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Magical Trickster DxD (HS DxD Magician!OC-I with some X-overing)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by JBukharin, Sep 20, 2019.

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  1. Threadmarks: Army of Two
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Chapter 78: Army of Two

    It was a cool morning that greeted the sore body of one Vali Lucifer.

    A little groan mixed to a yawn left his lips as he slowly tried to move away from the cold ground, his bones feeling ready to snap at the terrible training he had just come through.

    Lilith was merciless, that ‘angelic’ face was hiding centuries worth of fighting knowledge that made her rightfully-feared by most of the Underworld and Heaven combined.

    It didn’t help that she was treating this mentoring more as a game rather than a serious situation, her playful remarks as she delightfully breached his guard to deliver some earthshaking blows were enough to send the Lucifer’s mind in a state of utter confusion and detachment from reality.

    The challenge of fighting her without Balance Breaker and his Ultimate Form.

    The Empireo Juggernaut Overdrive had been conceived in a moment of despair during the week of training in the worst region of Hell itself, his Balance Breaker failing to keep up with the never-ending horde of high-level monsters rushing at him for the kill.

    He had dealt with them for four days, his mind sharp enough to understand their pattern, but still incapable of fending off so many attacks at once.

    It had been a close call, he could remember his Scale Mail was chipped hit by hit while Albion screeched inside his head to retreat, to get in a better position instead of standing like that and tank this much damage.

    But logic and reason were failing to urge him outside of that brutal carnage, something clicking so deep from his consciousness that he was forced to refuse everything and search.

    He searched up, down, outside and then… inside.

    There was his heartbeat, there was the pressure exerted by his panicking thoughts and Albion’s irritated yelling and then…

    There was something roaring, something accustomed to the Vanishing Dragon, but the Beast was failing to perceive it as it called out for action.

    It wasn’t craving at Albion, no. It was roaring at Vali.

    And Vali did accept the roar, he made it his own.

    The Scale Mail broke abruptly as an immense beam of light scorched the monsters in his proximity, dense and undeniable power rushing to his veins, to his core and… to his Soul.

    He roared, his newer, stronger Scale Mail displaying the raw anger and strength that was now his to take.

    Differently from the cumbersome Juggernaut Drive and the painful efforts required to keep it going through the senseless voices of the past Hosts to the Vanishing Dragon, Vali didn’t feel any of that.

    He felt lighter, without any worry and… strong.

    It wasn’t a mere boost, he could feel his own Magic providing a blinding sight as his own Core was quickly but surely overcoming anything he had seen happening with his grandmother.

    Lilith’s energy paled at the overwhelming waves of mana flowing through his body, power that seemed to make everything possible to the truest heir to Lucifer.

    As much as Hoitsu could have dared to get close to the title, it was his birthright that it was at stake and he couldn’t concede it to his partner.

    It was his responsibility, burden and duty towards himself and… his mother.

    The following waves of monsters that tried to get close to the renewed armor were all greeted by a gruesome massacre that saw their numbers dwindling in mere moments of pure speed and sheer brutality.

    It was in that moment that he felt it, no- It was him.

    Hoitsu’s magic was flaring to a degree far higher than usual, but there was nothing similar to his known strongest form.

    The brunet’s core was burning like a sun, he could see light erupting from several kilometers away as a beam of light-gray exploded and clashed against the resilient barrier.

    The silver-haired young man’s jaws dropped as he saw the crack forming, Hoitsu’s impressive feat proving once and for all that they were truly connected by something that transcended fate itself.

    It was a bond that formed in so little time, but that was undeniably the strongest thing Vali had felt on a personal level.

    The kinship, the mutual respect and trust…

    The Lucifer couldn’t help but gloat at the fact that despite Albion’s protestations, despite the curious development presented by the Host of the Red Dragon Emperor in his grown, Hoitsu was his sole and only rival.

    Absurdly so, a human had managed to reach so far. Ignoring all of this ‘family connection’, all of this senseless talk about proper bloodlines, the young Devil was put at odds against the greatest enemy for someone with the kind of claims he had laid over the Underworld.

    A prodigy against a hard-worker, a sane man against a mad one.

    And that memory flared again, that crucial experience that had elevated this topic up to his main thoughts.

    He could still remember that moment in time.

    Even now that he was so tiredly trying to get off the training floor, his arms and legs wobbling as Vali barely stood up, his attention snatched away as he heard a familiar giggle.

    “So you are finally awake, Vali?” The mirthful smile plastered on the woman’s face was more than enough to force the hybrid to stand up with a tense posture, trying to portray some faux capability before the former Queen of Hell.

