High School DxD:Volume 23 Life Youth
Life.Youth Because of this Youth
Nearly two hours had already passed since the beginning of the battle against Dulio’s team—. In other words, the game was coming to a close. I — Hyoudou Issei was regulating my breathing.
“…Haahaa…although I’m fairly confident in my own stamina, running around back and forth like this is quite harsh.”
I gasped heavily, enduring the pain that intensified at the sides of my abdomen. For a partial transformation of Dragon Deification, only the final part of the chant was required each time to change one part into the black armour…of course, it would still consume a considerable amount of stamina. However, I was still able to use it several times. In terms of the current situation, a partial transformation was more suitable than a full transformation. —Both sides were reaching the limits of their endurance, and the battle was finally progressing into its final stage. The score was…[141 – 146]. After using that move earlier, Dulio, the Aces and the other reincarnated Angels all used their combined formations against us. But we didn’t allow ourselves to be outdone, and we fought back against every move they made. Our opponent’s score was currently greater than ours…but there was still time for a reversal.
“Ise-sama, the next goal has appeared in F6 again.”
Ravel informed me of the location of the newly-appeared goal. We constantly drove and urged on our physically exhausted bodies towards our aim of victory. …There was a large volume of sweat perspiring from my body underneath my armour. No matter how much water I drank, it wouldn’t be enough to replenish this. But, the game was coming to an end. —We must win at the end!
“Let’s win this!”
I loudly declared, and my comrades responded with
Dulio was currently in possession of the ball. He held onto the ball as he flew straight towards the next goal. We were following right behind him. Based on the remaining time in the game, I was afraid that with the next goal, or perhaps the one after that, the game would end. —If we didn’t score consecutively, then we wouldn’t stand a chance! After gradually regaining their own rhythm, Irina and Xenovia closed in on Dulio while he held the ball and they planned to snatch it off him. If we allowed the [King] Dulio, or the [Queen] Diethelm-san to score, the difference in our points would widen even further. But the swordsman Shinra Kiyotora-san stood in the way of Irina and Xenovia wielding two ethereal katanas that had been given to him by the Vatican. In order to support those two, Rossweisse-san fired off large bursts of offensive magic. Mirana-san created an extremely large spear of light (its power was almost on the same level as a Fallen Angel Cadre) to easily obliterate her spells. Griselda-san then joined the fray with her bow and arrows. The arrows fired off by Griselda-san were incredibly accurate, forcing Rossweisse-san to retreat from acting as their support. As the commander, while Ravel issued orders to everyone, she released flames towards her opponents to prevent them from passing the ball. The female reincarnated Angel — the other Queen Jessica Lagerkvist-san (a Church warrior with blonde hair and blue eyes who always seemed rather sleepy, but was also a beautiful woman!) used the power of light to create a solid barrier-type technique several times to block Ravel’s attacks. Nakiri and Bova’s highly destructive attacks were intended to penetrate the gaps in the enemy team’s formation, but the opposing male Angel — Ryuu Heikan who was a 10 (a Chinese martial artist who used the power of light as the core of his fighting style) and Nero blocked those. Amidst the intense battle, Bina-shi calmly gave me a signal with her eyes, and she accompanied me as we charged towards Diethelm-san who held the ball — but at that time, Dulio yelled out as he intervened
“I won’t hand the ball over to you!”
And a battle involving the [King] and [Queen] of both sides broke out. Like this, we competed for the ball back and forth with no rest, and the endurance of both teams was reaching its limits, so all of our movements slowed down, and our breathing grew quicker and heavier. Regardless of whether it was the opposing side or our side, everyone had reached their limits. At that time, a gasping Xenovia spoke to me whilst clad in armour.
“…I still have a final trump card! …Ise! I have a way to make use of my true power!”
“..Really!? Well, hearing such news is music for my ears! Please let me see it!”
I never expected that Xenovia would still have another technique hidden up her sleeve. Hearing me say that, Xenovia seemed to gain a strange sense of enthusiasm all of a sudden.
