proofread by the usual drunken band of misfits
Thank you for reading my fanfic!
My mother language is not English, so please be patient about the grammatical issues.
I don't own the Overlord(オーバーロードŌbārōdo?) novel or anime series created by Kugane Maruyama.
I don't own High School DxD anime, manga, and novel series created by Ichiei Ishibumi
Please review it. I know I will make mistakes that I intend to correct and will try to learn from them and improve myself.
Chapter 15: A Challenging Day Off:
"THAT WHORE! THAT FUCKING WHORE! I WILL TEAR HER APART MYSELF!"
"Lo-Lord Kokabiel… please! Aghhh!" After minutes of wordless and tension-filled travelling, they had returned to the base. Right after, several Fallen servants fell victim to Kokabiel's wrath.
"What happened?! A-Are we under attack?" Valper Galilei hurried in, hearing and feeling as their whole base shook from the rampage Kokabiel began in his office.
"Lord Kokabiel is…"
"Haah… don't even ask." Mertinia shook her head as she cut off the nearby guard's explanation.
Lazily, she grabbed a box of juice and inserted a straw, before starting to drink its contents.
"Things… didn't go as we planned." And that was an understatement…
"You don't say…" Valper can barely hide his sour, concerned expression under his fake, grandfatherly visage.
"In that case, I guess, you did not manage to get the fragment you lost. Did you visit that person perchance?" He meant… the same who sent their prodigy on a "painful journey".
"No… and yes." That was the only reply he received, after that, the girl muttered something else under her breath. "I hate damn magicians…"
"Haah! What a shame. Without that fragment, the ritual will be considerably weaker."
Though it was strange even Kokabiel didn't manage to persuade that person to hand it back — or even force. But maybe, there is more behind it. Yes! He needs to ask personally.
"That person must be immensely talented to be able to deal with both of them." But who might that person be? Why didn't their scouting operation reveal that "magician"? There was no such threat described in their reports!
"If not for my research with my precious new "Grail", I would have gone personally to investigate this person." But alas, he reached a critical point, and he can't abandon his duty.
"Why do you even need the ritual? Can't Kokabiel just blow the whole town away and be done with it? He has the power to do so…" Seeing him in action firsthand, the girl suspected that was only a fragment of the man's true power.
"Ah! Indeed, as one of the leaders of the Fallen, he has the power to erase the town easily." Smiling confidently, the mad researcher pushed his round glass higher up his nose. "Yet… if he did do that, it would not have the desired effect. That being… to provoke all three factions into restarting the Great War."
Also, without this ritual, he wouldn't be able to test his theories and bring his Holy Sword research to an entirely new level.
"Albeit, if this little one will bring the intended results, even Excalibur will be a mere toy."
Glancing at the man, the girl couldn't help but snort in disgust. That twisted, yet calm smile Valper displayed made her shudder in her boots.
Finally, Kokabiel left his room, slamming the door with such force it simply shattered into pieces — annihilating the door, the frame, the wall connected to the frame and part of the wall on the opposite side of the hall.
"My Lord!" The servants watched in horror, not even daring to approach the man who neatly adjusted his tie.
"Finished with your tantrum?" Mertinia walked forward — seemingly uncaring at the destruction the Fallen leader left behind — Even ignoring the possibility she might be the next.
Instead, she simply recovered another juice box, inserted another straw and handed it to him.
"Yes…" Kokabiel sighed relaxed, crushing the now empty box and discarding it.
"If I may inquire, my Lord, what exactly happened?" Still vary, the researcher and former exorcist approached his leader — earning a slightly worried look from all the staff around.
"Tch! That… mage — or whoever she is. She is more troublesome than I first thought."
"Did she perchance managed to… Ugh?!"
"Consider your next words, fallen exorcist! I've had a shitty day!" Kokabiel grabbed Galilei's neck, almost crushing it in the process.
"Guahhh!? Please… my lord! Hav…"
Kokabiel regained his composure and let the man fall to the ground just before he would have died.
Many who don't know Kokabiel's great strength may say he went rough on the man. But anyone who knew his sheer infamy knows well, he was rather merciful and considerate towards the fragile human.
"How dare you even assume I'd lose against a simple human? Know your place!" With disgust, he recovered a rag and wiped his hand, discarding it like some piece of trash for some plebeian to pick up later.
The last time when such a thing happened, the human he fought cheated! He was sure of it! Otherwise, there is no way an exorcist would have managed to corner him that bad. Nonetheless, the sour taste of that "tactical retreat" still haunted him.
"You are lucky, we still need you. You insignificant trash…"
"Haah… what a mess." The girl on his side shook her head, walked near the half-dead researcher and extended her hand. Some kind of light surrounded Valper, fixing the serious injury immediately. "You know, we still need him."
"Tch!" Kokabiel clicked his tongue, pocketing his hands and started to walk away without saying another word.
"So? What's the plan?" Leaving the confused guards behind, and the unconscious but still alive researcher, she caught up with her "mentor". Walking on his side at a steady pace.
"You know we need to do something. Else, that girl…" Or whatever she was. "…might reveal us."
"I know…" Despite what "she" said she will not reveal their visit unless they break their end of the bargain, Kokabiel was not a fool to think it will remain that way for long.
She will either reveal them or start to blackmail them — as he would do in her stead. But above all, it might be that she just bluffed and played them as fools.
"I don't even know if it was a good, or bad option anymore."
"Shouldn't we just kill her? You know… sending an assassin or whatever?"
"Not an option. That "witch" said it herself, she has safeguards in place in case something happens to her."
Besides, he had an instinctive feeling that if they try to solve this by brute force, something horrible will happen.
"But why do I have this innate feeling of dread? How come I am unsure about my strength? How come I hesitated to strike her down?" Ever since they left that café, he pondered on this. Ever since they left, he questioned himself: How come he didn't act like usual but danced back again and again just before he gathered the will to end her?
"Has she done something to me? No! A simple human couldn't…" The problem is… she might be more than she appears — alas, it was only a theory. Kokabiel can't help but have a bad feeling about all of this.
"Maybe, it would be better to recall this whole operation?" Since meeting her, he had such an instinctive feeling.
"And you believe her?" Mertinia watched Kokabiel skeptical, glancing at him as he stopped for a moment.
"Of course not!" The man winched. Even the presumption was outrageous! "But we are in a critical stage! We can't allow ourselves to be revealed! Not until everything is in place…"
They have come too far, given up to much to let it end when they were so close!
"So… you will just leave that sword with her? Do you trust she will keep her word and not just call the devils?"
"Hmm…" Kokabiel glared at Mertinia for a moment before his expression went softer. Finally, a huge grin appeared on his face. "Of course not. I already have a plan. When the time comes, you will see she will bring the sword by herself. She will be beaten, at her own game. As for trust? No. I don't trust her one bit. But she is arrogant, thinking she can't fail. Thinking we can't touch her because of that "Chip"... Oh! How wrong she is!" The thought that the device might be there still bothered Kokabiel. Still, he kept all those scientists around for a reason. They will figure something out!
"I hope you know what you are doing. Don't make me regret joining you." Recovering a lollipop, she put it in her mouth, mumbling incomprehensibly under her nose.
"Don't worry, little Mertinia. My plan is rock solid. A pebble is a pebble. It can hardly stop an avalanche." Messing up her hair, they continued their way through the dark corridor.
Kokabiel was right. A simple pebble indeed can't stop an avalanche already in motion. Unfortunately for him, this rock might be too much for the avalanche to sweep away.
Scene Change: Somewhere else, maybe another time:
A cornered rat, the scrawny boy hid in the dark corner, greedily gnawing on the stale, mouldy ration he managed to hide from the others.
Many may consider him nothing more than a grotesque little figure.
His deathly pale skin was filled with the signs of injection marks and different diseases, signs of abuse and beating. A skin that has probably never seen the blessed rays of the sun.
Behind his thick glasses, his dark eyes were hollow like that of a dead fish, barely alive as the small spark present in them fought for survival, looking for a way to convince its carrier to not give up, but fight for another day!
"Pay up! Little shit! I know you are hiding something!"
From the voice behind him, he knew who it was, making his mouth move faster to get that little bit more of the dry bland thing in!
Even if it almost made him suffocate, he didn't care. Suffocating was probably better than slowly dying from hunger! He can't bear that empty pain anymore…
"I said… give it to me!" His body is frail, lightweight, the bigger boy easily dragged him out from his safe corner, shaking him violently.
"Spit it back up! It's mine!"
"!" The ration was still in his throat, the boy couldn't speak, his face slowly turning purple from the lack of oxygen. "Guahh!"
In the end, the stronger orphan hit him in the stomach hard, making him collapse and spat out the half-eaten "food".
"You disgusting little shit! How am I supposed to eat this now? You will bring me another one, understood?!"
Feeling the heavy kick aimed at his stomach once again, even the little food he managed to consume came back.
Laying on the cold metal floor, covered by his own vomit often made the boy wonder what he did do to deserve such treatment?
Did he say something wrong? Do something wrong? Or did even the being called God cursed his existence? Why did his parents leave him in this place?
Was it a sin that he wanted to live? Was it wrong to be born in this cruel world?
Yet, considering his general situation, the people and the place he was surrounded by, asking such questions seemed to be a foolish errand. Maybe it would be better if he simply died…
Yes, the void of nothingness probably was a better place than this "orphanage".
In the nothingness, there was probably no pain. No cruelty. Neither humans… There, he was alone, in peace.
"Learn your place, you little gnome! Next time you try to hide something from us, we will make you regret that you were ever born!"
"…" The boy of course just nodded weakly, unable to even spare enough energy to answer, less to stand up again and fight back.
"Good!" Kicking him one last time, and spitting on him, the little rat curled up. He couldn't even cry anymore. His dry mouth moved to a rhythm, muttering something quiet.
"You will regret this… I swear… you will all regret this…"
Only revenge floated before his empty eyes at that moment. Only one thing kept the life in his weak body: to make the ones who hurt him pay and get out from this hellish orphanage. To spit on the face of this world that put him in this place.
And thus, the day eventually came when his revenge — at least partially — found fertile ground.
"YOU LITTLE SHIT! I WILL GET YOU WHEN I COME BACK! I WILL GET YOU AND PULL YOUR TONGUE OUT THROUGH YOUR ASS!"
He was there, of course, hiding amidst the spectators when the wardens of this place came and dragged his bully to a work camp.
Smiling slyly, he enjoyed every moment as his abuser's rage turned into desperation and eventually fear.
"No! Please! I-It wasn't me! I swear! Aghhh!"
Witnessing as the "men in black" beat him to a pulp before the other orphans, then dragged his broken, bloody body through "that" heavy door — the door which rarely opened, and only spat back broken shells — gave the little rat some sense of relief, and justice. A good feeling he couldn't quite describe.
As for why the guards took him into the dreadful place?
No orphan knew for sure… only the boy suspected he had a faint role in his disappearance. Just giving a little nudge was enough, and one from the many who tortured him was gone…
Unfortunately, many more remained.
Her eyes slowly opened, sitting up and looking around with a groggy expression.
She was back in her room. On the second floor of her café… sometime at the beginning of the 21st century.
Her room was considered normal sized by the people who lived in this age. But compared to her corporate provided flat in 2138, with just one room, it was still quite sizable — At first, she even considered it too spacious for her taste.
With barely a few things in it like a futon on the ground, a computer, TV and a console connected to it, it may even feel too empty for most.
Yet, for her, it was quite a luxury… almost a waste of space.
