High School DxD / High School DxD Volume 23 Chapter 4
Continues on from
Continues on to Upsetting Sorcerer.2
Part 1. Part 2.
Life.4 VS [Brave Saints] Begins!
And then, it was the day of the match—.
Our [Sekiryuutei of Blazing Truth] team had already arrived at the venue half a day before the beginning of the match. We were able to arrive early precisely because today was a school break day. The venue for this match was the [Ajuka Stadium] in the Astaroth territory. It was a stadium which had been built to commemorate Ajuka Beelzebub-sama, so it was very modern, and it even used some unknown technology. The corridors were equipped with automatic cleaning robots, and all kinds of facilities were present. The waiting room was also very spacious; there were obviously no problems with human-like beings entering, and there weren’t any issues with giants entering the room in their original bodies either. That was why Bova had reverted back to his original dragon form. Incidentally, our new members Nakiri and Elmenhilde were both wearing the uniform of the [Sekiryuutei of Blazing Truth] team. They were specially prepared for this day. But it was actually so spacious that I didn’t know what to do…. The vastness of the space made it difficult to calm myself down.
“Do you best, Ise!”
Kunou ran over to my side. …Ophis and Lilith who were normally with her had stayed behind at home today. Regardless, it wouldn’t be good to let them come out. The person who came after Kunou was—.
“Yo, Ise. Asia-chan and everyone else too.”
Tou-san! Although I did give them tickets, I didn’t think that they would actually come!
“Tou-san! Did you come over to watch?”
“Yeah, I came to see the glorious match that my son and daughters will be participating in. Though it still feels strange when I come to the world of the Devils.”
Tou-san was transported here via the magic circle that was set up in the basement of the Hyoudou residence, it was something that I had already gotten used to. Tou-san spoke to me with slight consideration
“In fact, I’m quite hesitant to see you before the match because I’m afraid that it’ll bring you strange emotions or tension that may affect your ability to participate in the game.”
“…What about kaa-san? So she didn’t end up coming in the end huh.”
I had given them a pair ticket, but I couldn’t see kaa-san around. Tou-san sighed.
“Well, you don’t have to feel so worried about kaa-san, Ise. You’re her only beloved son, so even if it’s just a game, she still won’t budge. Kaa-san is simply too worried that she won’t be able to bear it, so it naturally doesn’t work out. Asia-chan is also like an important daughter to us, and she’s also going to participate in this competition. I don’t think your mother’s heart is prepared for this, especially if she had to watch it directly.”
“…Hmm, she did ask me quite a few times about the safety of the games at home. Although kaa-san didn’t object…I can understand from her reaction that she doesn’t feel happy about it.”
Rias had also told me
—Kaa-san is just an ordinary woman.
…She didn’t have the same mentality as people like us who had constantly trained in a supernatural world. She was just like an ordinary ‘mother’ who could be seen everywhere…. So, that was why she didn’t want to see her own children get hurt. …Even so, I still hoped that my parents would be able to see me fighting in the game…. Tou-san comforted my disappointment.
“Kaa-san will be watching the broadcast closely. So before long, she’ll make her way over here. Well, I’ll cheer for you on behalf of kaa-san as well today, so make sure you show me your cool side!”
“Of course, leave it to me! Although our opponents are strong, I’ll definitely let tou-san see me, Asia, and everyone act cool! Right, Asia!?”
I asked Asia, and Asia also raised her hand enthusiastically.
“That’s right! I’ll definitely let otou-san see a good show!”
Time flew by as we exchanged conversations like this as family members — and then it was finally time for the players to enter. We finished our preparations — Asia, Xenovia, Irina, Ravel, Rossweisse-san, Bina-shi, Bova and I, as well as our new members Nakiri and Elmenhilde. Elemnhilde seemed a little nervous.
“Although it’s your first match, I’m looking forward to your participation, and I’ll make sure to support you.”
As soon as she heard me say that, she nodded and mumbled with a slightly shaky voice
…I didn’t expect that this girl would feel so pressured because of the enthusiasm in the arena and the atmosphere of the tournament. Ravel said
“Come, it’s time. Let’s go.”
