Here is my update. Just a warning. The Rating Game doesn't finish this chapter. I'm already at 20,000 words, and i still have 7 or eight thousand more left before the game ends. That is too long in my opinion. So here is a good portion of the battle. The next chapter will have the finish of the battle, as well as the party afterwards. Good news though, I've got quite a bit of the rest written. I'm aiming to have it out within a week. So no two or three week wait this time.
Alchemy: There were quite a bit of questions about this. So just a quick explanation. It is not the alchemy from FMA. Alchemy in this story is the creation and manipulation of magical items. It is mainly a support skill. Not a battle skill.
It was a different atmosphere than what Naruto expected. He had enough battle experience to be relaxed before a battle, but he hadn't expected everyone else to be so calm. They should be tense. Guess he underestimated them.
The entire Occult Research Club was gathered in the clubroom. It was approximately 11:50 at night. The Rating Game was going to start as soon as midnight arrived. The club had gone to school that day, but had skipped doing anything afterwards. Couldn't risk tiring themselves. Instead everyone had been released to do whatever they wanted to in order to relax. They had just met here twenty minutes before. Everyone was doing their own thing by this point.
Yuuto was checking a demonic blade he had created, looking for any imperfections. Naruto wasn't quite sure why, since he could simply create as many as he wanted. Probably just a swordsman thing, a calming ritual. The knight of their group had also put on some basic light armor pieces over the academy uniform. Mainly gauntlets on his hands and some greaves on his shins. Not enough to slow him down, but enough to possibly offer some vital protection.
Koneko was for once not eating some sweet snack. She was instead reading a book. On her hands were martial art gloves with pink cat prints on them. Otherwise she was wearing the academy uniform.
Rias and Akeno were the two that appeared the calmest. Both were elegantly sipping tea, not showing even a single sign of worry. They were both wearing their academy uniforms.
Raynare looked impatient more than anything. With the knowledge that death was practically impossible in a Rating Game, she seemed to be eagerly looking forward to being to engage in a real battle with no real danger. Raynare had chosen to go in the academy uniform. While not totally satisfied with using it as a battle outfit, she didn't have much choice. Apparently she no longer found her previous battle attire from when she was a fallen angel a good choice. Seems she had regained at least a sense of what was too sensual for proper use in a battle.
Asia was without a doubt the most nervous, but Naruto had managed to calm her down by summoning Kareha. The former nun had greatly bonded with the fairy over the training trip, and the two were talking together now. Asia had surprisingly chosen to wear her nun attire. She wasn't wearing the veil, but the golden cross from Selene was around her neck.
Naruto wasn't nervous, but he was similar to Raynare in being impatient for the game to start. Waiting just sucked, not to mention it was plain boring. He was wearing his workout clothes. Orange sleeveless shirt, white cargo pants, modified shinobi sandals, and a white cloth around his forehead to hold back his hair. He really had to cut it. It was starting to get a bit too long. He was also wearing the orange and white armored gloves Rias had gotten him.
With five minutes to go, the magic circle in the room lit up. Grayfia quickly appeared. Eyes taking in the room quickly, she asked, "Five minutes until the start of the game. Are you all ready?"
Everyone nodded and stood up. Rias was the one to say, "Yes. We are."
Grayfia quickly started to explain, "When the time comes for the battle to begin, you'll be teleported to the battlefield through this magic circle. The battlefield will be in a separate dimension specifically for this battle. It will be disposed of afterwards. So there is no need to hold back."
They all nodded. Rias had prepped them with this information over the training period. There were types of Rating Games that have added rules like 'do not destroy the environment' or things like that, but they didn't have to worry about that this time. Those types of matches are exclusive to official matches. Unofficial matches like this one were kept simple. Complex rules might end up favoring one team or another. Expected in pro matches, but likely to be viewed as unfair in matches between two houses to solve household issues.
"Members of both houses will be watching live from a separate location. A number of invited guests will also be watching. After it is done, the recording shall be made available public," Grayfia informed them blankly, although they all picked up the subtle warning in her words.
This was an unofficial match, so it won't be receiving much attention. It will still be available though. Anyone wanting to research the peerage of the Gremory heiress will end up watching their performance here. If they put on an unsightly or underwhelming performance, it will affect Rias and the entire Gremory Clan's reputation. The reverse was true as well though. Perform well here, and people will take note. Grayfia was a servant of the Gremory Clan, so she wants to emphasize the political consequences this match could have.
"Maou Lucifer-sama will also be viewing this battle. Please do not forget that."
That wasn't new information. As Rias' brother and a former member of the Gremory Clan, it is only natural he watches. It still made the atmosphere a bit more intense for the group. Lucifer wass the leader of the Four Great Satans. The head honcho of all devils, if you will. His opinion could very easily influence their futures as devils, and you know what they say. 'You only get one chance to make a good first impression.'
"You need not worry, Grayfia," Rias declared before claiming confidently, "I shall put on a performance that shall not shame the name of Gremory, nor Onii-sama."
Grayfia kept a tight lid on her emotions, just nodding and announcing, "Good. The match is about to start. Everyone stand on the magic circle. Once you arrive, you shall not be able to teleport by magic circle."
That last point was only natural. It would be ridiculous if pawns could just teleport into the enemy base to promote. So the only methods of travel during a Rating Game is by foot and by flying. Well there are a number of other ways, but those only work under rare circumstances.
Everyone moved quickly. They stood in the circle, trying not to fidget. Finally the circle lit up. It changed into a form neither that of the Gremory or Phenex, likely one used specifically for Rating Games.
They were engulfed in light as the circle activated, teleporting them to the field.
Nothing changed, besides Grayfia disappearing. It was the exact same clubroom. Nothing out of place. Then-
[Greetings, everybody. I am Grayfia, a maid of the Gremory Clan. I shall be the arbiter of today's Rating Game between the House of Gremory and the House of Phenex. I shall judge this match today fairly in the name of my master, Sirzechs Lucifer.]
So Grayfia is the arbiter, huh.
[After consulting the opinions of both Riser-sama and Rias-sama, we have decided the location of the match to be Kuoh Academy. It is the school that Rias-sama attends in the human world.]
Naruto now understood. This was just a replica. He also let out a satisfied grin at the choice of battleground. Rias had put this as her first choice when asked for her desires. They had discussed and created a number of plans for this battlefield.
Sort of surprising they chose it though. Riser must have said something like, 'I don't care. Just let Rias choose. It won't make any difference.' All these handicaps will almost ruin the satisfaction of defeating him…Almost. It will still be fantastic to show up the arrogant prick.
[Each team have been teleported directly to their base. Rias-sama's base will be the old school building. Riser-sama's base will be the new school building. For a pawn to promote, they must step into the opposing team's base. Otherwise all standard Rating Game rules apply.]
[Now it is time for the commencement of the game. This game shall continue for six hours, unless one team is defeated before that point. With that…Game starts now.]
With Grayfia's voice over the intercom ceasing, the Gremory group moved to Rias' large desk. Rias unrolled a large map as they all gathered around. It was a map of Kuoh Academy, with the landmarks split into a blocky, grid system. A chess board.
"We couldn't have asked for a better battlefield. It is definitely in our favor," Rias exclaimed with a happy grin. Pointing at the map, she continued, "So we'll need to use it to the fullest. Rating Games revolve greatly around the proper use of the battlefield."
Circling the old school building and the new school building with a red pen, Rias quickly started, "These are predictably the two bases. The main divide between the two territories is the outer line of the forest. The forest surrounds the old school building, covering a good portion of the battlefield. This could be considered our half, although the shape isn't like half of a chess board. Surrounding the new school building is a great deal of open space. That can be considered Riser's territory. As soon as we leave the forest, we can expect to start facing opposition. There are three main avenues to go from our territory into Riser's. The school yard, the gymnasium, and the sport's field."
Everyone nodded in understanding. The school yard covered the majority of the school grounds. It was basically open space that the students used to move between different buildings. The gymnasium was connected to the new school building by a covered walkway. The back entrance of the gymnasium was barely twenty meters from the edge of the forest. Finally the sport's field. It was basically the sports area of the school. It composed of a joint track and soccer field, a baseball field, and a tennis court. It leads right next to the new school building, with the other end being right by part of the forest that snakes up towards into the top right corner of the school grounds.
Yuuto pointed to the school yard and pointed out, "The school yard is large and open. Basically no cover, and the windows of the new school building face it. We'd be completely exposed, and they could easily watch it."
Naruto pitched in here by stating, "The sports yard is safer because it is to the side of the new school building. No windows face it."
"Riser will realize that though. He'll position a number of pieces there to guard his flank. A knight's mobility will be better suited for the open space there than the power of a rook. So at least one knight will be there. Two or three other pieces as well. It's a standard, but solid move," Rias mused out loud, looking at the map.
"The final option would be the gymnasium," Akeno announced before elaborating seriously, "It's back entrance is close to the forest line, and it connects directly to the new school building. It is the natural connecting point of our two territories. Riser is sure to send a force there as well. The power of a rook will be better suited for the indoor space. Three or four pawns for support as well."
Everyone once again nodded. They all knew this already. They'd put a lot of time into examining this battlefield during the training trip. They were repeated all this just to get the basics of this field down pat.
"So we all remember the plan, right?" Rias asked the entire group. Once everyone nodded, she looked at each person as she gave orders, "Yuuto and Koneko. Summon your familiars and place magical traps throughout the forest. Keep the objective in mind. Make a map as well. I'll copy it and pass it to everyone so we need not worry about triggering them ourselves. Raynare, you place the barrier around the building. Akeno, summon a mist over the forest. Naruto, make a clone to do you know what. Asia and the real Naruto will stay here for now."
Everyone nodded and moved to follow her orders. Naruto created a clone, which immediately opened the window to jump out. Akeno followed after it. Yuuto, Koneko, and Raynare just used the door to leave conventionally.
The trio that remained took seats on the couches. Naruto then lifted a hand, summoning both Kareha and Chikyu. They both faced him as he asked, "You both know what you need to do, right?"
Those were their respective replies. Naruto nodded and removed his armored gloves. Placing them on the table, Naruto sat back and watched as Chikyu started flying over them in circles. Kareha perched on his shoulder.
Asia followed by summoning Raito. The baby sprite dragon quickly cuddled up to the nun, who returned the affection. Rias just watched calmly, waiting.
"I've placed the barrier, Buchou," Raynare announced a minute later over the magical transceivers they had all placed in their ears.
"Good. You can come back in and wait with us," Rias said in reply. She then asked, "Akeno, progress?"
"I've summoned the mist, but it needs to be thicker. Five more minutes," Akeno explained.
"Got it. Yuuto? Koneko?"
"On schedule. Fifteen minutes, probably," Yuuto answered back.
"Good. Take your time, and make sure there are no noticeable gaps," Rias cautioned.
After that all they did was wait. Raynare entered in a minute, and Akeno five minutes later. They waited till Yuuto and Koneko both arrived, and then waited even further. It wasn't till twenty minutes later that Naruto perked up as memories popped into his head.
He quickly announced, "Everything is in order, and Riser has sent his force to the gymnasium."
Rias nodded with a smile and said to everyone present, "Everything is going according to plan then. We'll wait for our opening move to finish. We'll then move out."
They all nodded and waited.
"What is she planning?" Sona muttered as she watched the screens in front of her with scrutinizing eyes.
Sona was sitting in the student council room with her queen, Tsubaki. They had been given permission to watch the match live. Sona would be showing this to her peerage afterwards.
She had to admit to being confused right now. Screens had shown both groups planning. Rias had sent several servants to do basic tasks, but they had returned and proceeded to do nothing. Riser had sent a force to guard the sports field, and designated another group to take the gymnasium once Rias' servants entered. They'd sat waiting for over half an hour though. No servants of Rias' entered the gymnasium. Riser had finally ordered the group to take it anyway, not willing to wait for Rias to move.
"It seems Rias-sama has decided to take a defensive and reactionary approach," Tsubaki commented, her eyes watching the screens as intently as Sona was.