    The redhead approached him with an interested glint in her eyes, her antiquate dress having long been replaced by a simpler but comfortable half-sleeved light-purple blouse and a knee-long white skirt.

    She paused just in front of him, blinking as she quietly waited for him to stabilize a little more and she proceeded to bash him with an annoyed look.

    “You know, when someone greets you they expect you to return the favor, you brat.”

    Vali snorted. “The favor is regarding those that are worth the respect, you hag-”

    The room turned chilly almost instantly as the woman’s smile turned a sicker kind of sweet.

    “Oh?” She mused quietly. “So, I’m a hag now?”

    He was shivering a little and… he blinked as he realized that they were now sitting by one of the benches by the side of the fighting area, the woman holding a small box on her lap.

    The pressure was released a few more moments later, Lilith giggling as she unfastened the little bow holding the box closed. “I baked a cake,” She commented without input, the sudden shift in her mood putting a sense of confusion within the young man’s mind.

    Something was off with the curious mood-swing, but his attention was quickly taken away by the lovely fragrance coming from the chocolate cake.

    The baked good had some milky icing with small flakes of vanilla spread all over it.

    Why did she do-

    “You have skipped dinner after you fell unconscious,” The woman commented quietly. “I thought you would have liked a hearty breakfast to enjoy.”

    His stomach decided to rumble in that precise moment, embarrassment increasing even more at the knowing smile on the woman’s face as she too heard the noise.

    “I-I will take a slice.”

    There was no point in denying the fact that he indeed required some nourishment or he would have his body weakened by that unbalanced kind of training.

    His metabolism would deal with the new fats and sweets in mere instant while also giving him some energy as he thought of his next steps.

    Tomorrow was going to be the big day, the proper time for him to display his full release, his truest form and…

    To finally have a real fight with Hoitsu.

    Joining the tournament created and funded by the Bael Clan had been a difficult move, mostly because the clan was known to be arrogant and rather ‘attached’ to the idea of a pure Devil.

    And since they loved Lucifer, having been his main supporters, and he was the product of a Devil and a Human it was sure going to be a nightmare to face certain annoying but politically-powerful individuals.

    He took the offered fork and small plate with the slice, the first bite hovering close to his mouth before he gave it a taste.

    The moment his tongue touched the texture and the sweet flavor, Vali’s eyes widened in surprise and delight at the decently-made cake.

    It wasn’t something made by a top chef, the edges of the baked good were still overcooked and slightly-burned but the food was still good enough to enjoy in relative peace.

    Lilith was smiling as she watched him react to her hand-made food, happy to know that she did it correctly and as she remembered it.

    Vali mused inwardly over the ingredients, realizing that most of those were his favorites, chocolate and vanilla being the main elements he wanted to see in a sweet food baked for him and it had been just so long since he tried a proper cake.

    It was smaller than one he would find at any elegant party back in the underworld but… it was well-crafted. He blinked, his tongue finally picking some familiarity within the texture and taste, something that came from the past but-

    That couldn’t be.

    He glanced down at the plate and soon he started to realize that the ‘breakfast’ was awfully similar to something he had experienced many years ago.

    Before his mind was troubled with the need of proving his strength, before he had to actually prove something to someone and himself.

    Before his mother died, the loving woman would make the same kind of cakes for his birthdays.

    He paused for a moment, his eyes lifting up in a curious display at the silent woman and Lilith looked away, feinting innocence as she seemed to genuinely know about this little connection.

    He blinked again, his mouth restraining the questions building up from within his mind as he… just wanted to enjoy that cake.

    After finishing the first slice, he asked for a second, the redhead’s smile widening and twitching at the polite request as she happily granted him that.

    The whole calm and relax felt odd at someone like the young man, his tense shoulders were now eased and his guard was dropped the lowest in years.

    He felt safe and ready to enjoy some proper rest after the intense training session of the last two days, the preparation for the tournaments concluded as he could now divert his attention to plan out the possible match-ups with the known candidates and participants.

    Some had bragged about it to the entire underworld, while others had no choice but broadcast their official entering to the media present in Hell.

    Diehauser Belial had accepted the challenge, the Champion of multiple RG-Related tournaments having displayed curiosity and interest in taking part at the event, citing his intention to meet with Hoitsu Sakakibara.

    That final comment had stirred some irritation from within Vali, causing the Lucifer to contemplate something far more vicious in case he ended up fighting the pretentious bastard in one of the tournament’s matches.

    And while his mind was drowning with the thoughts about the important days that was tomorrow, the young man was completely unaware that Lilith wasn’t going to keep quiet in that very moment.

