High School DxD:Volume DX4 Power.2 The Hero and the Youths
Power.2 The Hero and the Youths
This boy was born in a village in a remote mountain somewhere in China. The members of the house in which the boy was born into had been traditional farmers. The boy’s grandparents, great grandparents, and so on had all lived their whole lives in that village as farmers. This boy also started his farm life as he grew older, learning how to farm from his parents day in and day out. It was a very simple farming village. There were no televisions, let alone electricity in the village. The house the boy lived in was just a shack, but so were all the other houses in the village. That was the way of life over there.
The boy enjoyed running around the mountain and playing with children his age. His heart jumped whenever he heard stories with ‘monsters’ in them, and he liked playing ‘monster hunting’ with his friends in the mountain. That boy...had a place that he went to whenever he was happy or sad or scolded. His own special seat... He climbed up the tallest tree in the village and looked up to the nameless mountain in front of him. The tallest mountain he could see from his village... The boy’s dream was to climb to the top of that mountain one day. The calming and static life at the village, the boy thought that life wouldn’t change in his lifetime.
But at last, one day, an incident happened. It happened when he went into the mountain to play with his friends again. He was the only one who got lost and ended up losing his way deep inside the forest. The thing that he met there...was a monster that he had never seen before. The boy saw the monster eating an animal by chance, and unfortunately, he was spotted by the monster right there. The monster said that it was his first time in a long time to have tasted a human and jumped at the boy. The boy ran for his life as fast as he could, but since it was a dense forest, he couldn’t run as fast as he wanted. With his childish steps, there was no way he would be able to outrun a monster. Then, when he was about to be eaten by the monster and was giving up on running away, his whole life flashed before his eyes, and suddenly, he thought of that time when he played the ‘monster hunting’ game with his friends.
‘...Ahhh, it would be great if I really had a power to defeat monsters...’
Just as he thought of that, he felt a pulse deep inside his heart. And with a bright light, an object came out shining with bright light. ...A spear with holy aura around it. The monster staggered as his body was disintegrated by the light of the spear. The boy grabbed the spear, and as if he had known how to use the spear his whole life, started to attack the monster. ...A few minutes later, the boy was covered in blood and was standing expressionlessly where the monster used to be. And about an hour later, the village’s search party found the boy in the forest. Everyone, including the boy’s parents, was shocked at the sight of the boy covered in blood.
After that, his life continued as normal...except for one thing. ...He was now able to summon that holy spear from his body at will. He didn’t understand what had happened to his body. It was so unbelievable that he didn’t tell his parents or his friends. But when he stared at that spear, his mind became calm. For a beautiful spear to appear before his eyes, the eyes of a boy living a normal life in a remote village. At that moment, he had something that he could ‘show off’ to others. Half a year later, the boy met another monster.
“Oh ho~. Looks like that spear has gone to some troublesome kid.”
It was a monster resembling an old monkey. That monster called himself ‘Sun Wukong’. The monkey monster spoke while patting the boy’s head.
“...Hey kiddo, that spear will make a kid’s life living in a remote village like yourself quite difficult. But kiddo, you are you, and that spear isn’t you. You will need to make that spear a part of you.”
After that, the monkey monster said something like ‘right, what should I report back to the heavens?’ and made a bitter smile. Before disappearing, that monster said this to him.
“I don’t know if you know kiddo, but the blood of the hero of this country, [Cao Cao], runs in your body. Well, so far, it’s just running in your body, that’s all. To be able to awaken that power and use it is a whole different story... And that’s up to you.”
...Cao Cao. It was a name that had no resemblance to his own, a complete stranger’s name. But the word ‘Hero’ stayed with him strongly. After gaining that spear, the boy experienced countless numbers of mysterious encounters. And after a while, not only monsters, but even humans started to approach him. One day coming home after a day’s work at the farm, the boy saw a bunch of men in suits at his house. His parents smiled as soon as they saw the boy.
“This is great news!”
“Yes, great news indeed!”
Since his parents hugged him tightly while saying that, the boy was surely confused. Even during that, his parents continued.