“…Alright. I’ll get ready then. By the way! Depending on your response, there’s a possibility that I may collapse and I won’t be able to get back up again, Ise!”
—What!? What did you say!? You might collapse because of my response!? What kind of secret technique have you been hiding from me, Xenovia!? Xenovia took a deep breath, and then
“My [King]! Hyoudou Issei! Please!”
Xenovia’s voice echoed throughout the entire venue.
“MAKE ME YOUR BRIIIIIIIIIIDDDDDDDDDDEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!”
…W-What did you saaaaaaaayyy!? B-B-B-Briiiiiiiddddddeeeeeee!? The unprecedented confession petrified me! But, the announcer was still commentating live!
<<…What!? A development like this has actually occurred! In the midst of this battle, the Sekiryuutei team’s Xenovia-senshu has actually, suddenly, made a reverse-proposaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaal!?>>
I-Indeed, it certainly is a reverse-proposal! I, Hyoudou Issei, male, have been reverse-proposed to by Xenovia! W-Why did you have to y-yell out a confession like that right now!? Ah, but this is something that Xenovia would do, though of all times, it had to be now! Xenovia’s entire body trembled as she nervously asked me
“Hey, w-what’s your response!? P-Please, Ise! H-Hurry up and tell me! I-If you keep making me wait, I might collapse in various senses!”
Uuh, you need me to give a response!? I have to give a good response, especially since it’s also the girl who proposed to me, so I won’t even be a man if I don’t respond! It’s time to make up my mind and respond. At that time — Irina interjected!
“W-Wait! P-Please also take me — Shidou Irina, as your bride! Please, Ise-kun!”
W-W-W-What did you say, what is going ooooooooooooooooooonnnnnnn!? This time it’s Irina!? Right here and now, first it was Xenovia…and then Irina who confessed to me! The announcer also spoke in a frenzy due to the unexpected consecutive confessions of these two!
<<WWWWWHHHAAAAAAAAATTT!? Even Shidou Irina-senshu has made a reverse-proposaaaaaaaaaal! What’s happening!? What kind of situation is this!? This is a consecutive reverse-proposal that has never been seen before in the Rating Games!>>
Right you are! How is it possible to have two consecutive reverse-proposals in a Rating Game!? The announced continued
<<There was also a previous proposal that was made to Himejima Akeno-san. But I never envisioned that the Sekiryuutei team would present even more confessions and proposals in the midst of a game! Gee, what am I supposed to say here…anyway, I am also looking forward to the Sekiryuutei’s response! What about you, Beelzebub-sama!?>>
<<Fufufu, yes. Well, we’ll have to wait and see how the Sekiryuutei-dono responds, right?>>
Aaaahh, even Beelzebub-sama is joining in!
“So these kinds of engagements also exist! I-I see, I have learned something!”
Rossweisse-san also seemed to have gained some kind of strange courage!
…But, bride huh. I proposed to Rias and Akeno-san. I swore to them that I would make them happy. So, do I like Xenovia and Irina? Do I cherish them? ……Of course I love them! I’ve already kissed them several times! It’s impossible not to realise this! Of course I value them! Xenovia has already become one of my peerage members! Irina is also my childhood friend…she didn’t choose the reincarnated Angel team, but me instead! Like this, they proposed to me because they want me to take them home as brides—. Since my aim is to become a Harem King, I’m obviously not going to withdraw here, isn’t that right, Azazel-sensei!? I steeled my determination, took a deep breath, and then let everything out in one breath
“…Geez! I get it! I’ll take full responsibility! Come with me, Irina, Xenoviaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!”
There was a moment of silence. And the next instant, from the bodies and holy swords of the two female swordsmen — an unbelievable aura surged forth!
Xenovia and Irina couldn’t help but laugh out with joy—.
“We did it!”
““We’re engaged to him!””
As if all of their fatigue was blown away, the two of them flew about in the air and charged towards the other team with incredible momentum. The two of them chased the Angel holding the ball, while the remaining Angels stood in front of them to block their path…. But with their superb coordination, the Angels standing in their path were all blown away! Seeing this, the other Angels were all stunned.