    “Vali,” She started with a calm tone. “May I ask you about something… about Hoitsu?”

    The younger Devil frowned at the sudden query, feeling confused as of why the woman would want to know anything about his rival from him of all people.

    The brunet and the redhead shared a friendly relationship, so why wouldn’t she directly ask to Hoitsu himself about it? Was it something that the human hadn’t wanted to tell her or… was it something about him too?

    He merely nodded, curiosity overcoming his initial hesitation and the former Queen didn’t waste any time in delivering her true question.

    “Back when we first started training, you said that you were training to beat Hoitsu,” She started with a careful approach, stealing another nod from Vali. “And when I asked Hoitsu if he knew why you were like this… he said that it wasn’t nothing worrying.”

    There was a pause, one that slowly reminded the young Lucifer of what ‘nothing worrying’ the human might have been talking about.

    He hid an irritated frown from the woman, realizing where things were ending up and he braced for the inevitable.

    “What exactly did happen to have you two… share this bond?” The redhead finally asked, her eyes blinking and sporting curiosity over the matter. “What might have caused you two to get this close and-”

    “Enough.” The calm imposition ended up silencing the woman mid-sentence, her eyes widened in annoyance at the sudden uncalled interruption but Vali wasn’t done yet.

    “I will tell you what this is about and… you swear to me that you never tell this to anyone else.”

    Lilith blinked at that command. “That sounds too much for-”

    Swear it.” He repeated with a sterner tone, eyes narrowing at the former Queen.

    She blinked again, confusion evident even more than before but… she conceded him a nod.

    He sighed and nodded back. “This happened… I would say a few days after we had our first mission in Kyoto,” The young man started to explain. “It was supposed to be a minor role that we were going to deal as the mission itself was a risky one. So much risky that even Azazel was there to oversee its success.”

    There was a brief pause, he sighed drawing a tired and long one.

    “And the reason why Hoitsu isn’t keen to speak about it is because that very day is...”

    We both came close to die that day.”

    ----------d-d-d-----------d-d-dd-----------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d-------d-d-d-d-

    (Between Chapter 12 and 13)

    The request itself had came from Hades himself, the conditions being far from easy to accomplish as the primary task was the search and the re-seal of someone that wasn’t supposed to have been let free.

    Azazel having descended upon Cocytus with a large majority of the organization, most of the heads of the Cadres joining this expedition to secure the important target, the monster that was now lurking inside the deadly land.

    Vali scowled behind his blue-covered mask, the hooded mantle giving him little cover from the horrible cold that was so endlessly spread out in that Ice Hell deep inside the Realm of Dead.

    Many others were suffering his same situation, even the now-irritated Hekishoku was coming to terms with the fact that magical flames didn’t help in deterring the glacial weather persisting in that lower section of the Underworld.

    Magic had little effect in fighting back this kind of eternal storm, the only means to keeping their bodies warm were the small seals that Shemhazai himself had provided with his own squadron to the rest of the division dispatched to this little crusade to find where the greatest prisoner of this section of this Realm was hiding.

    It wasn’t difficult to understand that there was only one possible suspect and… Vali couldn’t certainly deny that a minor sense of dread and hesitation had taken hold on his chest, driven by Albion’s numerous warnings over the individual they were meant to return back to its limited state.

    Samael was considered to be something similar to Lucifer himself in terms of infamy and brutality, the reasons behind his Fall (which is considered the First Fall ever recorded) being related to his undeniable influence in having both Adam and Eve to consume the Apple of Knowledge.

    He was the main reason why God harbored a strong hatred against Dragons and snakes, the reason why Christianity itself saw the two kind of animals as Devil-related monsters that had to be hunted down and killed.

    Several Hosts of Dragon-made Sacred Gears were killed, torched or burned in stakes, condemned to a painful demise for several centuries and forcing a large population composed by Supernatural beings from other Pantheons to find refuge in small communities away from mundane people.

    The perfect example being the wizards living in Europe, their lifestyle having reached a comfortable level of detachment from mankind as a whole.

    But God’s hatred towards Samael wasn’t truly as unjust as it might appear, the former Angel having deserved this punishment if not worse for the creature he ended up becoming.

    He reneged his connection with Dragons after decades of suffering, his new meaning of life being the full extermination of his former passion, his initial love for Dragon-kind.

    His Curse Poison being more than enough to kill a High-Level Dragon in mere hours, the Fallen Monster having this substance running through his whole body and rendering him an effective predator to any kind of Dragons, may them be normal ones or Sacred Gears Hosts.