"Just another dream." She muttered as her vision started to clear. "Just another memory from the past."
Pulling her fingers through her lush, messy white hair, and inspecting a silky lock further confirmed her situation.
"Heh… guess, it is not that bad."
"Master, you are finally awake." Her sliding door revealed her "brother" — or rather the summon, which she called forth to play the role. Following him, two playful dogs came to welcome their owner properly.
"Do you wish for anything to eat?"
"Hmm, why not? I am famished. I'll leave it up to you." Giving one last caress to the two canines, she jumped up, stretched her limbs and cracked her joints.
Even through her loose pajamas, her muscle packed, yet feminine body was visible. Definitely much better than the scrawny, crippled creature she was before.
"Mmmm! What a wonderful day!"
Looking out the window, the sun hadn't even started to rise. It'll happen soon though. She simply felt it, the same way she felt the planet moving under her feet at 1000 miles/hour, falling through the endless void called space.
"I think I will use this day to rest. What do you say, Rorschach? Could you substitute for me today?"
"It is only natural. Please enjoy your day, O master mine. I will make sure no one disturbs you."
"Good. I think I will start with a long shower, then a meal. Afterwards, some training is due…"
She can't help it, this new body just craved training and practice. Whenever she skips out on it just a little, she feels restricted and uncomfortable for the rest of that week.
"Besides, after what happened "that" night, I have an ugly premonition, as things are going now, I will not have much free time in the near future." Better to enjoy it while she can.
Scene Change: Later That Day:
"Guuh! This is outrageous! Why are we even there?" Ravel Phenex scowled, looking around as they entered the café. "We've wasted enough time already! Why can't you just summon that human to your clubroom?"
"The truth is… we've tried more times than we care to count." Rias glanced at the daughter of the house of Phenex, then Sona who slumped her shoulders in bitter defeat. "It just doesn't work."
Both remembered the "not so polite" text message Gillian sent when they insisted on her appearance in their clubroom.
"And? You are the daughter of house Gremory. Why can't you control your subordinates!?"
"Lady Ravel, she is… a difficult case." Sona put it simply. "She is not someone who we can just push around."
Hearing this, Ravel scowled.
She had come as quickly to the human world as she could, bringing the news of what Dominus planned, even after her parents dismissed the possibility!
"They said: the Paimon family is our old ally… and Dominus would never do something like that with his close friend."
But after what she heard and witnessed in her brother's room, she was not so sure about that.
"Welcome to our café… What can Mittelt do for you?" With a flat tone and expression, Mittelt welcomed the group. "Oh…! It's just you again? Why is Mittelt even surprised?" She rolled her eyes annoyed at this point. "And you brought another bat? How joyous! What do you want again? Haven't you brought enough trouble for cute little Mittelt?"
"Do you allow a simple maid to speak with you like this?" Asked Ravel annoyed. "A simple human no less!"
"Well, she has a certain style. It cannot be denied." Hummed Rias, already getting used to the style of the short girl.
"Tch! Who are you calling a human, filthy devil?! Mittelt will let you know, she is a proud Fallen! Don't even compare her to a dirty human!"
"You don't feel like one…" Deadpanned Ravel as she leaned closer, critically measuring her.
"It is because of this… dammit! Don't play with Mittelt! Just tell us what you want!" Great, she almost gave away the secret of her current state. Ever since that damn exorcist told her how much that ring was worth, she'd become paranoid telling anyone about it!
"Tch! How impudent to speak to me like this…! You speak with the daughter of house Phenex. Know your place, maid!" As Ravel squinted her eyes, the temperature around the group started to rise rapidly.
"Do-Don't think Mittelt fears you… bat! You will see, Mittelt will call the manager! Then you will have a bad time!"
"Friendly, as always." Sighed Rias, shaking her head. At this point, she was already accustomed to the unfriendly style of the little maid.
"Please, Ravel, we don't have time for this." Ravel clicked her tongue at Sona's warning words, stopping the heat she radiated.
"Fine then! But this is not over…" She muttered indignantly. "I will put you in your place later."
"Why are you here anyway? Want a table, or what? Spit it out! Others are awaiting Mittelt's splendid service!" Mittelt tapped the ground with her feet, an annoyed look on her face while sweating nervously.
"We're looking for Gillian. Have you seen her?"
"No idea where she is. Haven't seen her all day…" Deadpanned the small girl. "If you want to know more, ask the other freak." The fallen pointed behind her back, which made Rias and the rest gaze towards the counter.
The counter was surrounded by girls of all ages — even a few men. From teens to the elderly, all swooning for one exact person.
"He is so cool!"
"I wonder if he is just as flexible in the bed…" an old lady chuckled sultrily.
Rias and the rest walked forward, trying to figure out what the commotion was about.
What they found surprised them! Or, rather not, considering Gillian's brother was rather handsome — even according to devil standards — it was not surprising seeing him surrounded by so many ladies.
Behind the bar, moving just as agile and peerless as his sister, falling into no blunder or unnecessary moves, like a true artisan, the master of the bottle and shaker, Rorschach perfectly prepared multiple cocktails at once! Or… were they really cocktails? The brownish, foaming liquid that came out from the shaker implied otherwise!
"And here you are! Five iced coffee with whipped cream and freshly grated chocolate! Voila! As ordered."
"I can't believe how good it is!"
"This is heavenly!"
"A true artisan!"
"Ladies! Ladies! You're making me feel embarrassed. It is just a simple iced coffee." The servant said, waving away the flattery.
"No! Me! I can offer you so much!"
"Our children will be beautiful!"
"Hahahaha!" The man starched the back of his head, looking slightly embarrassed as he heard the offers and endless rain of compliments.
"I see, you are enjoying yourself, Rorschach-san."
Rias and the rest suddenly cut their way through the small crowd gathered around the man, wasting no time waiting anymore.
"Hey! Little chit! Don't cut the line!"
"Yeah! We were here first!"
"Do you think just because you are a foreigner you can steal Rorschach-sama!?"
"Yes! Rorschach-sama will marry me! Don't even dare to think you can steal him!"
"No! You're wrong! He will marry me!" A lesser prattle started between several women.
At the same time, Rias also felt like the rest were glaring daggers at her and her group — Like hungry carnivores, protecting their meal from another predator.
"Please, can you send them away? We have important things to discuss."
"They look quite relentless…" Sona can't help but start to feel uncomfortable. She had a similar feeling when several fans of her sister started to stalk her, begging her to get them an autograph.
"I am sorry, but as my sister always says: first comes, first served! No exception! I ask for your patience. Until then, one of our maids will take care of your needs. Kiryuu-chan! Please, give our esteemed guests a table." The man waved to the student, who nodded with a bright smile.
"Coming, just a moment!" The girl with glasses answered lively, taking the order from another table.
"That's for you!"
"Rorschach-sama is so cool!"
"Yes! A true man never allows others to push him around!"
Sona and Rias looked at each other, then back at Rorschach. "Unfortunately, this can't wait. Please forgive us for doing this…" The Sitri heiress adjusted her glasses. "Rias, if you may… you are better doing this than me."
After nodding, Rias turned around; her eyes glowed for a moment as her hypnotic gaze activated.
"Please, leave us to speak with this man."
In an instant, almost every guest around changed. Not physically, rather their expression became blank and blissful, even their posture slumped slightly. Almost like they fell into a blissful trance.
"Ah! Of course!"
"We wouldn't want to hold you…"
"Tch! Just because they rule this territory they think they can do anything…"
And just like that, the adoring crowd who came in defence of the man quickly dispersed without a trace.
"So… Can we get your attention now?"
"I don't like when you do this with our customers." Rorschach started to loiter behind the counter, only sparing one glance to the three girls. Almost like he knew what happened. Like he already got used to dealing with the supernatural on a daily basis.
"It is not surprising though. Other supernatural beings living in this town are regulars here…" Even now, just glancing around, she instantly spotted several of them disguised as humans.
"Please don't do it again, or there will be consequences." It was a lazy look he gave to the three devil nobles, but Rias and the rest felt a strange coldness running through their spine, starting to tremble slightly.
The Princess of Ruin couldn't help but feel the same dread that she felt when she met that "Kirisakijakku" figure — that night.
"It is possible he is "him"?" She questioned and theorized ever since they appeared.
Devils are supposedly superior to humans, but right now, she felt like a defenceless hare staring down a hungry wolf.
"Is he… really a human?" Ravel questioned quietly, peeking out behind Sona.
"I… think so."
"Well, here I am! Ah! Rias-senpai! Sona-senpai! What a surprise! And your girlfriend? I have never seen her before. She is quite a cutie." Finally, Aika managed to reach them. Just in time, as they were about to be broken by the pressure.
Aika, of course, didn't understand what happened with the people around. Suddenly, they just left the handsome owner alone — almost like the mere voice of Rias charmed them to the bone.
In any case, she would keep it to herself for now. She has work to do.
"Hi, cutie! I am Aika, Aika Kiryuu. But you can call me Kiryuu-chan. What's your name?"
"Ra-Ravel, Ravel Phenex…" Shuttering embarrassed, Ravel introduced herself — even offering a cute curtsey to the girl who smiled at her so creepily friendly. "I-It is nice to meet you." She acted unbefitting her rank. Still, she couldn't help it, she was still shaken by Rorschach's "glare".
"It is a pleasure to meet you, Ravel-chan!" Aika smiled friendly. "So, I will be the maid serving you today, if you would come with me…"
"We came to see Rorschach-san…"
"Oh! Really?" The maid glanced between Sona and her employer.
"Yes…" She pushed up her glasses.
"Sorry to bother you Kiryuu-chan." Rorschach nodded in a friendly manner. "It seems; they came to discuss something related to my sister. They are quite insistent."
"I hope she didn't get in any trouble?"
"Well, Rias-chan? Sona-chan? Did she do something?" The man turned his gaze towards the devils, raising his brow, questioning.
"Really, what happened?"
"We would like to discuss it with him, privately… if you'll excuse us." Rias glanced at Aika, who sighed in annoyance.
"Haah! Fine then, but better tell me if she got into trouble, I am her friend as well, you know? If I can, I will help her."
"We will tell you, don't worry," Rorschach promised. "Now then, please, can you check on Mittelt-chan — before she says something she'll regret."
"Oh! Right!" Glancing on the side, Mittelt once again managed to get into trouble — currently, prattling with a very angry youkai. "I will be back."
"Are you sure she will manage it?" Sona asked, concerned.
"Don't worry, she might be a simple human, but a real problem solver. I trust her. Besides, our rules are clear: If you cause trouble, we throw you out."
"And you sure they will keep it?" Though knowing his sister, they may manage to take out weaker beings, the problems will arise if someone stronger comes here to cause trouble.
"Until now, nothing happened to warrant worry. Besides, I am confident in the fact that our local "landlords" will come to our aid if anything bad happens, right?"
"Ri-right…" Just as fast as his merry personality disappeared beforehand, and turned into a calculative monster, Rorschach's charm returned just as quickly. Winking and sticking out his tongue playfully. "Now then, what can I do for you, my ladies?"
"Ah… yes!" It took a moment for Rias to gather her composure again. For a moment, she felt like she was affected by some kind of charm — which in itself was a ridiculous idea. "We are looking for Gillian. Is she here somewhere? It is urgent. She might be in grave danger."
"Hmm. You ask where she is?" Rorschach tilted his head while he fondled his chin, on his face a pondering expression. "I have no idea…" he shrugged his shoulders with an easygoing, almost entertained expression. "And even if I knew, I wouldn't tell you. It is her day off…"
"Wha-what!?" Sona lost her cool for a moment, hitting the counter as she seemingly dashed forward. "She is in danger, and you don't know where she is?! Yo-You wouldn't tell!?" This was too much! Even the always calm and collected Sitri heiress lost her cool.