“Kuh! At the end of this when we’re all supposed to be dead tired, they can actually…!”
“This power! These movements! It’s difficult to believe that this is the appearance of two people who are on the verge of exhaustion!”
Xenovia took out Excalibur and then pointed its tip towards the player holding the ball.
She seemed to say something — and then the ball actually moved by itself, and flew in a straight line towards Xenovia! At this final juncture, they were still able to demonstrate such energy! Xenovia spoke whilst filled with confidence
“As I am right now, I could even take down a Maou!”
“It’ll be troublesome if a Devil defeats a Maou! But, I get you! I understand, Xenovia!”
Irina was also full of energy, and she used the holy aura of Hauteclere to send Angels flying left and right. Xenovia said to me
“Ise! We need to have at least five children! Three boys and two girls! I absolutely won’t retreat on this!”
“I-I actually want at least two children as well! A boy and a girl at the very least!”
W-W-What are you two saying!? Are we still in a game right now!? This immense embarrassment made me want to hide in a corner! But, Xenovia still continued to express her dreams with a flushed red face.
“They’ll go to a private school! And of course, starting from kindergarten! Education is the most important thing, and that comes from my personal experience!”
“Eh!? Xenovia has already thought about things so far ahead!? I-I…should I choose public, or private…!”
Just as they were conversing with each other like that, Griselda-san from the opposing team flew over, and she began to lecture Xenovia!
“Geez, what a child you are! You didn’t even say a word about this proposal to your older sister, what on earth were you thinking!?”
“Sister Griselda, this is the beginning of your little sister’s journey in a new life. Please rejoice!”
“When we get back, I’ll give you a good lecture!”
And then a showdown between the Quarta sisters began! Xenovia was marked by Griselda-san, and the ball — was passed to Elmenhilde. Although Elmenhilde was exhausted, she still caught the ball.
But the Angels on the opposing side all marked Elmenhilde immediately as they made plans to take the ball away from her. Seeing Elmenhilde’s weary look, an Angel said
“Have you reached your limit, Vampire? Based on your behaviour, you must be a high-class Vampire, so I suppose it’s already amazing that you were able to last until now in a physically-demanding game.”
“…As a special envoy, I constantly travelled all over various countries…so I have a fair amount of stamina.”
Whilst holding the ball, Elmenhilde extended a hand into her pocket.
“…I also have a special technique of my own, so please allow me to demonstrate it here. Strategist-san, may I use it?”
After asking for permission to use it from Ravel, she also readily agreed.
“…Yes! Please go ahead!”
Elmenhilde removed a small vial from her pocket which was filled with red liquid. It was blood.
“This isn’t as simple as any ordinary blood. This bottle is first.”
Elmenhilde popped the cap of the bottle open with one hand and then gulped it down in one go. Instantly, an enormous pulse radiated from her body, blazing flames emerged behind her, and those flames shaped themselves into wings. It almost seemed as though Elmenhilde herself had caused those flames to manifest. Seeing this, the Angels were shocked.
“—Those flames! Are those the flames of Phoenix!?”
“That’s right, I got this from Strategist-san. The effect has also been strengthened because she’s a virgin.”
Elmenhilde wasn’t done yet as she took out yet another vial.
“One more bottle—”
After gulping it down in an instant — she seemed to enter a trance as her expression changed.
“…Ah, an exquisite taste…! Sweet, mellow, and rich, it’s absolutely addictive…I can’t, my brain is melting from this ultimate deliciousness!”
Suddenly, a boom resounded as the ground around Elmenhilde lifted up into the air, and a red and black aura intertwined around her body. The Angels were all so astonished that their voices were high-pitched as they reacted.
“—Red and black dragon’s aura!”
“It’s the Sekiryuutei’s blood…!”
