Disclaimer: I don't own Fate Stay Night or High School DxD. They belong to Kinoko Nasu and Ichiei Ishibumi respectively. If I did, I would have already created an Ilya route in the VN with a fully-grown and matured Ilya as the heroine and make a badass protagonist for High School DxD instead of a pervert like Issei.
- Story Start -
"Haaah. This feels so good." Asia sighed contentedly while immersing herself in the hot spring.
"I'm glad you like it, Asia. This is the first time you've ever been in a hot spring isn't it?" Rias herself was enjoying the hot spring that her family had built. The truth was that the mansion was built around the hot spring on her family's orders so that they could enjoy it anytime they wanted to. The healthy effects from the hot spring could do wonders for the skin.
A girl has to take care of their appearance after all.
"Yes, Buchou-san. I'm used to hot baths since they prepared it for me when I was still a member of the Church but this is the first time I've been in a natural hot spring." Asia replied happily.
The mention of the Church made Rias a little uncomfortable but seeing Asia so happy made her ignore the feeling.
The past can no longer be changed. What's more important was the present.
Speaking of the present.
"How's the water's temperature, Shirou?"
Rias might have used a normal tone when she asked that question but the amused smile on her face clearly indicated how much she was enjoying herself as she posed that question to the only male present.
"It's fine. I've already used it a couple of times already with Ise after his tor- training, so I'm used to it already."
In the hot spring that was supposed to be filled by only women, Archer also seemed to be enjoying himself despite being an anomaly in the current picture. Unfortunately, his indifferent attitude was only a facade as his teenage hormones was starting to act up due to being in the presence of naked women in a setting that can be considered erotic in certain circles.
It didn't help that all the women present were very alluring in their own different ways.
Still, if only the visual temptations were the only problem that he had to contend with than he was sure that he could endure through this experience. Sadly, that wasn't the case.
"How is it, Shirou-senpai?" The usual monotonous voice of Koneko came from behind Archer.
"It feels really good. It's been a long time since I've had a shoulder massage but it feels relaxing."
"I'm glad." This time, Archer could discern a hint of happiness from Koneko's voice despite how monotone it sounded.
"Fufufu. Isn't that nice, Shirou-kun. Koneko-chan is even willing to give you a massage."
Incidentally, Akeno was sitting beside Archer on his left while taking advantage of his relaxed sitting posture (that involves spreading his arms wide open on the hot spring's border) to put herself inside Archer's opened arms. She was resting her head on Archer's shoulder as if she was tired and the scene looked like a real couple being intimate with each other.
Which was exactly the problem.
If this was his old self, he wouldn't have bat an eyelid on his current situation that every normal hormonal virgin male would have been crying in envy for. Unfortunately, his currently raging teenage hormones are practically commanding him to take the beautiful women who were surrounding him and ravage them to his heart's content. Especially Akeno who he had strong feelings for. The only thing that was keeping him from doing such unspeakable acts was his mental discipline which was used to dealing with these situations using rational thinking.
Still, although he was expecting his teenage hormones to act up from time to time he didn't expect them to be this INTENSE. He wondered whether reincarnating as a Devil might have somehow increased the strength of his desires.
Devils are after all creatures that thrived on them. It was especially true in this world where they even use human desires as a means to do business by granting their wishes for an appropriate price.
He would have to discuss the possibility with Rias later.
For now, he had to keep his carnal desires in check lest he ends up-
"Is something wrong, Shirou? You look... troubled."
Rias's voice cut through Archer's line of thought. Although the sentence sounded like she was worried, a glance at her amused expression told otherwise. She had probably guessed that Archer felt... uncomfortable in his current predicament but decided to enjoy the scene. This was most likely revenge for what happened this morning.
If only she knew what Archer was trying to hold back.
"I can't really help it. I was raised to have some decency in these matters. I don't mind Akeno since we're in a relationship-"
In the background a shout of "WHAAAT!?" can be heard coming from the male's bath at this declaration.
