D∞D D∞D D∞D!!!!!!!!]>>”
All of the gems resounded with a voice which said [D∞D!!] and permeated through to the soul. An ∞ symbol emerged on all of the gems!
“[<<Dragon ∞ Drive!!!!!!>>]”
Dragon Deification — no, it was something similar to Dragon Deification. If I did use Dragon Deification, my existence itself would immediately collapse. So within the chant, I added on a ‘restriction’, and though only for a short while, I could utilise this extraordinary power. After the transformation, Ravel notified all of our members.
“Everyone, Ise-sama has already undergone Pseudo-Dragon Deification! Please move according to the plan that was proposed earlier!”
There isn’t much time left! So I’ll have to do this quickly! Four large cannons emerged from my four wings, and I began to prepare for ∞ Blaster! An incredibly vast amount of aura quietly gathered at the muzzle of my cannons. Starting from the very instant that I let the cannons loose, the countdown for maintaining Pseduo-Dragon Deification will begin! A total of ten seconds! I wouldn’t be firing it just anywhere, but in accordance with the plan — the majority of the field will be blasted away!
“<<[D∞D D∞D D∞D D∞D D∞D D∞D D∞D D∞D D∞D D∞D D∞D D∞D!!!!!!!!]>>”
An [∞] symbol appeared on all of the gems of my armour, as the colours of red and black flashed alternatingly. I can’t rely on pure power alone? I can’t win a Rating Game with pure power alone? Perhaps that may be the case. If I was just relying on some half-baked strength and power, people like us who are still inexperienced when it comes to the games would be made fun of. But—. If it’s not some half-baked strength, and not some half-baked power, then what happens? What will they think when they see the absolute power that we have gained through actual combat!?
—I, we, have worked hard to make it through this one intense year, so let’s give them a good look at the power that we have obtained!!
“I’ve confirmed that all of our allies within the range of impact have retreated.”
After hearing Ravel’s message, I felt delighted!
An incredibly vast amount of aura was discharged from the muzzles of my four cannons! I maintained my firing position, drew out a semicircle as I turned, and continued to unleash the jet-black aura symbolising infinity and the crimson aura!
[V! IV! III! II!]
Until I reached the limit, I continued to bombard the field with my cannons—.
After the countdown finally ended, I also released Pseudo-Dragon Deification, and reverted back to my crimson armour. …Because of the aftereffects of Pseudo-Dragon Deification, most of my stamina and demonic energy had been depleted…but my crimson armour wouldn’t be undone yet.
—Alright, now I can continue to fight! After the potent bombardment of aura concluded, the sight that appeared before my eyes was — a barren and deserted wasteland with no mountains, valleys, rivers, nor trees. Everything had been blown away. The announcer trembled as he spoke
<<Ooooohh! W-W-What just happened! T-The field actually! More than half of the field has actually been annihilated! Incredible! Hyoudou Issei-senshu’s cannons have erased the field’s scenery! THIS IS TRULY POWER BEYOND IMAGINATIIIOOOOON!>>
At the same time, announcements for the retirement of our opponents and the destruction of [objects] were made.
<<Of the [Lightning] team, one [Rook] and one [Bishop] have retired.>>
<<Confirmation that the [Sekiryuutei] team has destroyed four [objects]. They have gained four points.>>
That cannon blast just now took out one a [Rook] and [Bishop] from our opponent’s side! That was a good result! If they were players who were searching for [objects], then it could be described as an even better result! I also destroyed four [objects]! Our numbers have increased almost instantaneously! This pushes our total up to five! Because we kept one more on our side that we haven’t yet destroyed, it’ll be a victory for us as long as we can find one more!