Sona just shook her head in response before retorting, "No. Rias doesn't have the manpower to defend her base. She has to go on the offense. She's definitely made the first move. We just haven't noticed yet."
Tsubaki didn't refute her king's thoughts, instead focusing on a blank screen and pointing out, "It must be that clone of Uzumaki-san then. It is the only aspect unaccounted for."
Sona nodded in agreement. It was almost eerie. Those broadcasting the match use magic to survey every participant at every point so that spectators can watch everything. This is accomplished by marking them with a magical signal when teleporting them to the battlefield. The clone of Naruto seemed to lack this signal, as it was just a copy. This meant they couldn't watch what the clone was doing.
It definitely put a different flavor into this match. Spectators are used to being able to see everything that is going on. To have something hidden from even them is a unique experience. It was keeping them guessing.
Now they just have to wait.
The Naruto clone grinned as he watched the small group through the windows. He recognized them as a rook and three pawns. Not as much as they hoped, but still an acceptable catch. They were walking through the covered walkway towards the gymnasium. It took them an annoying amount of time to move on their own. They were obviously waiting for Rias to make a similar move.
Please. The clone was easily able to sneak into the gymnasium without being seen. He is a ninja. The Transparent Escape Technique made it too easy. He then snuck out as well. Right now he was perched in a tree nearby.
He had accomplished his task, and now he just needed to pull the trigger.
"In almost every battlefield used for Rating Games, there is a center point. A point where the two halves of the field meet. Just like the center of the chess match. And just like in chess, the one who controls the center of the chess board has the advantage in positioning. They are able to cross into enemy territory easier by using this route. It is typically the area where the two sides first clash," Rias explained to the group.
"Because it is essential?" Naruto asked with a tilted head.
"It isn't essential. It is very useful to hold though, so both sides almost always make a play for it," Rias answered.
"If it isn't essential, then how about we use it for a different purpose then positioning," Naruto suggested with a grin. Leaning forward, he clarified, "The first thing we need to focus on is minimizing Riser's numbers advantage. We need to take some of them out. If Riser is almost certain to make a play for the center of the board, I say we use that."
"You mean use it as bait for a trap," Rias said knowingly.
"You guessed?" Naruto asked while blinking in surprise.
"That was a tactic I was similarly contemplating. We send a small force to distract the force sent by Riser. We can then have Akeno charge up an attack to finish them after our members retreat," Rias explained thoughtfully.
"No, that doesn't work," Naruto immediately claimed. Rias gave him a surprised look, so he explained, "That would be too taxing on our own members. The real issues with their numbers is that it will be tiring to fight them all. Your plan would involved several of us fighting them for a brief time, and then Akeno using a large attack. That would take away some of our stamina. We can't have that. Every little bit counts. We need to deal them casualties without tiring ourselves out."
"That sounds nice, but it isn't applicable. They won't go down without a fight. An attack to finish them in one shot would require time, and they would sense the large buildup of demonic power. That would only work if we distracted them with a fight," Rias argued.
Naruto just smirked as he asked, "And what if I told you I could make a trap that happens with no warning, and would require almost no energy."
Rias gave him a cautious look, but eventually matched his smirk as she replied, "I'd say I'm listening."
Leaning forward, Naruto announced, "You remember me telling you about fuinjutsu-"
As soon as the group entered the main gymnasium, the clone put his hands together in a hand seal. He then declared with a victorious grin, "Boom, baby!"
And like that, the gymnasium exploded.
The clone was buffeted by the shockwaves, but didn't lose his smile. It just waited calmly until-
[Riser-sama's rook and three pawns, retired.]
The clone gave a victory fist pump. It was a tiny bit worried it hadn't placed enough explosive tags. That gym was big. A lot of open space for the explosion to diffuse. The rook especially could potentially survive if the explosion wasn't large enough.
So it had gone very heavy on the explosive tags. It had used almost the entire supply the original had managed to make during the training trip. It was a shame that there weren't enough leftovers for a second such trap, but it was an acceptable loss. A tactic was never as effective the second time. The surprise was gone now. The chance of a second such trap working was low.
So they'd have to accept Riser losing four pieces with no loss on their side.
Its duty completed, the clone poofed away.
"What just happened?" Tsubaki demanded as she straightened.
"Rias' first move," Sona answered calmly. Or at least the appearance of calm. Her mind was also racing from the inexplicable destruction of the gymnasium.
It wasn't that the gym was destroyed that was shocking. Any Wizard-type of Rias or Akeno's level could manage such a feat given enough time to build up the amount of demonic power necessary. That's just it though. There wasn't any buildup of power here. There was no sign of a large spell being used. It was just…boom.
Only an ultimate-class devil could use such a powerful spell so quickly. Even a high class devil would need time to gather enough power. There are no devils of that strength among Rias' peerage though. That leaves only…
"It seems Uzumaki-san is at work," Sona commented seriously. She quickly continued, "Many of his pranks have been similarly mysterious and incomprehensible. His skill set is still unknown for the most part."
Tsubaki nodded in understanding. Looking back at the screen of the smoking gymnasium, she remarked seriously, "This was a very good move for Rias-sama, but this mean Riser-sama will-"
"Riser will have to get serious now," Sona finished. Sitting back, she stated grimly, "Riser must be similarly confused by this event. He'll definitely warn his remaining peerage to look for traps. It's unlikely anymore of them will be caught unawares like that. Riser was and probably still is confident in his victory, but he's no fool. He now knows Rias has some tricks up her sleeve."
"Let's see just how many tricks she has," Tsuabki suggested calmly.
"I agree. This match has already gotten more interesting," Sona claimed with a small smile.
Every member of the Occult Club heard the explosion. They all stood up and started getting ready. They only paused briefly when-
[Riser-sama's rook and three pawns, retired.]
Rias gave a satisfied smile as she announced, "Step one is a success. Moving on to step two."
Naruto nodded and unsealed two scrolls. He then unrolled them on the table, showing they were filled to the brim with complicated fuinjutsu. Placing a hand on each, he released a pulse of chakra into the seals. The writing on the scrolls immediately responded, crawling onto his skin. After five seconds, his hands were covered in the symbols.
Pulling his hands back with a smile, Naruto turned to Chikyu and asked, "You done with those gauntlets?"
"Yeah. They should hold for…maybe two hours," Chikyu replied.
"Good enough," Naruto claimed with a shrug. Grabbing the armored gloves, he slipped them on to hide the seals on his hands. With them on, he turned to Chikyu and ordered, "Now make sure to follow Akeno-senpai discreetly. Don't let the enemy see you until your objective is about to be used."
"I know, I know," Chikyu replied flippantly, moving to rest on Akeno's shoulder.
Naruto then looked at Kareha and said, "You stay with Asia, Kareha-chan."
Kareha just nodded and flew over to Asia. Asia welcomed the fairy before looking at the dragon in her arms and saying, "Raito-kun, stay with Buchou-san." The dragon reluctantly followed the order.
Rias then clapped her hands and announced, "Alright. Naruto-kun, you move out first. Akeno, you go as well. I shall work on Raynare, and then the rest of will head out as well."
Naruto nodded and jumped out the window. Landing in a tree, he quickly started tree hopping. His speed was great enough that he reached the edge of the sports field within minutes. He jumped into open without a hint of fear. He didn't move further. There were no doubt several of Riser's servants hiding around here. Didn't want them reveal themselves prematurely.
Taking a deep breath, Naruto then yelled out loud enough for Riser to no doubt hear him, "Yo, Yakitori-teme! I'm out in the sport's field. I told you I'm going to fry your ass up to serve yakitori at our victory party, didn't I? Well, I'm here to deliver. I'm going to burn your chicken ass to serve roast phoenix. I know your ass is too chicken to come out here directly though, so send out whoever you want. I'll take out your whole peerage if I have to, but I'll eventually reach you. I'll then turn you into yakitori. So bring it!"
The silence that followed seemed to convey the disbelief Riser's entire peerage was no doubt feeling. For Naruto to insult a high-class devil so openly is brazen to the point it can almost be considered insane. It's…stupid.
Naruto didn't care though. He made his intentions known, and now he just needed to wait for their reaction. Sitting on the ground, Naruto got comfortable to wait for a while. His head turned slightly as he saw a figure flying across the school yard. Akeno.
Akeno gave a smile as she approached the new school building. They hadn't tried to attack yet, so they obviously weren't sure how to take the bold move. Flying across the open school yard was completely audacious. Not to mention foolish.
Coming to a stop, Akeno's hand started sparking. She then called out, "Oh, Bomb Queen-" She then threw her hand forward, launching a bolt of lightning into one of the windows. The empty room exploded from the attack. "Come on out. I really want to play."
Her smile turning sadistic, Akeno fully entered her S-mode. She then sent another attack to blow up another classroom, laughing gleefully at the destruction.
"I'm not so sure about that, Naruto-kun?" Rias claimed in a worried tone before continuing, "The queen is the most powerful piece. Tying them up in a difficult battle at the beginning is a waste. I was hoping to use Akeno to take care of a few of their pieces first?"
"Think about it, Rias. All the footage we've watched of Riser's Rating Games shows he relies on her heavily. She's an opportunistic striker. Any unaware and open opponent is attacked. She's too much of a powerful opponent to let wander around like that. As it is only you, Akeno, and I stand a chance of defeating her. That means if she runs into anyone else, that person could quickly be eliminated," Naruto argued.
"He has a point," Yuuto admitted before elaborating, "You want Akeno to take out some of Riser's pieces first, but Riser will have the same opportunity if you do that. The Bomb Queen might take out one or two of us."
"And losing one or two people will hurt us much more than it does Riser," Raynare added.
"…I agree with them, Buchou," Akeno suddenly declared.
"You too, Akeno?" Rias asked.
"Ufufufu. They make sense, Buchou. Riser relies on her heavily. If we tie her up early, it could mess with his overall strategy," Akeno pointed out calmly.
"…Fine," Rias said in defeat.
Akeno let off three more attacks before the last one was nullified by an explosion. Akeno's smile widened as she turned to see her opponent flying from the roof of the new school building. Seems she finally answered.
Yubelluna, the Bomb Queen. She was a beautiful woman with purple hair and eyes. She was wearing a purple gown that exposed a great deal of her bountiful cleavage. Over that was a white cape-like garment. In her hand she was holding a fancy staff.
"You are bold, Priestess of Thunder," Yubelluna remarked as she approached Akeno. She then added more harshly, "Too bold."
"Ufufufu, I'm so sorry. I was just so excited to have a battle with you," Akeno claimed. She then let out a shiver as she added lustfully, "I'm shivering just from the thought of hearing your pained cries."
Yubelluna remained calm despite the comment, instead saying with a smile, "I admit I was hoping to fight you as well, Priestess of Thunder."
"Then we're both happy," Akeno said as sparks started flying off her arms. Launching an attack, she called out, "Let's see who is happy at the end."
"Unusual tactics," Tsubaki commented with a frown. "A direct challenge in an open area, and a clash of queens."
"The battle of queens is a good idea for Rias. Tying up the more powerful opponents to focus on the weaker ones first is a risky, but potentially rewarding tactic," Sona noted slowly. Looking at the screen where Naruto was sitting down…while eating a snack, she added, "Uzumaki-san calling out Riser must be a trap. There's no other explanation."
"Riser won't walk into such an obvious setup," Tsubaki muttered.
"He has no choice," Sona claimed before explaining, "Naruto insulted him and challenged him directly. Riser's pride and overall reputation demands that he answer in some form."
"So instead he has to try and react in a way with the least chance of damaging his peerage," Tsubaki remarked.
"Yes, that is the only option," Sona admitted. After several moments of thought, Sona muttered softly, "A two pronged attack. With the destruction of the gymnasium, there are only two avenues to reaching the new school building. Through the school yard, and through the sports field. The two queens are battling over the school yard, and Uzumaki-san is planning to battle right in the middle of the sports yard. The two ways are blocked by battles this way. What is the point? And where is the rest of Rias' peerage?"