“You’ve been accepted to a school in the city!”
“This is amazing! You can eat lots of tasty food there!”
The boy’s head was filled with question marks, but...a man in suit smiled at him and said.
“You’ve been chosen, and we’ve come to tell your parents the news.”
And then, they started to explain what was going on, but as they were using all sorts of difficult words which the boy couldn’t understand, he couldn’t follow what was going on. However, he knew one thing for sure. His gaze locked onto his father’s hands. His father was grabbing onto a thick wad of cash. Even this small child could understand what was going on.
He had just been sold.
That night, the boy, only with a small amount of food in his pocket, ran away from his home. He thought that by leaving the house for a few days, he could go back to his normal life after that. But his delusion was shattered by a visitor from a world outside his common sense. Adults wielding weapons began targeting the boy, and just like that, an unequal and struggling life for the boy had started. Waving his holy spear around, the boy ran away from these adults. Even after being caught by his pursuers, he was able to escape with his life thanks to his spear. Even after being cornered by wild animals in the middle of the forest, he was able to escape with his life thanks to his spear. Even after being confronted by human traffickers in one village, he escaped without losing his life thanks to his spear. Having experienced many events that could change his whole life around in a row, the boy...was able to see the wide world for himself. Shiny buildings with towers as tall as mountains, roads that could host countless numbers of people once the festival started... Even in that huge town, his pursuers targeted him...and his spear.
[Give up your spear now! That is an object that the likes of you should never handle!]
The day-to-day life of risking his life continued. And there were even ones who would recruit him using sweet and tempting words, but...after being sold by his parents and being chased by many people, the boy became a person who couldn’t trust anything but his spear. And just like that, a few years after leaving his home village...the boy left China for another country. While meeting and observing people and cultures that he had never seen before, he began to believe in something.
‘...I’ve got this spear in my possession. With this, I will be able to go anywhere and will be able to beat anyone.’
While he was on the run, he awakened his talent and he learnt the abilities of his spear as well. And after denouncing his own name, he began to use the name of the hero that the monkey demon used...Cao Cao. Also, he had learned that his spear was one of the Sacred Gears, and of those, one of the special [Longinus], and the strongest of all...one of the Relics.
The boy...Cao Cao then roamed around the Earth, and after becoming an adult, he visited his town of birth once again. While traveling around the world, he had learned that his village was a very small part of the entire world. And most of all, he learned the terrifying power of this object called ‘Money’. Cao Cao had reached an understanding that with a huge sum of money, even basic farmer parents in remote villages were willing to reach a conclusion to give their son away. It wasn’t like he wanted to fault his parents at this stage, nor was he intending to stay in that village any longer. But he wanted to see the faces of his parents at least once. But the house that he had once lived...had become deserted. His parents no longer lived there.
When he asked around the village, they started to tell him the story of what happened. After their son ran away, it was said that his parents were visited by an agent of a certain faction, and his parents decided to give information about their son away. Information about a person who wielded the world’s strongest Longinus was precious. Information that could be used to lead that user to their side was too great of a temptation. On top of that, the money that his parents had earned by selling information about him was great and they had learned the joy of spending. For people who had lived all their lives poor, it was a turning point. Of course, people who had never known the joy of spending would also not know how to spend sensibly...and not long after having lost their sight to money, they had accumulated a huge amount of debt. Day after day, getting chased by the debt collectors, the path that they had chosen was... The villager, who was telling Cao Cao the story, pointed at the empty house and finished.
“...They hung themselves there.”
...That was the final answer that those two had given him.
‘...I wonder, if I wasn’t born with this spear, would our lives be peaceful?’
Cao Cao often thought like that, but he quickly shook his head.
‘...Me or my parents, we are all weak humans.’
With or without the spear, it didn’t change the fact that they were weak. Even with the blood of a hero and possessing the spear, he wouldn’t be able to change the outcome back then. If he had fought there instead of running away, his parents might not have met their demise. If he had talked with them instead of running away, all of them might have survived. It could have happened... It could have... It could have... All the possibilities went through his head, but...it was all pointless, and all he could see was the reality where he was standing in front of his old, empty and abandoned house. After sitting there for about an hour, Cao Cao left the village. Swearing that he would never return.