Now then, I’ll go over our strategy. Although my Pseudo-Dragon Deification can utilise an incredible amount of power, it has a time limit. I can maintain the transformation for three minutes, but if I convert that to perform attacks or switch to defence, then the transformation time limit will be reduced. A cannon blast at maximum firepower — if I use ∞ Blaster, the time limit will be reduced even further. From the moment that the bombardment began, a ten second countdown also began, and once it reached zero, Pseudo-Dragon Deification was forcibly lifted. There is also a crucial problem after the transformation is undone. —My stamina and demonic energy is vastly depleted. During our training, because of different styles of fighting that had been used, there were situations where I wasn’t even able to maintain my normal armour. To put it simply, Pseudo-Dragon Deification is a final move that can only be used at a critical time, but it is also the strongest means of attack that our team has. Based on the above reasons, preparations were made for this plan at the beginning of this Rating Game. We first needed to make sure that I would be able to use Pseudo-Dragon Deification. However, it absolutely cannot be used when up against the other side’s [King]. To give a reason for that, it would be because we don’t know what kinds of tricks the other side has up their sleeve, so transforming and charging in recklessly could lead to my attacks being blocked, thus wasting an important means of offense. That being the case, it is necessary to find the right time to use it. After Ravel confirmed the rules for [Object Break], the gridded map was opened at the beginning of the game, and the plan was communicated to all members of the team—.
“We need to investigate the [objects] that are in our territory first.”
Ravel used a pen to mark out the map. The field this time had half of a chessboard as our territory. A red circle was drawn to further divide our territory in half. That was a quarter of the field.
“However, it would not be very efficient if we were to search every corner of our territory. Moreover, there is also a time limit, so we should only target one area. We only need to perform a thorough search of half of our territory. But, it’ll be bad if we allow the other side to discover our intentions, so we should still scatter all of the members of our team into the every region of our territory. And then, one group will perform a thorough search of half our territory.”
“But, what are we going to do about the exploration of the other half of our territory?”
Irina asked. Limiting our search of [objects] to one quarter of the field would perhaps make it much easier to find them, but the other areas will be left unexplored.
“Indeed, if that’s the case, it’s impossible for us to win. Perhaps our opponent will take the lead when it comes to the number of [objects] destroyed. But once the game reaches its mid-phase, we’ll change our style immediately.”
Ravel smiled as she explained the plan.
“Our team has been evaluated to have nothing but power. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this. Of course, some people have said that there must be a minimum level of strategy. The people who want to laugh at us can laugh all they want. —However, if they see someone significant suppressed by true power, the people who laughed at us will most certainly shut up.”
Ravel said to me
“Ise-sama possesses an unrivalled power that can be demonstrated by an immense cannon blast of energy with Pseudo-Dragon Deification—. This single blow will create that kind of change in the game, and they will be able to see it for themselves. —So in this game, please wait until the time is right, and then blow away the majority of the field.”
Ravel’s shocking plan left everyone speechless. Ravel then continued to add a few points. At the beginning, we would need to perform a thorough search of half of our territory. The area to be explored was our eastern side. The ones responsible for this would be Xenovia and Irina. At the same time, in order to prevent the other side from realising this, we still needed to visit the other areas to make it look as though we were searching. We also needed to move into our opponent’s territory. But, this was all just an act. Of course, it’d be best if we came across [objects], but that was not the goal this time. After clashing several times, and when both sides had made some gains in destroying [objects], it would be my turn to shine with Pseudo-Dragon Deification. I would fly into the centre of the field, and the unexplored areas of our territory, as well as half of our opponent’s territory — in other words, a vertical half of the entire field would be blown away by a semicircular sweep with ∞ Blaster. I would draw a counter-clockwise semicircle going from north to south, which would eliminate the entire western side. Because the field had a powerful barrier set up by the tournament authorities, such a plan was possible. And in this way, the majority of the field in our territory that hadn’t been explored would be blown away, so any [objects] that we hadn’t found would naturally be destroyed by me. After ∞ Blaster ended, we would close in on the remaining quarter of the field that we had not yet explored (the quarter of our opponent’s territory that had not been hit by my bombardment), thereby moving into the final phase. It truly was a bold and ambitious strategy! Although it was an approach that fully utilised our power…the idea seemed so perfect that even Xenovia seemed slightly perplexed. Ravel revealed a calm smile.
“Simple petty tactics are completely useless in the face of true power; we shall burn this terror into the eyes of the contestants of the tournament, as well as all those who are watching it. There are a few competing teams in this tournament who are able to cause destruction to such a degree, but this is decisive power that even the lower level of god-class beings will not be able to overcome with strategy. This is what we need to demonstrate once more.”
And then, Ravel said this to me in a very simple manner.
“I will use tactics different to Rias-sama and Sona-sama with this team to show everyone.”
Upon seeing this haughty declaration from Ravel, I couldn’t help recalling what her mother had told me.