"Finally," Naruto grunted out as he saw three figures walking onto the field from the trees closer to the new school building. He stood up and started approaching them. He also took a bite from his snack…He had gotten hungry waiting.
He quickly observed the three as they approached. The one walking in front Naruto recognized as a knight. She had brown hair that was partially obscured by the bandages she wrapped around her head, and green eyes. Her main feature was the armor she was wearing. It was light armor, but still more than what Yuuto had put on for the battle. She had a longsword on her left hip, and a shortsword behind her hip.
The next one to draw Naruto's attention was the one he recognized as a rook. She had short brown hair with several red streaks in it. Her left eye was gray, but her right eye and part of her face was covered by a silver mask. Her outfit was a black jacket that left her midsection exposed, and jeans with one leg cut off. The jacket was open in front, displaying part of her large breasts.
The final one was Riser's other knight. She was a wild looking woman with her dark blue hair in multiple thin ponytails. She was wearing a tight shirt that had a diamond cut out to reveal her cleavage, and she was wearing tight red shorts. Her shins were covered by armor greaves. On her back was a very large sword.
Two knights and a rook. An expected response. They know this is a trap. So they sent a very strong group. Plus, if it was another explosive trap these three would have a decent enough chance to escape. The two knights by using their speeds to run, and the rook to endure it with her defense.
Too bad it is a different kind of trap this time.
"Yo. So you guys finally worked up the courage to come here," Naruto said flippantly, still eating his snack.
"We have come to answer your challenge to Riser-sama," the rook declared. However any other words were cut off when she saw what Naruto was eating. She then choked out, "A-Are you e-eating…yakitori?"
"Yeah. Well, you guys kept me waiting so long I got hungry," Naruto replied casually. Taking another bite, he moaned in exaggerated happiness. Holding one of the sticks of yakitori out, he continued, "You guys want some? It's really good. Unfortunately, I don't have enough for everyone. That's not an issue though, as I'll be barbequing Riser's ass in a little bit. So eat as much as you want."
"Are you serious?! Are you trying to insult Riser-sama?" the knight in front demanded in an affronted voice.
Naruto just stared at her with blank eyes for several moments, the two with her looking at her in the same way.
"I didn't realize I was being subtle about it," Naruto commented frankly. Shrugging, he added, "Well I hate to be unclear. I'm an upfront kind of guy, you know. So I guess I can kick it up three or four notches. Just to make it completely clear," He then took a deep breath, no doubt to yell even more insulting things at Riser.
He was cut off by the rook, who declared as she swiped her hands through the air, "Enough with this nonsense. This is a battle."
"I guess you're right," Naruto admitted reluctantly although he muttered, "I was really looking forward to some of the insults I had cooking up here. Too bad. Maybe another time."
His eyes suddenly turning serious, Naruto unsealed four kunai from his wrists. The three opposite him tensed. Naruto didn't go at them though. Instead he lobbed two of the kunai over their heads. The two kunai flew in a arc before sticking into the ground behind them quite a distance from each other. Naruto then threw the last two behind him. Someone looking from above would notice the kunai had fallen in a way to form a square.
"Ninpou: Four Pronged Sealed Barrier," Naruto called out as he made a hand seal. The four fuinjutsu tags that had been tied to the ends of the kunai lit up. Four orange walls immediately sprang up between the kunai, forming a square boxing the group in.
"It's a trap," the more naïve knight exclaimed in shock.
"No kidding," Naruto remarked sarcastically. He then shrugged as he said, "At least this one doesn't explode. You are just locked in here with yours truly. This barrier won't fall until I'm defeated." Naruto desperately hoped they didn't notice the barrier didn't have a roof. They could just fly out, not that Naruto would just allow them to do that.
"This appears to be a situation that favors us more than you," the rook pointed out calmly.
Naruto just gave a mischievous grin as he replied easily, "You'd think that, wouldn't you."
The rook frowned at his relaxed response, but couldn't comment before the naïve knight drew her sword and declared, "Alright then. I usually prefer one on one combat, but I seem to have little choice. At least we shall engage in honorable, direct combat here. No tricks. I am Karlamine, knight of Riser Phenex. And you, rook of Rias Gremory?"
Taken aback a bit by the proper and honorable manner of the knight. So she's one of those knights that actually considers herself a knight. Code of Honor and all that.
Shrugging, Naruto gave a bow towards her as he returned, "My name is Uzumaki Naruto. Pleased to meet you, Karlamine-san."
Nodding happily, she remarked, "Good. At least you know how to behave honorably, Uzumaki-dono."
The rook sighed but added in, "My name is Isabella."
Naruto looked at the final knight, waiting for her to do an introduction. All she did was give him a harsh glare. Seems she wasn't going to be forthcoming.
Karlamine quickly pitched in by claiming, "Her name is Siris." That earned her a glare from the woman, but Karlamine ignored it.
"I actually like you, Karlamine-san," Naruto stated with a smile. "So I'll give you a little warning. I'd say…four minutes. If you can't finish me in four minutes, you'll all lose."
"I see. I do not completely understand, but I shall take heed of your generous warning all the same," Karlamine claimed, giving a serious nod.
"Four minutes. That sounds like a boast, but even if you are serious. We have you outnumbered. Do you believe you can last four minutes against us?" Isabella asked as she got into a basic martial art stance.
"Mmmm. Two knights and a rook. Limited space. It would certainly be a challenge," Naruto mused aloud, not even getting into a ready stance.
Grinning in satisfaction at his words, Isabella took that as her cue to dash forward. Karlamine and Siris quickly followed. Isabella came at Naruto straight on, leading the way. Both Karlamine and Siris circled around to flank him the same time as Isabella hit him from the front.
Naruto gave a fierce grin, not caught off guard by the assault at all. Quickly crossing his fingers, he created two shadow clones quickly. The two clones shot off from his sides, clashing with the surprised knights coming at his flanks. The actual Naruto shot forward to meet with Isabella. The enemy rook reared a hand back before shooting it forward in a powerful punch. Naruto waited till the last moment before twisting out of the way. Jumping in the air, his body turned horizontal. The punch missed his arm by inches.
"Got you," Naruto yelled. As he spun in the air, he held his right arm out. Energy coalesced in his palm, forming a swirling maelstrom of power. Once the spinning ball was fully formed, he thrust his arm forward. Combined with the rotation of his spin, the ball of energy connected with Isabella's back before she could hope to dodge. He then declared victoriously, "Rasengan!"
It all happened in a second. Isabella's attack, Naruto's close dodge, and Naruto's counterattack. Not even a second after it started, Isabella was slammed into the ground with horrific force. Not to mention the grinding sphere of energy digging into her back. The impact was enough to throw dust into the air, obscuring her form.
Landing on his feet, Naruto straightened with a satisfied grin on his face. He turned towards where Siris and Karlamine were facing off with his clones. Just as-
[Riser-sama's rook, retired.]
Karlamine immediately exclaimed with shock, "I-Isabella was…"
The shock was understandable. Rooks were meant to be the tanks on the battlefield. They were meant to take punishment and keep going. Their durability made them one of the most troublesome pieces. For a rook to be defeated in one shot completely contradicts their purpose. It just wasn't meant to happen.
Too bad Isabella was facing the wrong person. The main aspect of Naruto's training during the past ten days revolved around increasing his chakra reserves. He'd exhaust his chakra doing the tree walking or water walking exercises. When he ran out, he'd meditate to regenerate chakra while Kareha would use her dust to restore a bit as well. Or Rias would share her energy with him. He'd then do it over again. Rinse and repeat all day everyday.
This method had forced Naruto's chakra coils to expand at a rapid rate. It was actually painful how much they were forced to grow. For seven days they'd done this. Naruto then took a day to rest his chakra coils. It was also during that day of rest that Naruto created the explosive tags used to destroy the gymnasium, along with a few other seals. The final day of training revolved around Naruto redoing the steps to learning the Rasengan. He wanted his finishing move back, damn it!
It had certainly paid off here.
Naruto snapped his fingers, and his clones poofed away. He then looked at the two knights as he claimed, "I can however use my unique techniques and the element of surprise to take out one of you before the battle even begins. Stalling two knights for four minutes…now that is something I can do."
The two knights got into stances, and Naruto grinned as he prepared for the fight.
"These traps are getting annoying," one of Raiser's pawns grumbled as a block of demonic power shot from her hand to destroy the ninth trap in the last two minutes.
There were three pawns in the group. Two of them were dressed in maid outfits, while the third was dressed in what appeared to be a dancer's outfit. They were the infiltration group. While the rest of their master's peerage played defensively and occupied their opponent's attention, they were to sneak behind their lines, reach the enemy base, and promote.
"No kidding. These are the kind of traps you expect from beginners. Do they seriously expect traps like these to protect them," the dancer commented derisively.
"The fog is getting thicker though," one of the maids pointed out cautiously.
"You need not worry. The fog isn't for you," a new voice called out.
The three tensed in response. The voice was from nearby, but the fog prevented them from seeing the speaker. After no attack came, they relaxed slightly. The dancer motioned for the other two to follow her. The three then slowly walked deeper into the clearing, wary of any surprise attacks. The fog lessened as they moved, allowing them to see better.
They had reached the enemy base. The white old school building was looming up before them. If they stepped foot in there, they could promote.
Only there was an obstacle. Certainly not someone they expected. That crimson hair made it obvious though. The person in front of them was the Gremory heiress, the enemy king.
Seeing their shock, Rias waved at them with a smile as she claimed, "Good to see you finally arrived. The traps were created to lead you straight here."
The three tensed at that, their eyes looking around for any signs of traps being present here. They found nothing. Relaxing slightly, they looked at Rias critically.
Stepping forward, the dancer asked with a raised eyebrow, "Seems pretty stupid. It doesn't appear as if any of your peerage is here. This is an opportunity for us to eliminate you."
Rias just gave a confident smile as she replied casually, "You act as if three pawns are enough to defeat me."
That caused the three to frown. Especially because it was true. She was a high-class devil. To defeat her, they have to promote.
"Plus, I'm not alone."
"Riser usually sends a small infiltration team of pawns. It serves two purposes. The first is obvious. If this team does successfully reach our base, they can promote. However, it also forces us to leave several of our members behind to guard our base. That will lower our offensive capability," Rias explained after they finished watching yet another of Riser's previous Rating Games.
"These three pawns seems to be his preference for that role. They seem to rely heavily on promotion. They lack much ability otherwise. As long as we can force them into a direct battle before they promote, myself, Koneko, or Raynare-san could probably take them out," Yuuto reasoned.
"That's what I was thinking," Rias claimed before continuing, "I think Yuuto would be the best option. His speed would allow him to finish them quickly, and then allow him to move to the frontlines quickly. We use traps to lure them to an area of our choice, and trap them in a barrier with Yuuto."
"We need Yuuto at the frontlines," Naruto immediately argued. "We're basically doing a blitz. We put them on their back foot with my explosive note trap, and then don't give them time to regain any momentum. That means we need everyone we can get when we start the assault. If we want to eliminate Riser's entire peerage before facing him, we need Yuuto with us. Otherwise we don't have the manpower to prevent them from retreating to reinforce Riser later."
"So you suggest letting these pawns promote just so we can take out every other enemy? That totally shortsighted," Raynare stated scathingly.
"That isn't what I mean," Naruto claimed while rolling his eyes.
"Then what is it you mean, Naruto-kun? We need someone to defeat the infiltration group," Rias asked with a small frown, not understanding what he is working towards.
"Yeah, we need someone to take care of them. It is convenient then that we will have someone with high power basically sitting in our base, right?" Naruto pointed out with a grin.
It took a second for Rias to catch on. Eyes widening, she asked in shock, "You mean me? You want me to take care of the infiltration team?"
"Why not?" Naruto replied with a shrug before explaining, "You were going to be in the base anyways. How about we have the traps lead to the base? We can have someone place a barrier over the base itself, and you can meet them in front. You are plenty strong enough to handle them. This way they are taken out, and everyone else can be used on the frontlines. To me it seems the best option."
