High School DxD:Volume 23 Life 3
Life.3 Before the Decisive Battle
When our Devil’s job for the day was over, and after I finished having a meeting with Ravel, I came to the large underground bath to cleanse my body. Asia and the others had already taken a bath earlier while I was at the meeting. Rias and the others had also finished their work early and returned home; they went to bed early as they planned to get up early the next morning. While I was scrubbing my body in the large bathing area, I noticed that someone had come in! When I turned around to look, Akeno-san had somehow crept up on me before I could even notice!
“Ufufu, shall we do this together?”
Akeno-san! The way that she appeared before me while completely supressing her presence gave me a major shock! Rias had also learned this technique and would also occasionally sneak up to give me a surprise! Akeno-san — needless to say, she was completely naked! Her extra-large size oppai bounced before my eyes, and I could even see her pink nipples! I stole dirty glances at them as I asked
“U-Umm, what is it? It’s already this late, so shouldn’t you be asleep, Akeno-san…?”
Akeno-san squeezed some body soap onto a towel and foamed it up as she said to me
“Ufufu, I also want to help wash my husband’s back on occasion. My dear, your back must be so stiff, right?”
Akeno-san said in a diligent manner! Ever since I confessed to her, Akeno-san would occasionally call me ‘husband’ and ‘dear’, she basically addressed me as if we were already a married couple. She gave off the impression of a perfect young Japanese woman who did everything for her husband.
“T-Then, I’ll leave it to you!”
Obviously, I had no reason to refuse, so I loudly asked Akeno-san to go ahead. Akeno-san laughed softly as she replied with
“Yes, my dear.”
…The way she called me ‘dear’ made me feel both shy and embarrassed…but I was certainly very happy, although it’s still a bit early! —Akeno-san began to wash my back from behind with a towel.
“…I feel so happy when I think that I’ll be able to wash Ise-kun’s back like this forever…”
The tone of Akeno-san’s voice seemed rather accommodating
“Ise-kun, please raise your hand.”
I followed Akeno-san’s instructions to allow her to wipe down my arms and armpits…. Every time Akeno-san’s body pressed against my own as she wiped me with the towel, I was able to feel the luscious and curvaceous sensation of Akeno-san’s oppai. The feeling of her incredibly soft body as it pressed tightly against my own was truly superb. After a while, Akeno-san asked a single question while she continued to wash my back from behind
“Shall I wash the front next?”
—What! T-This is a bit bad! I’m still a bit shy about this kind of thing!
“I-I can wash the front myself!”
Upon hearing me say this, Akeno-san’s expression became troubled.
“But, I cannot become a good wife if I don’t clean every part of my husband’s body.”
Akeno-san then moved in front of me! She stood in front of me with the towel in her hands — and she began to attentively scrub the front starting from my chest oooohh! Her oppai bounced in a beautiful rhythm before my very eyes!
“Ara ara, there’s no problem. I got a chance to see my husband’s naked body as well, so it’s absolutely fine.”
Speaking of which, we do see each other in the bath quite often! Yeah, yes, so it’s okay to look! But, being told this from an onee-san made me feel rather embarrassed!
“Then, next is — ufufu, please prepare yourself.”
Akeno-san’s hand — extended down towards my nether regions! Noooooo! I’m too embarrassed! Although it was very embarrassing, I also did have thoughts of wanting to try it since it was an unknown experience—. I made up my mind. No matter what happens, we’ll deal with it when it does happen!
The sound of water came from behind us! Both Akeno-san and I looked over to see Ophis (loli version) and Lilith pop out from the bathtub.
“Tis’ my victory.”
Following that, Kunou also popped her head out from the bathtub. Kunou-chan gasped heavily.
“Fu—! Phis-dono and Lith-dono are no match for me!”
It appeared as though the three of them were competing in the bath to see who could stay underwater for the longest. —And then, Ophis and Lilith began to hum a song. It was a unique tune that I had never heard before…they seemed to be having a good time. Was it one that they had composed themselves? Because these three people had suddenly appeared, the pink atmosphere between Akeno-san and I disappeared as we looked at each other and then laughed—.
As the days left until the match against the [Trump Card of Heaven] team rapidly went by, our training continued. This morning, Nakiri had also joined in with our training. After I finished our training session and took a bath, I went to the kitchen on the first floor. I grabbed a bottle of fruit milk out of the refrigerator and swiftly gulped it down, and only then did I realise that a rare guest was sitting in the living room. A girl with hair that was coloured a mix of black and white — Lint Sellzen was sitting on the sofa. The last time that I saw her, she was still wearing the outfit of a Church warrior — the female battle suit, but she was wearing Kuoh Academy’s girls’ uniform today. We were acquainted with each other after all, so I struck up a conversation with her.
“Umm, Lint…san, can I call you that?”
“No no, just Lint is fine, Sekiryuutei onii-san.”
Hahaha, her tone was still so carefree. It was reminiscent of that bastard priest…but the one before my eyes was way cuter when compared to him.
“Did you come to see Rias?”
“That’s basically how it is. Because Leader Rias told me to wait here.”
This kind of situation happens because two teams are basically living under the same roof, huh.
“That outfit is…”
I asked because Lint-san was wearing Kuoh Academy’s uniform. Lint-san stood up and straightened out her uniform as she said
“If one wants to move around this town during the day, then this uniform is more convenient when compared to a combat uniform.”
That’s certainly true. Rias’ concerns were correct. …After all, at this time last year, there was a particular duo that paraded around on the streets wearing battle suits. Rias probably remembered the same thing as well. I sat down on the sofa as well, some distance away from Lint-san. I then asked
“I heard that you’re from one of the training institutions run by the Vatican…from the place that trained the white-haired warrior…”
Freed and Siegfried of the Hero Faction, as well as the white-haired warrior that I encountered during our battle against the Church warriors. I had heard that quite a few warrior training institutions had been merged into the white-haired warrior’s institution. They seemed to have had an internal reformation.
“Yes yes. Me, Freed-aniki and even Sieg-sensei all came from the same institution.”