‘In this world...there is only I.’
‘All I’ve got is this spear. If that’s the case...all I can do is to go as far as I can with this spear.’
That was what Cao Cao used as his fuel...his reason for living. After that, he had met people whose lives had been ruined because of Sacred Gears just like himself. And in the process of meeting them, he learned about the supernatural beings such as God and such. ...Devils, Maou, Dragons, Dragon Kings, Dragon Gods. They all possessed power that transcended human power, and they were hiding at the edge of their world. Naturally, Cao Cao began to think of something.
‘...Them and I, will my spear ever reach them?’
Gaining his first ever objective...his purpose in his life, in the blink of a second, many Sacred Gear users gathered around him. With the Sacred Gears that had ruined their lives, they found new meanings to their lives... And thus began the daily life of endless fighting. Cao Cao’s group fought ability users, Devils and Dragons, and they showed off their power. And in the middle of that, they met them. Hyoudou Issei and Vali Lucifer. For Cao Cao, who had never cowered in front of any God or demons, the beings that made him truly feel awe and made him shudder were these two...the Two Heavenly Dragons. One showed off even greater talent than himself. And the other created miracles far greater than his own spear. And to Hyoudou Issei’s group, Cao Cao lost his meaning of living, meaning to fight, power, his pride. Lost them all... Cao Cao, who was reminiscing his past life while walking on the road of Lilith, the capital of the Underworld, looked up to the unique colour of the Underworld sky.
“...I prefer a blue sky though.”
While muttering to himself, he continued to his destination.
In a residential area somewhere in Lilith, Cao Cao arrived at a corner of that town. There was...a kindergarten for the children of Devils. While getting shown around by a guard, Cao Cao went inside the building where he saw a huge man working on a flowerbed. It was...Heracles. He was currently part of his team, participating with him in the International Rating Game, but in the meantime, he worked at this kindergarten. After the Monster Crisis incident, he was captured by the government forces, and after many tortures, many spells were placed on his body to stop him from causing more trouble. And the government...Sirzechs Lucifer made him work at this kindergarten instead of putting him in a prison. Even though Sirzechs knew that back then, it was him who caused a scene with the kindergarten bus. At first he was criticised by the populace, especially by the parents of children, but...in the end seeing how they all accepted this decision, it was evident that Maou...Sirzechs Lucifer was regarded very highly by everyone. If he tried to do something, the spell would activate and burn Heracles’s body to the ground. But the fact that he was still alive meant... It was the end of the day, and so, many children were coming out of the building, holding their parents’ hands. The children waved at Heracles, who was working on the flowerbed, and all said to him.
“See you later, ojii-san.”
“See you tomorrow!”
Heracles also waved coldly at the children.
“Be careful of the roads. And stop calling me ojii-san.”
And then, their eyes met. As if he was saying he didn’t want to show this to Cao Cao, his expression became bashful, but...he stopped his work and, with his face full of dirt, went towards Cao Cao. Looking at him like that, Cao Cao spoke.
“Sorry to come to your work place like this.”
“...Hmph, looks like I showed you something unsightly. I, who have inherited the soul of Heracles, is now a kindergarten worker and guard.”
That’s right, one reason why the Devils accepted him this fast was that, in case of an emergency, they could use him as a security guard. The spell on his body meant that he had no choice but to fight in those cases, and since there had been multiple incidents happening in a row, the fact that a criminal with immense [Strength] was their [Shield] made Devils accept him. But Cao Cao couldn’t help but think that the way Devils thought was a bit too weird from this and the fact that the Oppai Dragon was immensely popular here. He thought it was probably because of the difference in culture. Taking his gloves off, Heracles asked Cao Cao.
“The reason you’re here is because...of the Rating Game? That’s probably the only reason why you’ve come all the way here.”
At that, Cao Cao did nothing but shrug.
