High School DxD:Volume 23 Next Life
Next Life… And so, The Seating Battle Begins!
The season for our uniforms to change had come around again, and the Ball Game Tournament had also begun.
“There! Go over there!”
The gymnasium and field were filled with cheers and cries of support. All students participated in inter-class competitions or inter-club competitions as they immersed themselves in the atmosphere of a festival. The category for this year’s club tournament was — surprisingly, basketball! It was a surprise that the practice that we had made for this sport could be put into play like this! Our new Occult Research Club participated in the tournament with a line-up that included me, Kiba, Koneko-chan, Irina, and Asia; we defeated various other clubs one after the other. After all, there was a clear difference between the physical abilities of humans and Devils…but this was all for the sake of defeating them!
“Our goal is to come in first place! Also, we must defeat the Student Council!”
As the club buchou, Asia was filled with enthusiasm to defeat the Student Council! We also responded to her with
And we followed the lead of Asia-buchou! The Occult Research Club effortlessly won match after match, and we finally arrived at the finals — together with those who had cut their way through the draw like us, the new Student Council that was led by Xenovia. In the centre of the gymnasium, the Occult Research Club and Student Council faced each other in basketball uniforms.
“Asia-chan, do your best!”
Matsuda and Motohama cheered us on!
The cheers for Kiba were mostly the excited cries of various female students. …So they really do call him ‘Kiba-kyun-senpai’ huh….
“Let’s go, Asia, Xenovia!”
Kiryuu was supporting both teams. The two leaders — Asia-buchou and Xenovia-kaichou stared at each other.
“Xenovia-san, I won’t lose to you.”
“Asia, that’s exactly what I wanted to say, because I’ve got no plans to lose to you!”
Their line-up was composed of Xenovia, Saji, Nakiri, Meguri-san, and Nimura-san. They were all members who were not to be underestimated, and Saji stood in front of me as he said
“Since we’re competing, I won’t lose to you. We can treat this as a prelude to the upcoming game.”
“Me neither, Saji.”
Nakiri apologised to me while saying something along the lines of
“This is this, and that is that.”
It’s fine, this is an inter-club competition so it can’t be helped. Before we even realised, the gymnasium had been filled with students who had come to join the crowd.
“Everyone, regardless of whether it’s a win or a loss, don’t leave behind any regrets!”
Even Rossweisse-san had come over. After the referee allowed us to bow and salute each other, all players dispersed towards their respective positions, and the whistle to mark the beginning sounded out. As soon as we began, no Devils’, Angels’ or any other kinds of abilities were used, and we competed solely with the innate ability of our bodies. Kiba quickly dribbled as he shifted into offense, but Nakiri marked and chased after him with a speed that didn’t lose to Kiba’s, and Xenovia then snatched the ball that was supposed to have been passed to Irina. When the ball eventually made its way to my hands and just as I was about to shoot, Saji said
“As if I’d let you!”
As he leapt up to block me! As soon as either side scored, the other side would immediately catch up. The match continued in a close fashion, and the score was always comparable. Time was running out, and Koneko-chan made a good pass to Asia. —There was no one marking her! It was the same as that time. If it’s Asia, then she can definitely do it—. But, as if she had been expecting this, Xenovia quickly dashed forward and stood in front of Asia! Asia got in position to shoot, and Xenovia moved into a firm defensive position in preparation to steal the ball. And then, just as she was about to shoot — Asia changed her momentum as she turned around to dribble. —It was a feint! Asia brushed past Xenovia! As she approached the hoop, Asia jumped up to throw the ball—. Xenovia was still stunned by Asia’s feint from before, but she immediately reacted and caught up—.
“I won’t let you score, Asia!!”
“—No, we will win!”
In that instant, the ball was released from Asia’s hands—.
“Aaah, in the end, we both won with the same number of points.”
I held the certificate that we had received for winning the inter-club competition as I walked with Asia on our way back home. At the time, because the score was even and neither side would back down even after an extended match, it became a penalty shootout. But, a winner had still not been decided after that, and because there was insufficient time, the result was a ‘double win due to equal score’. It might have been possible to end it with rock-paper-scissors, but we had already competed so hard in our attempt to determine a victor that it was likely pointless. The students who were spectating didn’t have any complaints either, they were highly enthusiastic and they seemed to really enjoy our match. Because Asia and I had a few errands to run, we returned home after our club activities. Asia said
“In this case, I’ll have some good news to tell Rias-oneesama.”