“Ah, sorry, I didn’t mean to bring up Freed and the others…”
She didn’t seem to mind as she waved her hand.
“Oh, please don’t mind. I am myself, aniki is aniki, and sensei is sensei. Also, they gave you quite a bit of trouble, so please allow me to apologise to you on behalf of that institution. I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
Lint-san’s tone still remained just as light-hearted while she lowered her head.
“It’s fine, you don’t need to apologise, so please don’t lower your head…. I don’t treat you like them, so you shouldn’t worry.”
After I said that, Lint-san immediately gave me a salute.
And then, time flowed by as silence remained in the air between us. …I couldn’t think of a point or topic for conversation at all. It feels a bit wrong to ask her about the tournament, doesn’t it? Just as I racked my brain to think of something, it was actually Lint-san who spoke up first.
“I belonged to a place called the [Sigurd Institution]. Its purpose was to produce the [True Descendant of Sigurd], someone capable of wielding the Demonic Emperor Sword Gram from among those who had inherited the blood of the hero Sigurd.”
“So, you and Freed…are like siblings or relatives?”
“Well—, because we were born from multiple genetic patterns, you could call us siblings if you wanted to, and it would also be fine to simply consider us relatives…. By the way, because Freed-aniki and I share almost the exact same genes, you could even say that we’re the same person.”
“The same genes…”
…As a faithful believer of the Church and Vatican, it should be a violation of God’s teachings to interfere in the role of genetics. —However, there were examples such as Valper who had done such things until now. …This was a product of the so-called dark side of the Church. At present, things were more or less improving, as dangerous research institutes were being dissolved one by one, and researchers were gradually being introduced to other organisations. If this was the case, then it would explain why this girl had such a resemblance to Freed. They were white-haired children who had been born from the same genetic factors….
“In other words, I’m a test-tube baby. The institute artificially produced Sigurd’s descendants.”
Although she was speaking about it rather casually, it was actually a rather heavy topic!
“…There are people like Valper after all. Genetic modification huh…”
My face darkened. Kiba and Lint-san were on the same team, so he should already be aware of her circumstances…I wonder what Kiba thinks. Seeing me like this, Lint-san began to laugh with apparent amusement!
“Iya, hahaha, it was certainly chaotic before the Three Factions allied themselves, even the Vatican was no exception. Even if it’s a violation of our teachings, as long as the outcome is for the sake of Heaven and God, those fanatics will be driven by savage greed to do such things.”
Is it really okay to talk about the dark side of the Church in such a carefree manner!? In a different sense, this girl is on the same level as Freed!
Lint-san looked up at the ceiling. Somehow, she seemed to have a distant look in her eyes.
“If you look only at the results, then Sieg-sensei was able to successfully draw out and wield Gram with one attempt. From that point in time, the long-cherished wish of the institute had already been accomplished. Even though Sieg-sensei enthusiastically said goodbye to the Vatican after that and then joined the ranks of terrorists.”
…Uh, that guy did join the terrorists. And in the end, he was defeated by Kiba who also came from the Church. When I realised this, I could only feel that it was the work of indescribable fate — that was all. Lint-san continued
“Because someone capable of handling Gram was produced, the institute changed its goal afterwards into something along the lines of ‘Let’s see how many descendants of the hero Sigurd we can try to make’. —Those were their original plans, but it’s truly such a peculiar fate that Gram has now ended up in the hands of Kiba-kyun-paisen.”
…Indeed, that guy Kiba, so she calls him ‘Kiba-kyun-paisen’ right now huh…speaking of which, the karma of Gram is certainly strange, given that its owner keeps changing. All of a sudden, Lint-san pointed her index finger up, and on top of it, a small purple flame appeared.
“Do you know about this?”
I nodded. This had already been officially explained to the members of [DxD] a while ago. What Lint-san possessed was the Longinus that Walburga of the Purple Flames once held — [Incinerate Anthem]. After we defeated Walburga, the Longinus was recovered by the Three Factions, and the Sacred Gear that was also a holy relic was kept by Azazel-sensei while he discussed its future use with Heaven’s side. And during the battle against Trihexa, although it was adjusted so that Valerie could use it, that was only a temporary measure. Originally, [Incinerate Anthem] would have wandered on to another host according to its own will. The next host of [Incinerate Anthem] was decided upon by the Sacred Gear itself, so it was a special existence in that regard. That was also the reason why Lint-san was able to handle it. The Sacred Gear chose her, and the Three Factions acknowledged that.
“When I obtained the purple flame, it just so happened to be when the Grigori was looking for someone who could use it. I went there to give it a go, so it was actually accidental, no, perhaps it was inevitable that I was selected.”
Lint-san seemed to speak in a rather jubilant manner. She erected her fingers, and then the purple flames flared up at each tip. Purple flames sparked from the tips of all five of her fingers, and after she brought her palm up, a bright and brilliant flame flickered there. …She was acting like this even though everything she had spoken about was so serious! I didn’t think that the Longinus would choose her precisely because she had such a frivolous personality!
“Speaking of which, your surname is Sellzen…is that a name that they gave you when you were still in the institution?”
That was my question. I already knew that she and Freed shared the same genes, but why was their surname the same as well? If the name Freed was brought up, he was probably the most troublesome shitty priest to the Church and the Devils. Combining Lint-san’s face along with that name, it was quite easy for people’s alarms to go off as they suspected her of having a relation to Freed, so it shouldn’t be a good thing to her. After Lint closed her hand, the flame disappeared from her palm.
“Hmm, well, there are various meanings in it. As I share the same genes, I want to carry on the name of the deceased Freed-aniki, and also to atone for the vicious crimes that aniki committed.”