Indeed, what she just drank was my blood. Hosting the power of the infinite and the dream within it, my blood—. Vampires could trigger a variety of different abilities when they drank blood, and my blood was not something that could be compared to any ordinary stimulant. Although Elmenhilde was from a family of high-class aristocratic Vampires with historical roots, she wasn’t particularly superior in terms of the abilities of normal high-class Vampires. In other words, she was quite ordinary as a pure-blood. However, as a True Ancestor of Carmilla, her ancestry did not betray her—. Only in this was she extraordinary and prominent. That is — so long as she drank someone’s blood, she was able to invoke their abilities. By drinking Ravel’s blood, she was temporarily able to use the flames of immortality. By drinking my blood — she was able to use the Sekiryuutei’s aura to wield the tremendous power of a dragon. It seemed as though all of Elmenhilde’s fatigue disappeared as she released an enormous ball of aura, while the large spear of light that Mirana-san threw from a long distance was easily deflected. The immense pressure made it impossible for any of the reincarnated Angels to get close. —If you’re going to pass, then now’s the time! I gave instructions to Elmenhilde.
“Pass! The free people are—”
Beside the goal was — Asia, who had already gotten in place a while ago. After Elmenhilde noticed the direction of my gaze, she threw the ball in Asia’s direction. There was no one marking Asia. The focus of all of the reincarnated Angels had been drawn away by me, Xenovia, Irina and Elmenhilde, so they hadn’t noticed that Asia was already right beside the goal. —At this final stage, Asia had found an opening in the opponent’s defence all on her own. Asia caught the ball. Looking at Asia with the call, I cried out
Asia prepared to throw. And in that instant, I recalled the words that Asia had spoken to me before.
—…Because I’m always dragging behind, I want to help Ise-san a bit, so all I can do is practice like this.
—… Whether or not I’ve become a good buchou, I always feel uneasy….
—Rias-oneesama had her own style as buchou.
—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.
The ball that Asia threw drew out a beautiful arc in the air as it went into the hoop, and we scored. I — couldn’t help but give her a thumbs-up.
The announcer excitedly yelled out.
<<Wow! W-Who would have thought! At a time so close to the end like this, the Sekiryuutei team was able to score! These three points are extremely valuable! A comeback victory is becoming extremely promising here! No one knows who’ll be standing as the victor in the end, it’s still up in the air!”>>
Cheers could be heard from the venue. I moved closer to Asia and pat her head.
“Well done, Asia!”
“Yes! I scored!”
After nearly catching up to them in terms of score, the Angels were probably clenching their teeth in regret. The score was now [144 – 146], a difference of only two points! Although there wasn’t much time left, there was still a hope of winning! I said to Dulio
“You didn’t mark Asia. Don’t underestimate us, Trump Card of Heaven. Our team—”
I looked at my own team and declared
“All of them are trump cards.”
“…You sure can say that.”
Dulio panted as he smiled bitterly.
“…I’m sorry, Dulio.”
The Angels who forgot to mark Asia apologised to Dulio, but he shook his head.
“It’s fine, it’s also my fault. —Asia-chan also went through that tough year. It’s my mistake for not marking her.”
While we spoke to each other, the announced asked another commentator for their opinion
<<Fafnir-san! Your master, Asia Argento-senshu just scored a goal! With this, we still have no idea about what could happen in the game…>>
The person in question, Fafnir, appeared to be crying.
<<Uuh, as expected of Asia-tan! That is Asia-tan’s secret technique, Pantsu Shot! I’m so glad to be alive!>>
<<What! The shot just then had that kind of a name!? ‘Pantsu Shot’! What a strange name…but precisely because of this, the Sekiryuutei team is holding onto the last thread here!>>
That stupid dragon…! He actually gave Asia-chan’s emotional shot such a weird name! All of those feelings have been ruined! —But, I no longer had the energy to get angry at that dragon anymore. The time remaining — was roughly two minutes. We had finally arrived at the last moment. And then, the location of the final goal was projected from the device.
“Ise-sama, it’s A1.”