“That’s one reason. Another is that I wanted to see how you’re doing on your job.”
At that moment, Heracles didn’t know how to respond for a bit...but soon scratched his cheeks and smiled.
“...Hmm, even you’ve changed.”
“Right back at you. You know that we’re having a meeting at that place we decided, right? Let’s go together.”
At his suggestion, Heracles agreed, but soon looked at the flowerbed and said.
“Can I finish that first? It’s something I need to do.”
After saying yes, Cao Cao pulled his sleeves up as well.
“I’ll help. I’ve done these jobs before.”
He had never expected that he’d work with the soil in the Underworld, but...he also thought that this wasn’t bad at all.
The place that Cao Cao and Heracles headed was...the home of the Catholic Church, the Vatican. Just like he did in the Underworld, he showed his pass to the guard and went to a facility in the corner of the Vatican. As a person with one of the artifacts, the Holy Spear, and a person who not long ago considered them his enemy, Cao Cao couldn’t help but sneer at himself at the fact that he was able to come into a place like this without causing any scene.
The place that they arrived at was a facility where young warriors affiliated with the Vatican trained and lived. This was the place where they’d be having a meeting about the next match. It was something they did to test what they could do at their current situation but...the truth was that they chose this place as a meeting place on a whim. When they went inside the facility’s dining area, a bunch of people from the church were enjoying their meals since it was dinnertime. They heard that due to an internal reformation of the church, the number of personnel in the church had been reduced, but...the dining area was still filled with people. People with some experience noticed the aura given off by Cao Cao and Heracles and turned towards them, but after noticing that they had no harmful intentions, they went back to their meals with slightly confused expressions. Meanwhile, there was a young woman running around the tables. It was Jeanne. With an apron on her, she was running around, placing food on the table. Maybe she noticed their aura as well, so she shouted at them.
“Ah, it’s you two. Can you wait for a bit? I’m a bit busy. Ah, why don’t you guys eat too? I’ll give you guys some discount.”
Cao Cao and Heracles looked at each other and decided that it’d be weird to sit around without any food in front of them in the dining area, so they ordered some pasta. After dinnertime and with people having mostly left, Jeanne took her apron off, sighed and sat heavily next to Cao Cao and Heracles.
“Haaaaa, I’m busy around here serving and cooking food, and you decided to have our next match meeting where I work. Isn’t this too much? Not only that, I never thought the Vatican would even give us permission in the first place.”
Jeanne complained, and until everyone arrived, they decided to have a chit-chat. Just like Heracles, Jeanne was captured during that Monster Crisis incident, but unlike Heracles, Jeanne was transferred from the Underworld to the Vatican. After questioning her for her sins, they ultimately put her to work at this facility as a cook. Just like their Underworld counterparts, the Vatican gave her a hard to understand punishment. Cao Cao guessed that, since she had inherited the soul of one of the holy saints, the Vatican couldn’t really give her a harsh sentence. Ever since then, she’d been cooking for the people that lived here.
“I would have never guessed that you’d become one of the training chefs in the Vatican, let alone in a warrior training facility.”
When Cao Cao said that with a slightly sarcastic tone, Jeanne laid her chin on the table and complained.
“Same here. Those church people were like ‘If you truly are a person who has inherited the soul of Jeanne D’Arc, then shouldn’t you aid the people?’ and such.”
Hearing that, Cao Cao and Heracles made a bitter smile. As if she was enjoying herself, Jeanne looked at Cao Cao and Heracles and said.
“Well, from my eyes, you two changed quite a lot as well... But that’s that. Why did the leader involve us two who are chained by our necks? Are you thinking of asking for the whole world after winning the whole lot?”
Heracles looked at Cao Cao as if he was planning to ask the same question as her.
“...I simply wanted to test my current self.”
Cao Cao answered their question.
“...We all thought that we were geniuses. With blessings from Heaven and earth, we thought that we were the true Heroes, but that was utterly shattered by those red and white Dragons.”