We left the waiting room and made our way into the arena. The lively cheers from the audience members in the stadium had already made its way to us. It had the indescribable effect of making us feel more tension. We had already experienced this kind of atmosphere quite a few times now…it no longer made us flinch, and it simply made us feel calm and optimistic about our own emotions. As we all walked through the corridor on our way to the ring, we encountered the [Trump Card of Heaven] team. We maintained a set distance from each other as we walked together through the corridor that led to the arena. At the entrance, we waited for the announcer to call our names, and at this time, Dulio said to me
“Ise-kun, there sure are a lot of [Oppai Dragon] fans in the stadium.”
Dulio cast his eyes across the stadium from the entrance. …The audience stands were filled with my merchandise and fans who supported me with banners. It seemed as though the enthusiasm of my fans would only intensify the more we won in the tournament. Dulio pointed to a corner of the audience stands. There was a flag showing support for the [Trump Card of Heaven] team there. There was also a group of children sitting in a row as they held up a horizontal banner.
“But, our fans have also come. They’re in a corner of the stadium, even though their numbers are somewhat few.”
Indeed, when compared to my fans, they were just like a droplet in an ocean…but Dulio was still highly satisfied.
“But, that is enough. …My fellow Angels have said to me that the voices of those children might be overshadowed by the cheers of Issei-kun’s fans — but I firmly believe that is impossible. If it was you, then what would you think, Ise-kun?”
“—Of course, even if there are only a few people, or even just one person, their support will reach my ears!”
I replied without any hesitation. Dulio revealed a pleased smile and then asked
“…Ise-kun, can I ask you something before the match?”
“Sure, what is it?”
Dulio looked at Asia who was a slight distance away from us and said
“If Asia-chan could live life as an ordinary sister, would she be happier than she is now? —Have you ever thought of that?”
“Of course I have. I’ve thought about it many times. I’ve also hated God of the Bible, Heaven and the Church before.”
I kept thinking about it over the past year. But, time cannot be rewound. Asia was working hard in her current life, while my comrades and I supported her so that she wouldn’t feel inconvenienced. Dulio continued to ask me
“On the other hand, Asia-chan’s present life — have you ever thought that her current life as a Devil is more difficult than it was when she was a human?”
“—I often think that it should be better, so I’m doing all that I can to keep Asia happy.”
This is all because I value Asia a lot. I want to protect her! Dulio looked towards the audience stands as he said to me
“Because of the imperfection of Sacred Gears, the lives of believers have been hurt—. But, precisely because this imperfection exists, that has made her current life possible…as an ordinary girl living in Japan and enjoying a school life. Is this the correct answer for Asia-chan due to the imperfection of the Sacred Gear system? It’s difficult to say whether Asia-chan’s current feelings are a correct answer to the inadequacies of the system. This also goes for Yuuto, Tosca-chan, Gya-kun, Valerie-san and the Sitri peerage. They experienced misfortune because of its incompleteness, but that passage of misfortune has led to their present lives…. But there are many children who are unable to reach beyond that distant sky, they are unable to obtain a new life for themselves.”
Somehow, I saw Dulio looking at his reincarnated Angel team, and I was able to imagine what kind of prize they were aiming for. This was something that Dulio had always cared about.
I wanted to give a response to what Dulio had just said, but he reached out with his hand and shook his head. …In the end, I couldn’t say what I had wanted to say.
“…Ise-kun, it’s fine as long as you become Asia-chan’s best answer. Because this is the answer that I, no, that we are looking for.”
Dulio extended his fist out to me.
“I will defeat you, Ise-kun. No, Sekiryuutei. We will defeat you.”
…I see, so that’s what Dulio’s goal is. He hoped that we wouldn’t hold back because of our concerns, he wanted to convey that so that everyone could do their best for their own aspirations. I responded to Dulio by thrusting my fist out to bump his.
“No, I’ll be the one to win. After all, no matter what dreams I have, and no matter what dreams you have, its courtesy for us to throw everything we have against each other on the battlefield, Dulio. …This is something that my comrades-in-arms have taught me.”
“It looks like it’ll be a wonderful match.”