…To atone for that guy’s crimes huh. Though there isn’t really a need for Lint-san to do so…. She doesn’t seem like a bad girl. Both Azazel-sensei and Heaven had entrusted the Longinus to her, and she had also joined Rias’ team, so it only seemed natural that she couldn’t be a bad person. The next problem though was what kinds of things this girl had already done in the past. There was no clear answer to this question. Ravel had already done some research, but there was basically no information that could be confirmed. Looking at it from this perspective, did she actually belong to a secret division like assassination? Or was she a spy that travelled between various countries? Neither Xenovia nor Irina recognised her, so she didn’t seem to be a warrior who fought on the front lines. So I wanted to use this opportunity to ask her about this issue.
“Ise…and Lint Sellzen huh.”
Just at this time, Xenovia and…Irina appeared in the living room.
“Ara, what a coincidence. Were you two chatting?”
Irina asked. After Lint-san saw Xenovia and Irina, she spoke to them in a rather emotional manner.
“Oooh, if it isn’t Quarta-paisen and Shidou-paisen. I would love to try having a girls’ talk with other female warriors.”
Xenovia and Irina looked at each other, and then their eyes shone like crystals as they expressed their passionate interest in the matter. Xenovia put her hands on top of Lint-san’s shoulders as she said
“Hoho, now this is interesting. There are a lot of things I want to ask you. First off, how old are you?”
“I’m seventeen this year.”
Ah, so one-year younger huh. Well, I did guess that we were roughly the same age based only on appearances. Irina seemed overjoyed upon hearing this.
“Younger? That’s nice isn’t it? Yes, as your senior, I’d really like to know more about my junior!”
Xenovia raised her arm up as she said
“Alright! Before Master Rias comes, we should have a good chat as fellow compatriots! I’ll also introduce you to Asia upstairs!”
“Good idea! Asia and…if Sister Mirana also came, then we could have an even merrier congregation as fellow believers!”
“Ooh, this feeling, do you mean I can make friends? Iya, I’m so grateful.”
Like that, Xenovia and Irina took Lint-san over to Asia’s room. I was left alone in the living room. I was unable to ask Lint-san about what her former affiliation was. …Church Trio, you have to return Lint-san when Rias comes back, okay? Though, just as Irina said, Asia, Xenovia, Irina, Mirana-san and Lint-san were five girls of similar age from the Church who had somehow gathered close by. It might be good if they can form a small group. Just as I thought that, Ravel sent me a detailed schedule from outside. The match was approaching — and so our final preparations were now beginning.
The next day—.
I went to the large training space set up in the underground of the Gremory territory, and began our special training before the match with my team members. Incidentally, this space was a different space to the one that the Gremory peerage used before. In order to celebrate my promotion to a high-class Devil, the Gremory house specifically prepared a dedicated training space for me. It felt as though they really took care of me, and though I felt as though I was imposing too much on them, Ravel said to me
“You must accept it!”
Hence, the space that was supposed to be my exclusive training area — had now become the training space for the Hyoudou Issei team. This time, I was here with my team’s new member, Nakiri, to practice with him.
“Hyoudou-senpai, please spar with me.”
“Alright, no problem.”
Before the training, we saluted each other. I changed into my Balance Breaker form and equipped my armour, while Nakiri was dressed in a long-sleeved shirt for athletics. Nakiri stood in front of me like that with the stance of a normal athlete — of course, it certainly wasn’t as simple as just standing there. A thick touki surrounded his body, and as expected of someone who had formed a contract with the Sacred Beast [Ouryuu], he emitted bursts of a dragon’s majestic aura. The Sacred Beast [Ouryuu] was said to govern the ‘earth’. From this ‘earth’ — Nakiri borrowed ‘ki’ from the dragon’s veins which flowed through the earth, and added his own touki to it. Depending on the richness of the land, and whether or not other conditions were optimal, it was possible to borrow almost an endless amount of ‘ki’.
The power of Nakiri in front of me—. Nakiri used his touki to continually increase the physical abilities of his body, so his attack, defence and speed greatly sharpened, and then he charged towards me at high speed! Nakiri’s speed totally surprised me. His speed was possibly greater than a high-class Devil’s, and Nakiri charged at me with this speed! I easily evaded, but Nakiri jumped up — and in the process destroyed the ground by puncturing it with a large crater! Simply through the enhancement of touki, he had boosted the power of his legs to such a degree! I flew upwards, and then Nakiri hurled a ball of dragon’s aura towards me! So he’s good at melee as well as mid and long distances! He would occasionally leap towards the air in order to shrink the distance between us so that he could attack me — I endured heavy blows even through my armour. But I was still capable of handling something of this extent! Because he was able to engage in melee combat with me face-to-face, we would sometimes engage in close-quarter brawls with our fists and legs. I was surprised that Nakiri was able to withstand my punches. His touki had actually enhanced his physical defences to such a level. He was truly powerful as a pure human to be able to possess such strength. But, being able to spar with someone like him from the younger generation made me really happy. I also had this kind of training with Gasper, and I felt rather happy about it back then too. Because of the tournament, I was unable to train with Gya-suke though, so I felt a bit lonely. Nakiri was also great at melee combat. I was truly delighted! It was also a fighting style using touki that was similar to Koneko-chan and Sairaorg-san. By practising with Nakiri, it meant that I would have a good idea of what I would be facing if I had to go up against Koneko-chan or Sairaorg-san.
Some distance away was the mock battle between the swordswomen Xenovia and Irina. Asia and Rossweisse-san were both exploring techniques for demonic energy and magic. —I was also able to see Elmenhilde in a corner wearing a sporting outfit…. She was doing basic physical training, and until she could meet Ravel’s expectations, she had continued to run without any complaints. Ravel was also running with her side by side. Ravel often trained herself in secret, so she should have a fair amount of stamina, right? But she had always said that stamina was a manager’s worth. She was always a great model for the makings of a perfect manager! Before I knew it, Nakiri and I had begun to converse with each other at the same time. Topics — were varied. Indeed, I do have to have a good chat with the newcomers first. We were currently talking about Lint-san.
“I see, so that side’s [Knight] also has such circumstances.”
“Well, I’ll ask about where she used to belong another time.”