Even if they had tools or skills that could produce a miracle, they learned that they didn’t work towards people that caused even bigger miracles to happen continuously. No, they realised that there existed beings that they couldn’t simply approach that easily. ...To fight the Two Heavenly Dragons meant to call upon destruction on themselves. That was just evident from themselves, as well as the countless numbers of people who had been defeated by their hands. And from those who were lucky enough to survive from them, they learned a way to challenge those two. ...It was that they took interest in those who wanted to fight them in a proper and fair fight, and those who challenged them also gained invaluable growth from it. ...If one wanted to combine their desire to get stronger and their will to challenge the Heavenly Dragons, then it was best to fight them in a fair and proper fight.
‘Also, if possible, I want to avoid being defeated by one of their miracles. So therefore, I...’
Attempting to read his thoughts, Jeanne spoke after Cao Cao.
“So, you want to fight them fair and square?”
Being surprised that Jeanne read his thoughts, Cao Cao turned his head towards her. When he did, she simply told him that ‘Your thoughts were always on your expression’.
Brushing that off, Cao Cao continued.
“In truth, I don’t even know if I can beat them right now.”
“Woah, woah, the once confident leader of the Hero Faction has suddenly become so humble.”
Jeanne teased him. Hearing that, Cao Cao told them what he really thought.
“...But I’m still angry about before. I’ve realised that the scar in my heart carved by the shape of humiliation, helplessness and fear won’t go away until the day when I finally defeat them, and that’s all there is to it... For that simple reason, I want to fight them, have a rematch against them and against myself.”
He had tried to become a hero with comrades who had the same will as him, but Vasco Strada had seen through that illusion and realised that was just a [Hero Play]. That was why they had lost against Sekiryuutei, who always marched forward no matter what. Strada had said that it was the people who chose the heroes. Meanwhile, they weren’t even close to being called heroes by the said people. Maybe there was a need to re-think what it meant to be a ‘hero’, but in the meantime, Cao Cao had decided to chase after the Two Heavenly Dragons first. ...Right then, two people entered the dining hall.
“Leader, I’ve brought him.”
The person who spoke first was the user of the Sacred Gear [Night Reflection], Connla. After losing in Kyoto and even after the disbandment of the Hero Faction, where he became the guard of Seekvaira, he still defended Cao Cao’s side. The other person was the user of the Sacred Gear [Dreamlike Curse] Marsillio, who even after the loss of the Hero Faction, went out against Rias Gremory by himself. After losing to Hyoudou Issei, he was taken by the Underworld Government and given the same fate as Heracles, and just like Heracles, he had been giving Cao Cao his help.
“Ah, thank you, Connla, Marsillio.”
Cao Cao’s eyes then looked past these two people to a young male behind them. It was a familiar male wearing glasses.
“Didn’t believe you’d really be here. Wouldn’t have guessed that you would have picked this place as a meeting place.”
It was a young wizard wearing a cape...Georg.
When he entered, both Heracles and Jeanne stood up from their seats. That was to be expected. After losing to Hyoudou Issei’s group, his Longinus, [Dimension Lost], was taken by the Three Factions. And along with Cao Cao and [Annihilation Maker] Leonardo, he was sent to Hell. Cao Cao left Hell quickly, but he decided to stay there to study magic, and therefore, he hadn’t entered the tournament yet. And since that person has just appeared in the Vatican, for Heracles and Jeanne, they would be quite surprised. Cao Cao casually explained.
“I called him. He said Hades is frequently absent these days, so I told him to come back if that’s the case.”
And apparently, Georg agreed easily.
“Well, it looked pitiful that no one in the team could use magic.”
Georg hadn’t yet officially participated in the game yet, but Cao Cao’s team hadn’t lost yet. It might be because they hadn’t been matched against God-class beings yet, but it was a given that they would soon square off against such foes. Therefore, Cao Cao called him for his help. Heracles then looked around to those who just entered, as if he was looking for someone. After a while, he then said.
“So, I guess Leonardo isn’t coming.”
It looked like he was worried about the boy that was sent to Hell along with Georg. Georg then answered him.