    That is why, despite the assurance from Baraqiel and Azazel that he would be ignored because his scent would be masked by the storm, his nerves were still tense and his guard was ready to spring into action the moment he noticed even a glimpse of the horrible fiend wandering those icy wastelands.

    The only thing that was far worse to endure, at least early on, was the constant whining coming from Hekishoku.

    The human piped in every few minutes, his chatty mouth and his chattering teeth creating quite the irritating individual to be dealing with right now of all times.

    Seriously, why would Baraqiel think that teaming someone like the moron with him would make him improve and grow? Why would Azazel even think of accepting this ridiculous proposal?!

    Another proof that Grigori was far more flawed than he had learned it to be, that the organization was far too bloated in its administration to be considered a preferable place where the young Lucifer could have fostered his successful path to glory.

    He had heard of a new group rising up with interesting individuals, strong individuals and his first impression about them had been… lame.

    Kuroka, the dark-haired Nekoshou responsible for the extermination of a High-Level Devil and his peerage, had been responsible for the crucial role of try to kidnap the brat related to the leader of the Yokai faction sited in Kyoto.

    Yasaka had been quite adamant from making step forwards at first with the dialogues, the woman expressing distrust regarding the past dealings afforded by Grigori and her hesitation had almost costed him his first diplomatic failure.

    And then Hekishoku came along.

    The human (his scent was human and there was no way in Hell that he wasn’t one) had literally waltzed in, befriended the little girl and avoided her capture by someone that was leagues beyond him.

    A mere rookie, someone that had little experience on the field, had somehow subverted a visible losing situation for Grigori, bringing up a strong connection between Japanese Yokais and the group led by Azazel.

    The victory had guaranteed some more time to think and train, away from Kyoto’s unbearable appearance and the limitations imposed by the mission itself, but Vali could hardly consider this a victory to call his.

    It was the human’s, a weak and inexperienced human that had somehow pulled an incredible miracle because of his dumb luck and granted success to the group silver-haired youth was affiliated to.

    Annoyance barely fitted with the stinging sensation he felt at remembering what had happened, the aftermath being perceived far more bitter than sweet to the young Lucifer as his presence here had been superfluous and useless to the cause.

    So the irritation was boiling up as Hekishoku continued to annoy with his complaining, his voice reminding him of something strident and infuriating that just existed to be the bane of his existence.

    But before the culmination of his fury could be even touched, the entire column of Grigori members stopped, everyone pausing as the leading section had ordered to stop, saying nothing else but-

    Stop.

    Everyone tensed up as some distant noises coming from numerous meters away, right where the head of the column was, started to increase and get easier to understand.

    Moments of uncertainty passed as it became more and more clear that they had ended up encountering something dangerous… that was making its way quickly towards them.

    Hekishoku was the first to recover, starting to order the magicians assigned to their squads to prepare some traps as whatever monster was coming their way, it had to be stopped and killed if possible.

    A tall order from a rookie but, despite the clear difference in ranks and experience, several members nodded in agreement and started to prepare some spells either by their palms or with their staffs.

    Restless seconds passed, the noise of brutal fighting increasing more and more and… then he appeared.

    Jumping up above, Samael roared angrily towards Vali.

    His upper body was human-looking, his face covered with a blindfold from which tears of blood dropped from underneath; his inhuman-looking fangs and his lower-body that resembled an Eastern Dragon giving him the sense of monstrosity-

    “DRAGON!” The former Angel demanded in an angry fit, rushing towards the partially-paralyzed Vali.

    The intense energy erupting from that being, the hatred and pressure exerted by it being something that far exceeded anything he had ever experienced before in his life.

    Not even Rizevim had been this bloodthirsty and-

    “NOW!” Hekishoku roared back, the loud order was met with the quick execution of multiple volleys of explosive spells rushed at the approaching fiend, the bright spectacle that ensued creating a large earthquake that sent Vali recoiling numerous meters away from his initial position.

    The explosive greeting was enough to get his brain to reboot and return his attention at the threat at hand, handing him several options in how to deal with this.

    Even Albion’s voice was concerned, the White Dragon surely perceiving the murderous intent expressed by the Dragon-hating Samael, but the real issue was that nothing here could genuinely maim him for long.

    In fact, the mere peace that ensued lasted moments as the former Angel rushed vengefully towards the ones responsible for the failure of his early push.

    The clawed dragonic feet tore easily through the cloaks of the various members of Fallen Angels and Magicians trying to either return the offense or stall the monster even for a moment.