"-but seeing everyone else in their birthday suits despite being only normal friends doesn't seem appropriate to me." Deciding to ignore the obvious source of the shout, Archer just continued on with his personal opinion.
Seriously, that pervert hadn't figured out that he and Akeno are already a couple? It should be quite obvious with the way he and Akeno interact with each other in the last month.
"It's fine. No one was against the idea, anyway. Just think of it as a reward for helping with Ise's training and coming up with an effective training regimen for everyone." Rias replied while shamelessly showing her 'assets' without a hint of embarrassment.
Archer internally sighed as he deemed that he won't win against Rias in this particular argument. Deciding to just enjoy the moment a bit more (while making sure to keep his raging hormones in check) instead of stressing about it, he lowered his left hand to put it around Akeno's waist and pulled her closer to him.
This caused Akeno to let out a sultry moan which made both Asia and, surprisingly, Rias to both sport blushes on their cheeks. Koneko on the other hand was still massaging Archer's shoulders from the back so he couldn't tell what her reaction was. However, she made sure to express her feelings with her next sentence.
"Shirou-senpai, can you pat my head?"
Not expecting that response from Koneko, Archer nonetheless gave an immediate reply seeing that the request was harmless enough. "Sure, Koneko-chan. Come into the hot spring first. It'll be easier that way."
Following Archer's instructions, Koneko entered the hot spring and settled herself on Archer's lap. In addition, she's even using her nekomata form at the moment which momentarily surprised Archer but he didn't think too deep about it and started patting Koneko's head with his right hand once she had comfortably settled herself on his lap.
Surprisingly, the act of patting Koneko's head was quite soothing to him.
The reason was because it felt like he was stroking an actual cat. Her hair was as soft as a cat's fur which made patting her to become a very pleasant experience. Even the purring that usually indicates that the feline was content was present.
"Nyaa. That feels goo~d." Despite the emotionless response from Koneko, Archer could tell that she really was enjoying the sensation of being pat by him.
What do they used to call it? Fur therapy or something? I think this situation can be perfectly summarized as that.
While thinking that, Archer continued to pat Koneko's head. The soothing and calming atmosphere from the act helped to calm down his pent up desires by quite a lot. Still, he was aware what this scene would look like to other people. With him as the father, Akeno as the mother and Koneko as their child, the scene would look like a family of three taking a bath in the hot spring together.
Glancing at Rias and Asia, his suspicion was confirmed as the two were sporting a dubious smile that usually appeared on women's faces when they're watching something adorable.
Deciding to just ignore them, Archer continued with what he was doing. Now that his raging hormones have calmed down, he was able to just enjoy the solemn atmosphere of patting a nekomata. Even the erotic atmosphere that wafted around the hot spring as soon as he came in evaporated like it was never there at all.
So he was actually a cat person. Who knew?
His life was always a constant battlefield. Trying to save as many lives he could, he had to travel from one conflict to another. He never had time to enjoy the more simple pleasures of life. To the him before he became a Counter Guardian, upholding his ideal to save as many life as he could was the only desire he had ever had. It was much worse once he became a Counter Guardian and made to endlessly kill those Alaya had deemed a threat to humanity's survival. For him who strove to save as many people as he could, it was absolute hell. He was driven to madness enough that he thought he could erase his existence by killing his younger self.
With basic knowledge on the workings of the Second Magic, he should've known better.
It's no wonder that he never knew that he also had an appreciation with stroking cats. He knew that some people liked to stroke cats and the activity soothed their minds. He just never knew that the effect was this effective on someone like him.
"By the way, Shirou. Tomorrow it'll be your turn to face everyone for the group training. Are you ready?" Rias's question pulled Archer from his rumination so suddenly that it took a few seconds for him to devise an appropriate response. Nevertheless he was still able to reply in his usual smug tone.
"I'm pretty sure I've grasped everyone's capabilities near perfectly. Please look forward to tomorrow."
"Ho~h? In that case you won't mind if Akeno and I don't hold back do you?"
"Sure. Do your worst." Archer sent a challenging stare at both Rias and Akeno which neither backed down from.