"First thing first, tell me what this is about. Coming here, panicking, and sharing nothing won't help anyone." He pushed cakes and hot chocolates before all three girls.
"Fine then…" Taking a deep breath, Sona finally calmed herself. She doesn't know what hit her. She usually never loses her cool. "Ravel, please, can you tell this gentleman why you came here?"
"We-Well…" The small girl hesitated for a moment, still feeling that chilling sensation in her spine encountering this man.
"Go ahead, I am listening." Yet, that warm smile this stranger offered just now was enough to gather her courage. She couldn't help but feel reinvigorated just by meeting his red eyes. Compared to his previous glare, it was reassuring, even hypnotizing.
"W-well… After my brother…" And thus, she told her tale. Starting with the rating game, then about the lethargic state her brother had fallen — after his defeat — entirely to the point where she came to the Gremory territory to ask for help after eavesdropping on that meeting.
"I see, that's concerning…" Rorschach seemingly fell into deep thought. "It is a miracle you are here, little one." he said, patting her head, messing it up slightly. Nonetheless, his manly hands filled Ravel with a strange feeling of security.
"We-Well… I-It was nothing special, I just used a teleportation circle to come here. I didn't do anything meaningful…"
"Nonsense! You risked your life to come here and warn her, and I appreciate that. Unfortunately, I can't help you with her location at the moment."
"You are her brother, surely, you know where she is!" Rias insisted.
"Gremory-san, please forgive me for saying this, but I am not like your brother who places a tracker on his sister, just to know where they are."
"Tha… Wait?! He did what?!"
"Or I guess… he placed a tracker on you." Jested the man with a smile — which was not a jest, since Sirzechs probably really placed some kind of tracker on her.
"Wha-what!?" Rias burst out flabbergasted. Did her brother do that? No! He wouldn't do that! Rorschach must be joking!
"Nonetheless, I respect her privacy, and believe she can take care of herself. That's why…"
"Yo-You don't understand! The guy who is after her…!"
"His family is very influential." Sona finished Ravel's sentence, on her face a grim expression. "…Rivaling even the Maou in strength." No matter how much of a troublemaker Dominus was, he was still amongst the most promising young devils of this generation.
Backed by the influence and wealth of his family made the "pig" a problematic opponent to face.
"That's concerning. But I still can't help you. Unfortunately, I don't know where she is. She is like a cat, sometimes she disappears, just to come back later. Have you tried to call her perchance?"
"Yes, we did. She left a rather… vulgar message."
"Ah! As expected. She doesn't like it when someone bothers her during her alone time. My only advice is to wait for her return. Or, tell me when and where this person who has a grudge against her will appear, and I will take care of them."
"I doubt you can handle these people."
"Try me." The man beamed confidently, making the three devils concerned if this man was truly right in the mind.
"So, not even an idea where she could be?"
"Dammit…!" Sona bit her lip, her fists trembling by her side.
"Sona?" Rias had hardly ever seen her girlfriend in this state and for it to be someone like Gillian?
"Why is she more concerned about her than me?"
It was Rias who Gillian helped, not Sona. It is her who first dragged Gillian into the supernatural when she invited her to her peerage, not Sona. It was her brother, who dragged Gillian into her Rating Game, not the Leviathan. Then why? "Is it possible…? Oh!"
Realization finally hit Rias like a train.
Since they made a bet with Sona to claim Gillian as their new piece, the Sitri heiress had been visiting this place more and more often — Even continuing after she lost, and became Gillian's unofficial fiancé. Ever since, almost on a daily basis, they play chess with Gillian.
"Sona never tells me the result…" Yet, seeing the small signs that glimpse out when Rias asks about it, the result was no question.
"Under normal circumstances, I would be happy she found someone who earned her interest. Yet, under the current case, it was not the right time."
"You don't understand! No matter what Gillian accomplished under the Rating Game. No matter how strong you are, that's nothing compared to what will come!"
"Unfortunate, but as the guardian of my beloved, it is my duty to shield her against possible harm. Even if it cost my life…!"
Gritting her teeth, Sona glared into the man's blood-red eyes, and Rorschach crossed his arms with a resolute expression, glaring back. Like it would be the war of minds, neither side willing to back away.
The expression of this man! It just made Rias remember the time when several people tried to kidnap her — trying to blackmail her family and brother. They almost got away with her, only to be stopped by Sirzechs.
"Never before did I see Onii-sama like that." That cold, calculated gaze... that silent fury Sirzechs offered to her captors honestly terrified the young Rias. But above all… that determined fire in his eyes to save her blazed like an inferno!
It was a blurry memory for now, but one scene she can't fully forget.
"The same thing I glimpse in his eyes now… the same in Sona's eyes." She didn't remember what happened with her captors, only guessing it was less than pleasant.
"In that case, please, help us find her. She might be in grave danger." Sona offered finally, already seeing she can't deter the man from his determination.
"Hmm, I see your point. In that case I…"
At that moment, the double door serving as the entrance of the café opened suddenly. Several men in suits pulled forth a rolled-up red carpet engraved by a symbol of a devil family.
Armour clad black knights and people in fancy clothes followed them.
These dark knights looked like they stepped out from some fantasy book, serving as the enforcers of the dark tyrant. Not to speak the heralds followed them wore uniforms befitting their role, with a strange, traditional plumed headwear.
"Who are these guys?"
"I don't know."
"It is some kind of show?"
The guests questioned as they witnessed the strange presentation, all their gazes turned to the new arrivals.
"Th-The Paimon's family crest!?" Ravel started to panic, spotting the familiar symbol on the red carpet.
"Guys, what the hell is happening here?" Even Aika walked near Rorschach and the rest. "Is it some kind of role-play again? You need to notify me before something like this happens. I also work here; you know?" Muttered the girl sour, almost offended as no one told her something like this will happen — again!
"Great! Just great! More freaks! If Mittelt had anywhere else to go…" But thinking about it, she had nowhere else to go. "Dammit!"
Thus, Mittelt just sat down in the corner and shook her head with a shrug. She would rather not get into this mess. She was not getting paid enough to deal with this!
"Sorry, I promise I will tell you next time." Rorschach played the innocent, making Sona and Rias sight in relief.
At least they don't need to use magic to modify her memories — that much. "But… instead of standing here, could you take some photos and videos? For the website and social media, you know?"
The man passed Aika his phone lazily, winking charmingly.
"Su-sure…" Shuttered the girl beet red while nodded, starting the app just as she was instructed.
"Great… just what we needed." Rias already feels that she and Sona will need to work extra hard to modify everyone's memories after this — possibly even calling some favors to remove everything from the internet.
At the moment the black knights and their armourless companions lined up on the two sides, the heralds raised their long trumpets and started their short, opening play.
Following them, a man with a fancy suit and air of nobility walked forth between the lines, having a thin moustache, and slicked back grey hair that mixed black.
By all means, with his pale skin, slit cyan eyes, and red sclera, he looked like some high ranked vampire. If not his short, curling horns, and forked devil tail, people might even mix him as such.
"Wow! That's some neat makeup!" Aika commented.
On his side a bronze skinned imp floated, carrying a royal pillow with a posh looking cylinder on it.
"Khm…" As he reached before the counter, he recovered the fancy, gold cylinder from the pillow, raising it and pulling out the scroll it housed. "As per Lord Dominus Al'Igna Paimon wishes, I hereby issue a challenge in his name. At this moment, before the gathered devil nobility and lowly peasants…" For a moment, he glanced at the people around, especially at Aika, who diligently recorded the event.
"Don't stop! You are doing good!" She showed a thumbs up, which earned an irritated frown from the devil — only for a moment before he continued.
"As I said… My Lord, the third son of house Paimon, Lord Dominus Al'Igna Paimon issues his challenge to Lady Gillian O'Dyēus, for the grave offence and loss she caused to him, and his house. For her crimes, my Lord wishes to take satisfaction."
"What challenge? He can't do this…! Gillian just…!"
The man stopped for a moment, turning his gaze towards the three devil nobles, then bowed his head respectfully.
"Ah! Lady Gremory. Lady Sitri. We expected to find you here. Accompanied with Lady Phenex, of course…."
"Wha-what!?" Ravel now panicked slightly. It can't be she led them here, can she? "Ho-How?"
"Please excuse us for being blunt, Lady Phenex, but you don't think you can spy on Lord Dominus' meeting and not be recognized, do you?" The piercing gaze of the man froze the youngest Phenex.
"Guhh…!" Ravel's knees trembled as she muttered, feeling guilty and slightly foolish not recognizing this plot.
"Just what Dominus thinks of challenging someone here? It is Sitri and Gremory territory. He can't just…!"
"What a turn of events!" Kyriuu grinned meanwhile.
Such a complex plot! To use the two most popular girls of the school for this "roleplay"? The idea of the century!
"A territory war!" She muttered with glee.
"As you know, Lady Gremory, as per noble devil custom dictates: the offended party has the right to issue a challenge to anyone they deem fit, anywhere — No matter the race or background…"
"…" Both Rias and Sona glared at this person. It was an old law the Maou of old brought forth so they can solve territorial disputes without wasting resources.
A law that was not removed from their code of conduct ever since. A law that almost no one used since the time of old because they had Rating Games now, and challenging someone this way was not fashionable anymore.
By all means, according to history books, the devils of old loved grand bloodbaths and most of them were scheming battle maniacs.
Still, from time to time, it was easier to solve their problems by challenging the other party. This method was also used by the crafty, but weaker devils to gain territory and influence easier.
"Naturally, devils of higher rank most likely never refused such a challenge from an inferior party…"
There were two main reasons behind it.
Firstly: They loved to humiliate their foolish opponents, crush them, and take everything from them — without killing them. All of it to not waste any more time and resources than necessary — also, so they can continue to torture the defeated party and their subjects.
Secondly: The devils of old just loved attention, showing off their power and skills — some still — and were a very prideful bunch.
If a high-class devil refused the challenge of an inferior opponent that may seem like weakness in the eyes of others — which opened up the opportunity for other parties to attack.
"Still… to Dominus openly issuing a challenge to a "human" this way? Weird!" Even the two heiresses who studied devil history and customs extensively found it strange. Why does someone with Dominus' background go this far? Why bother with this?
"…After agreeing with the terms and type of duel, an honourable fight between the sides will be organized." Continued the man afterwards. "Naturally, the masters of the territory in which this duel is held have the right to participate in the judging committee — to guarantee the fairness of the event."
"Oh! So it is a traditional Knightley fight? It is so exciting!" Aika's face beamed in excitement.
She read many western love stories where knights challenge each other either for the hand of the girl or to protect the loved one's honour and chastity.
Nonetheless, Gillian was a girl, which made all of this extra strange, but at the same time, revolutionary!
"If you ask me, in the 21st century, it was damn time someone gave females more roles — Not just the damsels in distress…"
"Say… can I participate too? It sounds fun."
She had no idea where Gillian hired these people, but she as well wanted to play! It sounded too fun to be left out.
"Is this monkey with you, Lady Gremory, Lady Sitri?" The man with the cyan eyes gave a disgusted glance to the maid.
"Oi! You don't have to be so rude!" Grumbled Aika pouting. "Just say if I can't play, I will understand…"
"So… where is the challenged party?" Ignoring the student, the herald continued. "Lord Dominus awaits an answer as soon as possible, so they can discuss the terms."