    Nothing was working, either the damage inflicted would vanish because of its regeneration or the stalling efforts were replied with more vehemence from the infuriated predator, slashing and cutting through his preys without mercy nor restraint.

    Hekishoku was the only one managing to avoid most of the damage, some of his cloak being targeted as his speed barely kept up with Samael’s unrelenting assault and his Silver Linings slowing down just enough the monstrous efforts exerted by this fiend for just killing a single individual.

    “STAY STILL!”

    “Make me?!” The human shot back with a snark, his palm forming a white orb that the young man was ready to throw at the fiend but, before he could cock his aim at the approaching creature, the serpentine tail suddenly whipped swiftly forwarding and slammed at the growing sphere.

    The explosion sending Hekishoku flying a little feet, his cloak tearing even more as the cold started to finally form some ice on his now-exposed pants and shirt.

    “Funny!” The former Angel called out loudly but emotionlessly. “And now you are mine!”

    The tail quickly coiled around the human’s neck, lifting his freezing body up as to stare at his mask.

    “Any other sarcastic comeback, you fool? Do you wish to delay my rightful vengeance again?”

    Hekishoku tilted his head in confusion. “Are you dumb?”

    Before the monster could reply, electricity started to course out of the human’s hands and, through the entire serpentine body, reached Samael’s human-looking section.

    Pain-riddled yelps and roars ensued; The monster slammed without hesitation his aggressor to the ground, something cracked as Hekishoku started to cough and tremble as the ice was finally building up once again.

    Freed from the electric torture, the former Angel didn’t hesitate to lift his tail and rush it down towards the downed human, ready to end the life of this annoying pest once and for all-

    But despite the intrigue of being left partner-less and be given freedom away from that irritating bug, Vali couldn’t certainly allow Samael to have any reprieve now that he was exposed.

    His Balance Breaker was already in full display as he pushed his wings to their own limits, his armor slamming on the unsuspecting beast and sending him flying away with him, his plan of attack fairly simple.

    By using Divine Dividing on a constant pattern on the creature’s regenerative factor, the monstrous fiend was left exposed to be pummeled by some quick and unforgiving punches and kicks, giving him the best chance of disabling this threat before the situation could escalate to a worse degree.

    This ‘flawless’ tactic lasted for about a full minute of endless attacking, never giving reprieve to his opponent as his punches and kicks started to render him tired and sore the more he overshot his attacks.

    Then Samael managed to sneak one of his human hands on his scale mail, interrupting his beating and giving the monster the chance of recovering in the insanest way possible.

    Slamming his head on Vali’s Balance Breaker, the Lucifer was quick to feel the searing pain coming from a pair of fangs sinking on his shoulder.

    He yelped in pain, his concentration disrupted as the poison started to enter inside his body, the effects immediate as his Scale Mail broke suddenly; leaving him to face the now-smirking Samael.

    “You thought that a filthy Dragon like you could truly kill me?” His dry chuckle barely getting a reaction, Vali’s brain burning as he tried to keep awake, his body fighting the poison the best possible but-

    “I bet you want to fight even now that you are close to death,” The monster sighed, shaking his head in disappointment. “Truly, you foul creatures are the worst and most disgusting fiends in this world.”

    The beast’s human hands reached for his neck through the cloak, squeezing strongly at his neck and getting a gasp out of the Lucifer.

    W-Was this his ultimate end?

    Was this how- how he died? Against a bastard like Samael?

    His sight started to darken, blurring as the poison continued to shattering the last resistance left in his body and pushing him to his last stand.

    There was no strength, only trembling and suffering.

    Everything burned, nothing felt fine as even the cold felt coarse on his skin; a sign his nerves were collapsing and-

    A loud explosion ripped into the insane-looking fiend, the smoke reaching around him as he fell on the ground, the chokehold broken and his body now painfully lying on the cold snow.

    Before Samael could react to the sudden attack, a beam of light-no, thousands of Silver Lining rushed at his frame. The immense quantity was enough to keep him stuck still and soon the strings began tightening and cutting through its skin, the slow process was then concluded by his body being chopped up and electrified for several moments.

    His shrieks of fear and pain lasted for a some time and soon, the carbonized but still regenerating monster fell unconscious on the floor, twitching once or twice in a while as it suffered a… seizure.

    A figure crouched beside Vali’s dying body, frantically whispering as hands started to pull him closer to a somewhat cooler sensation, some pressure now exercised right by the bite holes left on his neck.

    He felt growing limp, his eyes now unfocused as he felt the last essence of life vanishing before his eyes and… and maybe he could now go and see her, down below.

    There was silence, there was peace and… he stopped hurting.