I dodged Nakiri’s kick, and then moved forward to throw a punch at Nakiri. To be honest, Nakiri was very durable. Nakiri said to me
“I heard that senpai continually engaged in mock battles with Kiba-kyun-senpai. And Kiba-kyun-senpai is an outstanding swordsman as well. I hope to have the opportunity to spar with him.”
“…Say, the way you call him ‘Kiba-kyun-senpai’, is that supposed to be popular right now?”
I asked with slight confusion. Lint-san had also called him ‘Kiba-kyun-paisen’ before. Nakiri replied
“Ah, among the second-year female students, the name ‘Kiba-kyun-senpai’ became popular at some point. So that’s why the second-year male students also started calling him that. Shortening it, it becomes ‘kyun-pai’. …And he’s called that in other places too.”
…Being called ‘kyun-pai’ huh…. Kiba, just how far is your popularity in school taking you to? Bova watched the mock battle between me and Nakiri from the side, while writing notes down.
“I see…so Rias Gremory-sama’s [Knight]-dono’s name is ‘Kiba-kyun-senpai’ huh…”
“Bova, you don’t have to write that down…”
Before our match against Dulio, we continued to train in this manner.
Then, after training, all members of our team gathered together for a meeting. Everyone gathered in one corner of the training space, and we began a meeting with Ravel in the centre. After our daily decisions for the match were made, we continued to discuss the fact that the characteristics of reincarnated Angels were based on their cards — and the effect produced by their poker combinations. Today, we once again gained a deep understanding of it. But we were unable to find a good battle strategy, and sure enough, it became an unknown obstacle—.
Ravel muttered with a dissatisfied look. Ravel took out information on the opposing team’s supervisor — a file which included Rudiger-san’s photo.
“—Rudiger Rosenkreutz-sama. Among the human reincarnated Devils, he’s the only one who holds a high ranking in the Rating Games. Named the [Upsetting Sorcerer], he’s one of the most powerful players in the Underworld.”
Bova also nodded in agreement.
“Indeed, that man’s strategies and power are so incredible that even the Champion was one step away from defeat.”
He was actually able to pressure that Diehauser Belial…. I had fought against The Champion in Agreas, and I was no match for him back then. However, a person’s strength was not an absolute factor in the Rating Games….
“He was originally a member and the founder of the magician’s organisation known as [Rosenkreutzer]. But prior to becoming a Devil, he was not a particularly outstanding magician…he could simply be described as an advanced sorcerer.”
“I also heard a few things about Rudiger-shi from my father. He used to be a [Bishop] for the Head of the House of Mammon, one of the [Extra Demon] houses.”
“After reincarnating into a Devil, he made many achievements, and then rose to become a high-class Devil…but that man’s heroic tales only began when he started participating in the Rating Games.”
…So he became prominent after taking part in the Rating Games huh. Bova spoke with a bitter expression
“Ever since he started participating in the Rating Games, he immediately began to upset many higher ranked teams, and in just a few years he had reached the top ten. Father once had a match with him…his team was very difficult to face.”
…I see, Tannin-ossan had also said that he was a difficult opponent. Speaking of which, Tannin-ossan was not participating in this tournament.
“Did ossan win?”
Hearing me ask that, Bova answered me seemingly ashamed
“…Although he has won on some occasions, most of them were losses. When he spoke about the game, father’s bitter expression touched me deeply.”
Compared to ossan’s expression, Bova’s expression was probably far bitterer. Ravel said
“When my older brother, Ruval-oniisama spoke of Rudiger-sama, he also had a bitter expression.”
…He was someone who had made waves not only in the Underworld, but also in the magician community of the human realm, and he was not participating in this tournament directly, but rather as a supervisor.
“…Although he was originally a human, as a Devil, he’s actually become the supervisor of the most outstanding Angel team. This obviously raised many questions.”
Xenovia raised her hand, and then mentioned her doubts
“Then what is the reason for their cooperation? If there’s no reason, then it’s impossible for them to cooperate, right? I don’t think the Angels simply begged him unilaterally.”
Ravel rubbed her chin as she spoke
“Although we don’t know what happened between the two of them, it’s possible that the purpose or goal that Rosenkreutz-sama and Dulio-sama want to achieve is the same, and that’s why they’re working together.”
Irina tilted her head as she asked
“Then what exactly is it?”
No one was able to answer this question. …If they didn’t trust each other, and their aims did not align, then he couldn’t have become the Angels’ — Dulio’s supervisor. …What was the relationship between Dulio and Rudiger-san? While my thoughts still lingered on the captain of [DxD] — a teleportation magic circle suddenly appeared in our training space. The only people who knew about this place were obviously those of us who were present, and the new Gremory team! Moreover, the symbol on the magic circle was one that I had never seen before! We were immediately put on alert, but Ravel stepped forward and reached her arm out sideways to restrain us.
“Actually, there will be an advisor coming over this time…or perhaps it would be better to say that they’re forcing their way in…”
The person who appeared from the magic circle was — a beauty wearing a high-cut formal dress! Based on her appearance, she appeared to be in her late twenties! In terms of special characteristics — she had two horns protruding from her head, and long wavy cherry-blossom coloured hair. Most importantly, her well-endowed bust and slim waist gave her body a perfect charm! I knew this person! After all, I’d seen her several times in magazines and TV shows related to the Rating Games! I recalled that she was formerly ranked second in the Rating Games! The strongest female Devil, Roygun Belphegor-san! Roygun-san greeted us with a sweet smile.
“Good day, Sekiryuutei and members of his team. I’m Roygun Belphegor.”
“W-W-Why is the former second-ranked player of the Rating Games here!?”
I was so astonished that even my eyeballs popped out of their sockets! A while ago, after the Champion’s announcement, she had been found guilty of using the [King] piece without authorisation. But she quickly admitted to the truth, and during the [Evil Dragon War], she swiftly suppressed other high-ranking players who had also illegally used the [King] piece. Xenovia said
“I remember now, after you were found guilty of using the [King] piece, you were stripped of all of your titles from the Games, and you’re no longer able to directly participate in matches…”
Roygun-san nodded in affirmation and shrugged.