Half an hour later, all the occupants in the hot spring finally exited the bath and got ready for the basic training that was scheduled during the night. Other than Rias concentrating her efforts on Ise again there wasn't much else that happened during the training.
When it was time for them to go to sleep however, Archer was once again surprised by Koneko showing up in his room asking to sleep with him. Akeno who was already on his bed didn't even object. In fact, she seemed to welcome it.
Deciding to just give up from arguing with the two girls, especially since he was tired from all that training, Archer just consented. Thankfully, the two girls were also spent after such grueling activities and all three of them ended up sleeping in each others warm embrace without doing anything else that night.
The next morning, the Gremory group once again prepared themselves for the same training regimen.
This time however, their target for the Single vs Group training made about half of the participants to be very vigilant in addition to be a bit excited. The only person who seemed to be harboring some evil thoughts of revenge was Ise.
Not surprising as this was a rare chance for him to beat the living daylights out of their current target without any repercussions.
Himejima Reiji, or who was now known as Emiya Shirou.
Fufufu. Ise looks very motivated, though I don't think it would be that easy for him to beat Reiji-kun. Akeno amused herself with the notion that Ise would find that the tables would turn on him once he tries to charge her childhood friend and lover.
Despite calling him Shirou outwardly, Akeno had always thought of him as Reiji in her mind. After all, it was the name that was always close to her heart for the last eight years ever since he came to her rescue all those years ago.
She could still vividly remember the sequence of events that had happened on that night.
That night, she had fallen asleep while in her mother's embrace as usual. The current Akeno would never admit it but when she was younger, she always felt warm and safe whenever she slept with her mother and 'that man'. The three of them would usually sleep together with her in the middle and they would usually find themselves in each others arms the next morning. However, 'that man' was absent at the time.
She was dreaming about being a princess who was being swept off her feet by a handsome prince on a white horse. Incidentally, the prince somehow resembled Reiji. It was then that she was suddenly aroused by her mother.
She was being cradled in her mother's arms. Although she was still half asleep, she could still remember the urgency in her mother's panicked expression as Shuuri ran away from something while carrying her. Confusion plagued her mind as she tried to call her consciousness back from the realm of dreams.
"Akeno? You're awake? Are you alright?" Concern was clearly plastered on her mother's pale face.
"What's going on?" Rubbing her sleepy eyes to try to arouse herself from sleep, she started to take in her surroundings. She noticed that they were already outside in temple the compound which was the front entrance of the temple.
It was then that Akeno realized that there was light coming from the inner part of the temple. Not only that she was vaguely aware of the smell of something burning.
No, it can't be! As she finally realized the implication of what she was sensing, she turned her head upwards. To her horror, her fears were confirmed.
The temple where she and her family had called home for as long as she knew was being burned down as she saw the flames and smoke that were visible beyond the roof of the temple.
"The temple is under attack. We have to-." Before her mother could finish her explanation, Shuuri suddenly whirled around and thrust a talisman that was in her left hand in front of her.
The sound of metal reverberated in the night as Akeno noticed that something had hit the barrier that Shuuri had made with the talisman.
Akeno couldn't identify what it was that had hit the barrier and before she knew it, Shuuri had already cast an offensive spell in the form of compressed air in the direction of where the projectile had came from.
A yell of pain came from what Akeno identified as a male voice but she still couldn't see who it was that had attacked them. The voice had come from the shadows that even the light from the flames that were burning the temple didn't reach.
Still, Akeno didn't ponder on the thought of who their assailant was too deeply as whoever it was that attacked them was already dealt with. From what her mother was trying to tell her earlier, they were probably trying to run and find a place to hide. She was confident that everything would be alright as long as they were both together since her mother seemed to be able to repel the attackers easily.
Unfortunately, she had thought too soon.
Shuuri had suddenly collapsed on the ground.
Turning to her mother who had fallen down beside her, Akeno was paralyzed in shock as she saw her mother's back. Shuuri's white robe was stained red with blood that was leaking out of her body from a deep slash wound.