"I refuse to approve this!"
"As well as I…" Sona stepped forward on Rias' side. "We do not approve of this challenge. The challenged party might help Rias win the Rating Game, but she is still a simple human. Your master wouldn't fall so low to challenge a human, does he?"
"Hmph! Of course not! Lord Dominus was simply courteous with that monkey. He was impressed with her capability to overcome someone like Riser-sama and his whole Peerage, thus, even despite his losses, he offered this chance to redeem herself, that's all. He also wishes to end this dispute in an open way, as civilized as possible. It would be unfit to his position to simply send assassins to take her out…"
"We still didn't approve!"
"I forbid this duel!"
"Hmmm… I see. Unfortunately, but being it is a direct challenge issued to another party, the present devil nobility has little to say in this matter. You, my ladies, at most can forbid the duel conducted in your territory, in which case, my Lord will choose another place…"
There was no way around it, the challenged law was clear about such a situation.
If only Gillian was a member of their peerage or would be their subordinate, they could take the responsibility and face Dominus themselves. Even apologizing and paying reparation would be enough. But like this? There was no way around it.
"But maybe…" What if they ask their family, or even one of their Maou relatives to solve the issue?
They have a good connection with the Paimon family! They could even convince the head of the clan to take hold of Dominus and force him to back away!
"Yes! With their influence, we can…!" Glancing on her side, Rias glimpsed as Sona can barely contain herself. "I hope she doesn't do anything reckless."
Yet, she had to be disappointed, because Sona stepped forth in the next moment.
"I would like to…"
"Is it possible to volunteer as the challenged party's champion?" Unfortunately, or not to the Sitri heiress, the man was faster than her.
"Rorschach!" All parties nailed their eyes at the man, most of all, the three devil noble who were present. "You can't…!?"
"Hmm… According to the rules, it is possible." The bringer of challenge nodded. "But the choice needs to be confirmed and accepted by both sides. Especially direct approval necessary from the side you wish to fight for."
"Interesting. In that case, I will do my best to convince her!" Beamed the man carelessly. "Nonetheless, you can tell your Lord, we accept his challenge."
"You can't do this! You will be…!"
"Ah! Splendid!" Nodded the vampire-like figure approvingly. "Unfortunately, as much as your willingness is praiseworthy, the direct confirmation of the challenged party is needed. So, where is she? My Lord wishes to solve this dispute as soon as possible."
"Unfortunately, she is out of the house currently, but I can pass her the challenge."
"Very well…" With a curt bow, the man snapped his fingers, and the small imp floated before Rorschach with the scroll. "This document contains the written contract about the challenge. Sign it above the line, and put a seal on it. Afterwards, the parties can come together to discuss further terms."
"What if she refuses?" Rias asked worriedly.
Though, knowing Gillian, she might accept such a challenge — just for the fun of it.
Deep inside, all three devil nobles hoped she would refuse — or at least ask someone capable to be her champion.
"It would be even better to directly apologize to Dominus."
Gillian might be humiliated before the man, but survive at least.
"Dominus is a pig, a playboy, but above all what the Japanese people call "Chuunibyou", but not a killer…"
Yet, as both Rias and Sona thought about this option, they realized, Gillian was not someone who would ever agree on that! She probably would rather die than back away!
Gillian came to their school more than a month ago, but until now, she never backed away from a challenge. Be it connected to the supernatural world, or any other things she faced in the school. It will be most likely no different in this case too.
"It can't be helped then, I will ask Sairaorg to be her champion…" Knowing her cousin, he surely agrees with this. "He as well hates when the stronger bullies the weak."
The question is: Will Gillian agree to be represented by someone else? Better question… how the hell can she and Sona convince her to accept a helping hand they offer? Would Sona even agree to someone else to represent her betrothed?
Her sudden silence in the matter was anything but reassuring.
"I can only hope she doesn't do something reckless…"
Maybe she could convince Rorschach to at least come to his senses and convince his sister?
The man looked reasonable enough — aside from the part, he took up the task to fight in his sister's stead.
But at this point, Rias considered this as a selfless act to protect his beloved — just like their own sibling would do in their stead.
If they can just make him understand how dangerous the task he volunteered is, maybe they could deter him from this path. He can even help them convince Gillian to let herself be represented by someone else.
"After Nii-sama dragged Gillian into my rating game, and she almost single-handedly won it, I feel I owe her this much." After all, she saved her from an unwanted marriage — no matter how vulgar her methods were, they worked well.
Moreover, it was her brother's meddling with her affairs that dragged the girl into Supernatural politics — which means the current situation was her sides' fault.
"After what happened in the party, I would even volunteer to be her champion…"
The only problem was… Rias was not sure she was strong enough to win against Dominus. Knowing Sona who had even more reason to volunteer, she probably thought the same.
"No matter how you look at it, or how easily his brother took care of him in the party, many still count Dominus amongst the most promising young devils from the 72 pillars…"
Which means he can't be handled that easily as others.
"He is almost the same age as us, and he already played three official rating games…" all three which he easily dominated and won against opponents of superior number and experience.
"That would be… unfortunate." Put it simply the herald, answering the question of what would happen if the challenge would be refused.
Almost every present party understood the underlying meaning of this sentence, all of which made the three devil nobles gulp and shudder.
"My master awaits an answer, as soon as possible. Please, don't make him wait." Elegantly, the man bowed once more, using his heels to turn around and leave.
Following him, like a well-oiled machine, all the knights and servants left, rolling up the royal carpet like it was never there before.
"Well, that was exciting…" Rorschach smiled while fondling his chin.
"Exciting you say?" Sona hummed while squinted her eyes. "Are you aware, what will happen if you or she will fight against him? Or his chosen champion?"
She doesn't even dare to think what that man would do if Gillian refused his challenge.
There is little way they can come out positively from this situation.
"Haah! It can't be helped." Gulped Rias. "I as well would not think about that. In that case, I will ask someone capable to be her champion." Rias offered.
"No, I will ask someone. She is my… " Sona stopped and gulped with an embarrassed face before she blurted out the obvious. "She is my responsibility…"
"What a turn…!" Aika gaped while muttering. She never expected this turn. "A subtle love plot? So exciting! So many emotions!"
Yet, for both offers, Rorschach right away shook his head.
"As much as I appreciate your willingness, I can't allow that."
"Bu-but…" Ravel shuttered in horror. "Are you out of your mind, human!? You never saw the Rating Games he played! Even with an incomplete set… he and his whole peerage is a monster!"
"You are obstinate, just like her!" Sona sighed disapprovingly. "Are you aware, if you refuse our help now, we may not be able to help you later?"
"I am aware, still…"
"Typical…" Rias muttered half sour, half angry.
Just like his sister, the man was also too stubborn! Why do humans like this exist? Why can't they listen to reason?
"Almost like Ise, he is trying so hard, but gets himself injured all the time… just because of me."
"Just this once, listen to us! If you don't, you can both be seriously injured, even die! Dominus is unlike Riser; he is…!"
"Rias-san, Sona-san. Please, listen to me for a moment…"
"Huh?" Every present party blinked when Rorschach raised his palm, stopping the devil princess in their tracks.
"You know. We came a long way to reach this point…"
The man sighed almost defeated.
"…We overcame many obstacles together. Obstacles that would break anyone else. Facing challenges and hardships, you couldn't even imagine."
Looking away, it was like the man's eyes went blank, recalling his, and his master's adventure together through the nine worlds and beyond.
At that moment, a sad smile curled on his face recalling his failures.
"Unfortunately, during our journey, I couldn't be on her side all the time, can't protect her when she needed the most, and thus, she was forced to grow independent, grow up too fast. After a while, she even feared asking for help due to the numerous betrayals she faced. Just because I was not there for her when she needed it most. Because I was too weak to be of any help…"
"That… I didn't know." Rias glanced away in shame. Even Sona started to feel bad.
"That's why…" Rorschach started to shudder, gulping hard before breaking down in tears. "…she never once allowed me to play the role of the cool big brother!"
And just like that, the man literally burst out in "manly tears", ruining the tense, dramatic atmosphere he built until now with this comical display — which made both Rias and Sona remember two exact figures from their life.
All three devils were completely flabbergasted by the sudden turn of mood.
"To be her Onii-sama I was called forth, and I can't fulfil this purpose! This is… unbearable!" The man trembled as he clenched his fist, tears rolling from his eyes intensely.
Just now, Rias and Sona can't help but compare him to their sister and brother — with all the sometimes clingy and cringe behaviour they showcased when they were around.
"You can't be serious…!"
"Rias-chan! Sona-chan! Ravel-chan! Maybe you do not yet understand, but your older siblings surely! As her cool big brother, it should be my task to protect and take care of her — Serve as a positive example. Yet, she never once allowed me to fulfil this role. I… can't bear this anymore! I want to be someone she can look up to. Yet, I fail to complete my task. I feel… empty. Purposeless…"
"So… I ask you. Please, let me do this. Even if I were defeated, I will proudly stand my ground to protect her until the end!"
'Sniff!' "That's beautiful…" Aika sniffed hearing Rorschach's determination, even clapping her hands.
"Thank you, Kiryuu-chan."
"Tch! Is this some joke to you?!"
"Joke? Sona-chan? Is a man's determination a joke to you? Is my determination, my wish to protect what's dearest to me a joke?"
"No matter what you say, I will take this challenge head-on! For that is the elder sibling's task: to protect their little princess— and look cool doing it." He started to pose, making the scene even more dramatic — and earning him quite some cheers and clapping from the people around.
"You said it right!" Aika, who still thought it was some kind of role-play nodded approvingly.
She can't help it. The previous challenge scene was cool with all those figurants and costumes — they even managed to get flying animatronics which made it even cooler.
But this?! His acting was beyond words, making the previous scene secondary in comparison and grandiose.
"Just this once, I would like to take the responsibility to protect her. To be his Onii-sama — as the Japanese say. To feel, she needs me!"
"Lo-Look, I am sure…"
"No! Don't say a word!" He stopped Rias' monologue by placing his index on her lips and slightly shaking his head. "I know what you mean. You want to stop me. But I already decided, it is final! I will be a cool Onii-sama for her! I will fulfill my purpose!"
"Shh… it is decided. If you want to help, tell me everything you know about the challenger. Trust me, I got this!"
Winking and showing a thumbs up, for a moment, Rorschach eyes glowed up.
"I-I guess, we can do this much…" Rias shuttered embarrassed. "But you will call us if you need help. Understood?"
Agreed the man with a trustful expression.
After this, the three devils told him every detail they knew about Dominus, his Peerage, and the Paimon family.
Leaving the café afterwards, and letting the man continue his work.
"Wow! That was some quality acting!" Aika slipped before him afterwards. "Tell, all of this looked too real. Were they actors? Or does the supernatural exist? What about Gillian?" The girl asked, teasing. "And all of this devil plot? How the hell did you people find out such a thing? It is so complex it is almost too confusing! It may even be too real…" Not to speak… How the hell did they manage to convince Rias and Sona to participate!? They are the most popular girls in the whole school! Moreover, they fit the devil princess role too perfectly!
"Some girls already gossiped about them being some devils…" Yes! They were intelligent, bewitching, beautiful and tempting. The perfect combination which described devils perfectly — two succubi who snatched away all the guys around.
"More important question? What he said about Gillian and his past is true?" After seeing Gillian saving that little girl from that truck, and witnessing day after day her accomplishments— which she shrugs down as "nothing special" — Aika started to think it might be true.