“He’s back from Hell as well. He’s currently in Grigori’s lab.”
That’s right. It looked like it was predetermined that this would happen once Leonardo came back from Hell. It looked like Grigori had made some back-end deals with other members of the Three Factions. Cao Cao continued.
“It hasn’t been more than a year since the Monster Crisis incident, so they won’t allow a person who can give birth to monsters to roam free easily.”
That was the biggest worry of the Three Factions. To increase their manpower, they were clearly aiming for the three Longinus users, Cao Cao, Georg and Leonardo. But their sins were too great for them to ignore, especially Leonardo, who couldn’t control his powers well. Considering that they took him to Grigori, where research into Sacred Gears was most active, Cao Cao thought that the Three Factions were being considerate in that case. And just like that, as the meeting time drew near, all the members of the group slowly arrived. Amongst them, there were some people who had left the group during the Khaos Bridgade days, but came back to help during the tournament. Hercules noticed a male with neat brown hair and started a conversation with him.
“Oh, so you’re also here, Pe.”
“Oi, don’t call me Pe. Call me the man-of-men Perseus-sama.”
The person who said that jokingly was a previous executive of the Hero Faction...Perseus. He was the person who had inherited the soul of the Hero of Greece. Just before the Kyoto incident, due to his differing views to Cao Cao, he retired from the group, but apparently, he agreed to help out during the tournament. Even after exiting, there was one time where he went to Cao Cao. The person who brought the Eye of Medusa was none other than Perseus. He was the executive who believed in his own justice the most out of anyone, and he was also the person with the most loyalty. That Perseus looked at Georg and was shocked.
“Woah, it’s Georg. I heard you got a new job as a Grim Reaper.”
“Well, I didn’t really feel like going over the ‘Evil Organisation’ level, so I really didn’t like working at places like Hell.”
Hearing his reply, Perseus laughed wholeheartedly and talked to Jeanne while taking his seat.
“Well, that’s true. That’s that, so this is Jeanne’s work place. Oi onee-san, bake me a pizza please.”
“If it’s fine with pasta, then eat the ones that they didn’t finish.”
When Jeanne replied in an annoyed tone, Perseus simply said ‘Cool’ and started to eat the pasta that Cao Cao and Heracles were eating before. Once the new members, including Perseus, arrived, they borrowed the whole dining hall and started their meeting.
“Well, it seems like everyone’s here now. I’ll give everyone files on Sairaorg Bael’s team.”
Cao Cao handed paper files to everyone. Inside was information on the team members of the Bael peerage. Sairaorg Bael’s team had allied with his younger brother, Magdaran Bael’s team, with Sairaorg’s peerage as the centre and Magdaran Bael’s peerage taking back-up roles. Depending on the opponents, they were periodically changing their members.
“...Then, shall we start the meeting?”
Considering those facts, Cao Cao’s meeting finally started. Considering many rules of the game, as well as the data of their opponents, they planned moves for each member of the team. Basically, as the rule of the Rating Game was set on the day of the match, they were planning for all the different rules possible against their opponents.
“...And in case of this rule being picked, I assume this is how the moves will be played out.”
As Cao Cao’s talk about predictions and plans got longer, Heracles seemed to be bored of all the talk, so he asked Cao Cao straight on.
“...Oh to hell with it, this takes too long. Oi, Cao Cao, just come out with it. Can you dodge all of Sairaorg’s attacks when it comes to it?”
When Heracles asked, all eyes focused on Cao Cao. The most dangerous aspect of the next match was the power of the opponent’s King, Sairaorg Bael’s attack. He was the person who boasted the strongest attack out of all the young Devils. The power was so great that his normal attacks were equivalent to Seikiryuutei’s attack, and in close quarters combat situations, it was regarded as a power greater than that of Vali Lucifer... If it ended up becoming a head-on collision, it would be over for even those who had inherited the souls of Heroes. Most likely, it would give them all fatal wounds. That was the reason why Hercules asked the strongest member of this group, their leader Cao Cao. ‘Can you dodge it all?’. Like that, it showed that everyone here knew that if even one hit was given to Cao Cao, it would be the end for even Cao Cao himself. ...The punch of Sairaorg Bael was that fatal. Sighing, Cao Cao said.