Ravel reported. I also saw it with the device on my wrist. The very last one had actually appeared in a far corner! Holding the ball, we rushed towards the goal. Chasing closely behind us were Dulio and the others. Dulio controlled the weather to blow violent and heavy gales of wind against us! Our weary bodies were blown off the ground by the wind, but we used what was remaining of our strength to move towards the goal! …I was incredibly tired right now, my body was drenched in sweat, and my stamina was at its limit, I didn’t know what else I could do…. Before I even realised it, the edges of my mouth had curled up. For some reason, I was feeling in high spirits despite the situation. Perhaps we would lose like this, or perhaps the ball would be taken from us, but even so, I felt as though I could accept all of this with certainty. It was because none of the people facing me had ‘malice’, and the enemy that I was fighting against was not ‘evil’. No one had to die, and no one was at risk of death. Even though I was clearly so exhausted both physically and mentally, and even though the reincarnated Angels were keeping their eyes on the ball, the closer we got to the goal, the more excited I grew. That’s right, under these circumstances, and in this match, ‘I was enjoying it’—.
In the very instant that I realised this. In my mind — I could hear a voice that was singing. This singing voice…I seemed to have heard it somewhere before. It wasn’t the voice of just a single person either. There were two people, two people were singing. I listened to the singing voices of the two people. —Hmm. …Say, Ddraig. This song reverberating in my chest…what is it? In my mind, some kind of lyrics seemed to appear, a song, I could hear the voices of the two people that sung the song…. That’s it, it was the tune that I had heard Ophis and Lilith humming to in the bath.
[Yeah, I can also feel it. This is — from Ophis and Lilith in the bath…. No, it’s not just that. Great Red…? Are you there as well?]
Yeah, I see. That is—. This was the song that the two of them had performed—. My current self seemed to understand something. And the man standing in front of me — the Trump Card of Heaven blocked my path.
“Ise-kun, are you having fun?”
“…Seriously, I wonder why. …Running around back and forth like this…even though I’m dead tired…I’m enjoying it!”
I did a partial Dragon Deification of my left arm, and thrust it towards Dulio! Dulio countered back with a huge ball of fire and a giant spear of ice.
“…Hehehe, I see, this might be the first time that I’ve seen Ise-kun make this kind of expression when fighting. Because we haven’t known each other for that long, I could be wrong about it though…”
I used Solid Impact in combination with my left arm that had undergone Dragon Deification to unleash a red and black aura which crushed those! A loud explosion ricocheted across the entire venue, but I didn’t mind all of that as I continued
“I’m enjoying this! From the bottom of my heart, I’m enjoying this battle and this game!”
“Me too! It’s nice to do this occasionally! A serious battle without a single regard for life or death!”
We both used offensive attacks, and then entered a melee battle! Dulio’s twelve feathered wings shone with a golden light, and the golden halo above his head quadrupled! The aura of light enveloping Dulio’s body grew thicker, and colossal spears of light appeared everywhere! The spears of light shot towards me, and in order to respond, I used Crimson Blaster and — my left arm that had undergone Dragon Deification released an enormous Dragon Shot to counterattack!
[Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost Boost!!!!!!]
[Fang Blast Booster!!!!]
The massive attacks that were released by me and Dulio collided in the sky above the empty white space, causing an explosion to erupt in all directions! Remnants of red and gold aura scattered above us in the air! But I didn’t believe that Dulio would give up with just that!
The instant that the explosion finished, I charged towards Dulio with no hesitation—.
I didn’t expect that Dulio would also charge straight towards me from the front! A fist of dragon’s aura and a fist coated in light crossed as both of us hit each other in the face, penetrating deeply! My helmet was shattered, and a nosebleed also sprayed out of Dulio’s nose, but neither of us retreated and we continued to fight with no hesitation! My armour was broken in various places by his kicks and punches that carried a dense power of light. But, my punches and kicks also struck Dulio’s face, abdomen and limbs! To Devils, light was a deadly poison—. Withstanding Dulio’s dense light caused unbearable pain to surge throughout my body…. But that was one thing. And this was another! That man who always seemed so casual — was currently facing me head-on in a melee fight! If I didn’t respond to this, then that would be unfitting of myself! If I didn’t respond to this, then I wouldn’t be able to face my comrades or my great rivals! Dulio’s handsome face gradually became swollen…but he didn’t seem to care as he continued to throw punches at me! His eyes — were burning with fighting spirit! We butt each other with our heads several times! Blood was also streaming down both of our heads. Because we were comrades and friends, this wasn’t a death match! —This was simply a fight to the end because we were friends and comrades!