"Rias is the king though," Akeno quickly pitched in before clarifying, "Kings aren't suppose to move. It is meant to be a battle of servants. Kings usually only move after most of their peerage have been defeated. That's one reason Riser uses his peerage to wear down opponents before engaging himself. To move before most of his servants have been defeated would be considered reckless and premature. Sometimes there are battles between kings, but that is rare. The idea of a king battling three pawns when she still has servants available is…weird. It would be demeaning her position as a king and high-class devil. To do so would lower Rias' estimation as a king in the eyes of many top devils."
Naruto thought about that for a minute before declaring bluntly, "Sounds stupid to me. Rias-chan is plenty strong herself. I don't see why she would need to hide behind her servants. I guess I'm not in the best position to understand though."
Turning to Rias, Naruto told her seriously, "It is up to you, Rias-chan. I still think that you defeating the three would be the best strategic option. I'm not clear with all this political stuff though. I'm sure you are. So it's up to you. We could have Yuuto do it instead, but that could very well mess up the timing with the next step. You are the king. Your decision."
Rias leaned back in her chair with a sigh. Using each hand to massage her temples, she considered the options. Naruto was right. Rias taking care of the infiltration team is the best option strategically, since she'd be sitting in the base doing nothing anyways. She really hadn't even considered that option before though. Akeno was right in stating that it is expected for most kings to hang back. There are a number of rare kings who lead from the front, but those are typically the rare reincarnated devils who gained the rank necessary to create their own peerages. Kings like Rias, who received that right by birth and bloodline, are judged by the ability of their servants. She had been planning on challenging Riser directly, but that is a whole different issue. Battles between kings are rare, but generally accepted. For Rias to participate in the battles between servants would almost be considered slumming. Which to choose? The option most likely to lead to her victory or the one that would preserve her reputation?
With a groan, she announced, "I'll take them out. We need to focus on winning this battle above all else. I can repair any damage to my reputation in future Rating Games."
Naruto grinned at the choice and exclaimed, "Great. So now we just need to decide who is going to set up the barrier around school."
"Plus, I think I have a way for Rias-chan to not face the pawns alone."
The three pawns had no warning before the dancer let out a cry of pain, electricity running through her body. The two other pawns looked towards her in concern, but didn't have time to help her. Rias had acted as soon as her opponent's had been distracted. Throwing a hand forward, she launched a large ball of her Power of Destruction at the trio. With not enough time to rescue their compatriot, the two maids were forced to jump away from the incoming attack.
Which left the poor paralyzed dancer helpless before it. The large red ball of demonic power collided with her. She didn't even have enough time to scream or even fall to the ground before she disappeared in light particles. The Power of Destruction lived up to its name by forcing her to retire so quickly.
[Riser-sama's pawn, retired.]
Rias ignored the two shocked maids and called out, "Good job, Raito-kun. Perfect timing."
The baby sprite dragon flew out from a tree that had been positioned behind the three pawns. Flying over to Rias, he perched on her shoulder. He then let out a high pitched 'roar' of victory.
"A dragon?!" one of the maids exclaimed in shock.
"Yep," Rias replied easily. Rubbing Raito's head, she continued, "Raito-kun is still too young to take you out himself, but he is some very good support. By positioning him beforehand and distracting you myself, I gave him a perfect chance to stun one of you."
Naruto had suggested using Raito as a bit of support. Raito doesn't have the speed or power to fight a devil by himself yet, but that doesn't mean he isn't useful. As long as Rias guards him, he can provide some support fire. His lightning is strong enough to stun a typical low-class devil. More than enough time for Rias to finish them off.
The use of familiars is restricted in Rating Games, especially powerful familiars. It is only natural when one thinks about it. Rating Games are meant to be a battle between servants. If servants have the option to sit back and instead send powerful familiars to fight for them, it will become a battle between familiars.
It is for this reason that mainly only handy familiars are used in Rating Games. Once Raito is fully grown, it will be exceedingly difficult to have him participate in a match. Not to say it is impossible, but there would be restrictions that make it more difficult. Since he is currently still a baby though, there aren't any restriction. Now it is just a matter of finding ways to appropriately put him to use.
Besides the support Raito can provide Rias, there is another benefit to using him now. Dragons have always been respected and feared. Having Raito participate in this match is a way of announcing that Rias or one of her servants managed to turn a dragon into her familiar. That is a powerful statement. Hopefully most of the devils watching will be impressed enough to overlook her fighting these pawns.
Rias launched another blast of her Power of Destruction at one of the remaining pawns, Raito shooting lightning at the other. Both the pawns managed to narrowly avoid the attacks. It was close though.
"Crap! Marion, we need to promote!"
The two immediately set off running as fast as they could, frequently dodging attacks. Circling around Rias, they were clearly trying to bypass her to reach the old school building. Once they step inside, they could promote. As pawns they were hopelessly outmatched, but as queens they might stand a chance.
Rias didn't seem worried by their idea though, and it quickly became clear why. A good ten meters from the old school building, a purple barrier sprung up to halt them. The barrier Rias had Raynare set.
"Marion, you take the barrier down. I'll buy you time," one of the maids claimed as she turned to face Rias. Holding her hands out, multiple red magic circled formed in front of her. They formed a clear shield between Rias and the two of them.
Rias still didn't seem worried though. She just watched calmly. The pawn thought it was insane, but then her companion behind her whispered, "T-This is…"
"What is it?" she barked back harshly.
"This isn't a demonic barrier."
Rias just smiled at their shock, commenting casually, "Riser and you all have a great deal more experience than my group, considering your experience in Rating Games. We realized something though. That only applies to experience dealing with devils. Riser hates the human world. So you all have likely never fought a fallen angel. My group is a whole different story. I even have a former fallen angel in my peerage. I decided to use that to my advantage. I had Raynare put that barrier up to protect our base. Considering your lack of experience dealing with the fallen angel system of magic and spells, it will take quite a long time for you to bring it down. More than enough time for me to deal with you."
Growling, the two pawns realized promotion was out of the picture. They would need time to break down a fallen angel type barrier. Something the enemy king obviously wouldn't be giving them. There was no choice but to fight Rias.
"Don't underestimate us," the two yelled out in unison. Moving to stand side by side, magic circles formed in front of them as they called upon what demonic power they had available. They then launched it as a wave in unison towards Rias.
Rias responded by firing a wave of her own demonic power. Her attack easily managed to negate their combined attack. It even continued on, heading towards them. They didn't stay still to take it. Moving in perfect unison, they split up by jumping to each side. They then circled around Rias before each darting in towards Rias. They were going to flank Rias from each side. Their hands started glowing as they focused their demonic power.
"Naïve," Rias declared, putting a hand to each side. In an instant, she managed to shoot a blast of destructive power from each hand. The pawns tried to dodge, but their current momentum and Rias' fast action made it impossible. Both took direct shots of Rias' Power of Destruction.
Just like their compatriot, they didn't even have time to scream or hit the ground before they disappeared into light.
[Riser-sama's two pawns, retired.]
Rias smiled in satisfaction at her victory. The level of those three made her victory certain, but it was still nice. It was even easier than expected.
Turning to Raito, she said, "Good job, Raito-kun. Your job is done. You can leave now."
Raito gave a little nod before disappearing in a magic circle. With the base now secure, it was time for Rias to perform her next task. Rias quickly dug in her pocket. She pulled out a slip of paper which was inscribed with seals.
She needed to hurry. She needed to find her target quickly.
Currently a group of four was watching from the tree line as Naruto trapped his three opponents in his seal barrier. "It appears we were correct on this being a trap."
"Yes, Ravel-sama. Not that there was much doubt. Such a bold challenge would only be made as bait for a trap," another replied stoically.
The first speaker was a small girl with dark blue eyes and long blonde hair done up in large, drill-like curls. She was wearing a pink dress with white frills that looked like something a princess would wear. She was Ravel Phenex, the younger sister of Riser.
The second was a girl of average height. She truly fit the bill of a Yamato Nadeshiko with her traditional Japanese looks. She was even wearing a fancy kimono. She was a bishop.
The two behind them were twins, although their color schemes seemed reversed. One had blue hair and red eyes, while the other had red hair and blue eyes. Both were wearing modified schoolgirl outfits. The main modification being the tops, which only covered their shoulders down to their nipples. Their stomachs and under part of their breasts were bare. The two also had leopard or cat ears on their heads. Both were pawns.
The bishop quickly suggested, "I'm sure I can bring the barrier down if I attack from the outside. All barriers have a certain level of power they can take. If I surpass it, it should come down."
"No need to put in that much effort," Ravel claimed calmly. Pointing with a hand, she added, "I saw those tags tied to the end of those knives light up when he erected the barrier. They must be some sort of catalyst or stabilizing component of the barrier. They are vulnerable from the outside. We just need to remove them, and I'm sure the barrier will come down."
"Of course, Ravel-sama. We can then reinforce those three to defeat this uncouth rook quickly," the bishop stated.
"Yes. He'll stand no chance after that. We'll show him the folly of insulting Onii-sama and the House of Phenex," Ravel announced, obviously not pleased with said insults.
From behind the two, Ni and Ri waiting patiently. They were simple soldier types. They didn't bother trying to participate in the strategy discussion. They let others handle that, and just followed orders.
It was their lack of participation that made them the first to realize something was wrong. A simple direction change of the breeze brought a new scent to their noses. They were beast girls, after all. They have much more sensitive noses than the average person. So they quickly detected the traces of cat and…sugar on the breeze.
Acting by instinct, both tried to turn and dart away. They were just a second too late though. They both found a small, but strong hand latched on to each of their heads. They were helpless then as their heads were brought together with dreadful force. Their heads gave a crack as they connected. The impact was enough to crack their skulls, knocking them unconscious in the process.
The crack of the two heads colliding was what alerted the other two. Both spun around to see Ni and Ri fall limply to the ground. They also saw the culprit. The small form of Koneko was standing between the two.
[Riser-sama's two pawns, retired.]
The bishop immediately raised a hand, wind swirling around her hand. Before she could launch the attack though, Ravel sensed something. She sensed someone appear ten meters from them, as if from air. They weren't there, and then they were. No warning or previous sign. She also sensed the person heading straight for the bishop.
Yuuto appeared at the bishop's flank. His sword already in the middle of a stroke that would cut open her side. The bishop had no chance to dodge.
Ravel managed to interfere in time though. Jumping forward, she managed to shove the bishop out of the way. Instead of carving into the bishop, Yuuto's sword sliced through a good half of Ravel's waist.
And Ravel didn't even blink. As soon as the cut appeared, flames started licking at it. The unique regeneration of the Phenex Clan made the cut irrelevant, healing it entirely within three seconds.
The bishop was briefly left exposed after the surprise shove of Ravel. An opening Koneko attempted to take advantage of. It was Ravel's quick action that once again saved the bishop. Throwing both her hands out, one for each opponent, two separate streams of fire were launched. Yuuto jumped out of the way, but Koneko tried to dodge in a way that didn't put her off course with the bishop. Leaning out of the way, the rook flinched as she felt the intense heat of the flames burn her right shoulder. Stumbling slightly, she tried to press on and land a punch on the bishop. That stumble proved all the difference though. The bishop had recovered. Wind swirling around her fist, she launched it at Koneko when the small rook was just feet away. Koneko couldn't dodge out of the way in time, and took the magical attack straight to the chest. It had enough power to send her flying. It was only after Koneko collided with a tree that her impromptu flight ended. Cracking it in half, Koneko ended up going down with it as it fell to the ground.
"Koneko-chan," Yuuto called out urgently. Making sure to watch his opponents, Yuuto moved towards the wreckage resulting from Koneko's crash. After searching helplessly for several seconds, he spotted some of the debris being lifted. He looked in relief as Koneko stood up. He quickly asked, "Are you okay, Koneko-chan?"