Although we had the same score, we were still winners. Rias would probably be delighted by it. But the resilience of Xenovia and the others was truly terrifying. Though of course, we didn’t give up either. Asia’s only desire until the very end was to obtain victory. As her club member, I couldn’t help but follow her lead. Like this, we continued to exchange our thoughts on the inter-club competition. When we walked through the park, we suddenly heard the sound of a young boy crying. As we walked over to take a look, we saw that it was a young boy who had fallen over on the ground, and he hugged his wounded knee as he cried. Asia quickly ran over to take a look at the boy’s knee.
“Are you okay? Boys shouldn’t cry with a minor injury like this okay?”
—Hmm. Those words and this scene reminded me of that time. Indeed, a year ago, Asia and I had met under similar circumstances. Back then, Asia had also rushed over because a child had gotten injured. And after saying the same words, she used her Sacred Gear to heal the child’s wound. This time as well, Asia used the power of her Sacred Gear to heal the young boy’s injured knee.
“Okay, it’s all gone now. You don’t have to worry anymore.”
Although the young boy was in disbelief that the pain had disappeared, he quickly bowed to show his appreciation.
“Thank you, onee-chan!”
After saying that, the boy ran off.
“Thank you, onee-chan huh.”
I repeated that as I recalled what Asia was like back then and laughed out loud.
“Ufufu, I can clearly understand Japanese now.”
Indeed, you’re right. And then, Asia stood in front of me and said
“—Encountering Ise-san and everyone else is the most precious gift that God-sama has given to me.”
…When we first met, Asia solemnly spoke about the circumstances surrounding her ability. She had already experienced many hardships up until that point. And since then, she obviously experienced an even more difficult year than before…the smile that Asia showed was more brilliant, and more beautiful than that time. And in that instant, I made up my mind. Haven’t I already waited for a long time? Can’t I tell her already? I gently held Asia’s shoulders as I said
“What I’m about to say next is something that I had already decided to tell you before…”
I took a pause. Can I really? Can I make Asia happy? That was what I had constantly been pondering over…. But, I made an oath. I was going to move forward together with Asia. To spend my life with her as a Devil with an almost-eternal life—. As I am right now, I definitely can—. After coming to this point, I finally had confidence. Even a little arrogance. A high-class Devil — I had already become a [King]. I had also allowed Asia to become one of my servants. Right now, I was definitely capable of allowing Asia Argento to live a happy life! So I should say it, I should tell her. I — have to tell Asia my own feelings! I faced Asia and resolutely said
“—Asia, will you stay by my side in the future? I will definitely make you happy.”
This was the proposal — that came from me. I want Asia…to stay by my side. I want to marry her! I want to be together with her always, for my entire life! After listening to my proposal, Asia began to let out large teardrops from her eyes. The expression on her face was filled with joy!
“………Yes, please look after me from now on!”
Asia nodded as she accepted my proposal! —Yahoo! Asia said yes! I embraced Asia and loudly shouted out!
“Let’s spend our lifetime togetheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeer!”
“Yes! Let’s be together forever!”
I held Asia in my arms even tighter as I savoured the moment of happiness! Ah, my Asia-chan! My future bride! I will definitely make you happy! With such a nice atmosphere going between us, we moved our faces closer together, and we were just about to kiss. And then they sprang out from the shadows.
“Did you hear that, Irina!?”
“Yeah, I heard it, Xenovia!”
With emotional tears streaming down their faces, Xenovia and Irina made their appearance.
“Asia has finally become Ise’s future bride as well!”
“The three of us will be good brides!”
They displayed womanly tears which were somehow able to rival the intensity of manly tears!
“Irina, Xenovia!? Y-You guys were watching!?”
Hearing me ask that, Irina replied
“We just happened to see you two. And then we hid so that we could spy on you two. Sorry about that.”