<<Fight! It’s a fight—! Between the two [King] players, this is nothing more than a back and forth fist fight! Even though this is all it is, the entire venue is heating up and going into a frenzy here!>>
Hearing the announcer’s thrilled shouts, both Dulio and I just focused on aiming at each other’s faces with our fists! Our faces were swollen and covered with fresh blood. As the [King] of our respective sides, both of us shouted out to each other
“—It’s amazing to fight for the sake of our dream! But, Dulio!”
“Yeah, you’re right! But, Hyoudou Issei”
““The person to win will be me!””
While I took Dulio on as an opponent, the ball was passed to Xenovia!
After receiving the ball, Xenovia quickly dashed forward.
“Leave it to me!”
Nero stood in her way!
“—Hmph! Nero! Don’t get in my way! Right now, I am incredibly strong!”
Holding the ball with one hand, Xenovia wielded Durandal in the other hand and it released a powerful holy aura as she slashed it at Nero!
“Excellent! There’ll be worth in defeating you! Come at me!”
Even after taking blows from Durandal’s holy aura, Nero didn’t fall, and seeing his incredibly durable defence, Xenovia was left speechless. Finally, Xenovia made up her mind as she tossed the ball high up into the air, and with her free hand, she drew Excalibur. Holding the two holy swords in a cross stance, Xenovia unleashed a vast aura from her body! And then she also utilised the power of the Sekiryuutei that was embedded within the armour. The jewels of the armour glowed brightly as they transferred their power into the two holy swords! The holy aura that had accumulated in Durandal and Excalibur reached insane levels. Xenovia unleashed the aura wave in a cross formation as she cut down with both holy swords at the same time!
“Cross x Crisis!”
One of Xenovia’s ultimate techniques! She unleashed an extremely dense holy aura straight in front of her! Regardless of whether it was an Ace among reincarnated Angels or even an ultimate-class Devil, taking a direct hit from that would be fatal. Both Xenovia and I tried to move him aside in order to get Nero away from taking a direct hit. However—. It seemed as though Nero was insistent on tanking Xenovia’s ultimate technique!
“I won’t back down!”
Nero was consumed by the aura of Cross x Crisis. The next instant, an enormous explosion occurred and the surrounding terrain was completely obliterated. After the debris that flew through the air finally dissipated a bit, what we saw was — Nero, who stood upright even though his body was covered in injuries…it was the figure of [Captain Angel]. Even if he had been strengthened by his Sacred Gear, there was still a limit to his defences! The combination technique which united the aura of the Sekiryuutei and the two holy swords was Xenovia’s most destructive move! After discharging that technique, Xenovia’s stamina was fully depleted, and so the armour was released, and the aura of the two holy swords also lessened. Xenovia was stunned by Nero’s appearance.
“……! …Even at a time like this, you didn’t retreat and took it head-on…!”
Nero took one step, and then another step as he hobbled forward and raised his fist up. His willpower was absurd—.
“…Hehe…didn’t I say so before, Xenovia? I am [Captain Angel]…the children are watching me. So, I definitely will not falter. …I made up my mind a long time ago…! Whenever the children see me, I will never back down…!”
Nero threw a punch at Xenovia. Nero made use of this opportunity to snatch the ball.
Asia and Irina both ran towards the fallen Xenovia. Asia began to treat Xenovia’s injuries. But Nero had also reached his limit after knocking Xenovia down, so after passing the ball to his comrades, he also lost consciousness and collapsed.
“Incredible, right? That man is the Ace of the hot-blooded Uriel who relies on his guts.”