—Ravel’s true nature is the path of supremacy.
……Using all of our power and knowledge on the path towards supremacy huh. This is Ravel’s talent…. If Riser was able to make use of Ravel’s talent — perhaps that Rating Game might have resulted in a one-sided loss for us. ……Unshakable determination and a spectacular way of executing it. All of it was so that people could acutely realise it. —Ravel was the cornerstone of this team. In order to continue surviving in this tournament, Ravel’s strength was indispensable. And at the same time, because she was the heart of this team, our chances of victory would immediately collapse if she were to be attacked. …Throughout this game, there may be people who become aware that Ravel is the core of our team. And so, as the tournament progresses, there will be more people aiming for Ravel than me. …Through this tournament, the slumbering talents that people of various factions possess will be discovered. Is this one of aspects that the managers — Beelzebub-sama and the God of Destruction Shiva are expecting? Or was this an earlier plan of Azazel-sensei and Sirzechs-sama? If that’s the case, then perhaps Ravel is the first person to fit this category. This reliable and promising strategic advisor-sama sent another message.
“The number of [objects] that our side has destroyed puts us into a check position. We just need one more to win. This is something that the other side also knows. They will no longer hesitate, and will probably begin to attack while looking for [objects] or seek to snatch it from us. Now is the crucial moment where everything matters, everyone!”
Alright! In that case, Barakiel-san will have no choice but to appear!
I asked Ravel
“Ravel, where is Barakiel-san right now? Is he still fighting against Xenovia and Irina?”
“—Hmm, so you want to decide the victor of the game? I understand, since you want to determine a winner, please proceed.”
Ravel accepted my suggestion! Since the game had already progressed to such a stage, it was perfectly feasible for me to act like this as a [King]. Although Armaros-san was caught up in the western side of our territory which was within the range of my Blaster, we did not hear an announcement about his retirement, and so I was somewhat worried, but my team members would deal with him.
“Ise-sama, acting as a [King] to take down another [King] will greatly boost morale, and the evaluations from everyone definitely will not be low! Please show them just what kind of man the [King] of Hyoudou Issei’s peerage is!
As expected of my peerage! And my manager! I then flew towards the location where Xenovia and Irina were fighting against Barakiel-san! They were in the north-eastern corner! I focused my strength into my dragon wings, and flew towards there at high-speed! Although Pseudo-Dragon Deification had used up the majority of my stamina, I could still continue to fight!
“We’ve found Hyoudou Issei!”
On the way, several of Barakiel-san’s team members attempted to stop my progression—.
“Don’t get in the way of my lord!”
The one who crashed into the Fallen Angels from their flank was my [Pawn], Bova! Bova spat out a powerful torrent of flames which did not lose to his father’s in intensity, and then stood in front of the Fallen Angels to block them off! Bova fearlessly said
“[King]! Leave this to me!”
“Alright, I’m counting on you!”
I left that to Bova, and then flew towards Barakiel-san’s location without any hesitation! Although I was panting heavily with ‘Haa haa…’ noises…I could not stop here to rest!
<<Of the [Lightning] team, one [Pawn] has retired.>>
Yeah! An update from our side! It seems like Bova has already taken care of an opponent! As I flew at high-speed over the field, I was soon able to see thunderclouds! That’s where Xenovia and Irina were fighting! Xenovia and Irina were up against Barakiel-san and two other Fallen Angels in a two-to-three fight. One of the two Fallen Angels was a woman who used a greatsword forged of light, while the other one was a male Fallen Angel who wielded a halberd of light.
“Ise! You came!”
“Sure enough, my darling was thinking of having a showdown between the leaders!”
Both Xenovia and Irina welcomed my arrival. Speaking of which, even if it was the two of them up against Barakiel-san’s lightning, they had done very well! Although their uniform had already become tattered, and they were low on stamina, both of them were still fine and lively, and evaded a direct strike from the lightning.
“I’ll leave the other two to you two!”
I left the two other Fallen Angel opponents to Xenovia and Irina, while I flew directly towards Barakiel-san!
“Barakiel-san! Let’s finish off what we started!”
I changed my right arm into its Solid Impact mode whilst I evaded Barakiel-san’s lightning—.
[Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost!!!!!!]
[Solid Impact Booster!!!!]