We were seen! Seriously, I’m so embarrassed! Irina seemed touched, but she then spoke with a regretful tone
“But, this is truly the best proposal…! I feel regret…! I shouldn’t have followed Xenovia to propose as well! It would’ve been better if I had said that in a more romantic situation! To a girl, this is a once in a lifetime event!”
No one told you to follow Xenovia’s lead to say it as well! If I didn’t give a good response back then, I would’ve made a fool of myself! Xenovia pulled Asia away from my hands as she hugged her.
“Very good! Asia! Anyway, the three of us have now become Ise’s brides!”
Irina also dashed over, and the three of them formed a circle.
“Mmhmm! It sure is the best when the three of us are together!”
“Y-Yes! From now on, I will also continue to work hard as a member of the Hyoudou family!”
The three people who had formed a circle all turned around, and all three of them looked at me
“““That’s okay, right?”””
—Geez, the three of you really get along so well!
“Ah—, I get it! Regardless of whether it’s Asia, Xenovia or Irina, I’LL MAKE ALL OF YOU HAPPY!”
Rias, Akeno-san, Asia, Xenovia, Irina! Since I’ve already confessed to all of you, I’ll be sure to make all of you happy! Hey, Azazel-sensei! I’ll make everyone happy! Because the only person who can achieve this is the current Sekiryuutei!
Although the inter-club competition had ended, the Tournament still continued—. After this, Sairaorg-san’s team and Cao Cao’s team faced off, while we and the Sitri team also battled — I had a rematch with Saji. This was how the first trimester of our third year passed. The preliminaries were reaching the tail-end, and all teams engaged in fiery battles in order to make it into the top sixteen. Tonight, the new match-ups would be announced, so we of the [Sekiryuutei of Blazing Truth] team (Bina-shi was absent) all gathered in front of a television. Game combinations were announced one after the other — the match dates were already set, and ours were amidst them. We had also faced various teams that had a significant reputation…but we had managed to successfully squeeze ourselves into the final stages of the Tournament’s preliminaries. Just as these naïve thoughts floated across my mind, the next match-up blew all of that away. As those two names appeared on the television, the entire venue appeared to heat up.
[Rias Gremory] team VS [Hakuryuukou of the Morning Star] Vali Lucifer team
—What! …So it’s finally come, Rias…and Vali are fighting! Even Xenovia spoke up when she saw this.
“This! What kind of pairing is this!? Master Rias is actually going up against Vali Lucifer!”
The expression on Rossweisse-san’s face was also complex.
“Normally speaking, Vali Lucifer’s team would have an advantage…but because Crom Cruach is present, it’s difficult to predict how things will turn out. Moreover, I have heard that Rias-san is also negotiating with a new candidate…”
A new candidate? Who is Rias planning to add to her team? It’s already pretty scary that she’s got Crom Cruach….
“Rias-sama is still negotiating that right now…. Although we live under the same roof, we’re still on opposing teams, so information like that can’t be freely exchanged.”
—Ravel said. I was also able to understand Rias’ reasons for hiding it, because there would be no point participating in the Tournament if we knew everything about each other’s candidates. It’s just that—.
“Neither Rias nor Vali can afford to underestimate each other…”
I gulped as I said that. …It seemed as though it would be an unimaginable game. And then, the next game combination was displayed on the television. Irina cried out in surprise!
“…Our team seems to have encountered an unbelievable group!?”
[Sekiryuutei of Blazing Truth] Hyoudou Issei team VS [Pleasure of the Kings] Typhon, Apollon, Vidar alliance team
…I was lost for words. We had actually encountered that Vidar-san and Apollon-san’s team!
“…We have god-class beings as our opponents!”
“Moreover, they’re one of the candidates that are predicted to win the Tournament!”
The expression on Ravel’s face clouded. The two next-generation chief gods as well as the legendary King of Monsters…! Rossweisse-san said in astonishment.
“The King of Monsters Typhon, the current chief god of Olympus Apollon…as well as the current chief god of Asgard Vidar-sama…!”
Because she had come from the Norse mythology herself, she inevitably had some complex emotions about fighting against Vidar-san. Nakiri couldn’t help but laugh bitterly as well
“Hahaha, colour me impressed.”