“The function of the [King] piece was also suspended. In addition, the House of Belphegor was chased after, and removed of their status as ultimate-class Devils. We’re now just high-class Devils.”
…The person herself didn’t try to hide anything. Suppressing some of the chaos in the Underworld but still stripped of various titles, and even her status as an ultimate-class Devil was no exception…. This was just one of the things that had so much political background involved that it was difficult for us to imagine…. Roygun-san turned her gaze towards Ravel.
“Ruval-kun has been helping me look for a new job. Coming here was one of them.”
Ravel nodded with a complicated expression on her face.
“…Indeed that is so. My older brother — Ruval-oniisama said that he was leaving Roygun-sama to us…”
It was a request from the eldest son of the Phoenix family, and the next head of the house. Well, so this so-called advisor is going to be Roygun-san? Seeing my doubtful expression, Roygun-san laughed in a cynical manner.
“That’s right. I’ve got a lot of free time on my hands. The Rating Games were my only source of fun and they’ve been taken away from me, so my life has naturally become rather depressing.”
Roygun-san approached us and then picked up the documents to read without consulting any of us.
“You guys are going to fight the team that Rudiger is supervising, right? Although I can’t directly become a part of your strength, in the meantime, I’ll hand over all of the game data that I’ve recorded to Ruval-kun’s little sister.”
Roygun-san snapped her fingers to make a magic circle appear, from which various documents and papers emerged. Roygun-san continued
“This is additional information.”
Ravel reached out to take the documents and confirm their contents.
“Roygun-sama, I’m grateful that we’ve been able to obtain such valuable game data from you. In this case, we’ll be able to compare this against the information we have on the [Brave Saints] to consider our strategy for the match.”
I see, so this is how our advisor would be helping us. Roygun-san sighed deeply.
“I can’t become your supervisor. After all, I’m still under surveillance and can’t act freely.”
…Roygun-san as our supervisor huh. If such a glamorous onee-san could become our supervisor, then I’d definitely work hard! However, Ravel was still in charge of our strategies for now. I trusted in Ravel while taking up the heavy responsibilities of being a [King]. I made that confirmation once again in my mind just as Roygun-san approached me, and she came super close!
“…But then again, ufufu.”
While Roygun-san carefully surveyed my face, I could smell an alluring scent in my nostrils…. Roygun-san lifted my chin with her supple fingers.
“W-What is it?”
In response to this onee-san’s gesture, I was unable to stop my heartbeat from flying out of control! Then, a seductive smile emerged on Roygun-san’s face as she said to me
“Sekiryuutei…you have a really cute face. To be honest — I like it.”
—What! L-L-L-ikes m-m-m-meee!? I couldn’t help but feel shocked, and my mind was instantly thrown into disarray…after I understood the meaning of that sentence, my face instantly turned red! Why did I let someone see me with such an embarrassing reaction, aaaaahhh! B-But! Being told that by such a beautiful onee-san at such a close distance, m-my small heart simply can’t endure it! All of the girls who witnessed this scene before their eyes became anxious.
That single sentence from Roygun-san had triggered a strong reaction from Asia, Xenovia, Irina, Rossweisse-san and Ravel! Everyone looked nervous. Ravel pulled on my wrist to create distance between me and Roygun-san. She also shivered as she said
“…How careless. Now that I recall, there were such rumours about Roygun-sama.”
“W-What rumours? What happened, Ravel!?”
“…Roygun-sama likes those younger than her. Especially human males from those in their teens to those in their twenties!”
W-What splendid news! She likes younger men! And teenagers are also okay! Aren’t I flawlessly in the strike zone then!? To be targeted by such a wonderful onee-san, I began to do a small celebratory dance in my mind! Roygun-san tilted her head slightly and asked with a smile
“Ufufu, does the Sekiryuutei not like older women?”
“N-No, h-how could that be possible!”
“But from your perspective, I’m an old lady. I’m an old lady who’s over a hundred years old.”
“A-Absolutely not! I can’t tell at all! I simply think that you’re a beautiful onee-san in her early twenties!”
I wouldn’t think of her as an old lady! Since I knew about the characteristics of Devils, more or less…a minor thing such as a gap of a hundred or so years is perfectly understandable! Hearing my confession, Roygun-san revealed a heartfelt smile.
“You sure say some really comforting words. Although I’m not too familiar with the feeling of human ageing, I can still tell that you’re complimenting me.”
…However, the stinging gazes upon me were also a reality. Asia seemed to be pouting, while Xenovia, Irina and Rossweisse-san were glaring at me with half-open eyes! Ravel was even tightly holding onto my arm with a stance to show she wouldn’t back down against the former second rank as she said
“I won’t give him to you.”
Roygun-san giggled as she watched the situation unfold before her eyes…. It was possible to see her tolerance to this as an adult! —At this time, Roygun-san changed the topic and said
“However, in any case, since Rudiger has taken up the role of supervisor, that reincarnated Angel team has become a powerful enemy that cannot be underestimated. After all, among the former human high-class Devils, he’s the only one to be feared. Ufufu, you guys shouldn’t be careless.”
After saying that, she turned around and made a transportation magic circle. It looked like she was returning. Roygun-san waved her hand.
“I’ll cheer for you guys. But, no matter what the outcome is, you should enjoy the match, okay? Also—”
Just as Roygun-san was in the midst of disappearing into the light of the teleportation, she turned around and winked.
“I will be watching closely to see how far your team can make it to Sekiryuutei — ♪”
We watched as she teleported away. I wasn’t sure about whether to feel happy or pressured about that…. Nonetheless, I am looking forward to more refreshing encounters like this!
The day before the match—.
I visited Beelzebub-sama’s research facility. I didn’t come here to seek out Azazel-sensei this time, it was Beelzebub-sama who said that he wanted to ‘check’. To check — this meant an investigation of the [Evil Pieces] in my body. Beelzebub-sama created a small magic circle and placed it in front of my chest, and just like he did in the past, he was able to see my [Evil Pieces]. As Beelzebub-sama examined them, he nodded slightly.