"O-Okaa-san...?" Still in shock, Akeno's hands hesitantly reached for her mother.
"A-Akeno... I-I love you..." Those were the last words that left Shuuri's pale lips as the life that she had stubbornly clung to in order to protect her daughter finally left her. She passed away smiling, secured by the knowledge that she was able to protect her daughter.
Akeno however, was frantic.
"O-Okaa-san? No... NOOOO! OKAA-SAN! OKAA-SAN! Please wake up! Don't leave me! Please don't leave me alone!" Akeno cried her heart out while futilely trying to call back her mother from the dead by shaking her body.
How could this happen?
Why was this happening to her?
Her home was being burned down.
Her mother was dead.
'That man' who was supposed to protect them was absent.
All her relatives shunned her.
There was no one for her to turn to for help.
She didn't know where to go.
She was all alone now.
"WAAAHHH!" Not knowing what else to do, Akeno just kept crying on top of her mother's body.
And thus, she didn't realize the sound of running footsteps that were heading towards her, guided by the heartrending cries that came from her despairing heart.
Hearing her name being called out by a familiar male voice, Akeno whirled around. In this world, there were only two people who would add the suffix '-nee' to her name and only one of them was a boy.
She watched as the familiar figure of a boy who was her childhood friend and who was the closest thing she could have to a younger brother approaching her. He was clearly out of breath if his panting was any indication. From his expression, Akeno could tell that he was worried about something.
Why was he here?
This question penetrated her mind. However, in her current state of confusion and despair it didn't matter to her. She couldn't think about anything else, only the feeling of sadness from losing her mother filled her mind.
Which was why, when Reiji was close enough to her, Akeno immediately seized and hugged him by reflex and continued crying. Now that she had no one else to turn to, Reiji's presence was the only consoling element in her otherwise destroyed life.
As Akeno continued to bask in her sorrow, she felt Reiji softly hugging her back.
"I'm sorry, Akeno-nee. I-I didn't make it in time."
Suddenly, Akeno felt herself being lifted off the floor. Before she knew it, Reiji had her in a princess carry and they were running away from the burning compound of the temple. They were moving faster than what a normal eight year old child who was carrying someone with similar size and weight would usually be able to move in.
The only time Akeno had ever experienced a similar event was when she had persuaded Reiji to give her a piggyback ride while running in his full strength using his ability that he called Reinforcement.
"I wasn't able to save Shuuri-san but I'll definitely protect you Akeno-nee."
As Akeno heard the sentence that was filled with determination from Reiji, she couldn't help but blush while her heart started pounding faster. Not only that, the way Reiji was protectively carrying her made her feel comfortable and safe in his hands. The sadness that she felt from her mother's death still filled her but unlike before when she sunk in despair, hope started to bloom in her heart.
Reiji seemed to be concentrating all his senses on the surroundings during their retreat. There were a few times that he suddenly hid the both of them behind any cover that was nearby during which Akeno noticed that more people were headed towards her burning home passing them by using the very path that she and Reiji were using just moments ago. They only moved again once Reiji was sure that no one was nearby to notice their presence when they ran.
They soon found a small deserted house that was in the process of being sold where they decided to rest for the night. Luckily, there was still one old abandoned futon in the house which they could use to sleep in comfortably. Akeno ended up falling asleep while hugging Reiji. His warm body was the only thing that kept her from having further emotional breakdowns that night.
Just recalling the events of that night made Akeno sad as she could remember the final moments of her mother's life as if it was only yesterday. At times, she would even shed tears once she started to reminisce all the happy moments she had with her mother. They were bittersweet memories as they were what was left of what she could remember of her mother.
At the same time however, thinking of the events of that night also made her recall the very reason that she started having a crush on a person who she had once only seen as a friend.
Reiji-kun was so heroic that night.
After their separation at the train station, she vowed that she would find and reunite with Reiji and Yukari. If only she had known that Reiji had changed his name, she would have been able to find him sooner but information on his whereabouts and activities were scarce as even with the resources of the Gremorys, she was unable to locate him.