Koneko nodded, but Yuuto easily caught her flinch. Her uniform near her right shoulder was burned off completely. The skin also had a burn on it. Noticing another flinch, Yuuto also realized she probably had bruised or cracked ribs. Koneko just took a magical blast from close range to the chest. Even a rook can't shrug something like that off.
"I underestimated your group. You realized we would have a backup squad for the group that went to confront the crass blonde, and prepared an ambush for us. I'm impressed," Ravel stated calmly, seemingly unruffled by the failed ambush. "I am curious on how you snuck up on us though. Your demonic power was perfectly hidden right up until you attacked."
Yuuto gave a polite smile as he replied, "Sorry, but we aren't quite ready to give up that secret quite yet."
"Disappointing, but it doesn't matter," Ravel claimed with a small sigh.
Yuuto's mind was already racing. This was not the plan. Koneko managed to remove the two pawns, but Yuuto failed to eliminate the bishop. That seriously complicated things. They had been aiming to take out everyone in this group besides Ravel before they even had a chance to recover and mount a defense. This was suppose to be an ambush, not an all out fight. Yuuto had failed to defeat the bishop though, and Koneko has already sustained an injury. Things had very quickly taken a turn for the worst.
They needed to eliminate that bishop.
"Okay. Naruto-kun's challenge should draw most of Riser's attention. His pride will demand it. No to mention the clear trap. I'm guessing he'll use all his remaining pieces to deal with Naruto-kun," Rias explained to the group.
Naruto rubbed the back of his head as he reluctantly admitted, "I know I'm good, but I'm not so sure I could handle that many pieces. Three or four would probably be my limit, depending on what pieces they are. Even just stalling a large group would be a challenge."
"Riser will be cautious. He won't send them all out in one group," Rias claimed thoughtfully.
"Especially with the explosive trap we plan to open with. He won't risk losing all his pieces like that," Akeno quickly added.
"So what will he do?" Naruto questioned. They were relying on Naruto's unpredictable tactics quite a bit, but Naruto wasn't all knowing. Rias was far more likely to be able to predict what Riser will do.
Rias thought for several moments before stating slowly, "If it was me, I would split the group. I would choose a small group to set off the obvious trap, confronting Naruto in this case. The rest would then stay back to provide support if needed."
"Somewhat simple, but still solid," Akeno commented with a nod.
"Okay. A smaller group I can successfully stall, but that just means we need to take out or distract the backup group," Naruto pointed out.
"It seems Yuuto and Koneko will be stepping up," Akeno said with a smile.
Those were the respective replies of the two. Raynare quickly pitched in by stating, "Not to burst your bubble, but will they be sufficient? You said Riser will be using all his remaining pieces. That means these two will probably be outnumbered. Maybe I should accompany them?"
"You will already be doing something else," Naruto quickly replied. After a second though, he continued, "You do have a point though. Yuuto and Koneko-chan are tough, but they'll probably be outnumbered."
"There is also the issue of Ravel Phenex," Yuuto added. He quickly elaborated to the group, "From what we've seen, Ravel doesn't fight. Instead she acts as a sort of…field commander while Riser stays at their base. Considering she doesn't fight personally, I doubt she'll be in the group that confronts Naruto. So that means she'll be in the backup group. How would we handle her?"
Rias nodded in understanding and carefully said, "Ravel hasn't ever personally fought in any of Riser's matches, but I doubt she'll sit by if it looks like Riser is going to lose. She also has the same immortality as Riser."
"An ambush then," Naruto suggested. Naruto preferred direct combat, but some ninja tactics stuck with him. If facing a numerically superior force, use an ambush to take them by surprise. "Yuuto and Koneko-chan sneak up on them, and take them out before they even know what is going on. Afterwards they flee. Ravel will still be active, but with the other pieces defeated she'll probably retreat to make a stand with Riser."
"That sounds like a good option, but I'm not sure if I could manage that. Koneko-chan has some stealth skills, but I'm not exactly…sneaky," Yuuto remarked hesitantly.
"Don't worry. I think I got something in mind. It won't be perfect, but it should allow you to get close," Naruto declared with a grin.
"We'll go with that then," Rias stated simply. Turning to look at Yuuto and Koneko, Rias ordered seriously, "Take them out as quickly as you can. Leave only Ravel active. Eliminate everyone else."
Yuuto hadn't managed to complete his objective. Koneko and him couldn't retreat till that other bishop was taken out. When it comes time to defeat Riser and Ravel, they couldn't allow anymore of the enemy to be there to interfere. Defeating not one, but two immortal opponents would be difficult enough without a bishop being there chucking magical attacks at them.
"Koneko-chan. Can you fight?" Yuuto asked as he eyed Ravel and the bishop.
"Yes, Yuuto-senpai," Koneko claimed as she straightened, fighting the pain she was feeling. Yuuto nodded in acceptance of her words and drew his sword, pointing it at the bishop.
The bishop stepped forward, announcing, "I'll take care of these two, Ravel-sama. You have already been forced to do more than enough."
She was going to face them alone? From what they'd seen, this bishop was one of the stronger pieces in Riser's peerage. Not to the point that Yuuto felt he couldn't defeat her in one on one combat though. With Koneko on his side, Yuuto was sure they could finish her.
Ravel apparently came to the same conclusion, as she gave a exaggerated sigh before stepping forward and declaring, "Unfortunately, it appears Onii-sama has greatly underestimated the Gremory Group. We've lost all the pawns, and all of the remaining pieces are tied up in battles. It appears I must step forward to help sort this situation out. Mihae, I shall aid you in this battle."
"Ravel-sama?" The bishop asked in surprise.
Holding a hand up, Ravel created a tightly packed ball of fire. Looking at Yuuto and Koneko, she informed them dispassionately, "Come. I shall teach you the true terror of the word 'immortal.'"
Yuuto inwardly cursed as he got into a ready stance. Yep, things had really taken a turn for the worst. Ravel's participation had completely changed this battle. Now it wasn't a battle just to eliminate that bishop, Mihae, but to survive.
Raynare felt like cursing as she walked slowly across the school yard. She couldn't help her eyes flicking upwards to watch as the two queens battled in the air. Fire and lightning attacks were constantly clashing, nullifying each other. The delighted laughter of Akeno was also clear. Raynare felt completely vulnerable walking underneath the battle of those two monsters. A stray attack could end her before she could react.
She had no choice though. She had to keep walking. She had to reach the enemy base to promote.
One might wonder how Raynare is walking underneath the battle of queens. Walking right through the wide open school yard. All common sense would dictate she'd be noticed within seconds. Thankfully it wasn't so simple.
They had quickly come to the decision that having Raynare promote was essential to their victory. That was easier said than done, but they had come up with a good plan. Rias had spent the training trip learning a type of transparency illusion. It would allow her to turn anyone invisible. Naruto had also developed a seal that would suppress one's energy signature. When used in unison, a person couldn't be seen or sensed. A perfect camouflage.
Okay, not perfect. The illusion would fail if a person moved too fast. The seal to suppress one's energy signature also had a rather bad side effect. When it was active, the person couldn't use their energy for anything. Right now the most Raynare could do was fly, which would ruin the illusion currently placed on her. So Raynare was basically defenseless right now. A single ill placed magical attack from the queens above could eliminate her.
She didn't have much of a choice though. This was the best way to enter the enemy base and promote. After all, who would expect a pawn to walk across an open field that had two queens battling? It was the whole 'hiding in plain sight' concept. Maybe not plain sight since Raynare is currently hidden, but the concept is still there.
Raynare felt a sense of relief when she finally entered the enemy base. Coming to a stop, she mentally invoked, 'Promotion: Bishop.' She immediately felt her suppressed reserves bolster from the action.
Giving a victorious nod, she immediately turned and left the building. Better not to tempt fate by staying near Riser for too long. Plus, she had somewhere else to be. Mentally cursing at once again being forced to walk underneath the battling queens, Raynare allowed herself to speed up slightly. It didn't matter as much now if the enemy noticed the illusion failing, since Raynare was heading away from the enemy base.
Raynare quickly set course for her objective. The sports field.
Naruto leaned back to avoid Karlamine's sword. The rapid influx of announcements over Riser's defeated pawns had clearly removed any reservations of the two knights he was fighting. Karlamine was now emitting flames along the length of her sword, and Siris had wind wrapping around the length of her very large blade.
Siris quickly came in and tried to take off Naruto's head with her massive blade, but Naruto quickly jumped over her attack. Karlamine tried to attack Naruto in the air, but he crossed his fingers to create a clone in front of him. Placing his feet on the clones back, Naruto used its back as a springboard. Naruto managed to gain some air while the clone was sent toward Karlamine. The knight had to abort her attack to destroy the clone.
Naruto didn't get much of a break though, as Siris jumped to meet him. This time Naruto blocked her blade with his hands. The intense momentum of the large blade combined with Naruto's position in midair resulted in Naruto being sent flying towards the ground. Legs bending as they were forced to absorb the impact, Naruto immediately turned his body to dodge as Siris tried to bisect him vertically. Damn, this knight was totally vicious. If that hit, Naruto doubted the retiring system would be sufficient for saving Naruto's life. You can't heal a split brain.
Buffeted by the shockwaves of wind from the attack, Naruto still moved to hit her while she was open. Karlamine was there before he could though, sending a barrage of sword strikes at him. Naruto was forced to use his armored gloves to block. Half a dozen strikes in a second were blocked.
Seeing Siris preparing to move, Naruto jumped back to gain a bit of distance. Karlamine didn't try to engage him immediately, instead taking the opportunity to regain her breath. The last minute had been nonstop action. Happy for the small break himself, Naruto took the time to review what he had learned of his two opponents.
Karlamine was definitely the more difficult opponent. Siris might have more lethality from that giant blade she was swinging around, but Karlamine was far faster and more skilled with a blade. Siris' power type sword style didn't mesh so well with the speed of a knight. She had a tendency to go for over exaggerated sword strokes that left her open for counterattacks. She's only still active because Karlamine is preventing Naruto from counterattacking. Karlamine seems relatively equal to Yuuto when it comes to pure swordsmanship and speed. Possibly better in skill as Yuuto relies quite a bit on his demonic blades.
Naruto hadn't expected Karlamine to be so good. While the Gremory group had researched Riser's peerage extensively, it hadn't helped much in regards to Karlamine. The knight was a relatively new member of Riser's peerage. Riser had 'traded' for her just over six months ago. She's only participated in two of his Rating Games. One was one of the two matches Riser threw, and the other only had Karlamine quickly defeat two pawns and a knight. They had been quick victories. Showing she was good, but not giving an accurate assessment of her skills. She was clearly showing now though that Riser hadn't chosen her for nothing.
Naruto needed to separate them. Karlamine would be a difficult opponent, but Naruto was certain he could defeat her. He would need to be able to concentrate on her though. Siris was the easier target, which meant he should eliminate her first. That way he can concentrate solely on Karlamine.
Naruto darted forward. Karlamine charged forward to meet him. Naruto deflected her overhead strike with his hand. Karlamine immediately tensed to dodge a counterattack, but Naruto didn't try and attack her. Instead he bypassed her entirely. Karlamine spun to try and chase him, but only found herself defending against a clone again. With Karlamine occupied, Naruto had a clear shot at his real target. Siris.
The other knight didn't back down. He could give her that. She just tried to decapitate Naruto with a horizontal attack. Naruto easily ducked to make it pass over his head. The strike sent a shockwave that threw dust into the air behind Naruto, the work of the wind flowing along her sword. Naruto thought it was inferior to cutting type wind, but to each their own. Naruto quickly sidestepped when Siris flowed into an overhand strike. The blade dug deeply into the ground, and Naruto quickly placed a foot on it to keep it there. Pulling a fist back, Naruto sent a punch to her face. She leaned dangerously far back to dodge. Naruto grinned as he used his other hand to swipe at her wrists. The unexpected attack forced her to let go of her sword, leaving her in the precarious state of leaning far backwards with no handhold to keep her up. Naruto only hastened her fall backwards by dropping into a crouch and spinning to kick her legs out from under her. Her back hit the ground, and Naruto did a move similar to break dancing to allow him to aim an axe kick at her face. Siris managed to roll out of the way, Naruto's heel digging into the ground instead. The knight jumped to her feet and desperately moved towards her sword. Grabbing the hilt, she lifted it and turned to face Naruto.