I quickly sent Barakiel-san flying through the air! Barakiel-san’s beaten body was languid, but he steadied himself and prepared for a direct confrontation.
“Very well. But, do not be careless. Are you able to understand what I’m thinking?”
From here, it was a melee fight between [Kings]! My punches and kicks all hammered down upon Barakiel-san’s face, shoulders, torso, and legs! On the other hand, Barakiel-san’s lightning-imbued punches and kicks also struck my face, torso, and my legs! His attacks of lightning, a combination of electricity and light, were transmitted to me through my armour, and because my reserves of stamina and demonic energy were low, I couldn’t stop myself from trembling due to the damage that was done to my entire body! And amidst the heated exchange with Barakiel-san, I deeply felt it.
—Barakiel-san had pulled the rug out from underneath me when it came to strategy. It was as if he was trying to guide me. It was as if this person was acting in the place of Azazel-sensei. Even his words just then were the same. He deliberately said “Are you able to understand what I’m thinking?” in order to guide my thought process. …He was encouraging my growth through this Rating Game. A year ago — I died once because of a Fallen Angel. And in the year following that — I’ve grown to this point by the hand of a Fallen Angel. And precisely because of that, I know that I have to repay that debt now! I have to respond to their expectations! Barakiel-san, I will defeat you! But before that, I have to repay you for what you just did! I faced Barakiel-san directly and said
“I…at night, I occasionally sleep together with Akeno-san! Being caught between Rias and Akeno-san while I sleep is the best!”
Instantly, Barakiel-san seemed taken aback by what I had just said! At first he was embarrassed, and confused, and then he became mad!
“……. …Kuh! Y-You’re using that trick!”
My attack accurately struck Barakiel-san as he let his guard down! However, my breathing had already become heavy and disturbed! My stamina had almost reached its limits as well! But I didn’t care about that and continued to speak!
“Also, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Akeno-san often cooks for me! Akeno-san also makes bentos for me!”
By combining my attacks with these verbal outbursts, Barakiel-san was gradually falling into a downward spiral! His intense tremors were the best evidence of that! But, I needed to properly convey how I felt about Akeno-san to him!
“Akeno-san has always acted as the elder who stands before us as a leader, she is in fact together with girls of a similar age to herself, but she can be hurt by the little things, and I know how delicate she is! Akeno-san worries about all of us; regardless of whether I or someone else is injured, she keeps the pain inside her heart, that’s something I’m also very clear on!”
Akeno-san is actually nothing more than an ordinary girl! Although she usually acts like an onee-san at school, I know that she also has the side of an ordinary girl because we’ve been living under the same roof together!
“To me, not only is she a caring onee-san, she’s also a cute girl, as well as a woman who can reveal a beautiful smile. I’m absolutely certain of these things!”
But in response, Barakiel-san widened his eyes, his expression became even more imposing, and he sent me flying through the air again! Barakiel-san shouted out whilst sparks of lightning erupted from his entire body!
“Even if you say that! Even if you understand Akeno! You — still chose Rias Gremory didn’t you!?”
When Barakiel-san said that one sentence…my body froze. Barakiel-san charged at me with a flying kick and continued
“You chose Rias Gremory! Everyone also understood that, and agreed with it! I also heard about your promise of the future with her! You will be together with Rias Gremory from now on! Well…well! What about Akeno!? Akeno…who will be together with her!? My daughter’s heart is attracted to you, and yet you’ve been taken away by Rias Gremory, so what will my daughter do from now on!?”
Speechless, I could only allow myself to be beaten by Barakiel-san unilaterally. His eyes — shed tears.
“Akeno…she will never put the blame on Rias Gremory nor you! To Akeno, both of you are important people! From the bottom of her heart, she sincerely wishes for the happiness of you two! But where is Akeno’s happiness!? Who else can ensure the happiness of my daughter!? Akeno’s future…will only be marred with sadness! Since that’s the case…”
Barakiel-san grabbed my neck — and wept.
“…I should have split you and Akeno apart from the very beginning. As long as she likes someone else, Akeno will also become happy, right? You…will you tell Akeno this? Or do you have other ways to make Akeno happy…? I am her father. …My daughter, Akeno, she is in love with you. So, tell me your answer! The Hyoudou Issei whom my daughter loves! How will you treat my daughter!?”