We smiled at each other. From here on, we would be fighting against each other in the stadium, but this is one thing that you have to remember, Dulio. —If you come to seek help, I’m always willing to lend a helping hand, you know? Because we’re both friends and comrades. After I confirmed this in my mind, our battle against the [Trump Card of Heaven] team finally began.
Following the announcer’s instructions, we entered the ring one by one.
“Zoom zoom iyan—!”
The shouts of my fans could be heard from among the audience. Ah, I’m so grateful to you all. Because of your cheers, I feel even more motivated. Our two teams lined up in two rows in the centre of the ring. …The opposing team’s supervisor Rudiger-san wasn’t here. It was because supervisors were not actually allowed to enter the playing field. That was why he would have told the players about the battle plan and strategy before the start of the match, and he was currently waiting for them somewhere else. It was the announcer’s job to give an introduction and explanation before the match.
Ah, seriously!? Beelzebub-sama is actually sitting in the commentary box! I understand though, his hometown is in the Astaroth territory, and the stadium is also named after him, so the possibility of an invitation was high!
Beelzebub-sama succinctly replied. Even though he was currently the only Maou-sama, and he had so much work to do, he still accepted the invitation to come over. The announcer continued to introduce the next guest.
—What! The Pantsu Dragon King!? Just as the announcer said, an enormous golden dragon was sitting in the commentary box.
<<…I will only cheer for Asia-tan.>>
And that was actually how he replied…. I don’t know how to describe this situation. Why are you in such a place right after you just recovered!? Beelzebub-sama and the Pantsu Dragon King, what kind of combination is this!? The announcer nodded at Fafnir’s comment.
That idiot Fafnir, he tried to take Asia’s pantsu out at such a time! Aaaaaah, my Asia-chan is so embarrassed that she’s covering her face and shivering! How should I put this, is this a tactic to make one of my players feel nervous before the match!? The announcer sighed, and then continued with the explanation.
<<…B-By the way, Fafnir-san is Asia Argento-senshu’s familiar, so when necessary, he will respond to a summoning and be transported away from the commentary booth to appear on the field. Please understand this in advance, audience members!>>
—Don’t you have to explain that to us as well!? Why is that Pantsu Dragon King over there!? B-But, if Asia is in danger, then he’ll rush over…. By the way, the Rating Game World Tournament had limitations on the usage of familiars in the same way that the Rating Games did. As explained before, if there were no limitations on the usage of familiars, then it would become a competition in which both sides simply relied on their familiars. That was why there was a need to consider their usage.
The large screen in the stadium would show what the event of this match would be. Various types of event titles continuously spun around like a roulette wheel. —And then, it was finally decided. What appeared on the screen were — the Devil characters for [Rampage Ball].
As the announcer shouted, the entire venue began to grow even more excited. …This event would be tough. It would make the match even more unpredictable this time. Beside me, Ravel’s expression also seemed grim.
“…Of all things, it had to be this one…!”
Xenovia seemed to recall something about it and she asked Ravel
“This event, if I remember correctly, it’s something like a ball game, right?”
“Yes, that’s right, Xenovia-sama. This is a game in which we compete for a ball to score points.”
The announcer began to explain the rules of the event.
Chessboard-like signs could be seen across the spacious field, similar to how it was in [Object Break]. For example, if the goal appeared in the box C4, both teams would have to compete for the ball while they made their way towards that location to aim for the goal. The announcer continued
The highest points possible are from the [King] at ten points, and the [Queen] at nine points, so if we were to try scoring, it would be best done by me or Bina-shi, as this would net us the most points. …But, things wouldn’t be as simple as that. After all, our opponents were also aware of this, so while they obstructed us, they would also be looking for opportunities to allow Dulio to score. The announcer then said
Irina asked Ravel
“Is it possible to find out where the goal appears very quickly?”
“Yes, using a special device for the game, we can immediately know where the goal has appeared. We’ll have to compete for the ball while we race towards the goal area. The problem is…stamina management.”
Indeed, just as Ravel said, this was a game type that placed an emphasis on preserving energy. After all, within the time limit, we would have to constantly race towards the goal, and after scoring, we would have to race towards the next goal, and so on. To put it simply, it was a competition that involved constant running back and forth. It caused me to recall that Ravel and Rias had both told me in the past that patience was the most important factor in these kinds of games.