Her efforts in trying to locate him was also made harder when she found out that there were no physical evidence that Reiji had ever existed.
It seemed that once Reiji was exiled by the clan, the clan had erased all records of Reiji's existence. They had even went as far as trying to make Yukari think that her brother had never existed and that he had been a figment of her imagination that she had created from desiring an older sibling. It was fortunate that all their efforts had failed thanks to Reiji finding a way to keep in contact with Yukari behind their backs and advising her to pretend that their efforts to brainwash her had succeeded.
However, having very few leads in trying to find him didn't deter Akeno one bit and she never gave up on trying to find him.
To think that he was living so close to her all this time.
All those times that she felt sexually frustrated that she had to take them out on her clients (who enjoyed them), it turned out that the very target of her desire was living just a few blocks away from her school.
Just thinking about it sometimes made her feel that the world was trying to get in the way of her love life.
She was mostly rational enough to know that it was all Reiji's fault for being too cautious though she couldn't really blame him. His parents had neglected his education regarding the mystical side of the world in favor of focusing their efforts on Yukari. It didn't help that Devils were depicted as an evil race no matter what kind of religion they were mentioned in which made him more suspicious of their motives.
Thanks to that, Reiji had matured beyond her expectations without her knowing to the point that her flirting wasn't getting through to him.
Most of the time.
If Reiji hadn't already had feelings for her, Akeno doubted that her various seductions were even able to sway his heart. It was something that she was grateful for since it meant that Reiji truly loved her instead of just mere lust for her body. This was the reason why she didn't feel threatened from Koneko's declaration of her feelings last night. Akeno knew that his heart already belonged to her.
Which made her desire him more.
Not to mention that the idea of a threesome somehow made her feel more... perverted.
Now, if only she could 'convince' him to have proper sex with her.
Not that their various sensual nights weren't satisfying. Far from it.
She didn't know where he had learned all his 'techniques' but she was sure that Reiji hadn't had any relationships with other women apart from her which was quite suspicious since he was really good in bed. It was supposed to be a sign that he was used to having sex but other than that piece of evidence, Akeno was also completely sure that there were no other women in his life before her.
She already checked.
Reiji was a 100% true virgin.
A virgin who was amazing when in bed but a virgin nonetheless. Physically, at least.
The contradiction puzzled her for a while but in the end she decided that she didn't care. All she knew was that they loved each other and that was all she needed to know.
Whatever secrets Reiji had, it wouldn't change her feelings for him.
"Alright. Let's get this started."
Rias's voice forced Akeno to pay attention to the present. Discarding any useless thoughts, Akeno prepared herself for the mock battle. It's time to see how her lover would fare against the might of the whole Gremory group. She was also curious about Reiji's warning to her and Koneko this morning, saying that he wouldn't hold back on his methods this time.
Akeno would soon discover what a battlefield was really like in the next few minutes.
Rias had always known that her new servant was very capable despite only needing one Evil Pawn Piece for her to recruit him. However, this was the first time she fully understood the full extent of Emiya Shirou's prowess.
It wasn't even more than three minutes since the training started and the ground of the clearing where it was being held had changed drastically.
Swords of various shapes and sizes littered the ground.
The earth was filled with deep craters of which some of the biggest ones had even reached ten meters in diameter.
The various trees that once surrounded the clearing was either uprooted or out right decimated.
There were even deep gouges in the ground that were simply the result of indirect damage from projectiles that was shot at a speed that broke the sound barrier.
Her whole peerage including her and Akeno (excluding Asia who didn't participate in the training and who was currently running around the whole place using Twilight Healing to heal all of them) was on the ground and out of breath.
Ise was knocked out cold from the very beginning since Shirou had specifically targeted the Pawn immediately after the training had started. Koneko seemed to have broken a few ribs in addition to receiving some burns, cuts and bruises from one of the explosions that Shirou's swords produced. Yuuto was in the worst state between all of them as his left leg was almost completely cut off right above the knee. In comparison, herself and Akeno were only exhausted from using so much Demonic Energy despite not having even a scratch on them.