Naruto had already prepped his next attack. Rushing through three hand seals, Naruto cocked a fist back. Wind swirled around his fist. Naruto let the attack loose as he called out, "Fuuton: Senpuuken."
Siris tried to block with her sword, but it didn't make much difference. Naruto's raw strength sent her flying backwards, and the wind technique released a whirlwind from Naruto's fist as well. The whirlwind kept drilling into her blade, increasing the speed by which she was flying backwards. It was only after her back collided harshly with the barrier that she came to a stop. She slid down the barrier slowly, stunned by the violent impact.
Naruto didn't get to finish her as the memory of his clone entered his mind. Turning, Naruto was forced to defend as Karlamine attacked him. Both hands were occupied blocking her rapid strikes. All that sparring with Yuuto was coming in handy here. Naruto knew how to minimize his movements to deal with opponents far faster than him.
Karlamine was forced to accept a frontal attack wouldn't work. Striking out at Naruto's legs to put him off balance, she then used her speed to circle around to Naruto's back. Naruto predicted her intent, and didn't bother trying to turn to face her. She had too much of a speed advantage. Instead he bent his legs and took a great leap. Karlamine's strike that had meant to cleave open his back hit open air as Naruto back flipped over her.
Naruto actually sent her a grin in midair, seeing her shocked expression perfectly. She clearly hadn't expected such an acrobatic maneuver. Naruto may prefer to deflect attacks instead of jumping all over the place, but he can be nimble when he wants to be.
Capitalizing on her shock, Naruto concentrated wind chakra around his hands. No hand seals were used. Speed was needed here, not power. As soon as his feet hit the ground, Naruto clapped his hands together before thrusting them towards Karlamine's back. "Fuuton: Repuushou."
The simple C-ranked wind technique wasn't nearly powerful enough to truly hurt Karlamine. It was however fast enough to hit before she could turn around, and it had enough force to send her rolling forward. A simple move to buy some time.
By the time Karlamine regained her feet and turned around, Naruto had ran through five hand seals. Taking a deep breath, Naruto called out, "Fuuton: Renkuudan."
Naruto then shot out half a dozen balls of compressed air at the knight. Karlamine reacted instantly. Zigzagging, she used her great speed to dodge between the attacks. She even demonstrated the uselessness of the technique by slicing clean through the last one with her blade. The missed attacks hit the ground, exploding to leave small holes in the ground.
Reaching Naruto, Karlamine took a weird stance where her center of balance was greatly lowered. She then discarded her cutting attacks in favor of thrusts. All of which were aimed at Naruto's legs. Naruto was quickly put off balance at the attack, Yuuto having never done such a thing. Seems Karlamine knows some unusual methods of attacks. This seems to be a modified form of fencing. The low area of attack made it difficult for Naruto to deflect the thrusts with his hands.
Quickly gaining two cuts on his legs, Naruto realized he had to break away. Tensing his legs, Naruto jumped over her with a flip. Unfortunately, the maneuver failed this time to position Naruto at her back as Karlamine spun right away with a fancy flourish of her sword.
Naruto immediately felt a small pain on his chest when he landed. Looking down, he was shocked to see a long cut across his chest. It was shallow, but there was also a light burn around it. The entire front of his shirt was cut open. Naruto lifted his head to look at Karlamine seriously. She had managed to cut him in midair with that flourish. She had predicted he would jump to avoid escape that assault. She had managed to adjust to the knowledge of his acrobatic side so quickly. That's some honest to god talent there.
Naruto's shock and slight admiration was used against him. It was only when he spotted a descending shadow that he became aware of an impending attack. Spinning, Naruto saw Siris had recovered and was descending with one of those powerful overhead strikes. Too late to dodge, Naruto had to lift his hands and block the attack. The large blade was forcefully stopped when it came into contact with Naruto's armored gloves.
Siris was obviously astonished at the block, and Karlamine even exclaimed in shock, "He stopped Siris' sword?!"
Naruto grinned a bit smugly at that. The special aspect of Chikyu's dust was that it could greatly enhance the durability of any object it was used on. If Naruto learned alchemy he could make the effect permanent, but he isn't quite there yet. Right now it was only temporary. Chikyu had applied it before in the clubroom. Right now Naruto's gloves were practically indestructible. With his rook strength backing it up he could stop even Siris' large blade.
Karlamine moved as soon as she got over her shock, attempting to take advantage of his position. Naruto swayed to narrowly avoid the thrust that was suppose to hit his chest, and removed one hand from Siri's blade. Grabbing Karlamine's sword, Naruto used chakra to firmly grip it. He ignored the flames running along it entirely. With both the enemy blades in his hands, Naruto spun. Using his rook strength to drag the swords with him, the two knights were given the option to let go of their blades or be dragged along. Both chose to hold on to their blades. So with that Naruto used his spin to lift both of them into the air and throw them away. Neither landed elegantly, expected given the way they were thrown. They did manage to avoid skewering themselves on their own swords though, and were on their feet before Naruto could act.
Naruto took several deep breaths as he watched his opponents. He simply couldn't finish them. They were covering each other too well. He wished he could use his strength to break the ground up. Doing so would ruin the flatness of the field they were fighting on, messing with their footing and lowering their speed. Unfortunately, the ground here was soft and loamy. Any strike of Naruto would simply sink that limb into the ground, not cause the earthquake type result he would need.
Fine then. Brute force tactics it is.
Crossing his fingers, Naruto created seven clones around him. That was the most he could make right now. Sending four at Siris, Naruto joined the group of three to attack Karlamine.
The two knights were surprised by the large numbers. Siris immediately fled from the clones chasing her, unwilling to face four opponents at once. Karlamine stood firm, and even managed to dispel one of the clones. She couldn't keep it up though, and failed to dodge a punch from one of the clones. She instead had to block with her sword, and the blade broke before Naruto's strength. It was enough to prevent the punch from landing though, and she quickly retreated.
Throwing away the broken sword with a tsk, she pulled out the short sword that was behind her hip. She then declared, "I am a member from the House of Phenex that rules over wind and fire. Taste it! The wind of fire."
Her blade immediately lit up with flames. She had been doing the same previously, but this time it was to a far greater level. The fire was actually lengthening the short sword, and Naruto could feel the heat. She was using wind to enhance the fire.
Karlamine jumped forward, swinging her blade at Naruto and his clones. Naruto was shocked when the fire extended from her blade, basically throwing a wave of fire at the group. Naruto and the clones scattered, but one dispelled from being too close to the heat. Karlamine didn't let up, attacking furiously. Each strike released a blade of flames that dispelled the clones from the intense heat. Naruto was forced to replace himself with one of the clones chasing Siris to avoid getting a blast of flames to the face. Karlamine immediately moved to attack the clones chasing Siris. Siris quickly fell in to support her fellow knight in eliminating the clones.
Naruto had no choice but to disengage. Damn, he hadn't expected a knight to have such good control over fire and wind. It was no doubt quite taxing for Karlamine energy-wise, but it was still an unexpected skill. Not just good with a sword, but also good with utilizing her demonic power. Naruto would still place Yuuto as stronger than her due to his sacred gear, but Karlamine was clearly ahead of Yuuto in pure skill. Karlamine could probably be considered a hidden ace of Riser's peerage. She might lack the raw power of Riser, Ravel, and Yubelluna, but her pure skill wasn't to be underestimated.
With the last of his clones dispelled, the two knights turned to the remaining Naruto. Karlamine was panting heavily, proving Naruto's belief that this 'wind of fire' technique was draining for her. It reassured Naruto that in a stamina battle, he would end up victorious. No question.
Catching sight of something, Naruto straightened. Relaxing, Naruto shot his opponents a grin and exclaimed, "This was fun, Karlamine-san. I'd like to spar with you in the future, but this is the end today."
"What do you mean?" Karlamine demanded.
"The four minutes is up," Naruto informed her simply. Smiling, Naruto pointed up.
Karlamine and Siris looked into the air, gaping at what they saw. Raynare was hovering above the area they were battling in. All around her were spears of light. Dozens of them. With a hand gesture, the spears of light rained down upon the group.
There was nowhere for Karlamine and Siris to run. The barrier Naruto had set up left them trapped. They were even cut off from what space was available to maneuver by Naruto creating clones to hem them in. A limited space and dozens of light spears. The end result was obvious.
Both were punctured multiple times. They weren't serious wounds. Raynare had favored numbers over size and intensity. The light would ensure even small wounds were sufficient to retire them.
"I lose," Karlamine admitted simply, her voice pained. That was her last words before she disappeared in light.
[Riser-sama's two knights, retired.]
Naruto formed a hand seal to let the barrier drop with a sigh of relief. He then waited for Raynare to alight next to him before commenting, "You were late. That was probably closer to six minutes."
"Shut up. You weren't the one that had to walk under two battling queens while helpless. Plus, I arrived in time to save your ass," Raynare immediately fired back.
"Save my ass? Please. I was just fine," Naruto immediately claimed indignantly.
"If you were just fine, then why didn't you manage to finish them?" Raynare demanded.
"In case you forgot, it was planned that way. I stall them while saving energy, and you come in for the finish," Naruto pointed out.
That was the crux of this trap. Naruto would trap his opponents in a barrier, and stall them. Raynare would meanwhile sneak into the enemy base to promote before coming to reinforce Naruto. A wide scale attack on the trapped opponents would then finish them off.
This was done to save Naruto energy. Naruto could have defeated those two, but it wouldn't have been easy. They need to save as much energy as possibly in case things degenerated into a stamina battle against Riser. Naruto had used little ninjutsu during that battle on purpose. The only technique he used repeatedly was the shadow clone technique. Now while the shadow clone technique requires a lot of chakra to effectively use, it doesn't actually drain much chakra. The user gets all the chakra of the clone back after it dispels. If the clones are limited to taijutsu, the user basically gets all the chakra he put into it back. So while that battle was physically demanding on Naruto, chakra-wise he was okay.
[Rias-sama's rook, retired.]
That sudden announcement cut off any playful banter between Naruto and Raynare.
Narrowly dodging another blast of flames, Yuuto took refuge behind a tree.
Things were not looking good for him and Koneko. Ravel was focusing on Yuuto while Mihae targeted Koneko. On both sides they were being pushed back.
Kneeling down, Yuuto peeked around the tree. Ravel was standing in the open boldly, not worried in the least of an attack. Placing a hand on the ground, Yuuto concentrated on utilizing Sword Birth. Using it from this distance was difficult, but Yuuto managed to birth half a dozen swords from the ground beneath Ravel. The blonde didn't bother moving even when the ground beneath her started shaking. She even stayed still when the demonic blades shot up, piercing her body multiple times. Without flinching, she waited as the newly created wounds bled fire. The fire was so intense that the parts of the blades still imbedded in her were burned to ashes. With her wounds healed, she calmly stepped through the damaged swords.
Yuuto just gave a depressed sigh. That was his fourth time doing that, and it was still having no effect. He had hoped wounding her repeatedly would strain her stamina and mind, but his demonic blades appeared completely ineffective.
Sensing a buildup of demonic power, Yuuto shot away from the tree. Within seconds, the tree was engulfed in an explosion. Taking cover again, Yuuto desperately tried to formulate a plan.
"Come on. I've been taking it easy on you because you are easy on the eyes, but this is starting to bore me. Your little blades are useless against my immortality," Ravel called out mockingly.
While that was totally insulting, Yuuto couldn't argue. Ravel was truly showing him the power behind the word 'immortal.' To have an opponent that can take everything you can dish out without even flinching…It was disheartening. Yuuto had been prepared for it since they spent so long discussing the immortality of the Phenex, but experiencing it himself was totally different.
Not all was lost though. He still had one trump card he could use against Ravel. He just needed to find the proper opportunity.