In this match, injuries would not result in retirement. Even if someone was defeated, they could soon return to the field. Stamina — until one’s endurance was worn down, players could continue to return to the game indefinitely. In other words, even if an opponent was defeated, that was not an absolute condition for victory. That was because no points were gained from defeating an opponent. Xenovia sighed
“…Since we can’t rely on damage for retirement, we’ll have to rely on stamina as the deciding factor huh.”
“In normal games, an injury will allow for retirement, or even incapacitation. But in this ball game, even if an opponent has been defeated, they can still return after a while. As long as their stamina is not exhausted for the game’s duration, then there is really no such thing as retirement.”
Nakiri gave a wry smile.
“…Fighting for the ball while running around the field within the time limit huh. So this is what I’ve got even though it’s my first battle.”
“This is why the most important thing is stamina management. Compared to the categories that simply involve defeating the opponent, this is a more difficult category. Even for players who have incredible strength, if they don’t possess good stamina and plan their energy usage, opponents can come from behind to win if they become exhausted; this has often happened in the professional Rating Games.”
…If a finishing technique was used at every opportunity in an attempt to decide the victor, and even if it was a direct hit, it would be very difficult for that to become the final decisive blow. Because this was a competition that was judged based on the scoring of a ball game—. After explaining the rules of the game, the announcer said
The venue rumbled as my team and Dulio’s team were enveloped by the light of transportation—.
The place that we were transported to was — an empty space that had absolutely nothing in it. …It was quite similar to the underground space that we used for training. We stood some distance away from each other as we began our preparations. I had already equipped my crimson armour. For confirmation, Ravel said
“This time, some of our members have changed their piece values. Bova-san who was originally a [Pawn] has now filled in the vacant [Rook] position, and our newly added members Nakiri-san and Elmenhilde-sama have taken up the [Pawn] positions.”
One of the [Rook] positions was originally vacant, so that was now allocated to Bova, while  of the eight [Pawn] pieces were allocated to Nakiri, and  were allocated to Elmenhilde. We had discussed it for quite a while and as a result of those discussions and in terms of the current situation, this was the best arrangement to make full use of the potential of all of our members. At this time, the referee’s voice echoed throughout the field. Although we couldn’t see them, the referee was looking at us from somewhere.
After saying that, a light shone brightly near us, and the operators sent us two identical watch-like devices. Ravel and I wore it on our wrists. After some fiddling with — a full projection of the field was displayed. The entire field had been divided into eight by eight regions. The goal would appear at random in any of these areas. If they appeared at any of the far ends…then we would have to expend a vast amount of energy to reach it. This was a rather terrifying and unpredictable game type. In a space that had absolutely nothing, anything could happen within this vastness. On the contrary, it was impossible to hide anything because there were no obstacles. There were advantages and disadvantages to this. The referee continued
A buzzer rang out across the field to mark the beginning. Ravel and I used the projection device to confirm — the first goal had appeared in E4! Right in the centre of the field. Our current location was D1. Dulio’s team was currently in E8. They were exactly opposite it. Our first destination was right in the centre, so it was a goal that would be taken by the first to race there!
“Everyone, the first one is in E4! Let’s go!”
As soon as I gave the order, all members rushed over towards E4! The ball would also appear next to the goal, so the first team to arrive had the advantage. Whether it was flying through the air or running at high-speed across the ground, everyone used their own method of movement to close in on the goal area. As for Asia who was not as good in terms of high-speed ground movement, she had summoned the fastest Evil Dragon of the four Evil Dragon brothers, and she rode on its back. Elmenhilde had transformed into a bat and she flew through the air. Along the way, Rossweisse-san said
“I’ll chant magic to improve everyone’s physical abilities!”
—She then cast the magic on us, causing our flying and running speeds to increase further. Hence, it was only a minute or so whilst flying until I saw a glittering gold hoop up ahead. That’s the goal! We’ll be able to score as long as we can get the ball into that ring! And the ball that we were after — was not far away from the goal. The golden ball floated in mid-air. So that’s the ball! It’s roughly the size of a basketball!