    Moments of quiet passed, Vali’s eyes blinking slowly as pain seemed to… have never existed, his body now reacting to the sensations properly but still heightened by the inflamed nerves recovering from the poison and-

    Thud

    His eyes quickly noticed the figure falling on the floor, Albion’s screams finally blasting him off from his reverie as the situation slowly started to appear clearer much to his surprise and dread.

    Breathing in pain, the partly ice-covered Hekishoku was struggling to keep up, his skin pale and his Core… close to be dried up by the experience.

    The mask had survived, some cracks on it but nothing coming out of it and… Vali was mesmerized by the sight.

    To see the human, aching here in front of him after he had neutralized Samael and… saved him.

    Hekishoku, the weak human, the useless and insufferable moron, had saved him from certain death.

    He blinked, he scowled and he wished to ignore all of this but-

    But he was already on his feat, the young Lucifer slowly bringing the human in his hold and… he pushed him inside his cloak. With the moron’s own cloak shredded, it was a miracle he hadn’t died at the Ice Hell’s exposure.

    From the darkening fingertips, the young Devil couldn’t help but flinch at the sign of poison, the idiot having surely used one of his spells to get the poison inside his body, purging it from the white-haired Lucifer’s body.

    He glanced at the carbonized living corpse with a sneer, his Balance Breaker reforming as he used Half Dimension to reduce the size of the pieces and put them in a magical bubble attached to him.

    Without wasting further time, Vali jumped and he soared furiously through the sky as his wings tore through the endless storm. His destination being right where Azazel was supposed to be.

    Time was short and he didn’t have the patience to arrive too late!

    ------------d-d-d-d--------------d-d-d-d-------------d-d-d-d--------------d-d-d-d-------------d-d-d-d---

    Present…

    “After making sure he was healed and put to safety, I was given a strong lecture from Azazel,” Vali continued to speak. “The man was furious for my decision to jump into action, to not organize a group retaliation instead of rushing individually at Samael.”

    Lilith sighed and nodded, waiting for his grandchild to explain the rest of the final part.

    “Baraqiel was irritated too but… he was grateful that I had jumped in when I had the chance,” He concluded with a sigh. “All in all… I did end up almost dead because of my own arrogance.”

    “Only for arrogance?” The woman questioned with a frown. “I think you are missing something important from this event, Vali. Something that is more than mere ‘arrogance’.”

    The young man frowned. “I was too cocky-”

    “And you paid the price, yes,” The former Queen interjected. “But what if the reason that had you jump in that very moment wasn’t arrogance? Why didn’t you jump earlier if it was arrogance?”

    The silver-haired Devil blinked and opened his mouth… only to close it up in self-confusion, for the first time in a long time he felt doubtful about that very life-changing event.

    “You gave your life away, but it wasn’t selfishness that drove you to face this gamble,” Lilith stated with utter determination. “It was compassion. It was altruism.”

    “What?”

    “If you were arrogant and unwilling to accept help, you would have left Hoitsu to die the moment you were up and running,” The woman admitted with a sigh. “You weren’t given the duty of keeping an eye out for him, nor were you responsible for his survival. You could have lied, but you decided to save him.”

    “It was a debt-”

    “That wasn’t forced upon you,” The redhead interrupted with a snort. “You weren’t coerced to help him against your wishes, you were urged by something within you.

    “I- I’m not a-”

    “Good person?” She shook her head and smiled brightly. “You are one of the best ones I’ve ever met.”

    “I-I’m a Devil, my father was a pureblooded Devil-”

    “And your mother was a kind human woman,” Lilith shot back with a snort, ignoring the fact that the young man had gone tense at the mentioning of his mother.

    “Someone that cared for you even at the weakest, that gave you hope even in the worst cases. I’ve… I’ve sought the house you used back when...” She sighed, pausing just for a moment to recollect. “I’ve found a diary, it was hers and...”

    Vali’s eyes widened as he found himself staring at a small book, the woman slowly opening the last page and pointing at the words written there.

    It was a message, a curt but well-written message that was left for-

    To my baby boy, my strong child and… my last hope,

    This could be considered my last will to you, my legacy I wish to rest upon your shoulders as a grand mantle to wear with pride and just righteousness.

    I can say so much about my truest wishes about your future; I wish for you to become important, to have the best chance at life, to have a happy family and so much more.

    But then I wouldn’t be correct towards your own desires, towards your own chance at the world and…

    That is why I will make sure to be quick but concise with what I wish from you.

    I wish that you, my little Vali, learn to find real happiness from the world.