“Hmm, so it’s just as I thought.”
“W-What is it?”
“The [Evil Pieces] in your body — the [Pawn] pieces have all transformed into [Mutation Pieces]. It’s probably the effect of [Dragon Deification].”
—What! …All of my [Pawn] pieces have finally turned into [Mutation Pieces]…! So it’s probably because of [Dragon Deification], right? Beelzebub-sama continued to turn the magic circle to examine my pieces.
“The combination of eight [Mutation Pieces] on top of the unparalleled [Dragon Deification] could be described as a fearsome phenomenon. Your form truly does have the power to change the world.”
“But I still cannot fully unleash that power at the moment…”
In order to prevent my body from breaking down, although I was able to draw out a powerful energy from my body after exhausting it to a certain degree, I felt quite uneasy using it. However, Beelzebub-sama made an unexpected remark.
“Well, I can already foresee that you’ll be able to fully master it.”
“Beelzebub-sama, are you serious!?”
“If you want to use all of that power well --- it will take a long time to reach that level. But to overcome the time limit and sustain its use for as long as possible in terms of stamina, I don’t think it’d be strange if you were already capable of that. After all, you have all of the necessary factors within you.”
Beelzebub-sama raised his index finger and said
“First of all, Ophis’ retrieved power — Lilith.”
“…You mean I have to borrow power from her?”
Lilith was always at home, either watching TV or playing games, or perhaps busily snacking on various things. Beelzebub-sama continued
“To be more precise, it is required for Ophis and Lilith to resonate, or perhaps for them to coordinate. Based on my examination, you cannot fully use [Dragon Deification] at the moment, not so much because your basic physical abilities are lacking, but because Ophis’ power has been separated and her original strength cannot be fully used.”
This was the series of events triggered by Cao Cao and Samael. That led to Ophis’ power being taken away.
“…Well, if you can make Lilith and Ophis resonate, then you’ll be able to…”
I suddenly thought of something bad.
“B-But, if that happens, is it possible that one of the two will disappear?”
At present, regardless if it was Ophis or Lilith that disappeared, the entire household would feel lonely, and I didn’t want that to happen. Beelzebub-sama said
“This is a problem of their own. If there is a need to return to their original state, then that’s what they have to do. If there’s no need for that, then the status quo can be maintained. Fufufu, I presume that as long as neither you nor Vali Lucifer wish for that to happen, then they won’t assimilate. She — this Dragon God seems to have already devoted her heart to the Two Heavenly Dragons.”
I hoped that they would continue to remain my friends and family forever. If it was something that they wished for on their own, then I would not have a choice. Beelzebub-sama sighed as he said
“Well, this is a matter best left to them to resolve. …What concerns me is something else.”
Beelzebub-sama raised another finger as he said
“—Great Red’s power is embedded within your body, it is a power that lies dormant within you and has never been awakened.”
“…Great Red’s power?”
My body was once destroyed during the Demonic Beasts Riot, but using a piece of Great Red’s flesh, it was completely remade. This was what Beelzebub-sama meant. Beelzebub-sama then said
“Former Governor Azazel-dono previously mentioned your power — BxB, CxC, DxD, perhaps the various changes after this have modified your abilities. If you could use the eight [Mutation Pieces] to unleash the power of Ophis and Great Red, then it is possible for you to fully master [Dragon Deification] and attain an even more powerful form — AxA could be used. I think that this is the final answer that you will arrive at as the product of the [Ouroboros Dragon] and [True Red Dragon God Emperor].”
—Ophis, Great Red. This was the possibility that could be achieved by liberating the power of both of those two.
“AxA huh. The answer that I’ll obtain by releasing both Ophis’ and Great Red’s power…. But, it isn’t going to be ExE? I thought that it would feel more suitable if the name was a reference to the organisation that is to be set up in the future.”
According to the order, it should be ExE…AxA as the final answer doesn’t make sense. Beelzebub-sama seemed to think of something regarding ExE….
“In that regard, Former Governor Azazel-dono has already given an answer. But it is not yet time for it to appear before you. However, there will come a day when it shall appear before you.”
…It’s not time yet? Hmm — mmm, I wonder what it is. Maybe it will take some time. Beelzebub-sama said
“In any case, you should be able to awaken a glimpse of that power in this tournament. After all, this is a tournament where even god-class beings are participating, so common sense has been thrown out of the window.”
“…I think my next match is a key one.”
“The team of reincarnated Angels that Dulio Gesualdo leads, along with Rudiger Rosenkreutz as their supervisor. Since you’re participating in this tournament and plan to compete in the original Rating Games, he’s someone that you’re bound to encounter.”
Beelzebub-sama ended his examination, and released the magic circle. He looked at the ceiling as he said
“Rudiger…he’ll use tactics that are completely different to the ones that you and Rias Gremory use.”
“…I have also seen the recordings of his previous games…he bears some resemblance to Sona-senpai, but there are some fundamental differences.”
Having watched Rudiger-san’s previous game recordings…he didn’t win by relying on power, but through clever tactics to manipulate opponents in the palm of his hand to overwhelm them. However, that was where it differed from Sona-senpai’s methods. Using tactics and strategy to eliminate the opponent’s combat power, both of them were very similar in that regard…. Beelzebub-sama then said
“They are indeed alike in the way that they aim for their opponent’s weaknesses. —However, Rudiger is a Devil far more devilish than other Devils.”
“You aren’t referring to malice or evil, right?”
“Rizevim’s claim huh. That is nothing but a negative aspect to be found in any mythology. This also rings true for humans. I’m not talking about that, but rather his ability to confuse opponents, and deceive others. Rudiger’s style of play fully reflects this.”
Having said so much already…perhaps he had said too much; Beelzebub-sama ended the subject and took a deep breath.
“If I give you too much advice, it’ll be a dereliction of my duty as a member of the tournament’s managing committee. Even meeting with you in private like this is close to being taboo…. The rest is up to your own investigations. Rudiger Rosenkreutz and Dulio Gesualdo, having both of them as opponents is extremely difficult…but there’s no point in saying that now is there?”