“Well, his fighting style is similar to that of Hyoudou Issei. He attacks with ridiculous amount of power, and therefore even one hit will cause critical wounds. That kind of person will turn around our 99.9999% victory with one punch.”
Even in a situation where they had suppressed him, all it took was one hit... One hit was enough to cause fatal damage to him. After considering all other possibilities and going over all sorts of plans, the only conclusion that could be made was that he must not be hit by that punch. The punch that was recorded on the International Rating Games files was chilling. Even Ultimate-class Devils went down with that punch. It broke a seasoned Wizard’s shield magic in the same way as breaking a stick and defeated him quickly as well. It was a simple and quick fight. One hit and you’re out... That was the strength of that man. Heracles spoke.
“As a person who was hit by his punch, I’ll give you an advice. Win or lose, the pain will be with you forever.”
After losing to Sairaorg, Heracles was captured by the Underworld. Rubbing his cheek, Heracles narrowed his eyes.
“After being defeated by him...I couldn’t forget the pain that came with his punch.”
Hearing Heracles’s story, everyone just sat there in awe, but...there was one person who was laughing during all that.
It was Perseus.
“Hey, what’s so funny?”
When Heracles said that while pouting, Perseus replied with laughter.
“That’s like the tenth time I’ve heard that story now.”
Perseus then spoke while fending off an angry Heracles.
“Well, now that Georg is back, our team can show them our true power.”
The Wizard... Dimension Lost Georg’s return was welcomed by everyone present. But then, Jeanne stared at the ceiling and said.
“It would have been better if that idiot Sieg was with us right now. We are sitting at his old base after all.”
Once the name of Hero Faction’s sub-leader, Siegfried, was uttered, the mood became solemn. He was the coldest out of everyone in the Hero Faction...as well as the most wicked. And thus, he lost his life. Cao Cao shook his head.
“...If he were here, we wouldn’t have set this place as our meeting place. That place...is his final resting place. Let him take his rest now.”
Although he was selected by Gram itself, due to his Dragon-type Sacred Gear, he couldn’t bring out the full potential of Gram. Including Gram, the swords he had were taken by the Church and were given to skilled knights. The question was why Gram chose Siegfried in the first place, and why did it now choose Kiba Yuuto. There were no definite answers, but Cao Cao could think of a few reasons. After escaping the shackle of the Vatican, Siegfried was...satisfied with himself. By escaping this place, he had fulfilled most of things that he had wanted. ...And towards the owner who had stopped his growth, the Demonic Swords revolted.
‘...Well, that isn’t be very accurate either. The truth is only known by the swords probably.’
It got to the point where the mood was too dark to even speak. Someone knocked on the door of the dining hall. When one of the persons sitting at the table went and opened the door...a few warriors from the church appeared. Looking at Jeanne sitting there, they hesitantly came into the hall.
“Jeanne-san, we heard that you are about to compete... C-Cao Cao!? H-Hey, there’s the Holy Spear user here!”
They seemed to be familiar with Cao Cao from the tournament and previous incidents as they hurriedly bowed at him.
[Ah, Lord! The Holy Spear!]
And they started to offer prayers while bowing at him. Upon seeing that, even Cao Cao got perplexed. This was the home of the Vatican church, and thus, if they saw anyone wielding the spear related to the Holy Trinity, it was natural for those with deep faith to act like this. Not only that, Cao Cao was currently participating as a member of the Mount Meru faction in the International Rating Game, so he was famous among those who kept up with the games. Seeing that, Heracles laughed at him.
“Kekeke, it looks like the Holy Spear is finally doing its original work.”
While Cao Cao told Heracles off, those who prayed were talking to Jeanne.
“...Please do well.”
“We can’t cheer you on publicly, but we all hope that you win.”
That’s right, they were supporting Jeanne. Even Jeanne looked like she wasn’t expecting this. Then, they continued.