As for the one who was responsible for the current state of her peerage, he was currently standing in the middle of the clearing turned battlefield and seemed to be evaluating everything in his sight. Other than a few small slashes that Kiba was able to inflict on his legs and chest, some burns on his clothing from Akeno's lightning magic and his breathing being a little labored, he otherwise seemed perfectly fine.
Rias's mind was filled with confusion as to how her peerage was in this pitiful state. She already knew that her peerage wasn't exactly strong just yet. However, she had confidence that one day, once they all had enough training and experience, her peerage could become one of the strongest group in Devil's history. Still, even if they're not at that level just yet, it didn't mean that they were weak.
Ise's the current possessor of a very rare and very powerful Longinus class Sacred Gear, the Boosted Gear.
Yuuto was a skillful swordsman who possessed the Sacred Gear, Sword Birth.
Koneko was a strong martial artist and, in the future, a potential senjutsu practitioner.
Akeno was the strongest member of her peerage as befit her position as her Queen.
She herself was no slouch either as she inherited the Power of Destruction from her mother and was even known as the Crimson-Haired Ruin Princess.
All this however, meant nothing to the current pathetic state that her peerage was in. And all of this was done by someone who, impossibly, was judged by the Evil Piece System to have the lowest amount of potential among all of them.
Her Pawn, Emiya Shirou.
Ever since his joining, Rias always knew that Shirou was stronger than what the Evil Piece System had judged but she had never thought that the System that her kind had used and was one of the pillars that supported her kind's continued existence for centuries would be THIS far off in evaluating his potential.
Case in fact, her whole peerage was utterly defeated in a matter of minutes by said Pawn without much effort. By himself.
No, that wasn't quite correct either, as it looked like Shirou didn't manage to get out of the encirclement made by everyone unscathed. Still, he was able to subdue everyone despite being clearly outnumbered if not outmatched. It just didn't make sense!
Various doubts started to surface inside Rias's mind.
How could they have lost so terribly?
Was Shirou actually much stronger than her whole peerage combined?
Or were they actually much weaker than what she had anticipated?
Not knowing what else to do in order to answer her own questions, she began to replay the events of the last few minutes in her mind, hoping that she could find the answer in her memories.
She recalled that as soon as the battle started, Shirou had produced about a dozen floating swords around himself and started shooting them towards everyone while he kept producing more to replenish his ammunition. She and Akeno had immediately erected a magical barrier in front of them to defend themselves while Koneko and Yuuto deflected the oncoming projectiles using their fists and swords respectively. Poor Ise was forced to run for his life while doing his best to dodge the rain of swords.
The barrage didn't last long however as Shirou wasn't just standing still while bombarding them. It seemed that Shirou's first objective was Ise. He was already pursuing Ise once the barrage began and now that Ise was separated from the group, the possessor of the Boosted Gear had to fend for himself. Seeing that Ise was about to be taken out, everyone including herself went after them to back up Ise. Unfortunately, they were too late as they saw Ise dodging a thrown sword to the left, directly right into a punch to his face from Shirou that threw him five meters away and completely knocking him out.
Ise was defeated not even after five seconds had passed since the battle started.
The scene had shocked her and her peerage into pausing in their tracks.
It was a mistake that everyone paid not a moment later.
Shirou didn't let his victory over Ise get to him as he didn't even hesitate to renew his assault on everyone. Again, he produced another sword in his right hand while producing his large black bow in his left. The sword's drill like shape was what let Rias recognize what it was and she immediately realized the danger she and Akeno, who was floating close to her, was in. She only had a single moment to signal to Akeno to erect another magical barrier. Fortunately, it was enough as the instant that she and Akeno had finished their barrier's construction, a powerful force was slammed on their barriers and shredded them.
It was only thanks to their barriers that was made from their combined efforts that saved them as the sword turned arrow only managed to destroy their barriers but the projectile itself wasn't able to reach them. That said, the shock wave from the explosion from the collision of the two opposing forces had thrown both her and Akeno, tens of meters away. If they weren't already floating in the sky, they would've already been gravely injured from hitting the various trees that surrounded the clearing. As it is, she and Akeno was only mildly disorientated.