“Yes! You certainly don’t have to say anything more! So, I will work my very hardest to defeat them!”
That’s right! No matter who my opponent is, I’ll definitely give it everything that I’ve got to obtain victory! It won’t be the first time that I’m up against a tough opponent. Let nature take its course and everything will turn out for the best! Hearing my declaration of victory, Beelzebub-sama broke into a smile.
“Fufufu, very good.”
But, AxA huh. The resonance of Ophis and Lilith, as well as the release of Great Red’s power—. It seems like I still have room to become stronger…next, I should explore that path. After returning home, I should talk with Ravel and Ddraig as well as my other comrades to listen to their advice.
Returning home from Beelzebub-sama’s place, I told Ravel about the situation, and I couldn’t sit still for some reason, so I made my way towards the training room in the basement. It was already time for everyone to be asleep. But before going to bed, I talked to Ddraig by myself, and meditated for a while. —However, when I reached the basement, I noticed that the lights in the training room were still switched on. Looking inside — it was Asia who was staring at a basketball frame and practising shots.
After hearing my voice, Asia stopped and turned around.
“You’re still here so late…are you practising for the ball tournament?”
Basketball was not the only sport to be played on that day’s tournament…but thinking back, I could always see Asia, Xenovia and Irina practising for the ball tournament during our team’s training time and other free times. Sometimes it was handball, sometimes it was football, and today it was basketball — huh. Asia wiped away her sweat as she said
“…Because I’m always dragging behind, I want to help Ise-san a bit, so all I can do is practice like this.”
Asia looked at the basket as she voiced her true thoughts.
“…Whether or not I’ve become a good buchou, I always feel uneasy…because I’m always comparing myself to Rias-oneesama.”
…I see, no wonder I could occasionally see Asia act like Rias. But she also noticed that there was ‘something different’.
“Kiba-san has become a very good vice-president, and as Akeno-san’s successor, he performs his duties very well. …To be honest, I really think that Kiba-san would be a much better buchou than I…”
“Asia, what you think is—”
I wanted to refute it, but Asia interrupted me, and revealed a bright expression.
“I understand. This is wrong. Rias-oneesama had her own style as buchou. And I must also become a buchou with my own style.”
Her expression was one of determination which showed that she had finally reached within herself to find an answer.
“Xenovia has also taken up her role of Student Council President splendidly, and she doesn’t imitate the former President Sona, she has her own way of doing things to run the Student Council. Ise-san also hasn’t followed Rias-oneesama’s style of work, you’ve found your own way to perform your Devil’s job. My good friends and the person that I like already have such notions, so I too — should set that as my goal.”
—Hmm. …Asia, you’ve finally overcome that hurdle. You thought on your own, and arrived at your own answer to overcome the obstacle and cross that barrier. I originally intended to secretly help her, but Asia had used her own strength to overcome her trouble. It was certainly quite worrying before. She was never able to concentrate on anything because her mind was always on something else. However, Asia didn’t stop there, she found the answer on her own and grew. I…was moved to tears. In this year, not only did Asia grow in strength, her willpower had also grown stronger. My most precious Asia-chan whom I kept trying to protect had now embraced her own resolve to become ‘buchou’….
I couldn’t help but feel emotional, while Asia blushed and waved both of her hands.
“T-That’s not the case! E-Even now, so that I don’t drag everyone down in the ball tournament, I’m practising in secret like this.”
“To act on your own and want to change yourself, only people like this can become truly strong. That’s what I think.”
I nodded at my own words. In other words, my Asia-chan had finally awakened the strength of her mind. It was cause for celebration! Very well, I’ll also practise for the ball tournament!
“Alright, Asia. I’ll practise basketball with you! Let’s start with a hundred shots!”
Just as the two of us were about to start our basketball practise, another person walked into the training room.
“…May I also help with training?”
It was Elmenhilde.
“Elmenhilde, you’re still awake…no, at a time like this, it doesn’t seem quite right to say that to a Vampire like you.”
Night was truly a Vampire’s time. There was no better time than this for their bodies to be so active. Elmenhilde picked up the basketball that had fallen to the floor with an unreadable expression on her face.
“…I didn’t listen in on Asia-san’s conversation intentionally, but I’ve also decided to change after hearing that.”
After a pause, she finally spoke.
“…I’ll say it. The reason why I want to participate in the tournament—”
So Elmenhilde finally wants to tell us huh. Previously, because of Qlippoth — Rizevim’s actions, the Vampires’ society was destroyed because the patriarchal Tepes faction and the matriarchal Carmilla faction had both been involved in a devastating battle. In particular, Qlippoth had sweet-talked high-class Vampires on both sides to start a deep interference internally, and ultimately betrayed them. This resulted in all of the high-class noble Vampires that always boasted of their superior blood being transformed into Evil Dragons. Elmenhilde said
“…After that, when I returned home, what I saw was — an ending that was very unpleasant and sorrowful. …Originally a pure-blooded Vampire, my comrades who were proud of their strength as True Ancestors of Carmilla-sama…they had actually turned into Evil Dragons as well. The people of the Karnstein family, and my childhood friends had also been brutally poisoned because they had associated with Qlippoth.”
What she saw in her homeland was — her uncle, cousin and even her own friends whom she once considered compatriots, changed into ugly Evil Dragons. Regardless of whether it was her uncle or her cousin, the Karnstein family…was fed up with how the Carmilla faction had handled things. The role of the aristocratic leader of the Carmilla faction had always been succeeded by a woman. Male kin could only be dominated by the female leaders. They could no longer endure it after an almost eternal amount of time. They began to appreciate the Tepes faction that respected male Vampires. Thus, they sought the assistance of Qlippoth to strengthen the rights of the male kin in the Carmilla faction. This betrayal was not only performed by Elmenhilde’s uncle and cousin, but by the majority of the nobility’s male kin.