Not to mention Ravel wasn't his target. Mihae was. Ravel was just the obstacle standing in the way. He doesn't need to defeat Ravel, he just needed to bypass her.
Peeking around the tree again, Yuuto focused on Mihae. She was facing away from him while launching wind spells in the direction of Koneko. The bishop wasn't nearly as powerful as Ravel was, even when Ravel wasn't serious. Yuuto was positive he could defeat her. Koneko wasn't as lucky. From what Yuuto had seen, Koneko was in bad shape. Her ribs were clearly worse than he had first thought. The trees provided plenty of cover for her, but Koneko simply lacked the ease of movement necessary to reach her opponent.
Truthfully, this was just a bad match up for both Yuuto and Koneko. They were both close range fighters. Their opponents were long range fighters. Unless they could close the distance, they were helpless.
Readying himself, Yuuto left his cover. He then moved at Ravel as quickly as possibly. She lazily tossed a few fireballs at him, which he managed to dodge. When he got close enough, Yuuto unleashed several quick strikes with his sword. Ravel didn't bother dodging, letting her regeneration deal with the wounds. Instead with a wide sweep of her hand, she sent a wave of fire at Yuuto while he was up close. Yuuto retreated, but couldn't dodge the attack entirely. His left arm sustained a light burn.
He had managed to complete part of his plan though. While attacking Ravel, he had been subtly circling around her. Now he was between Ravel and Mihae. Turning around, Yuuto used all his speed in an attempt to reach Mihae.
"Don't you know it is rude to turn your back on your superiors," Ravel called out, forming a compressed ball of fire in her hand. She then launched it forward.
The attack was fast enough to pass Yuuto, hitting the ground ten feet in front of him. He desperately tried to come to a stop, but his speed was now a liability. He couldn't halt his momentum in time to retreat, instead being forced to watch in horror as the small ball of flames birthed a large explosion. He was too close. The flames engulfed him, and the shockwave of the explosion sent him flying into the forest.
Ravel let out an annoyed sigh. Starting to walk towards Mihae, she muttered, "I was forced to act, but that wasn't even proper entertainment."
As she approached Mihae though, a frown formed on her face. There was no announcement of the knight retiring. That must mean he was still conscious. Probably covered in burns and writhing in pain, but still conscious. She should go finish him. She wasn't cruel. Proud and conceited, sure, but not cruel.
Before she could move to do just that, a large crash drew her attention. She turned to see that a large chuck of a tree had been thrown by the small rook at Mihae. Mihae had been forced to jump out of the way rather inelegantly. As Mihae tried to regained her feet, the rook took the opportunity to close the distance.
Ravel could have interfered, but decided not to. She could clearly see the rook was injured from the earlier shot Mihae landed. Mihae did not need help.
After reaching her feet, Mihae launched a blast of wind at the approaching rook. Instead of dodging though, the rook just covered her face with her arms and bowled right through the attack. Her shirt was turned to shreds from the attack, only a bra keeping her modesty, but overall the rook seemed to have endured it without injury. Frowning at her attack's failure to inflict damage on the rook, Mihae started gathering demonic power. Wind swirled around Mihae's body as she built up a more powerful attack.
This had just gotten more interesting. Mihae lacked true power in her attacks, instead replying on good control. That left her vulnerable to rooks and other enemies with high defensive capabilities. She had just developed this attack recently as a counter for those types. Ravel was interested in seeing how it held up in an actual battle.
Koneko approached, cocking a fist back. She didn't get close enough to unleash it though. As soon as Koneko got within five feet, Mihae unleashed the attack she had been charging. A wide scale, high intensity blast of wind. Koneko was far too close to even attempt to dodge. The attack smashed into her, and sent her flying even faster than she had from the previous attack. Koneko smashed through three trees, and many other trees were felled by the force of the wind Mihae unleashed.
It took a few seconds for the noise to end, just leaving a scene of destruction in front of Mihae. The two waited for two seconds before-
[Rias-sama's rook, retired.]
Good, the first of the enemy to fall. In Ravel's mind, it was like the first domino to fall. The rest would come crashing down now as well.
That was her thought as the ground beneath her started shaking. She looked at it with a raised eyebrow. Seems the knight wasn't as incapacitated as she had believed. Ravel didn't bother moving as the blades sprang forth. As the ice swords sunk into her though, she immediately felt something was wrong.
As soon as Ravel was stabbed multiple times, Yuuto dashed past her. His clothes were torn and dirty, and he had a sword made out of ice in his hand. His target, Mihae.
Yuuto had barely managed to escape her attack. Too late to dodge, Yuuto had instead managed to create a special type of demon sword at the last second. Flame Delete, a sword that absorbs and devours flames. It was a weapon he developed partially to counter the abilities of the Phenex. The weapon had successfully absorbed the flames before they engulfed him. The shockwaves had still sent him flying though, and he had been stunned when he hit the ground.
Koneko must have suspected he had managed to escape. Knowing he needed time to recover, she had acted. She sacrificed herself to create a distraction.
Her sacrifice wouldn't be in vain.
Yuuto had birthed half a dozen Flame Delete swords to impale Ravel. The regeneration of the Phenex relied on flames that bled from their wounds. By using a flame suppressing sword to attack her, Yuuto hoped that her regeneration would be stalled for a brief time. Ten seconds was all he needed. No. Five seconds. He had to finish Mihae before Ravel managed to overload those blades. She wouldn't be surprised like this again.
Mihae noticed his approach, and turned to face him. Wind was swirling around her. Yuuto knew what that meant. Koneko's sacrifice had also given him a chance to see the trump card of the enemy bishop.
"Sword Birth," Yuuto called out as she sprinted towards Mihae.
A sword rose from the ground before him. Throwing the Flame Delete sword away, Yuuto grasped the new sword as he approached. This one was a gleaming blade with a diamond shape on top, which held a small black ball.
As soon as Yuuto was feet away from her, Mihae let loose the same attack that had defeated Koneko. Yuuto immediately swiped down with his blade. Wind destroyed the ground on each side of Yuuto, but he was left unharmed. His sword, Replenish Calm, was a wind devouring blade. It had absorbed all the wind that would have hit him.
Mihae's eyes widened, and Yuuto let out a victorious grin. The next moment he was behind her, his sword stroke already finished. Mihae gasped in pain as a large cut opened on her side. She feel forward, but disappeared in light before she hit the ground.
[Riser-sama's bishop, retired.]
"Your sacrifice wasn't in vain, Koneko-chan," Yuuto declared in relief.
"It seems we truly have underestimated your group," a voice spoke up behind him. Yuuto spun around to look at Ravel warily. Seems she had managed to overload the Flame Delete swords that had held her. It was only natural such swords had a limit on how much they could absorb. Ravel did not look happy by the recent events either. Compared to the bored and arrogant look she had previously been sporting, her face was now dead serious. "The other group has fallen. It appears it has fallen to Yubelluna, myself, and Onii-sama to bring your group down."
Yuuto shifted anxiously. He couldn't defeat Ravel. He knew that. With Mihae defeated though, he could now retreat. Now he just needed to find the proper opportunity to retreat.
"I'll start by defeating you," Ravel announced, lifting a hand. Fire immediately appeared in her hand. Yuuto immediately sensed the difference between this attack and what she had previously been using. The buildup of demonic power was enormous, easily surpassing the power of Mihae's final attack. She fully intended to finish him with that attack. Throwing her hand forward, Ravel ordered solemnly, "Disappear."
Yuuto immediately dashed away at top speed. He wanted nothing to do with that attack. His only chance was to outrun it.
That was his last thought before his world was engulfed in fire.
[Rias-sama's knight, retired.]
Naruto had been planning to go help Yuuto when Koneko's defeat was announced, but the rapid defeat of Riser's bishop relaxed him slightly. Yuuto could now just flee. Yuuto's speed would hopefully allow him to escape.
Then a massive explosion engulfed part of the forest. The explosion of flames could be seen from their position. Then-
[Rias-sama's knight, retired.]
Naruto gaped in shock. Yuuto had been defeated. That meant that attack had been large and powerful enough to hit him even when he was fleeing. That was not a good sign.
"That isn't good," Raynare muttered as she narrowed her eyes as the smoke rising from the forest.
"You think," Naruto retorted in annoyance.
Naruto ran his hand through his hair as he considered. How had the ambush gone wrong? Yuuto and Koneko managed to achieve their objective, but they got eliminated in the process. That means two less fighters on their side. When you have as few numbers as they do, two is a lot.
"Well, straighten up. We've got company," Raynare claimed as she looked at the tree line.
Naruto followed her gaze and saw what she meant. A small girl was exiting the forest, heading straight towards them. Ravel Phenex.
Naruto took the opportunity to examine her, since she was walking rather slowly…Well, she certainly wasn't threatening looking. She was shorter than Asia, and had a similar body type to Koneko. She really was cute. The fancy dress didn't help things either. Overall, she looked like a princess that should be at a ball. Not in the middle of a battlefield.
Regardless of her looks, Naruto knew that she was a powerful opponent. She had clearly been the one to eliminate Yuuto. She was a high-class devil, just like Rias and Riser. By all rights, she had the ability to start her own peerage. The only reason Akeno was stronger than Rias is due to her queen enhancements. Without that, Rias would be the clear winner. So Ravel, who is both a high-class devil and a bishop, is extra dangerous. An argument could be made that she is the most powerful piece in Riser's peerage.
She also shouldn't be here.
"Yo," Naruto finally said when she came to a stop.
Ravel gave him an unimpressed look in response. Sighing, she told him harshly, "I won't deny that you must have impressive combat capabilities, but otherwise you are a bore. An uncouth and inelegant bore. Rias-sama appears to have a peculiar taste in male servants. At least the last one was handsome. You have such a…commoner look. So rough and maladroit."
"Ouch," Naruto replied, grabbing his chest in exaggerated pain at the insult. Turning to Raynare, Naruto said in a whimper, "Ray-chan! Did you hear her? She called me a bore. I'm not a bore, right? I don't care about my appearance, but I am certainly not a bore."
Raynare's eye twitched in irritation at his words and behavior. Otherwise she didn't respond.
Ravel actually sent her a look of pity before saying, "It must be hard on you. How can you stand him?"
"It is not easy," Raynare claimed with a sigh.
"Haha. Now that the playful banter is done, let's move on," Naruto announced, his face entirely serious now. Looking at Ravel intently, he commented, "Didn't expect to see you here."
"I'd prefer not having to interfere, but your group has done unexpectedly well. While you won't be able to beat Onii-sama, the marriage between Rias-sama and Onii-sama is too important to even give you a chance of success. Thus I unfortunately find myself compelled to act," Ravel stated like it was obvious.
"Too important," Naruto repeated in an amused tone before saying, "Funny. I got the impression that it is more an ego thing."
"Geez, this is why I dislike low-class devils. Not only are you slow and disagreeable, but you act as if you understand the devil society. A former human like yourself who hasn't even visited the Underworld yet has no right to claim to comprehend our ways," Ravel pointed out harshly.
Naruto shrugged before admitting, "Can't really deny that. I was reincarnated just several months ago."
"At least you realize your faults," Ravel replied.
"But…I truthfully don't care all that much about the politics behind it. I'm a rather simple guy. Rias-chan doesn't want to go through with this marriage. That's enough for me to help her break up this marriage," Naruto announced easily.
"And what little respect I might have had for you has dissolved," Ravel commented disdainfully. "This marriage is vital for the continued prosperity of devils."
"And yet Rias-chan is refusing," Naruto retorted instantly.
"Rias-sama is…allowing her personal feelings to interfere with her judgment," Ravel claimed after a moments pause. "Onii-sama is partially at fault. He was besotted by Rias-sama to the point that he rushed the courtship process, coming off as demanding and unsympathetic to her feelings. Regardless, Rias-sama shall learn to understand Onii-sama and become content with her life. She'll then see just why this marriage is necessary."