Was Yuuto's Demonic Sword always this powerful!?
The thought invaded her mind as she righted herself in mid-air. Searching her surroundings, she saw that Akeno was also able to re-orient herself almost at the same time she did. Not wasting anytime, she and Akeno quickly headed back to the clearing where the battle was most likely still being fought. She hoped that she made it in time before both Yuuto and Koneko were taken out.
Arriving at the clearing, she saw that Shirou was in a heated exchange of blows with Yuuto and Koneko.
Yuuto was using one of his newest creations that he had shown her two days ago after the feast. It was a simple short sword that didn't have any features that stood out and looked just like any other normal short sword. In actuality however it was anything but normal. The sword's name was Sonic Accelerator. It was a sword made to increase one's speed and one of the few Enchanted Demonic Swords that Yuuto was able to successfully create using the concept of 'Speed' as a basis which was something Yuuto was intimately familiar with seeing that he was reincarnated with a Knight Piece. The sword's ability was to increase the user's speed by three times their normal limit in exchange for a higher consumption rate of the user's stamina.
Koneko was already in her Nekomata form but unlike yesterday, Rias felt that Koneko's speed and strength was much greater. Not surprising since Koneko had sealed that form for a long time and that meant that she was only getting used to its capabilities again yesterday. There was even some kind of aura that filled Koneko's arms and legs. It was most likely that Koneko was using her limited knowledge of senjutsu to concentrate its auras on her limbs to reinforce them, making them more devastating.
Both Yuuto and Koneko were showing an almost perfect combination of teamwork.
Shirou seemed to be finally put on the defensive after his relentless offense at the the start of the battle. He was using the same sword as Yuuto, which was likely the only way he could keep up with the sheer speed and power that Yuuto and Koneko were displaying.
And it was working.
Despite being on the defensive, Shirou was still able to keep both Yuuto and Koneko from landing a single clean hit on him. Yuuto was able to land a few slashes on him when he was busy parrying Koneko's attacks but sadly they were mostly inconsequential as Shirou was still able escape the slashes at the last moment so that they only became mere scratches.
A small part of Rias's mind idly analyzed that this was likely due to Shirou having more experience in direct combat, allowing him to better predict his opponent's body language and nuances and counter them more effectively. The larger part of her mind thought that this was the chance to take down Shirou. If she and Akneo could join the fray, the balance would finally tip in their favor.
It was at this moment that Rias witnessed Shirou defending from one of Koneko's kicks with his sword. The force of the blow had threw him about ten meters away from the duo. At first glance, this could be seen as the two finally being able to overpower their fierce adversary but put in another way, Shirou was now out of the range of the two combatants as both of them didn't have any long range attacks.
Case in point, the moment Shirou was blown away, he had once again brought out his bow, altered the sword in his right hand so that it would be more aerodynamic, nocked it and immediately shot it at Koneko while he was still in the air.
Only to miss its target as Koneko had enough sense to quickly dodged out of the way the moment Shirou produced his bow.
Rias's relief at seeing that Koneko was unharmed only lasted for a single instant however, as she realized too late that the arrow was never meant to hit Koneko in the first place. Shirou had aimed it at one of the swords that Yuuto and Koneko had deflected at the beginning of the battle but never disappeared and was located a few meters directly behind Koneko.
The sword was also a copy of one of Yuuto's more 'explosive' Demonic Swords.
The resulting explosion from the destruction of the two Demonic Swords had caught Koneko completely off guard. She was engulfed in the explosion and came out burned and bruised. Had it not been for the Rook's defense trait, she would have been gravely injured. She had also fallen unconscious.
Yuuto wasn't any better off. He was blown a few meters away into a tree by the remaining shock wave, the force of the collision knocking the breath out of his lungs and had likely broken a few of his ribs.
Unfortunately, that wasn't the end of it.