Dulio was proud of his own comrade. …Of course, I also understood those feelings. Just as I believed that I couldn’t back down against Dulio, that hero of the Church also held the belief that he had to stand. But even so, the match was not over yet! In order to take back the ball that had fallen into the hands of Dulio’s team, we launched an assault on the Angels. The Angels cleverly passed the ball around while we desperately grasped at any openings. But they wouldn’t reveal any openings so easily! As we became more desperate, I resolutely intended on using another partial transformation with Dragon Deification. Originally, using Dragon Deification on one part of myself was already the limit, but if it’s only for an instant, then it should be possible! I widened my dragon wings and used Dragon Deification on all four of my wings, so for just an instant, I was able to attain a godlike speed! I snatched the ball just as Diethelm-san attempted to pass it to Shinra Kiyotora-san, and then I passed the ball to Rossweisse-san! Rossweisse-san used enhancement magic to heighten her own physical abilities and increase her speed as she rushed towards the goal, but Mirana-san and Griselda-san blocked the way and prevented her from throwing the ball. Rossweisse-san — passed the ball to Bina-shi who approached at high speed. Bina-shi jetted past Mirana-san and Griselda-san, and just as she attempted to shoot the ball into the nearby goal — in that very instant, the sharp sound of the buzzer which marked the conclusion rang out. At the same time, the referee announced
<<Time over! The match is finished! The winner is—>>
The score — was still [144 – 146].
<<—[Trump Card of Heaven]! Dulio Gesualdo’s team is victorious!>>
Along with that announcement, the venue erupted with cheers.
…After knowing that it was over, I fell down on the spot. …I don’t know it if was because of the outcome, or because we knew that the game was over, but there were many players who collapsed. …I looked at the score once more. …But, the score didn’t change. ……I see. …I lost. …Really, we didn’t make it by just a bit. …But, it doesn’t feel bad. It feels so strange even though I clearly lost. It was the first time that I was able to enjoy a battle like this. It wasn’t about life or death, it was just a contest in which we fought with our honour on the line—. Dulio dragged his swollen and tired body to my side.
After I said that, Dulio sat beside me.
“Hehe, it was very close. You were able to do that because you guys had so many secret techniques hidden up your sleeve.”
“Are you afraid? Our strategist-sama prepared various tactics to make use of our strengths.”
All of our techniques were basically Ravel’s ideas. But, we had also been amazing for being able to actualise them.
“Ise-kun, the talent of your team is certainly terrifying given that you were able to prepare all that.”
Dulio seemed fearful of us. While the two of us spoke to each other harmoniously as the [King] of our respective sides, Xenovia and Nero, on the other hand, were gasping and arguing with each other.
“…You’re still the same power idiot as always.”
“I don’t want to be told that by the original power idiot.”
But, the two of them smiled as they shook hands.
“Thank you, Nero.”
“Yeah, same here. —Also, call me [Captain Angel].”
On another side, Diethelm-san who was also a healer shook hands with Asia.
“…It is truly a flawless healing ability, Sister Asia.”
“…No, I also feel honoured by the diversity that I have been able to encounter in healing.”
“It seems you didn’t get a chance to summon Fafnir.”
Diethelm-san was right. That dragon sat in the commentary box from beginning to end. Whatever, that dragon should only come out in critical situations where life and death are at risk.
“Although it was passionate and fiery, it was still a peaceful match.”
“It would be better to discipline that dragon a bit. —Doesn’t he value underwear too much?”
“…H-He isn’t a bad person.”
But you still think he’s a pervert, right? Mirana-san and Irina then gave their respects to each other after the game.
Irina reached out to Mirana-san, who seemed slightly fearful.
“A handshake! We’re comrades, so you don’t need to feel so concerned from now on. —Mirana-san, let’s be friends!”
…From the looks of things, we had gained various things in this match, and we had also gained a deeper understanding of each other. …It was still the first time that we had experienced a game like this. It was wonderful that we were able to have feelings like this after the battle. Dulio and I exchanged a handshake. With our faces covered in injuries, we both said to each other
“I won’t lose next time.”
“I won’t lose again next time.”