"Indeed, they as well look too perfect to be humans…" Summing this up, all of this started to look like the messed-up plot of some Light novel, or manga.
"And it even has some romantic subplot! Or some sexual tension?" It would be even better if it would be some quality rom-com with a minor amount of action. "Man! I hunger for some good romantic plot! It is so rare nowadays. Always those violent stories, only guys like them." She almost snorted.
"Fufufuf…! Maybe it is true, maybe not." Answered the man cryptic. "It is only a matter of perspective, if you consider all of this a charade, or take it seriously."
"You speak like Gillian. Always so mysterious. One may mix the two of you with some supernatural entity hiding in this café. But that would be ridiculous, right?" Aika asked, half coquettish, half doubtful.
"…" For a moment, the man stopped, before turning back to Kiryuu with a smile. "Of course, who would believe such nonsense? Now then, can you please show me the recording? We may need to edit it before we post it."
"Oh! Right! Here they are!"
And thus, the girl with glasses presented what she recorded. She was not even suspected of how close she was to the truth.
Scene Change: Ebisu District: Kuoh: Little Bit Later:
"Wow! I have never seen this part of the town!" Gillian turned her head left and right, passing this strange part of the town.
By all means, this hidden little place teemed with Supernatural beings, walking in broad daylight without disguises, conversing and trading with each other.
Without a doubt, this district amongst all gave the feeling of an Asian marketplace from some fantasy novel — with the variety of races walking around freely.
Cosy small shops and buffets dotted the sides run by families. People of different races and backgrounds mingled and traded freely.
"Welcome to the Ebisu district, the place where nonhuman beings can walk free." From simple devils to yokai, entirely to dwarves and other mythological beings, all kinds of people melded in this marketplace.
"I never knew such a place existed in this town…" Well, it was not entirely true, but Kiba doesn't have to know about that. With her servant, they already scouted this place beforehand.
"Well, normally simple humans can't enter. See those torii gates at the entrance? And those devil markings?"
"Yeah… I guess they serve as some kind of failsafe so normal humans can't wander in accidentally." Obviously…
"Exactly!" Kiba confirmed their purpose. "Normal people instinctively avoid this place thanks to the enchantment surrounding this district. The few who wander inside and lack the proper qualities only see it as an Asian marketplace, filled with humans."
"That's useful! Still, it is weird! Aren't torii gates connected to the Shinto religion? I mean, aren't you a devil? Devils are usually wary of sacred places, no?"
"Fufufu… you are quite perceptive. Yes, that might be true. But you see, the yokai community is the most numerous in Japan, thus, they make up for the majority of the population when it comes to nonhuman beings."
"Let me guess, they made a deal with the devils who rule this territory."
"Exactly." Kiba hummed, agreeing. "They and other supernatural beings can live in the town, close to civilization and protected from external threats by us, in return, they offer other services, and let us pass freely."
"So, both sides benefit."
"Yes. Though, this district in Kuoh is quite small compared to the one in Kyoto. In fact, ours is one of the few towns in Japan controlled by devils and not some other faction. Even before Buchou and Kaicho overseeing this area, this deal between devils and yokai stood."
"Hmm, so this town is exceptional?"
"You can call it that, yes. At least, it is a very special place to me."
As they walked through the streets, many people waved to Kiba, smiling at him friendly — almost like they knew him for a long time.
"Ah! Kiba-kun! The usual?"
"Here, Kiba-san, this on the house!"
"I see; people know you here well."
"I come here often." Kiba put it simply. "You know, in this district, there are many people who locally grow their products, or keep exotic livestock. Products you can't find in the human world naturally." The boy waved to the locals around, friendly, almost like he knew personally each of them. "And as you might have recognized, one of my hobbies is cooking. I like when the material is fresh, and not imported from a faraway place! Realms away…"
"Yeah… I saw your DeviTube channel. "Handsome Dude Does Cooking," Really? Can't you come up with some different title?"
"We-Well, do you know any better name?" He snatched out the cigarette from Gillian's mouth at the moment she put it in, shuttering slightly in embarrassment. "And how do you find my channel? I never spoke about it!" Mostly due to him knowing Gillian too well, and being unable to calculate her reaction.
Sometimes she makes fun of things, sometimes she finds them interesting, and asks him to tell her more. She was really a person he couldn't figure out, no matter how much they spoke.
"But maybe, that's why I like to speak with her. She is not lying if she is interested in something or not. Not pretending…"
Amongst all, not interested or charmed by his appearance like other girls — that was a big plus.
"But also, she shares very little about her past, or where she and her brother really came from."
All of this combined draws Kiba to her, wishing to know her even more.
Simply put, he felt she had a similarly tragic past like his own, and that's why she didn't share it.
"It was amongst the recommended videos when I searched for some material about you guys. You have quite a nifty amount of subscribers. The algorithm even placed your videos almost on the top popularity-wise." The girl recovered one more cigarette, lighting it.
"You shouldn't do that; it is bad for your health."
"Hmm, it is a special cigarette. It recovers HP and provides positive buffs. Want some?" She offered the box to Kiba.
"Hmm…" Once more, Kiba took out the smoke from her mouth, snapping it in two, dismissing the offer.
"Yes, boss!" She teased him, which made the boy gasp for a moment but nonetheless motioned to follow him.
Soon, they reached a small shop on the side, dealing with all kinds of things, from spices entirely to different concoctions.
"Ah! Young Kiba, I assume, you came for your order." The elder lady — who was most likely an oni if anything going by her small horns and red skin — welcomed Kiba with a warm smile.
"Yes, I came for it."
"Hmm, a moment. Ah! And who is this spectacular young lady on your side? Well! Well! Kiba-kun, you finally found someone? Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh!" She laughed quite sultry. "Since some time, I started to worry you might lean the other way. But this old lady can rest in peace now."
"N-No… She is!"
"Nahh! Kiba-kun! Your blabbermouth already spoiled our relationship?" Teasing, Gillian grabbed Kiba's arm, leaning on his shoulder slightly. "Hi! I am Gillian O'Dyēus, Obāsan (granny)! Kiba-kun's…"
"She is not my…!" Kiba tried to retort, but it was already too late.
"Welcome, young lady. It is so good to see Kiba-kun finally found his partner. And you are so polite! It is rare to find such a nice girl among the youngsters. Most really are rotten… empty…"
"Some of us indeed, unfortunately…"
"And she can even see how things go nowadays! You are really lucky, Kiba-kun."
"Ye-yes…" At this point, Kiba was too embarrassed to back out of this situation.
"Hope you keep Kiba-kun well."
"I try my best, but he is a stubborn boy."
"Indeed he is…" Opening her foggy eyes slightly, the lady measured the two strict.
"You know him long, Obāsan?"
"Ever since Mistress Gremory first brought him here years ago, yes. Such a poor boy he was back then. I was worried he would lose his way in his sorrow. Fortunately, he matured nicely." Glancing between the two, the elder oni offered an even wider grin, her veiled eyes glinted something "dangerous".
"Ye-Yes… well." Kiba shuttered with a gulp. "I-I would like to converse more, but we are in a hurry. Can you please hand my order to us…? I mean, to me, my order?"
"Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Of course." Chuckled the young lady with a wink. "I wouldn't want to hold the young lovers."
Ignoring the beet red boy, the old Oni put together the package Kiba ordered.
Compared to how old she looked, she worked fast, under a minute she prepared everything.
"This will be all."
"Tha-Thank you…" After paying, Kiba turned around and was about to leave when Gillian recognized the old lady signed her to lean closer, pushing a strange phial in her hand.
"Here, some little extra. Family recipe. Take care of his needs well, dear. Male devils are more virile than other races…" After measuring her from tip to toe, the old lady gave her a mischievous wink, making Gillian blink at first, then go lobster red immediately as she realized what she implied.
"But seeing you, you probably don't need to worry about that. Ohohohohoho…!"
"Thank you… I guess."
Saying their goodbyes, they left the small shop behind.
The silence was prevalent between the two for a long time, visiting several more shops in solemn silence — Even slowly leaving the district behind.
"Why did you do that? Why did you say…that?" Kiba finally broke the silence.
"Tha-That we are lovers!" The boy stammered even saying this out loud.
"Well… that moment it sounded like a fun thing to do." But thinking about it now? She was deeply embarrassed how badly it ended.
The old granny just handed her some liquid with a weird colour.
Adding how and what she said when she handed it to her, the player was sure it was not something she wanted to put in her bathwater.
"I-I see…" The boy gulped. "S-So, you don't mean it?"
"I mean… it is just two friends, hanging out, no? I mean, it is not some date? That would be weird."
"Yes! Of course! Nothing else! I mean, not a date!" Kiba corrected himself immediately, forcing back his usual bright expression to his face.
"So… Why did you call me here then? You didn't tell me yet. Just to hang out and shop around? Your message sounded pretty urgent. And you spoke about some project of yours. Can you tell me already?"
She came because Kiba sent a message that he wants to show her something, and he needs her help with a project.
What was that project? He didn't tell her yet. He only said he will reveal it in time.
"We-Well… I just wanted to apologize."
"What for?" From the corner of her eyes, Gillian recognized two figures following them in the crowd, wearing what looked like a thick cloak.
They have been doing this ever since they left the park where they met.
Honestly, it started to get annoying and tiresome — especially the loud growl that left their stomach whenever they left a food stand behind.
"I acted selfishly recently. I thought… only I have problems, only I suffer. Thinking only I have a painful past. In my selfishness, I don't even recognize others have problems too. Didn't recognize I hurt them while they tried to help…"
"So, you blame yourself?"
"Yes…" Kiba sighed sadly. "My memories from back then resurfaced when I spotted that photo in Issei's home. I… everything came back when I saw that sword. Then those exorcists also arrived."
"And they brought the rest with themselves?"
"Yes…" The boy gulped. "I feel shameful lashing out at everyone who wanted to comfort me. Especially to you, when you just wanted to help."
"Well, I guess, everyone has their devils in the closet." Even she… Oh, if Kiba just knew how many skeletons she kept there, he would avoid her like hipochonder a plague riddled sandwich.
"Yes…" Kiba sighed in defeat. "You know, I was an orphan, never knew my real parents. Then, the church took me in. I thought I would finally have a place. A home where I can belong. But I was wrong…"
A subtle tear rolled down on Kiba's face as they reached a more abandoned place, walking out from the district to a parkier area, where barely a few people wandered.
"We… were used, experimented on. Sacrificed just to find a way to make more sacred sword wielders."
"Those people… they made us endure horrible things. Day after day, less and less children were around. Day after day our numbers dwindled, and we started to lose hope, just as well our health declined rapidly."
Gillian listened to his story patiently, and as she heard, the more came back to her from her past childhood. The corporate orphanage where she was "raised", and tested day after day.
"No, it was not an orphanage, rather a slaughterhouse, a showroom for others to see our misery. A human test site where they could freely test cruel methods to break the human psyche…"
It was not rare people in suits and lab coats appeared, picking several children and taking them away, never to see them again.
Doctors came sometimes to examine them, giving them pills and injections, even drugs, making some of them die from shock or allergic reaction.
"Some of us also had to watch strange recordings from time to time..." Some of them went mad, some simply became a different person after a while — watching those weird films and recordings.
Even she was subjected to them at some point…
"Those who resisted were beaten to crap by the wardens of that place." Troublemakers are taken away to work in camps, rarely coming back, and even if they did they came back as shells of their former self.