Before Yuuto could even collect himself, Shirou was already in front of his face, having moved to intercept Yuuto the moment his feet touched the ground after being blown away by Koneko earlier. A precise downward slash by Shirou with Bakuya which he produced during his approach and Yuuto's left leg was almost completely bisected right above the knee.
"AAAAAGGHHH!" Yuuto screamed from the pain of his left leg being slashed deeply enough that even his bones were cleanly cut through.
Everything had happened in just a single moment that Rias didn't even have any time to process all the events in her mind before it all ended with Yuuto's defeat. She and Akeno arrived too late to the scene to help any of them and when she saw what happened to Yuuto, her vision immediately became red.
The events that happened in the next few minutes happened in such a quick succession that she couldn't even recall most of them as everything seemed to become a blur in her memories. It didn't help that at the time she was in some sort of berserk rampage. She remembered bombarding Shirou with all the Demonic Energy she had until she was too exhausted to continue. Although it wasn't clear, she also remembered Akeno doing the same thing, only this time, Akeno used her lightning elemental magic.
Despite their efforts however, Shirou either dodged or parried her bombardment filled with the Power of Destruction or conducted the lightning that Akeno threw at him into the ground using his steel swords as a makeshift lightning rod.
Shirou seemed to have received a few burns from their concentrated attacks but in the end, the damage he received was insignificant compared to what he had inflicted on everyone else.
At the end of her flashback, a certain question invaded Rias's mind and it had no intention of leaving any time soon.
How could they lose?
Once she had the time to calmly analyze the events of the past three minutes, she was certain of one thing.
Shirou was not stronger than all her peerage combined, despite his victory over them.
In fact, it was most likely that had she and Akeno were more calm and collected at the end, the two of them would've been able to make a coordinated attack on the Pawn and defeat him. From her analysis, his ranged attack that require him to summon that rain of swords was less threatening compared to his arrows. Despite the amount of swords he could fire at them, either her or Akeno's barrier, at full power, would've been enough to defend themselves against the onslaught while the other would rain down their own magical bombardment. And if he decides to use his arrows, they could easily get out of the way as it would take him time to prepare the shot. It would've taken careful teamwork and coordination but eventually they would've succeeded. Even Yuuto's and Koneko's earlier combination might've been enough to achieve the same result with careful planning.
So how did they still lose?
The answer came to her quite easily since it wasn't exactly hard to figure out.
Brutal but efficient use of tactics.
At the start of the battle, Shirou had separated their weakest but, potentially, the most troublesome opponent, if left alone for too long, and had taken him out as soon as he could. Next, he applied the same tactic to separate herself and Akeno from Yuuto and Koneko. He seemed to have had some trouble when fighting Yuuto and Koneko but that was only at the surface as he had actually positioned the two exactly where he needed them to be which was close to one of his swords before making some distance between them and detonating the sword in a big explosion.
She wasn't sure if his merciless act of almost cutting Yuuto's leg into two was so that she and Akeno would go into a fit of rage but she wouldn't be surprised if he did. After all, the result speaks for itself.
They had lost.
Not from overwhelming superiority but from careful use of tactics. He had denied them from using their numerical advantage against him by systematically dividing their forces and taking them down one by one. He had even used their environment and emotions against them in order to do so.
Once she was able to figure out how their loss had been meted out, another question made itself known to Rias.
Why did Shirou have to resort to such merciless tactics?
She was sure that her Pawn had a very good reason for using such a brutal way of defeating them when it was only supposed to be a training exercise. After all, if his goal was to kill them, Shirou would've already done so when everyone was helpless as they were either unconscious or completely exhausted and if he had any other ill intentions, he would've already acted upon it. Instead, he was only surveying them. It's as if he was analyzing them.
Before she could figure out the answer for her question however, Rias felt that her consciousness was dimming. It seemed that she had exhausted her reserve of Demonic Energy a whole lot more than what she had anticipated.
The last thing she thought before falling into sleep's embrace was that whatever reason her Pawn had for such a stunt, she was definitely going to have to punish him. One way or another.