    To find friends, to find a family, to find someone that truly matters to you and that never lets you go in the worst cases.

    I wish you to be compassionate, to be humble and… that you live the best of lives.

    I wish to tell you more, I wish to bring out more of the love I have for you, my son…

    But time is scarce and this might be the last time I gift you something.

    My legacy, for you to use at your caution and freedom…

    It’s compassion.

    May you enjoy a brighter life and find love.

    Goodbye, my lovely child.

    The diary started to crumple up a little, his hand tightening its hold over the page. It wasn’t enough to tear it but… then he saw the first tear drop on the paper.

    A moment passed and soon more tears started to fall, forcing the now shaken individual to close the book and hide his expression with his free hand.

    Lilith smiled sadly and slowly reached out her arm around his shoulders, bringing him close to her and hugging him a little.

    Vali was silent, but the tears couldn’t just resist to fall even more and the redhead wasn’t going to tease him for doing so.

    After all, can’t a Devil be human too?

    -----------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d-----------d-d-d-d-------------d-d-d-d-----------d-d-d-d---------

    AN

    Any comment about Vali’s representation here? I think this is a major point to his character’s development.

    Not the zenith, but something that accentuate the final lap to reach the conclusion of his growth.

    As always, constructive criticism is more than welcome and… See you soon!

    Future milestone 1: 1080 Followers and Favorite.
     
    Ascetic Renaissance likes this.
  2. Threadmarks: It's all about Protagonists
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Chapter 79: It’s all about Protagonists

    The Underworld was currently rumbling with excitement as the first day of the tournament proclaimed by the Bael clan was soon to begin.

    The massive coliseum that was going to be used to host the grand event was a great building that showed incredible care from the various technicians and servants working constantly to keep the services within the place running with a smooth pace.

    Many strong magicians were summoned to create several protective spells, seals and other magical defenses to perfectly render the tournament devoid of any external or even internal issues from anyone wanting to sabotage the event for the sake of some advantage with the brewing war.

    Zekram had been careful if not polite to make sure to invite most of the deities that were part of the Coalition to spectate the competition while also sending some of their best heroes.

    I was of course one of the invited ‘competitors’ so I didn’t have to actually sign up to the list, but I was given the opportunity to look as the signing operation begin and I wasn’t alone in that part of the large room assigned to such task.

    Kunou was chatting quietly with Koneko, Maria, Ophis and Lith from one of the corners, well-hidden by the other adults chatting around. Of course the two Infinity Dragons were not going to join this endeavor, their safety being considered well-above risking them from going berserk or… get kidnapped.

    Everyone was here, even Sona with her peerage, Issei and Asia.

    Kuroka and Akeno had decided to pass out from taking part to the tournament as they didn’t want to bring attention to their current selves, either for their unpleasant pasts or for their unique natures bringing some unwanted attention.

    Akua and Mio were eager to try out this opportunity, ready to give their best performance as to keep up with the expectations the two had set with their recent development.

    Vali was here too, but the young Lucifer was spending most of his time either speaking with Lilith or the rest of his team about whom wanted to join this event.

    Mob and the Espers had deemed it right to joining, not ready to take in this dangerous activity as their vitality would have barely kept up with the rest of the Devils and Demi-gods joining these battles.

    Baki had surprisingly accepted the offer, but only because his father had been more than pleased to accept the chance of proving his worth against many mighty beings in that single place.

    Yujiro Hanma looked immensely elated, eyes almost ready to pop out of his sockets at the awe and wonder displayed within his brain and outwardly on his mad-looking grin. There was sure enough challenge to see him drown in his own battle-lust.

    Xenovia was here too, but the blue-haired girl barely left the safety allowed by Sona’s peerage, a strange nervous look plastered on her face.

    The swordswoman was slightly afraid of the crowd composing most of the room as she was one of the few humans taking part to this competition, but I had been the one to tell her earlier that day that she had little to truly worry about.

    Even though she hadn’t mastered Excalibur’s base form to the same degree only Artoria could have, I was positive that her current progress would have allowed her to face most of the possible opponents lingering around.

    But while the pep-talk did left her convinced of her chances of success, her current uneasiness wasn’t one questioning her abilities.

    Rather she was feeling a little miffed by the lack of Gaspar, Valerie and Mathias.

    The trio had decided to skip the tournament, the sole human wanting to just train more his current skills than having to compete with his life at stake and, where Mathias went so would Valerie and Gaspar.

    And that wasn’t certainly something I could certainly help her up much except gracing her with some positive comments to assuage her own worries.