"I still call bullshit on that. If the prosperity of the devil race relies on having Rias marry Riser then I think there are larger issues to worry about," Naruto pointed out skeptically. Sighing, he then continued, "I don't even know why we are talking about this. I'm not going to convince you, and you aren't going to convince us. So let's solve this the old fashioned way by fighting."
"Just as crude as I would expect from someone of your station, but you are correct. I'll try to finish this quickly. I do not feel like wasting more time here than necessary," Ravel announced.
"Don't hurry too much. I made a promise to make some yakitori out of some phoenix today. I'd prefer your brother, but if you underestimate me you might find your cute little ass roasted," Naruto exclaimed with a playful smirk.
That drew the ire of Ravel, who launched a stream of fire at Naruto. Laughing, he dodged out of the way. He managed to send a discreet look at Raynare after he landed though, motioning for her to take to the air. Raynare nodded, grew her wings, and jumped into the air. Naruto then looked back towards Ravel.
She didn't seem worried in the least. Only annoyed by his comments. She clearly didn't view them as a threat. Damn, Naruto was really going to enjoy knocking the arrogance out of this girl.
He started running in her direction. Multiple blasts of fire were released from her hands at Naruto, but he moved to the side to dodge. He then ran a circle around Ravel, who continued trying to fry him. At least until an unpleasant feeling rose in her chest. Acting purely by instinct, Ravel jumped backwards. Just in time to dodge a spear of light Raynare had chucked. It ended up sticking into the ground in front of her. Recognizing the light element of the spear and sensing the unstable makeup of the spear, she raised a wall of flames between herself and the spear. It proved smart as the spear exploded just seconds later.
Naruto slowed to a stop as smoke engulfed Ravel's former position. He doubted that had taken her out. Despite her arrogant attitude, Ravel had good instincts. To have sensed the danger of the light spear and reacted in time to suppress the explosion. It was impressive.
His belief was proven true when Ravel burst out of the smoke, wings of flame on her back. She was heading straight for Raynare. Raynare quickly created half a dozen light spears around her before launching them at the approaching Ravel. Showing impressive aerial ability, Ravel spun to avoid most of them while simultaneously sending a blast of flame to destroy two she couldn't dodge. With the brief obstacle handled, Ravel formed fire around her fists as she closed with Raynare.
Who wanted no part of that. Raynare allowed herself to fall backwards, causing Ravel to fly over her. Forming a light spear in her hand, she tried to take advantage of her maneuver by stabbing Ravel in the stomach. Ravel spun out of the way before unleashing a wide wave of fire from her hand. Incapable of dodging, Raynare was forced to use her light spear to slice the wave of fire in half. As soon as the fire passed around her, she found Ravel diving at her. Raynare quickly threw the spear. Ravel aborted her attack to dodge, sensing that Raynare had destabilized the spear. It exploded between the two.
Raynare glared at her opponent as a brief lull in the fighting appeared. As much as it galled her to admit it, she couldn't deny Ravel was far more powerful than herself. The intensity of her fire attacks was beyond anything Raynare had faced before. She also had far power than Raynare did, even with her bishop promotion. Raynare's one advantage was her ability to use light. Ravel couldn't rely on her regeneration when dealing with light.
"A fallen angel. Rias-sama has a diverse peerage. Your power of light is the natural antithesis of us devils. I have no choice but to eliminate you before it can be put to use," Ravel declared seriously. She then shot off at Raynare.
"Rasengan," Naruto called out as he appeared underneath her. He wasn't going to sit by and watch. The swirling ball of energy in his hand, Naruto shoved it into Ravel's side. An entire third of her waist was destroyed by the attack.
Which didn't seem to bother her one bit. Ignoring the missing part of her torso, Ravel held her hand up before Naruto's chest. Naruto knew he didn't want to take a direct shot from this close. Swiping his hand upwards, Naruto caught her wrist and forced it to the side. Just in time, as her hand spawned an explosion just afterwards. Naruto's quick action saved him from being engulfed by the explosion, but the force of the explosion sent him tumbling to the ground. With that threat temporarily dealt with, Ravel turned towards who she considered to be the larger threat. The light user.
Raynare had tried to take advantage of Naruto's interference by hurling a spear at the distracted Ravel. Ravel acted quickly though, forming balls of fire in both hands. Combining the two attacks together, she launched the attack as a counter to the light spear. The light spear was just feet away from Ravel when the fire attack hit it. It was completely overpowered by the fire. With the light spear consumed, the flames continued onwards to Raynare. Raynare tried to fly backwards, but couldn't dodge it entirely. She was forced to cross her arms over her chest to try and endure the fireball. Raynare was blasted backwards with her arms heavily burned.
Trying to hold in her groan of pain, Raynare quickly turned and tried to flee. She needed to buy time for Naruto to get back into the fight. She couldn't last long against Ravel alone.
"It's useless," Ravel called out. Either predicting Raynare's plan or thinking along similar lines herself, Ravel sent a large blast of flames at the recovering Naruto. With Naruto momentarily distracted, Ravel started pursuing Raynare.
Ravel couldn't deny Raynare was a good flier. In order to catch her, Ravel had to stop her. Hands lighting up in flames, Ravel threw multiple attacks in front of Raynare. Raynare was forced to come to a halt in order to not be caught up in the resulting explosions.
With her own momentum now stopped and Ravel heading towards her at top speed, Raynare knew she couldn't avoid a confrontation. Gritting her teeth, Raynare forced down her pain and lifted an arm. Concentrated as much power as she could into a single light spear, Raynare turned towards the approaching Ravel and shouted defiantly, "Don't underestimate me!"
Raynare thrust her spear towards the approaching Ravel. Surprisingly, Ravel didn't bother dodging. She let the spear pierce through her chest. Raynare quickly found out why, as Ravel used it as an opportunity to close with Raynare. Ravel placed her hands against Raynare's chest in that moment.
Raynare was then engulfed in an explosion.
"Raynare," Naruto called out in concern.
The smoke from the explosion covered the two, briefly obscuring Naruto's view. Only for a second though as he soon saw a figure plummet out of the smoke limply. Naruto quickly identified it as a burnt and heavily damaged Raynare. Before Naruto could jump to catch her, he saw her disappear in light.
[Rias-sama's pawn, retired.]
Naruto clenched his fist in anger. Damn it. Raynare was one of their trump cards if things degenerated into a stamina battle against Riser. Her light spears would be super effective at dealing Riser damage.
Ravel wasn't suppose to be here. The entire group had studied Riser's peerage, and Ravel had quickly been identified as a huge problem. Defeating Riser would be difficult enough without having a second person with immortality interfering. Thankfully, Ravel seemed to be in Riser's peerage in name only. She never fought during any of his Rating Games. They had predicted she'd interfere if it appeared Riser was going to lose, but not like this. They figured she'd retreat to make a 'last stand' with Riser. They certainly didn't expect her to go on the offensive like this. Raynare had been the one to pay the price of this unexpected action.
Naruto also couldn't deny this was partly his fault. Rias had been of the opinion that Raynare should promote to queen, as it was the strongest piece. Naruto had argued against it though. Raynare's intense training meant she could promote to queen, but he still hadn't felt it the best option. Promotion was basically a sacrifice of stamina for power. The more power, the greater the cost in stamina. Once a pawn gains enough stamina the cost becomes negligible, but Raynare isn't quite there yet. After she promotes to queen, Raynare has one good battle in her. She might be able to do a second, but she'd clearly be tired by that point. Since Raynare's greatest use would be in a stamina battle against Riser, Naruto had believed they should prioritize stamina over raw power. Thus the bishop promotion. That had come to bite them in the ass though. With Ravel's unexpected assault, the queen promotion would have been of greater use. Heightened speed for evasion, and greater defense for enduring attacks. Those two aspects might very well have made a huge difference. Naruto doubted Raynare could defeat Ravel even with a queen promotion, but she would have been able to stall Ravel long enough for Naruto to come to her aid.
Now they were out another fighter.
Naruto took a deep breath to calm his thoughts. He then looked up at the cloud of smoke and waited as the smoke slowly cleared. No further announcement came, so Naruto wasn't surprised when the smoke pulled back to reveal Ravel. She was looking quite smug as she looked down at him.
Forcing himself to stay calm, Naruto examined his opponent intently. Clearly a single light spear from someone of Raynare's level wasn't enough to overcome the regeneration of the Phenex Clan, but there had to be some effect. The Phenex were still devils. Light was still extremely effective against them.
Ravel had a hole right in the center of her chest. Flames were licking at it, but the overall healing was going at a snail's pace. Naruto had seen videos of Phenex members regenerate wounds in two or three seconds. Based on his estimations, this small hole would take over a minute. Ravel didn't appear to be in too much pain as she looked down at him, but her skin looked to be paler than it was just a minute ago. There were even beads of sweat forming on her temples.
It all proved Naruto's belief true. Ravel was effected by Raynare's attack. It wasn't enough to eliminate her, not even close, but it was something. Raynare had created the first crack in Ravel's immortality. It now fell to Naruto to tear that crack wide open. He wouldn't let Raynare's defeat be for nothing.
"Now that the only real threat to Onii-sama and I is beaten, I can deal with you," Ravel announced.
"Really? You are just going to write me off like that?" Naruto asked in a deadpan.
"Of course. You do appear competent, but your opponent is the 'immortal bird'. No matter how powerful or competent you are, it has nothing on the 'immortal bird'. The gap is too large for you to currently bridge," Ravel explained as if she was talking to a child.
"I don't really give a crap about your fucking 'immortal bird'," Naruto declared without a hint of the levity or playfulness he usually has. Glaring at her, Naruto continued openly, "I like to think I'm a nice guy, but I absolutely hate seeing my comrades being defeated. In the last ten minutes, three of my comrades have fallen. So I'm rather pissed off. You can keep preaching about your immortality or whatever else you are so proud of, but right now I'm in no mood to humor you. I'm just going to start kicking your ass now."
As he spoke, Naruto's power rose. Wisps of chakra became visible around his form. Combined with the cold look in his eyes, he cut an imposing figure. Even for Ravel, although she wouldn't admit it.
As soon as he stopped speaking, Naruto revealed his devil wings. He then launched towards Ravel.
There is the majority of the battle. Most of Riser's peerage has been defeated, but Koneko, Yuuto, and Raynare have also fallen. Now we have Naruto vs. Ravel. Akeno is still battling with Yubelluna as well. And where are Rias and Asia?
Ravel: I personally like Ravel, and have taken her in a slightly different direction. I just think she's a character with huge potential that hasn't been expanded on before. She's a high class devil, which means she technically could start her own peerage. She also has the inherent powers of the Phenex Clan, which are some of the strongest in the Underworld(in my opinion at least). Add in her bishop enhancement, and you have a dangerous opponent. Yet she never fights...ever. Even in the novels. Instead of a powerful devil in her own right, she is treated as a pencil-pusher for Issei that apparently has no combat ability of her own. Not in this story. I wanted to portray Ravel as a strong devil, even if she prefers not to fight. So tell me what you think. Do you like how i portrayed her? Is she a character with potential? Or is she a side character you don't really care about?
Names of Jutsu: Some of the more observant of you might have noticed i wasn't consistent with Naruto's technique names. The barrier was said in english, while the wind techniques in japanese. This is for a reason. I prefer doing the jutsu names in japanese, but original techniques are difficult to translate properly. Like the Ninpou: Four Pronged Sealed Barrier Naruto used. Using Google translate, 'four pronged seal barrier' translates as 'Yottsu mata fūin sa reta baria.' That just sounds weird to me. So the inconsistencies in Naruto's techniques names are when i have difficulty translating them properly.
The Rating Game: I was aiming for originality when writing this battle. Different tactics and moves on Rias' side because they have Naruto's input. So i hope you enjoyed reading it. I am looking for any input though. Thoughts and opinions from you readers. Especially on the battle scenes. I'm new to writing battle scenes. Were they realistic? Not enough focus on the action? Too much explanation and backstory? I'd much prefer to be aware of any complaints that you might have, then being clueless.