That’s right, as expected of the Joker! The leader of [DxD]! The announcer cried out
<<The [King] of both teams have shook hands and hugged each other! Audience members, please stand up and give them your applause!>>
Like this, the curtain was closed on the battle between the [Sekiryuutei of Blazing Truth] team and [Trump Card of Heaven] team which concluded with the [Trump Card of Heaven] team being victorious—.
After the game finished, the [Sekiryuutei of Blazing Truth] team gathered in the waiting room. What echoed about in the waiting room — was Bova’s wailing. Bova pounded on the walls of the waiting room over and over again.
“Even so! I! I was clearly ordered to become the [Fang of the Sekiryuutei]…! If only I moved around better! If only I fought harder…! I wouldn’t have let My Lord fail…! Even though My Lord is much stronger…!”
I pat Bova as I said
“—Don’t say that Bova. The opponent was strong. That’s how simple it is.”
Bova lay flat on the ground as large tears streamed down his face and he spoke his true feelings.
“…I…if I could fight in a match like the one that you and Sairaorg-dono had…that’s the kind of match that I’d like to have…!”
……I see, so he wanted to make it similar to how it was in my battle against Sairaorg-san. To me, that was also a special battle for me. I felt truly fortunate to be able to look forward to a fight like that.
“Thank you Bova. But a loss in the preliminaries is not a total defeat. We still have the upcoming matches. It’s no big deal, I’ve also been defeated a few times. —We must become stronger before the next match. To catch up to them. I, all of us, we’re always chasing after something.”
Bova looked at me with a smile as I said that, and then he shed manly tears.
…Bova, you will become stronger. You’re a dragon with the blood of Tannin-ossan flowing through you, so you’ll definitely become stronger. I looked towards Nakiri.
“…Nakiri, you’ve had to participate in a real battle right off the bat. Thank you for your efforts. If we didn’t have that awesome technique of yours, the difference in our score would have widened and we would have had a more convincing loss.”
“…No, I still lack training. But — you’re the most disappointed aren’t you, senpai?”
Nakiri wiped off his sweat with a towel as he spoke.
…Seriously, I was left speechless by a single sentence that my junior had said. —But, I won’t let you see that. I won’t allow my junior to see my regretful expression. I — was not only his senior, but also his [King]. If I was going to cry in the tournament, then it would be after I was victorious. Just as Rias did to me, as his senior as well as his [King], I cannot show regret in front of my comrade.
“I am indeed disappointed, but we have learnt a lot in this game. In my view, phrases like ‘there’s no meaning in losing’ or ‘there’s nothing to be gained in losing’, are not true okay? Listen up, Bova, Nakiri.”
That’s right, this is from my experience. Having tried the taste of defeat—. And standing amidst a dilemma—.
“Self-attribution is what makes the people who are defeated more powerful. Because — in order to erase any regrets, you must obtain victory.”
This was an important thing. Only victory and success can blow away the disappointment and regret of the past. To some people, what I’m saying might be taken for granted…but to the people who are filled with deep regret, they will realise that this is the most important thing. After Nakiri finished wiping his face with a towel, he stood in front of me and said
“…I have long since resolved myself in this tournament to struggle through victory and defeat under your command. And now I’ve decided. —I won’t lose next time. Even if the opponent is a god.”
“Yeah, of course!”
That’s right, even if they’re god, all we have to do is defeat them if we encounter them in a match! Nothing more! I originally wanted to say something to Elmenhilde as well…but it was unfortunate that due to her fatigue, she had already fallen asleep on the bench whilst wrapped in a blanket. I said to Ravel and — Bina-shi
“I also have a new possibility for myself, something that I may have grasped in the match just then.”
“…Could it be [Dragon Deification]?”
Ravel asked me, and I answered her directly
“—There is something in that direction, but there’s also something else. [AxA] — I will show you in this tournament. I was finally able to grasp it, and the hint was — in the bath.”
My words caused Ravel and Bina-shi to become speechless…. I can still continue to become stronger, and them — I want to fight against them.
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