—On the surface, they seemed to accept that the domination of female kin was normal, but they could not stand that domination on the inside. This sentiment that grew over long years finally burst out. This made the females of the Carmilla faction — feel extremely shocked. The only ones who believed that they got along well with their lovers, partners, siblings, and male family members were those women and a very small proportion of men. The concept that the Carmilla faction had been founded on and the values of the pure-blooded Vampires had been shaken, and cracks formed. This was presumably the great divide that occurred within the faction. Friends of the same gender also agreed with those male nobles to betray the country. And their lovers — also looked forward to being ruled over by the men. …Not all of the female Vampires were powerful. It took an incredible amount of courage for the female Vampires to stand above the male Vampires while they were weaker than them. It required a strong sense of determination—. That was why there were also so many female Vampires who couldn’t bear it. No, this was a natural result. It was because not all of the female nobility were able to allow their families to flourish. …To witness the ultimate ending of her friends who had wished to be dominated by male Vampires…seeing the form of the Evil Dragons, Elmenhilde felt as though she could hear the sound of something shattering within her body. Elmenhilde said that much — and then tears began to overflow from her deep red eyes.
“…Looking at my friends who sacrificed everything for the motherland, I felt angry at myself for failing to realise the kinds of trouble that they bottled up inside and couldn’t easily divulge…and at the same time, after I became aware of their true intentions, I could do nothing but deny them…. At the very end, I was unable to save them no matter what I did, and this harsh reality…overwhelmed me. So I didn’t want to continue staying in the motherland, I asked to work outside, and travel to various places. …If I stayed in the motherland, I don’t think my heart would have been able to survive…!”
Elmenhilde cried as she spoke. …Although she originally had such a haughty attitude, everything she did was for the sake of her ideals and in order to protect the dignity of her country. It was because she thought that her own view of the world was correct, and there had never been any doubt in her mind of its justice. —However, all of that was crushed. At a time when she was unaware, her own kin and friends dealt with enormous stress that couldn’t be released, resulting in a distortion of their minds, and eventually a corruption of the entire nation’s philosophy. Rizevim would have enjoyed inciting such events to transpire…. …Elmenhilde’s values collapsed, so it wasn’t surprising that her personality had changed so much. After being betrayed by the people who had accompanied her for so long…there was far more inexplicable sadness than anger. Elmenhilde wiped away her tears as she said
“…I’ve already said this to Ravel Phoenix-san. So, I should also say this to you given that you’re the leader of the team.”
“…Thank you. You told me even though it was so difficult for you.”
“…There’s no need to thank me, since everything has already happened, this is what I must do. Mmm, I thought of participating in this tournament to overcome that…if there are so many races participating in the tournament, I feel like I might be able to gain something from it…. I must become stronger. If I can change myself, then I definitely won’t repeat the same mistakes.”
…I see, so this girl wants to change herself just like Asia, and wishes to become stronger. After hearing Asia’s confession, she was inspired to be honest with me. But, I still had one concern, so I asked
“But why did you choose my team? Wouldn’t any other team have been okay?”
Upon hearing my question, Elmenhilde’s face suddenly reddened and her voice also sounded an octave higher.
“T-That is because! …How should I put this…to say it…I wonder if it could truly happen…”
Elmenhilde’s response puzzled me…while beside me, Asia seemed to get angry at me as she scolded
“Ise-san, you still have much to learn!”
…What? Am I the only person who doesn’t understand? —Just as I pondered over that, another person arrived.
“What’s going on, I was thinking of having a late-night shower, but I never imagined that I’d see Ise, Asia, and even Elmenhilde practising until so late.”
“I wasn’t quite able to sleep, so I also came underground, but I was slightly concerned because this was the only place illuminated by light.”
It was Xenovia and Irina who had appeared. Irina looked at me, Asia, and Elmenhilde. Upon seeing Elmenhilde’s tears and reddened face, she seemed to realise something.
“Hah! C-Could it be that she was sexually assaulted…?”
Xenovia squinted as she sighed.
“As expected of the ero-Angel Irina. Even I never considered that.”
“S-Seriously! I just couldn’t help but think of that! You don’t have to look at me in such a strange light!”
Xenovia brushed it aside with “Okay okay” as she picked up the basketball on the ground.
“It can’t be helped, let’s all practise together with Asia like there’s no tomorrow!”
Irina also agreed.
“A good suggestion! The others…there’s no need to wake them, after all, it is the night before the all-important match.”
Indeed, it would be a good idea to let the people who were already asleep rest until the next morning. Asia joyfully lowered her head.
“E-Everyone, I’m so grateful! Regardless of whether it’s tomorrow, or in the ball tournament, I-I will do my best!”
Asia and Xenovia alternated taking shots with each other.
“Xenovia-san! I won’t lose to you in the ball tournament!”
“That’s my line! Let us have a splendid match between the Occult Research Club and the Student Council!”
“I’m Asia’s partner! That also makes me a member of the Occult Research Club!”
“Hmph! Very well, then I’ll go against Asia and Irina, and defeat both of you at once!”’
Elmenhilde stood by Xenovia’s side and said
“Since it’s two against one, I’ll stand on Xenovia-san’s side.”
Like this, an impromptu two on two competition began in the underground training area. I smiled as I watched them, when Ravel appeared by my side all of a sudden. Ravel quietly said
“I think we will use Elmenhilde-sama in this match.”
I enjoyed myself as I watched Elmenhilde play basketball while I replied to Ravel’s words with
“Yeah, let’s do that. She wants to change herself, and also chose to come over to my side. …Since I know the reason now, I should lend her a hand.”
That’s right, we should grow together. No matter what the situation, that’s how my comrades and I overcame so many difficulties—. Like this, we progressed into the day of the match along with our new team members ‘Nakiri Kouchin Ouryuu’ and ‘Elmenhilde Karnstein’.
Translator's Notes and References
- Usually used as slang or informally to refer to an older brother.
- Apparently paisen is slang for senpai/senior.
- In traditional Chinese culture, it is believed to be the circulating life force or energy that is thought to be inherent in all things.
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