“Anyone will do! Get the ball and then throw it in!”
Everyone responded to me enthusiastically! Needless to say, I increased my speed to get closer to the ball as soon as I saw it. Just as we were about to reach it—. On the field which originally couldn’t have changes in weather conditions, rain clouds appeared! I immediately understood! It was Dulio’s Sacred Gear! Weather manipulation! He used his Sacred Gear to make these rain clouds! He planned to control the weather to hinder us! As expected, the rain clouds turned into thunderclouds, causing heavy rain to fall down onto the field accompanied by lightning strikes! The ice-cold drops of water rained down heavily on our bodies, instantly increasing the effort we had to make, and if rain continued to fall on us, our stamina would quickly be exhausted! Even dodging the lightning strikes would drain us of energy! However, we would also take damage if we were hit by it! My comrades dodged the bolts of lightning while moving underneath the falling rain, doing their best to rush towards the ball — but appearing in that place were Angels encased in bubbles! —Damn it! It’s Dulio’s ability! He had created a bubble for each team member so that they would be unaffected by the weather’s influence! He ensured that everyone on his team could invalidate the effects of his own ability! The first person to touch the ball was — Xenovia! As expected of my [Knight]! She held Durandal with one hand, and held the ball in her other hand. At that time, an Angel charged across towards her!
“Captainnnnnnn Angel! I’m coming, Xenovia!”
It was Uriel’s Ace who was dressed up like an American superhero — Nero!
“Nero huh, I won’t hand over the ball!”
“Nonsense, I will take it!”
Xenovia and Nero engaged in a fierce battle for the ball. After Nero snatched the ball away from Xenovia’s arms, Xenovia snatched it back! Xenovia swung Durandal and Nero dodged. Nero unleashed a fierce kick as Xenovia turned about and dodged. This offensive and defensive battle for the ball was heating up more than I had expected. The other Angels followed by closely and tried to pin us down. The person marking me was — Dulio. Whilst Dulio’s body was inside a bubble that rendered the weather ineffective, he laughed at me.
“It’s begun, Ise-kun.”
“Yeah, I won’t lose to you.”
Offense wasn’t absolute in this game, the most important thing was who held the ball.
Following my instructions, Xenovia — threw the ball to Bova who was closest! After Bova caught it, Nero instantly changed targets and rushed towards Bova!
Bova reflexively used his giant claws to swipe at Nero…. But Ravel shouted
“—! Bova-san, you can’t just attack Nero-san like that.”
Just as Ravel finished, Nero’s body emitted a green-white light after being pushed away by Bova! The aura enveloping his body also strengthened a bit.
“…Not a bad attack, dragon! But, thank you for your that!”
Nero seemed grateful for Bova’s attack. The reason for that was Nero’s Sacred Gear.
“…Nero’s Sacred Gear is [Sturdy Saint] . The more he’s attacked, the greater his defence will rise. So long as the wielder isn’t defeated, the effect will continue to work. In other words—”
The more Nero was attacked, the sturdier his defences became! Although it was a rather simple ability, the threat of that was beyond measure if it was used correctly against someone with higher physical abilities!
“This isn’t all I have! His Eminence Strada gave me—”
A holy aura gathered at Nero’s fist, and then he instantly thrust it towards Bova!
Bova took a direct hit from the aura of the holy fist, and the ball was loosened from the grip of his claws. After throwing a punch at Bova, Nero laughed loudly
“Hahaha! This [Captain Angel] is the owner of a steel body and a holy fist that has become the most powerful weapon!”
While Nero laughed, Nakiri quickly recovered the ball from the side, and then rushed towards the goal—.
It went in! Numbers appeared in the air above the field, and what was originally [0 – 0] had become [5 – 0]! —We had scored the first goal of the game!
The ball that had been used to score would be returned to the team that scored; so after Nakiri recovered the ball, the buzzer to indicate a resumption of play rang out and a battle for the ball began again. The next goal that appeared was displayed by the projection device, so we had to rush over to that area whilst we did everything we could to guard the ball. Like this, a hell-like endurance battle began—.