"We were abused by our own guards, even raped, as even the wardens who intended to protect us was too frustrated to care anymore. The few who tried to help were quickly replaced…"
One or two of the kids died? Who cares? There were many more "rats" in the streets they could drag in as a substitute.
"No one cared about us. No relative, nor real identification. Even if there was any sign of our real self, it was erased after a while. Without all of this, we were the discarded trash of society. We only had numbers attached to us…"
As long as the ones that led the "slaughterhouse" could satisfy the contractor's needs, no one cared about what happened there.
"Intelligence and physical tests were constant. Testing our growth and capability, and picking up those they deemed useful for future projects."
Having a sickly body, further weakened by the constant testing and drugs, she barely reached the age where the company recognized her "unnaturally" high scores in the written tests.
After that, her life turned out for the better. Naturally, such a deal with the "devil" also had its own cost…
"Of course, they wouldn't want to waste such "talent" in that hellhole. Thus, they offered me a deal. A way out…"
Die in the dirt, or work for them. In return, she gets medication, education, a new identity, and money. What does she have to offer? Everything of course. Her very being…
"I knew it too well… it was just another prison I will be bound into." That time, it was a better option than death. Even when she had to leave behind the very few fellows who helped her survive. It was either them or "him"! She had little choice.
"I had no other choice…! I am sorry!"
Shaking her shoulder, Gillian came back from the depths of her memories. Horrible images she thought she buried long ago once more appeared before her hollow eyes.
"I am sorry; my story must have brought forth your own bad memories."
"It is the past now, doesn't matter." The player loosened her tie slightly, several drops of sweat rolling down on her forehead as her hand slightly trembled.
Strange, as ever since she arrived, she never really sweated that much.
"You know, if you want, I will listen to your story too. Maybe it will help you if you tell me what you and your brother went through. It helped me greatly. I could tell you my past."
"I…" The problem was, she couldn't really tell it. Not yet at least.
Yet, before Gillian could say anything, the intense sound of someone's stomach rumbling disturbed the moment.
"Irina! Be quiet, they will recognize us!"
"But I am so hungry!"
"Me too! But try to get a hold on yourself!"
"Who walks there?"
Calling out for them, the two cloaked figures who followed them walked out from their hiding.
Leaving the Ebisu district, the place where they currently stood was abandoned, not a soul present aside from the four.
"You again!?" Kiba's eyes widened, his expression twisting into a spiteful rage. Right away, his stance changed, summoning forth one of his cursed swords.
"We meet again, Kiba Yuuto."
"You are those two exorcists who visited my shop with Issei-kun?"
"They did what?" Kiba asked, surprised.
"I will tell you later." Gillian put it short.
"Thank you for the yummy food!" Irina thanked her livelily. "Can you give us some more? We are hungry!"
"What? She might have some." Reasoned the airheaded exorcist. "And I am so hungry! They bought a bunch of stuff! Sharing is caring!" Pouted the carrothead girl defiantly.
"You were the one who ate the last portion this morning, and you didn't share! I haven't even eaten anything since yesterday, and you are the one complaining?"
"But it was not enough! It was just a few bites!"
"Umm… excuse us?"
"What?!" The two exorcists snatched their heads towards Gillian and Kiba, almost disturbed she dared to stop their prattle.
"So, why are you guys following us around?" Gillian questioned them. "Only to entreat some food? If that's the case, we can treat you some."
"Gillian! You can't! They are…!?"
"Two hungry girls, and we bought more than enough materials to treat them… I think. Aren't you the one who said: I want to treat everyone for a good meal as an apology?"
"That's… different! They are…!"
"Exorcists, I know. But aren't you the one who said you want to make good for your mistake? What's a better start than making peace, and not war?"
Though she said this, she was sure she wouldn't be able to do it if one of her past torturers would appear before her.
"I am sure, Kiba-kun is better than me in this regard." At least, she hoped the boy can get past his past, and start a new life — This time, for real.
"Thank you very much! God bless your sou… Wait a moment?! You knew we were following you!?" Only now does Irina recognize that tiny detail.
"Since when?!" Xenovia's eyes widened in surprise.
"Since the park. You are not really good at hiding your presence."
"They have been following us for that long!?" Kiba asked, surprised. "Why didn't you say anything?"
"You didn't recognize? I thought you did and that's why we are going towards an abandoned place…"
"No… that was not my intention." The boy muttered with a red face.
"Of course, he can't recognize us that easily, silly! The new camouflage cloaks we received from the church hide us from the senses of everyone! There is no way a simple devil…"
"Irina! You shouldn't tell them that! We shouldn't reveal the church's secrets to these blasphemers!"
"Sowwyyy!" The girl with twin tails whined while the one with short hair pulled her cheek.
"So, you came after me. I should have thought so. Your exorcist kind never changes…!" Every cell in Kiba's body trembled, urging him to take revenge for his defeat, for all the orphans who lost their lives in that terrible experiment.
"Kiba Yuuto, we ask you to stand aside. Though you are a blasphemer devil, we do not wish to deal with you anymore. Our deal with your master still stands, we will leave you alone — for now. We only came for her." Xenovia pointed at Gillian.
"What business do you have with her? What's the meaning of this?"
"Xenovia…? Should we tell them?"
"Yes, that would be the most reasonable thing to do." Xenovia nodded, turning back to the two before them. "We received an urgent communication from the church, from the highest circles, which states someone with the exact appearance like her stole the fragments. Someone who hides in this town, and leads a café with her culprit brother."
"Eh?" Gillian tilted her head confused.
"No, that cannot be true! You are lying!" Kiba barked back angry and defiant, not willing to believe what the two exorcists said.
"Believe it or not, that's the truth." Xenovia stated as calm as a frozen lake. "We will only ask you once. Hand back Excalibur, and surrender yourself, here and now. Do so, and we will make sure you will receive a fair trial before the Lord and the Seraphim."
For long moments, everyone remained silent. Anxiously, Kiba glanced at Gillian, pleading in his soul for his friend's innocence, that it is a gross mistake.
"Eh… Guys, can't we just sit down and speak this through? I am sure it is just a misunderstanding." Gillian tried to reason with them. "You know, like civilized people. I did no such thing." Though, she had an idea who would communicate such lies towards them.
"Koka guy, if it was you, one chance off — Two remained. Use it wisely or you will have a baad time!"
"No…" Xenovia stated cold. "Our orders are clear. You will come with us now, or we will bring you in by force."
Both girls pulled out their swords.
Xenovia revealed her cumbersome looking Excalibur Destruction — the rags that covered it fell to the ground.
Irina transformed the thin string that held her cloak around her neck into Excalibur Mimic.
"Gillian, stand back…" Kiba as well summoned a dark sword in his hand, standing between the sides.
The brown bags he held and contained the ingredients for cooking fell to the ground, their contents scattered all around.
"At least can you tell me who gave you the info? Any concrete evidence, so I may protect myself before the judges?"
"We are not authorized to reveal that."
"We-Well, we said, we got the info through a secret channel."
"So, no evidence, or anything. You just blindly follow some shady intel without investigating it? Huh?"
"The communication came directly from the church. We have no reason to doubt it."
"I see, so you as well are just a bunch of brainwashed cretins, trusting every bit of info you receive without checking it…" Gillian muttered disgustedly. Naturally, this earned a rather furious glare from both exorcists.
"Xenovia, should we…?"
"Hmph! Whatever you think, it doesn't matter. One way or another, you will come with us. God will decide your fate afterwards."
"You know what? Fuck you, and your God. I have had enough of this nonsense. I don't have to prove anything!" Using her heels, Gillian turned around, still holding the bags that contained the stuff they wanted to use for their cooking session.
"I am going home, if you want to do something, do it now, or go home. Kiba-kun. I have enough of this shit. Come, so we can start the preparation. Ignore these cosplayers…"
"So, you resist, so be it! Irina, do as we discussed."
"Gillian, look out!" Using his knightly speed, Kiba was between the two sides in an instant.
"Do not stand in our way, Kiba Yuuto, we have no business with you!" Xenovia pushed her oversized dark sword against Kiba's cursed tool. The sheer power behind her strike made the ground underneath them depressed and crack.
In her hand, "Excalibur Destruction" made the Gremory knight sweat bullets, even his swords started to crack and tremble under the pressure.
"Ghhh! I-I can't! I will not let you hurt her!"
"So, that's your choice…"
"Sto-stop right there!" Meanwhile, Irina was already before Gillian, holding her elegant, and sleek sword firm. The fragment that is only called "Excalibur Mimic".
"For fuck's sake… why can't you people leave me alone?"
"I would rather prefer if you to come along peacefully. No matter how much of a blasphemer you are, the Bible teaches forgiveness."
"The Bible you say?" Gillian sighed as she shook her head.
She had her own negative opinion about the contradictions contained by that book, and the being called "God" described by it, but she rather not elaborated just now. She simply isn't in the mood to convince these two zealots.
"Look, you look like a nice girl. Why not make a deal? I will treat you to some food, and you convince your friend to be reasonable and speak this through. I have no bones to pick with you."
"Guuh!" Hearing the offer that contained the "food", Irina started to consider Gillian's offer.
"Irina! Don't fall into temptation! She just wants to bribe you!"
"Thank you, Xenovia! I will not fall, don't worry!"
"Hah! Why can't I have one normal day?"
As Gillian shook her head, the girl with carrot hair lunged forth, trying to disable this blasphemer who dared to stain God's name.
Gillian stepped back just in time, only to recognize the sizable gash that opened on one of her bags.
From the opening, one by one the ingredients started to fall to the ground.
"Oi! That's not nice! Look what you've done? I hope you can pay for it!"
"Ju-Just stand down! I don't want to hurt you!"
'Clang! Clang! Clang! Clang! Clang!'
Meanwhile, more and more, the pressure was put on Kiba. He was fast, he was agile, his technique peerless. Yet, he lacked the proper power to stop Xenovia's devastating attacks.
"I see you learned from our previous duel, Kiba Yuuto. Finally, you discarded the foolish notion to fight with an oversized sword, while you were unable to handle it." And indeed, instead of fighting a cumbersome sword as Xenovia does, now two sleek and agile swords were in his hands. Forming an "X" to stop Excalibur.
"Guuaahhh!" Kiba used his Sacred Gear to sprout swords from the ground, trying to catch Xenovia off guard.
"Nice try! But it will not save you." The girl was back into the fray in no time, cutting through the lesser wall of swords that shattered before Excalibur Destruction like glass.
"Stop already!" Under all of this, Irina struggled with Gillian. Or more like, tried her best to hit her.
'Slash! Slash! Slash! Slash!'
"Why are you jumping away!?"
"Irina! What the hell are you doing?" Xenovia scolded her partner, who was seemingly unable to hit Gillian.
All her strikes were avoided with minimal effort, sidestepped or Gillian leaned away whenever the sword came in her way. On the player's face, a rather annoyed expression was visible.
"Oi! Leave my food alone! These are exotic ingredients! Why are you aiming at them?" She spun, dodging a strike that could possibly cut a hole in her only remaining bag.
"I'm trying my best! But she just doesn't stop! Hey! Stop it! Guuh!"
"Stop it! Don't make me hit you… Don't make me hit you. You will cross the line…!" Gillian warned her again and again, her tone sounding more mocking than a warning.
"I've had enough of you! Let's end this!" Irina jumped back, aiming her katana shaped blade against her opponent.
She was prepared, taking a different stance, a stance that implied a thrusting motion.
At that exact moment, the blade started to rapidly extend and retract in a fast piercing motion.
"Wow! That's cool!" Gillian commented, barely sidestepping from the piercing rain aimed against her. "So this sword can change its length?"