“Jeanne-san’s pasta dish is sometimes too strong, but we’re all hooked to it now.”
“Yeah, and also, we’ll be sure to fix that broken pizza oven, so please bake us that slightly undercooked margarita pizza again.”
When all those church warriors cheer her on, Jeanne turned her head to the side and got tsundere.
“...Really, you guys... I’m a villain, you know? You good kiddies should go and support Angels.”
Looking at the scene before his eyes, Cao Cao thought that this was also the Underworld and the Church, no, the Angels’ cheeky punishment. They had put her in such a situation and were slowly dissolving Jeanne’s evil intents. And the same thing was happening with Heracles. ...But in one side of his heart, he realised he was glad that it worked out this way. Cao Cao smiled. After the warriors returned to where they came from, Georg fixed his glasses and said in an emotional voice.
“...International Rating Game. I would have never guessed that our objectives would be fulfilled like this.”
A tournament in which you could participate regardless of your religion or your place in society. By participating in this event, you would be able to face off against Devils, Angels, Dragons or even Gods. It was a situation that they would have never even dreamed of a few months ago. Heracles also spoke with a bitter smile on his face.
“Hehe, it’s really bizarre. We, who caused that much trouble before, are now participating in such a legitimate competition. Not only that, but it is filled with interesting monsters and Maou-class and God-class opponents.”
They all fought against many factions and faced truly transcendental beings. The things that they had done a year ago were just utterly madness, but right now, there was a competition that they could participate.
‘It is, as Heracles said, simply bizarre but...this does not absolve us who’ve done such unspeakable things.’
Cao Cao spoke again.
“Isn’t this so simple? If we win this...then we are the world’s strongest beings.”
Hearing that, everyone there made a confident smile on their faces.
“Right, let’s do this.”
Heracles spoke, cracking his knuckles.
“Yup, that’s why we all came together around Cao Cao. Well, we might not win, but we can try again next time, right? Until we win.”
Jeanne brushed her hair back.
“Hahaha. It’s not my place to say that as a person who cut ties with you after handing over that Eye of Medusa, but...I can believe in the current you, Cao Cao. I’ll fight in Sieg’s stead as well.”
Perseus said while laughing.
‘One comrade has died...but the one we lost before came back.’
“I’m honoured to be able to fight with all of you.”
“I’m just happy to be here.”
When Connla and Marsilio said that, Georg continued.
“Same here. To be able to chase that dream of ours alongside Cao Cao again, this is just like a dream.”
...How strong could one get with a human body? Cao Cao looked at each other’s faces. Everyone here has had their lives turned upside down by Sacred Gears.
‘To Vasco Strada, we, who played ‘Heroes’ to vent our anger, would have looked foolish.’
‘We are weak humans. Both our bodies and minds are the weakest of the weak. But we have all inherited the blood of Heroes, and thus, can gain power like that of a miracle. But is there any meaning to all these? Or a significance?’
...The answer hadn’t been found yet, but...just like Hyoudou Issei and Vali Lucifer, Cao Cao and his group wanted to walk forward and not lose their paths once more.
“Then, let’s definitely win tomorrow.”
When Cao Cao said that, everyone nodded. Seeing that, Cao Cao remembered something. It was when he returned to his hometown for the first and last time, when he learned of his parents’ fate. For some reason, Cao Cao had climbed the mountain which had the largest tree in the village. He just wanted to go up that mountain. The mountain, which looked so huge back in the day, was now something he could walk up to in the blink of an eye. Honestly speaking, he was disappointed. Thinking that it would only look big to the eyes of a child, Cao Cao became disappointed. However, the thing that waited for him at the top of the mountain was...a grand blue sky. Seeing that grand scene of a blue sky with his own eyes, he remembered that there was a huge world that seemed vast and unending on top of this mountain. Then, what would there be at the end of that blue sky?
“...I wonder how far I can go over that blue sky. Let’s try and find out.”
Those thoughts that he had before, although his methods had changed now, were still in his head even today.
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