Barakiel-san’s tears and a penetrating punch struck my face squarely. My helmet was shattered, exposing my face underneath it. …Barakiel-san had also cried during the graduation ceremony. I think as he watched the graduation ceremony, he must have been recalling the past, and also casting his eyes towards Akeno-san’s future. And because of that, he was worried about Akeno-san. The cry of Barakiel-san’s soul was carried forth in that punch, and rang through to my mind and body. …Akeno-san’s happiness. In love with me…. I had already sworn on my future with Rias, so for Akeno-san…what about her? Could it be as Barakiel-san said, would it be better if Akeno-san liked someone else…?
…Memories of the time spent together with Akeno-san gradually surfaced within my mind.
—…How do you feel, Ise-kun, after hearing that? You hate Fallen Angels, right? They killed you and Asia-chan once, and tried to destroy this city once, there’s no way you can hold good thoughts about them.
The first time that Akeno-san told me the truth about herself in front of me, she was prepared to accept that I would hate her, and still she said all of that. But, I — simply could not find a reason to hate Akeno-san.
—Not only that, I have the blood of a fallen angel in me, you know? Can you forgive me? Although I reincarnated into a Devil, the fact that I have the blood of a Fallen Angel in me doesn’t change. …I may have approached you wanting to get hated, you know? No, that’s definitely the case. I…am the worst kind of woman….
No, Akeno-san…you’re the best woman! Not only are you gentle, you’re also more delicate than anyone else—.
—Mum…! I…! I wanted to see dad more often! I wanted dad to pat my head more! I wanted to play much more with dad! Dad… dad and mum…I wanted to live together more with the three of us…!
She was lonelier than anyone else, and sought love more than anyone else.
—Ufufu, that would make it my first French kiss, I guess.
She really surprised me. But, Akeno-san’s first kiss was with me, and that really made me feel proud.
—She’s right, if it’s the same fallen-angel then I will be able to make Ise-kun happy. That’s why please have more confidence. If you don’t take another step with Rias, then I can’t—
When I was frightened by the shadow of Raynare, and didn’t dare to even think of going further with Rias, you said those things to motivate me. Now, being able to enjoy the happiness I have with Rias is also thanks to your encouragement back then, Akeno-san—.
—…Yeah. Yeah, I’m okay now. I will live on for the sake of you, Rias, and everyone else. I will become stronger with you, Ise. I will be with you forever.
I also cherished Akeno-san, I definitely wouldn’t die again, because I had to keep living with her—.
—Ise, I love you. Ufufu.
……Have Akeno-san like someone else? Separate her…from me…? Akeno-san…and a man other than myself….
…Something like that, how could I possibly forgive it! Neither will I allow something like that to happen! Akeno-san and I…our hearts are linked! I like all of Akeno-san! Akeno-san has always been watching me! She belongs only to me — Himejima Akeno! —Letting some other bastard take her away is something I cannot forgive! Akeno-san’s sleek black hair, her smile, her gentleness, her S side, her personality which makes her easily saddened, her lips, her well-endowed oppai, everything, all of her — I want to make it mine!
I decided! I steeled my determination! Azazel-sensei, I am the Hyoudou Issei who is determined to become a harem king! So, no matter how many people it is, as long as it’s me…whether they pursue me or if it’s a woman that I pursue — I will make them happy! Whether it’s Rias, Asia, or Akeno-san — I will definitely make them happy! That’s right! Hyoudou Issei! You must say it! You have to say it! I need to make sure that the media of the Underworld, and even all of the factions hear it! I cried out with a voice that reverberated across the entire field!
“Then, I — love Akeno-san!”
And I went on!
“Barakiel-san, please allow me to take responsibility…I will be responsible! I will not give her to anyone else! I will…take Akeno-san! I will treasure Himejima Akeno for the rest of my life! Just as I have made Rias happy, I will also make Akeno happy! My dream is to become a harem king! The women who like me, and the women who love me, I will make all of them happy without leaving anyone out!”
Barakiel-san was shocked! This was the confession from my heart! Yes, I will take responsibility! Barakiel-san! Please accept my thoughts!
“I promise to make her happy! —I will take care of Himejima Akeno for as long as I live! Akeno is mine! Akeno, I LOOOOOOVVEEE YOOUUU!”