—He hit his hand against his forehead. Ravel spoke to me with determination
“…Ise-sama, since we’re aiming for victory, they are one of the opponents that we are destined to meet. It’s just a matter of time.”
“Yeah, this is the most crucial match for our team.”
…Since we were aiming for victory, it was inevitable that we would have to fight against god-class beings. Up until now, we never had anything that could be considered good luck, but this should be normal. That’s right, this was exactly the kind of abnormal Tournament that allowed us to fight against god-class beings. Just as all of my team members felt more and more pressure, we heard a knock at the door. —Mum opened the door and came in.
“Huh, mum? Is something the matter?”
“Ise, you have a guest. …I believe the guest is a Devil. They have horns on their head.”
…Horns? We all looked at each other and then went downstairs. Standing there was a beautiful woman with bright pink hair and horns on her head, Roygun Belphegor-san! W-Why is Roygun-san at my house!? Although she saw that all of us were astonished and speechless, Roygun-san didn’t seem to mind as she greeted us.
“My deepest apologies for visiting so late at night. How are you, Sekiryuutei?”
“Roygun-san! W-What are you doing here?”
I spoke without much thought, but Roygun-san stepped out onto the porch and wordlessly snapped her fingers. The next instant, several magic circles appeared in the courtyard of my house, and several people draped in hoods and cloaks appeared.
“W-What is this…!?”
All of us became wary as I asked her that
Roygun-san swiftly answered me. …R-Roygun-san’s peerage huh. But why have they gathered at my house? Seeing my doubtful expression, Roygun-san spoke with a serious look
“This is a demonstration of our determination.”
In front of me, Roygun-san — kneeled down!? Quickly after that, all of her peerage members also kneeled down!
“I, Roygun Belphegor and my peerage have come forward in the hopes of joining under the [Sekiryuutei of Blazing Truth] Hyoudou Issei-sama’s command. At the same time, we implore you to allow us to join the [Sekiryuutei of Blazing Truth] team—”
—What!? W-W-W-What is happening!? This is truly beyond all imagination! Roygun-san brought her peerage here, and not only does she want to become my subordinate, but she also wants to join my team! She’s the former second ranker of the Rating Games, so why has such an amazing person come over to me with no hesitation, what is going on…! I was already far too shocked to speak. Beside me, Ravel supressed her disbelief and feigned calmness as she asked Roygun-san
“Could I please know the reason—. Although you once used the [King] piece, aside from the abnormal Diehauser-sama, you are the strongest player in the Rating Games, Roygun-sama. Please allow me to hear the reason why you wish to join Ise-sama’s team.”
Roygun-san narrowed her eyes and slowly replied
“…To put it simply, I wish to stand upon the stage of the Rating Games once more. Although I had past misconduct, if you take the Rating Games away from me, then I…have nothing left. I am a Devil who lives only for the sake of that competition. …But, if I continue the way I am, I cannot return to the Games. …I’m sorry for saying all this because of my own selfishness, but for someone like you who has such reverence and faith in the Underworld, I want to lend you a helping hand.”
Roygun-san knelt down in front of me again, and earnestly pleaded.
“Hyoudou Issei-sama, in exchange, I will dedicate all of myself to you. Even if I have lost the abilities of the [King] piece, the techniques of many good players still remain with me — therefore, can you please consider this seriously?”
…The scene before my eyes was too sudden, and I couldn’t utter a word. …At that time, I recalled what Ravel had said to my last spring.
—Even if it doesn’t feel like reality, there will be many kinds of people who appear before your eyes, Ise-sama.
—You may feel the sense of being a high-class Devil from such situations.
—You will most likely become the most anticipated High-class Devil rookie in the whole Underworld.
…Bova had appeared, Nakiri had also sought me out, and Bina-shi came on her own…on top of that, the strongest female player of the Rating Games had also come before me…! …To be honest, the feeling was incredibly unreal. Even the person who said that to me in the past, Ravel, also seemed too shocked to reply because of Roygun-san’s response. The former second ranker of the Rating Games had made an unexpected appearance, and her wish made us feel both astonished and troubled. The heat of this final summer break of my high school life seemed like it would far exceed last year’s—. Indeed, a feast never cooled down, it would only continue to grow more lively.
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