After we scored the first goal, both sides scrambled for the ball, passed the ball, scored goals and we continued to repeat this many times. The score was currently at [88 – 85], so we had a small lead…. Everyone’s breathing had become quite laboured. Even though less than half the time limit had gone by, running around across the vast field as we battled for the ball was certainly draining on our stamina. Dulio would also cause changes in the weather occasionally to exacerbate our side’s physical exertion. Even when it came to hydration, Dulio could allow his team members to drink rainwater, so there was no need for them to go to specific areas for replenishment. Dulio’s ability sure is convenient! In front of the new goal, Irina and Shinra Kiyotora-san competed for the ball. Irina wielded her holy sword while Kiyotora-san wielded a katana, both of them were sweating as they clashed with their swords to try and snatch the ball off each other. We had arrived into position so that we could receive the ball at any time while we continued to shorten the distance between ourselves…. However, the Angels’ movements seemed strange. Diethelm-san, Mirana-san, Nero and Dulio were in a certain formation…. Ravel noticed, and she alerted us of it. At that moment, Irina managed to grab hold of the ball and fly towards the goal—. Diethelm-san, Mirana-san, Nero and Dulio all cried out at the same time!
In an instant, a blinding flash of light was emitted from Diethelm-san, Mirana-san, Nero, Dulio and Irina! This was the special technique that reincarnated Angels could use! The announced yelled
Indeed, it was the opposing team that initiated the attack — but they had somehow included Irina in it as well. Irina was completely surprised by this. But it seemed as though Dulio knew that this would happen, so he used this characteristic of reincarnated Angels to increase his own physical abilities. He snatched the ball away from Irina with incredible speed, and then used that momentum to throw it into the goal!
The announcer called out. …We were also astonished. Irina…she was actually used by the other team because of her characteristic! Their odd formation was all so that they could successfully use this ability! Irina seemed quite shocked about it herself. She had actually assisted the other team. …[Five Card] was a combination that used a set of four identical cards values, with the fifth card being a Joker. It was a powerful combo. …It was still so hard to imagine that they were able to score like that so easily…. We were all surprised. At that time, the announcer asked Beelzebub-sama beside him
And then Dulio revealed a proud smile.
“Well, even if we’re on different teams, as long as thoughts involving a desire such as ‘I want to attack’ or ‘I want to protect’ can resonate, that will satisfy the conditions to activate the card combination.”
…So something like that was possible! On that topic, was that something they were aware of? Irina didn’t seem to be aware of it…. What’s was the difference? Who told them about that characteristic? I suddenly realised. —It was Rudiger Rosenkreutz. …Was this also one of his tactics…? He even knew the conditions for activation? …Damn it, we didn’t foresee this! The announcer asked Beelzebub-sama again
That was Beelzebub-sama’s judgement.
“…Using the characteristics of the card combinations, we did predict that something like this would happen, but I never imagined that the reincarnated Angels’ ability would be activated in such a manner…”
Ravel also seemed somewhat disappointed.
“…In that case, Irina’s movements will be restricted…!”
My words caused doubt to surface on Ravel’s face.
“Yes, she may become a seed that will be exploited by the reincarnated Angels’ ability. …It’s because the effect of this is tremendous. Irina-sama’s mentality has also been impacted by this.”
I looked at Irina. She seemed extremely affected by what had happened. Even her face had turned pale. …Irina was completely shaken. I moved closer to Irina and hugged her shoulders to encourage her.
“Ise-kun, I’m sorry. I-I…”
“Don’t worry about it…it goes without saying that the match is not over yet. Don’t be discouraged. Don’t be afraid, everyone is still with you! Of course, I’m also on your side!”
I smiled at Irina, allowing her to calm down. It wasn’t Irina’s fault. If we could help Irina more, then it may be preventable. …Moreover, it’ll be fine so long as all of us can overcome this together.
“Let’s win, Irina.”
Irina response seemed to be filled with energy again. I also felt a surge of passion within myself. …My breathing was only just starting to grow heavier. The score was [88 – 95], and we had finally been overtaken. The score had been reversed, but there was still half the time left in this game—.
(All 2 of 2 parts) (4/2)
 Kanji was Saint’s Trial.
Continues on to Upsetting Sorcerer.2