I faced the speechless Barakiel-san directly!
[Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost!!!!!!]
[Solid Impact Booster!!!!]
With one strike enhanced to the limits, I completely blew Barakiel-san away! The resulting shockwave also decimated the small mountain in front of me. Feelings are the most important things for Sacred Gears. In other words, my feelings for Akeno-san are overwhelmingly strong!
Ddraig pleasantly said
[As usual, as long as it’s related to your desires, the power of the Sacred Gear will instantly elevate. As expected of you, partner.]
Yeah, that’s what I thought too. Until now, I’ve always fought with feelings of anger against villains using my Sacred Gear. But when facing good opponents, I use my dreams and desires! Now, Akeno-san. You should have heard my shout just then through the broadcast right? That is what I’ve finally understood, and finally noticed, my feelings for you. Hearing my confession — the cry of my soul, Barakiel-san shed tears at the same time as he was knocked down.
“……Ah, how could this be…! How could I be crying at a time like this…! Azazel, he has finally set his path — he has personally said that he wants to go down the path of a harem king…!”
Due to my powerful strike, although Barakiel-san was able to stand, he was trembling non-stop. On the other side, Xenovia’s Durandal and Excalibur released an exceedingly powerful holy aura, which cut down the wielder of the greatsword of light.
<<Of the [Lightning] team, one [Knight] has retired. >>
The broadcast announced Xenovia’s victory. It looks like her opponent was also a [Knight].
“…Using destructive power is not only the privilege of my [King]. But, that was a really good confession, Ise!”
That’s right, my [Knight], Xenovia! Irina was also easily avoiding the fierce onslaught of the halberd from the Fallen Angel in mid-air. The halberd’s shockwaves caused the air to vibrate tremendously, and it also dug out trails on the ground. On the other hand, Irina used Hauteclere to perform a series of high-speed slashes. Her opponent was unable to counter it. Irina-san then extended a long whip of light from her left hand and cleverly wrapped it around her opponent’s foot. By pulling on the whip, her opponent’s stance was broken. This was the special offensive light energy technique that only Irina was able to use, though some inspiration was taken from [Excalibur Mimic]. Her opponent was forced to his knees, and he was instantly cut down by the enormous amount of aura that Irina released from Hauteclere.
After suffering from that attack from the holy aura of Hauteclere, her opponent was finally enshrouded in the light of retirement.
<<Of the [Lightning] team, one [Pawn] has retired.>>
“Fufu, in fact, I can also use some fancy attacks! It’s all because of darling’s confession that I became so excited all of a sudden!”
Irina had also dealt with her opponent! In that case, I should also finish off my final task as [King]! Well, Barakiel-san! Please accept this final blow! Cannons emerged out from my dragon wings, and then pointed forwards! A red aura gathered at the muzzle of the cannons!
“These are! My true feelings, towards you, and towards Akeno-san!”
[Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost!!!!!!]
[Fang Blast Booster!!!!]
An overwhelming and bright red aura was expelled from my two cannons, and beamed towards Barakiel-san—. Enduring the red aura, Barakiel-san seemed to have a relieved look.
“…Shuri, our daughter…has found a good man.”
Leaving behind only these words, the [King] of the [Lightning] team, Barakiel-san was enshrouded in the light of retirement—.
<<—Of the [Lightning] team, the [King] has retired. The [Sekiryuutei of Blazing Truth] team are victorious!>>
After that, the announcement that the game was over arrived—.
After this game, the opinions of the critics changed. The voices pointing out that we were not familiar with strategy, and that our experience of the games was shallow did not change, but this was added on to the end of all that.
—To the majority of teams, they are a simple and straightforward terror.
Translator's Notes and References
- –shi is a formal honorific used when the speaker is unfamiliar with the person that they are referring to.
- Kanji was Holy Grail of the Secluded World.
- Kanji was Chief Mourner’s Crucified Stand of Purple Flame.
- This is a reference to the short story entitled Woship ☆ Dragon-God-Girl from DX.2.
- –kyo is an honorific similar to Sir. In this case, it would be something along the lines of Sir Gremory.
- –senshu is an honorific used to refer to a player or contestant.
- Bento: Homemade lunchbox. Often meticulously detailed as a sign of love and care.
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