"No! Excalibur Mimic can…"
"Irina! How many times have I had to tell you?! Don't give hints to the enemy!"
"But… she asked!" Whined Irina pouting.
"Gillian! Look out, that sword takes any shape the bearer wants!"
"Oh, that's useful." She read about it in the Fallen archives, but seeing it first hand she wanted to try it out herself.
'Clang! Clang! Shatter! Clang! Clang! Shatter!'
"Stop this foolishness, Kiba Yuuto! You know well you have no chance!"
Kiba was nailed by Xenovia, he can't even spare enough room to conjure a sword and throw it to Gillian. He as well struggled to replace the swords Excalibur shattered only after a few strikes with fresh ones!
One wrong move and he will lose his edge. Getting cut by the holy sword surely would be a death sentence to a devil — like him.
His only hope was that Gillian somehow can make it through Irina, and escape.
"So it is like that, huh?" Gillian fondled her chin, placing down her bag in the moment of pause Irina took a breather. "We are being cornered. This is bad… In that case, it is my turn to attack and turn the tide."
"Wha-What are you planning?" Irina had a bad feeling seeing Gillian's eagerness.
"Irina! Watch out! She is planning something!"
"Don't worry! This heathen will not get past me!" She smiled confidently — Or, as people who know what will come would call it: The smile of the ignorant.
Though, her inability to hit her opponent still greatly frustrated Irina. For her, this only meant she needs more practice.
"Kiba-kun, how long can you hold?"
"Not long…" The boy breathed haphazardly. Small cuts present on his body — cuts those blistered painfully from the effect of the holy sword.
It was evident, Xenovia aimed to disable him, not to kill, else, he would be already dead. "Ju-Just run away, I will hold them as long as I can."
"You know I can't do that."
"Tch…" Kiba lowered his head, his scowl turning into a smile. "You never change, do you?"
"Why would I?"
"In that case, if you are up to something, I ask you to hurry. I don't know how long I can hold her." Kiba saw Gillian during the Rating Game. Their blades meet before. He hoped… no! He trusted she has something up her sleeve that will save the situation.
"During our training, she told us to work together, to trust each other's ability." Only then could they overcome stronger opponents. Teamwork was the key!
Facing the player, Irina already took a stance, sheathing her sword and holding her hand over the handle. This stance implied she wanted to disable her opponent with a quick draw of her blade.
"Ah! I see… iaijutsu. Clever!"
With a slight smile, Gillian picked up a spiky looking fruit from the ground, inspecting it thoroughly — measuring its weight and shape.
"Hmm… good enough."
"What are you planning…?"
"You will see…" She grinned dangerously. "Here I come!" At that moment, Gillian started her charge, throwing the fruit towards Irina, making her cut it to pieces reflexively.
"Wha…!? Blueh! What is this?" The exorcist flinched in disgust at the moment she cut two the second item that flew behind the fruit. The small phial which the granny gave Gillian in that market.
"Sorry, Obāsan…" Gillian inwardly apologized to the granny after she sacrificed her present so easily.
"Ah…!?" It was just a moment Irina lost her target, but it was more than enough for Gillian to get close, grab her by the arm and throw her over her shoulder.
Irina landed hard, upside down. Everything happened in a moment!
If she were a simple human, she would be knocked out in an instant. Fortunately, during her training, she learned how to land properly to minimize the damage — No wonder, her master loved to throw her around.
"Guuh! That was not nice!" Massaging her nape painfully, Irina got up groggily.
"Are you alright?" Xenovia asked, concerned. Her partner landed quite hard. Even she, who had a sturdier build would have a difficult time getting up right away after landing that hard.
"I am fine. Just wait for a moment until I grab… Huh? Where is my…?" After coming back from her stupor, Irina quickly recognized something was missing. Looking around, she spotted that "something" in the enemy's hand. "He-Hey! Give it back!"
"Well, how do you like my sword stealing technique?" Gillian smiled triumphantly, pointing her blade against Irina.
"Guuh! It is not fair! That's cheating! Give back Excalibur!"
"Yo-you stole it…?" Even Kiba didn't expect such a tactic from her. But why was he surprised? She can always pull something new from her sleeve.
"Irina!? Dammit! Why are you so clumsy?"
"Sh-She cheated! It is not how a duel is supposed to go!"
"Says the one who attacked an unarmed opponent." Gillian can't help but sweatdrop, unable to find the head and the tail of the girl's logic.
"Guuuh! Damn heathen and her sinful ways…" The twin-tailed girl pouted furiously.
Kiba recognized something just now. Something that made him freeze on his track.
Something familiar he felt before, yet something much more!
It was subtle, yet intense, almost suffocating. A thing that made him remember all the lost orphans who died, while he survived.
"It can't be… you?" Realization dawned on the boy at that moment. "No! That can't be…"
He was so stunned by this revelation, it made him blind to the exorcist who already gathered her wits behind his back.
"Out of my way!"
Xenovia rushed forth without hesitation, batting away Kiba like he would be a mere doll.
'Clang! Clang! Clang! Clang!'
A rain of intense strikes followed, all aimed to crush her opponent!
Mighty attacks that were merely deflected, or evaded by the player. No brute force was used, rather elegant redirection and evasion.
Eventually, they locked their blades, the pressure between the two fragments threw holy lighting all around. More and more, the holy aura around them grew, forcing even Irina to back away.
"For the Lord's name…!" Orange muttered with awe, never seeing such a sight before. It was like a Seraph materialized before her.
"No… you can't be… why?" Kiba watched what was happening with hollow eyes and raised arms, shielding himself from the brewing storm of holy energy.
"Grrrr! Why won't you fall…!?"
Xenovia used all her strength, both of her hands, yet, seemingly, this girl held her stance firmly, holding her back with her own tool.
"What is this feeling?" Moment by moment she felt she was losing grasp of control over her own fragment. Almost like holding this lock, Excalibur Mimic communicated with its other half, trying to convince it to change owner.
"Girl, you really need to see a counsellor. You have anger management issues. Attacking a distracted opponent? That's dirty. If Kiba-kun get injured, I will become really grouchy!"
"STOP YOUR MOCKERY AND FIGHT HONORABLE!"
"Says the one who randomly attacks others over to some shady intel…" Muttered the player, not even surprised.
Why can't she have one normal day? Just once!
Is it too much to ask for a normal day? Ever since being transported, not one day went by without something happening!
"And they even ruined my day off…"
Sometimes she wished to be a nobody like back then. Then she remembers… she was exactly like that in her previous life and hated how powerless she was.
"I guess; I am the type who is dissatisfied no matter what…"
"WHY ARE YOU SMILING!? STOP MOCKING ME AND FIGHT!"
"Ah! Sorry, I was dazed for a moment. Remembering something…"
"Huh?" Xenovia tilted her head confused, still, her grasp didn't ease.
"Ah! Whatever, just continue. Or… I would prefer it if you would stand down. I have no time to play with you all day. Red and Blue would nag my ear off if I killed you accidentally." Not to speak about all those other "crusaders" their death would draw here.
If they put up a good fight, that would be fun. But being here for around three months, and only meeting a few figures until now that can give her some entertainment, she doesn't expect much.
"At most, those pious fools would make me grouchy, and annoyed…" Leaving behind a lot of corpses of course. Bodies those she can't nor want to do anything as she was not a necromancer.
"Never! We will never retreat! For God's name…!"
"Yeah! Yeah! God this, God that. Boooring! I bet the big guy is also annoyed by your constant nagging…"
"Yo-You sinful fool! How dare yo…"
With a sudden right hook, Gillian hit Xenovia in the stomach, making her fly back from the force.
"Xenovia, are you alright?" The hit was quite powerful, Irina felt the shockwaves from afar.
"I-I am fine…" Barely able, the girl got up, supporting herself with her sword.
Xenovia wiped the blood and vomit from her mouth. Her hate-filled nauseous expression aimed all against Gillian.
"What should we do?" Irina glanced worriedly at Gillian and her companion. She already felt like they were outgunned.
"We need to attack at once, Irina! We can't let this heretic escape's God's judgement! Not while she holds Excalibur in her hand!" Not to speak she has a strange effect on Excalibur…. something that the higher-ups would find interesting.
Either way, she was their target, and she would rather die than fail!
"But… I don't have a weapon."
"Don't be a fool! Use your spare!"
"Ah! You are right, sorry! Prepare yourself, blasphemer! God's fist will strike you down!" Irina boasted with renewed spirit, pulling out a familiar handle behind her back. Right after, ignited her sword of light.
"Wow! First, that slutty one piece that hides no detail, then you pull out that sword from your "hole"? Are you sure you two are exorcists and not some pervy cosplayer inquisitors?" Quipped the player suddenly.
"I-It was not in my hole! It was strapped on my belt behind me!" Whined Irina defiantly. "And these are the sanctified battle suits of the church! Don't be mean!"
"I see your nipples…" Grinned Gillian as she pointed at the girls.
"Wha…!? Guuh! Please, Lord, forgive our impurity born with us!"
"Irina, focus! She's just trying to throw you off!"
"But she is so mean!"
"Kiba-kun, how are you holding up there?" The player glanced back at her friend, watching Kiba with worry.
"Are you alright? Are you able to get away?"
The boy was still in a stunned state, watching his "friend" with glassy eyes.
"I… Why did I lie?"
"What are you speaking about?" The player glanced back at him, on her face, a confused expression. She just couldn't comprehend why Kiba watched her with that glassy, hollow expression.
The face which made her remember the few "friends" she left behind the orphanage when she accepted that deal.
"Look out!" Yet, Kiba's glassy look disappeared right away when he spotted the two exorcists starting their rapid charge — while Gillian was distracted with him.
Witnessing their perfect synchrony, he was sure she couldn't avoid the attack no matter how good, or agile she was!
His body ached, power drained from the small cuts he suffered from the holy sword. Nonetheless, he needs to do something! No! He had to do something!
Urging his body, Kiba used his last reserves, moved reflexively!
Ignoring his own grudge against the church, the exorcists, the holy swords he gathered his will and power!
Only one thing floated in his mind, protecting this someone before him! The only girl outside of his peerage he really managed to bond with — ever since Rias saved him that night!
"I need to… I need to… I need to do more!"
He calculated his distance in under a moment and concluded, no matter how hard he tries. No matter his speed as a knight, he can't reach her in time.
In that case, only one option remained to win her some time — at least enough time so he can reach her!
"Sword Birth!" Smashing his hand on the asphalt, a dome of swords started to form around Gillian. Thick and sturdy, almost like a fortress! His greatest creation ever!
Time dilated for the Kiba, as he watched the two exorcists synchronized attack. At the same time, jumping on his feet and starting his rapid charge — forming a demonic sword in his hands and sending them towards the girls.
Irina, recognizing the forming barrier, slid around it, aiming her energy sword against the gap, which was still present on the closing barrier.
"May God forgive your sin… Haah! Aiii!" Yet, in the last moment, she turned around, feeling the rapidly approaching swords — those she parried in the last moment.
"No fair! I was so close!" She blocked Kiba's incoming strike.
"I will not allow it!"
"Mmmmmm! You meanie! No matter! Xenovia, it is your turn!"
Kiba's eyes widened as he saw the devilish plot!
By forming a barrier around his friend, he unintentionally cut her off from escape.
His brain rattled as the moment suddenly gone snail pace. If he removes the barrier, she will be caught off guard. If not, Excalibur will eventually smash through the barrier and get her!
Where was his president when he needed her the most? Where the others were? All of this commotion is not enough to call their attention?!
"No! I was the one who acted selfishly recently. Pushing every helping hand away. It is all on me…"
He cared not anymore if Gillian used that blasted sword that caused him so much misery! He cared not if she was a holy sword user or not! The only thing that mattered was her survival!
"Gillian, if there is anything more in you, please, use it! Save yourself!"
One powerful strike, all it took for Excalibur Destruction to shatter the wall of demonic swords, speeding seemingly unstoppable towards its intended target!
The holy shockwave the sword released threw away Kiba, but even Irina, making the sword formed dome, scattered in the air like broken glass, injuring both.
"Finally!" Xenovia breathed hard, putting all her power behind this strike.
Their mission was to capture this person and her brother. But she deemed it too troublesome and strong to be contained. There was no other way!
"May you find peace… in Gods… domain!" Yet, in the moment of her intended triumph, her eyes widened, seeing the impossible. "Impossible!"
"Well, that was a neat trick. I see you never skip a workout." Gillian held Excalibur Destruction's blade between her palms, diverting the force to the side.
For the first look, she held the thick blade gently, almost like she feared she may break it accidentally.
"Ho-How… Ugh!" At that moment, the exorcist girl felt as if she was hit by a strong current of holy electricity, throwing her back to the nearby stone wall.
"Xe-Xenovia!" Slowly recovering from her companion's "explosive" attack, Irina stumbled on her side, worried by the possibility of something bad happening with her friend. "A-Are you alright?"
"Excalibur… rejected me," Bluehead muttered with a glassy look, watching her trembling and burned hands, blacking out after vomiting blood. "Guaah!"
"What!? But… that's not possible!"
"Enough of this madness!" At that exact moment, a familiar voice disturbed the scene.
"Cesare-kun!" Irina called out for the man. She seemed both surprised and relieved to see him. "Xenovia is injured! Help her!"
"I came as fast as I could. What the hell… happened here?" The priest breathed haphazardly, reaching them just in time. "My sensors went crazy! I never measured such output before!"
Just as they wanted to explain the situation, Rias and the rest also arrived through their own teleportation circle.
"Bu-Buchou!" The Princess of Ruin immediately hugged her barely conscious servant, comforting him. "We came as fast as we could, but it took time to prepare and locate your position. Yo-You are injured?! Asia! Come here and heal him!"
"Further interferences also slowed us down…" Added Sona, walking on her girlfriend's side. With a simple motion of her head, her peerage started their work, securing the whole area.
"Damn! What a crazy day." Issei muttered, spotting Excalibur Destruction that rested on Gillian's shoulder, resting her other hand on Mimic. "Wha-What are you holding!? And why are you glowing?"
Once more seeing those swords, made him shudder to the bone. And he was not the only one, seeing Gillian holding those blades raised some primal fear in all devils.
"Huh? What the hell are you sputtering about?"
"This is… interesting," Cesare muttered, recovering a strange machine, and started to walk closer — almost like a creep — starting to hum with a weird expression.
"Cesare-san, you creep me out."
Everyone watched tensely what the middle-aged man was doing. By all means, if any passerby would see him walking circles around a girl, they would most likely label him a pervert and call the police.
"Marvelous! MARVELOUS! This opens up so many possibilities!" After seconds of intense testing, he let the device fall to the ground, clutching the hand Gillian tight. "You need to come with us to the Vatican! Finally! A perfect wielder! My search is finished! You are the one we need to reach true progress!"
"But she is a blasphemer! We were supposed to bring her in to be punished!" Irina protested, holding tight the still unconscious Xenovia's hand.
"Explain, exorcist!" Sona demanded, under her ice queen persona a subtle worry present.
"Her compatibility value is off the charts! I might even say she is a more compatible wielder than the original users!"
"Numbers do not lie…" Put it Cesare curtly. "And her display was something grand. Something I've never seen before."
"This means, Gillian is an enemy now?" Questioned Issei. "That's not good."
Remembering the Rating Game, he was not so sure he wanted to face her. If that happens, he possibly can't make his greatest dream — To be a Harem King!
"Can't we be just friends?"
"What the hell are you sputtering about?"
"Fate… or rather God led me to you. With your potential, we can finally crack the code of the holy swords! We can…!"
"I will not allow it…!"
"Kiba! Stay down, you are still injured!"
"I rather die, than allow it." Kiba breathed haphazardly, still weak after the battle. "I will destroy all the holy swords. I will take revenge for all those children who lost their lives in those experiments! I will… I will… Guh!" He fell back to his bottom, unable to support himself anymore.
"Sorry, Cesare-kun. But I'm not interested." Gillian refused the offer of the man.
"Wha-What!? But… your potential!"
"It is nothing meaningful really." Gillian rolled her eyes. "Everyone who knows the right sequence can use the swords as I do. After all, it is just a simple-minded AI, which controls the compatibility value…" She spoke cryptically, passing the flabbergasted former researcher.
"Sequence… AI?" Muttered the man pondering. Yet, after a moment, a new discovery dawned on his mind. "Of course! How could I be so shortsighted?"
"Why is it that, wherever you appear, trouble follows?" Rias muttered, holding close to her Knight when Gillian approached them. "Just look what you did with him?" She even turned her head away.
"Buchou… it was the exorcists who attacked us. She just came to help me. She is not at fault."
"But they… but we made a deal. They will leave you alone! They promised!" Rias and the rest looked at Irina.
"H-He stood in our way! We offered him a way out but he was insistent! Please, help Xenovia!"
"More important question, what did you want from Gillian?" Sona questioned the exorcist.
"We received a communication, which states she and her brother stole a sword, and we were told to capture and bring them in. We only followed our orders!"
"Is that so?"
"Who sent you that intel?" Cesare turned to the girls, surprised.
"I can't tell you, it is classified." She muttered. "A-Anyway… we also got the info you are with the enemy, so we can't trust you."
"Who cares, honestly…"
"Gillian!" The player stuck both swords in the ground, and the subtle aura around her body disappeared.
From this accident only one thing became evident, each Excalibur fragment had its own distinct control sequence. Similar, yet different.
She mastered one in her domain during her practice, but from this short encounter, it came to light she needs time to exert perfect control over the others too— Else, such visual and residual effects may linger.
"The only thing that matters is that no one died from this little accident, no?"
"Ye-Yes…" Muttered Irina ashamed.
"In that case, everything is fine." She walked near Kiba, kneeling. "I'm sorry, Kiba-kun. This day didn't go as we planned."
"You don't say…" Scoffed the boy painfully. "Why didn't you say anything?"
"You mean my ability to use weapons?"
"Yes… that you are a natural Sacred Sword wielder. I would have understood it." The boy tried to lie to himself. But he knows deep inside, he would have reacted badly if she told him the truth.
"Honestly, I can use all kinds of weapons. Whenever I touch one, I just know how to use them. Remember, I can also wield your demonic swords?"
"Well, one of my passives grants me weapon master specialization, which means I can use all kinds of weapons." Naturally, not as good as a specialized character, but good enough to be decent.
"That's true…" Kiba started to piece things together.
Gillian used all kinds of weapons since they knew her. From firearms, to swords, to entirely every kind of makeshift tool. Using them as, and even more effective like others with years of practice.
"Asia-chan. Can you heal those two too?"
"Umm… Sure." Nodded the nun weak, approaching the two beaten exorcists. "I will heal you. Please, let me do it."
"O-Ok... Thank you." Irina, of course, didn't refuse the helping hand. She didn't have the right to do it after what happened, and how badly Xenovia was injured.
"Then… this is your Sacred Gear?" Kiba questioned bewildered.
"Sacred Gear? Pff!" Gillian snorted amused but almost offended. "Kiba-kun… I have no strings on me. I am just a genius! That's all. I need no divine help or guidance to be awesome."
"…" Kiba just stared at her with a flat face.
"Also, didn't I tell you? I am the human Maou! That's all you need to know." She grinned brightly.
While everyone just stared at her flabbergasted, Kiba started to laugh.
"Hahahaha! True enough!"
"As for the two of you." The player turned towards her opponents.
"Ye-Yes?" Irina perked up immediately, even Xenovia glanced at the player.
"Investigate any intel you receive before acting. Not doing so only makes you look stupid." But why does she have to tell this? Isn't it the logical path to take?
"First rule, trust no one — Not even yourself." Especially not oneself. "Always double-check everything. Cause any more trouble around, and I will come back, take away your precious swords, and melt them into a golden dildo. Capiche?"
"Ye-Yes…" Both Irina and Xenovia nodded vigorously, intensely blushing after hearing the vulgar berate.
"Good! I entrust the cleaning to you, Blue and Red. It is your town, after all."
"Wait!? You seriously expect us to clean up this mess?" Looking around, seeing the sheer destruction, Saji went pale right away.
"It will be done…" Sona pushed up her glasses confidently, giving a strict glance to her pawn.
"In that case, I will leave the rest to you, guys. I am going home… Please, try to keep your guests on a leash. It'sstarting to grow tiresome. It is always me your weird visitors find, and harass." Gillian turned around when Sona called after her.
"What?" She turned back to her, almost annoyed.
"While you were away, someone issued you a challenge." Someone they all know too well and accept no refusal.
"Your brother will tell you the details. But… I advise you to visit us tomorrow, so we can explain it further. I only ask you, please, don't make a hasty decision and accept the duel right away before consulting with us." Maybe, they can convince her to make a reasonable decision. That was Sona's only hope.
The people who knew the Sitri heiress watched her surprised. Not only did she explain longer than she used to, but she even forgot to use her usual neutral tone.
"Right… thanks!" The player winked at Sona, who had an evident blush on her face. "Meet you in the school tomorrow, Blue. I expect you to prepare your chessboard when I arrive."
"O-of course!" Sona answered perkily. Even her peerage recognized how eager she was.
Thus, the "Human Maou" started to walk away, earning many confused stares, and leaving a big mess behind.
"Xenovia… what's wrong?"
"Excalibur, rejected me…" She muttered with a hollow look.
"You already said that. But I said it is not possible!"
"Hmm, it is actually possible," Cesare muttered, fondling his chin.
"When holy sword wielders clash, their compatibility is also tested. If one has much higher compatibility value than the other, the sword can decide to abandon the wielder in favour of the opponent."
It was really rare such a gap existed between users. And even then, it was unheard of that the sword right away burns the hand of its owner and violently rejects it.
Usually, it just borrows less and less power and hinders their own wielder, until they are defeated.
"The perfect example is the last battle between King Arthur and Mordred…"
Though Arthur died in the battle, Mordred would have survived if not for the sword wishing to return to Arthur's hand — thus, hindering its new user during the fight, earning him grievous injuries.
But to injure the current user directly out of pure favouritism? Unheard of!
"Dammit! Why is she so troublesome?"
"Let's clean things up. Afterwards, we need to discuss our next step." Why is it always this girl who draws trouble?
Now, because of her, even her precious Knight got injured!
That day, Rias Gremory decided in her heart! She will find out who she and her brother are for real, whatever it takes!
She didn't even suspect it, but it will be revealed sooner than she expected.
The storm is brewing over Kuoh… a storm that will redraw the scale of power all around the world. Be it the underworld, hell, the realm of any God or even the Void, they will feel the change!
Well, this is it for now!
I hope it was enjoyable after such a long pause! :P
(It was certainly fun writing for me.)
As usual, life, lack of muse, and other things blundered my way.
Send PM or review if you have questions or comments!
Good day! Good night! Safe sail! Safe day! Happy late new year for all!
Until next time!