    The quiet of that morning was brought to an end the moment the counter that was assigned to take in the signing of the various interested candidates started with quite the familiar group to the DxD Canon.

    The Norse Pantheon was here with Odin leading happily the entourage to the main counter, a slightly embarrassed but well-armored Rossweisse was standing by his side as they confirmed her participation to the tournament.

    The white-haired woman spared a glance towards our general directions and snapped her sight away the moment she noticed that I had noticed her little attempt, causing her to hasten her pace to retreat away from the spotlight with a visibly-amused Odin on tow.

    Soon, many other important gods joined the line to sign their own heroes to the competition, either their own children or ‘surrogate’ ones that had been trained by said deities.

    The line was a long one and some hours of relative peace went by as the official initiation continued restlessly to give papers around for people to sign on.

    Devils with peerage, Devils without peerage, high-level, low-tier and… finally it was her turn.

    To think that she would come here of all places.

    I had to put an effort to hide the sudden bout of tension springing my shoulders stiff as I glanced at the familiar girl with a hawk-like stare.

    Why is she here? Shouldn’t she be confined until-

    I think it might be a plot from Zekram, he would have the power to slightly alter the decision behind her punishment.

    ...What? How?

    Think about it. If he bring Rias here, many are going to come here at the tournament for the sake of seeing her ‘return to society’. It would be an economical success and…

    And?

    I think he is doing it to irritate you. He wants you angry and he wants you to give ‘your 100%’.

    I’m sure going to be careful then…

    Rias Gremory willingly ignoring my glance as she carefully walked towards the counter, the red-haired young woman was escorted by her brother, Sirzechs looking fairly uneasy at first as people started to speak about her presence here.

    Some were irritated, but some voices were quick to throw some half-whispered insults towards here. It was mostly those living in the Underworld, most of the other Pantheons minding little about her as she went to sign her own name on the common contract.

    But while she did so, I couldn’t help but notice something different about her.

    Not only was Rias looking incredibly confident, but her posture had dropped out from the petite and princess-like pace she had prior to being exiled in her home.

    Her pace was physically active, her whole body was moving with a certain elegance but said element was disrupted by the careful tension going through her entire figure.

    Yet that was but just the tip of the iceberg about the changes the redhead had gone through.

    Her hair.

    I blinked and noticed almost a little later that the change ‘seemed’ limited but it was immense knowing the pride the girl had over her strands of destiny.

    Her haircut was mostly the same, except the length which they would end to, no longer by the end of her lower back but right by the middle of her back.

    Her clothes.

    She wasn’t wearing the suit I had seen her in last time, rather she was wearing a half-sleeved red top that seemed to well-fit with her figure, a pair of fingerless gloves on her hands. A pair of black pants ended right with a pair of dark-red sport shoes.

    That was a battle-wear for sure, not anything flashy to show off.

    I could feel in her magic that something had changed. The unique strands of the Power of Destruction was tamer than usual, more subdued and… more under control compared to before.

    Gone was the dense storm in the making, instead I was witnessing the legendary ‘thunder in a bottle’ and the owner of this very bottle was going to be an unpredictable and seriously dangerous foe to face during the competition.

    What about her chest?

    ...Really?

    I’m referring to her size, she manipulated it.

    I did spare just a glance at the detail and I was quick to realize what Apophis was referring to, something a little different from the simple perverted joke I thought he was making.

    Her chest had been… reduced. It wasn’t noticeable at first because of her clothes taking more attention from me, but I was surprised by this sudden change from her part.

    Devils were vain beings, it was a condition that existed subconsciously and it has to act even just a little in the shaping and formation of young Devils.

    Rias could indeed alter her appearance, but her decision had gotten me quite confused and stunned early on.

    It was when the shock subsided that logic gave me the best and possible guess about the current situation.

    The girl had taken notice that her own abundant modesty did cause some major issues during fights and had decided to reduce it just enough to allow her more speed while also limiting the attention on her to something a little more manageable.

    Surely a temporary solutions for battling rather than a life-changing opportunity, yet it was still enough to warrant some respect out of it.

    Maybe everything she had done could be said to be warranting my respect, her improvements clearly dignifying the fact she wasn’t here just to make an appearance, but to genuinely compete against others in this tournament.

    She wasn’t arrogant, I could see it in her eyes as she finally glanced my way, a brief daring look before she resumed her walk back to the other end of the room, her orbs sporting a resolute and determined glint of hope.

    This Rias Gremory wasn’t… going to be an easy opponent. Of that I was now fully aware of.

    Just as the redhead got out of my sight, I turned my attention to Issei and… I found the brunet looking at me with an uneasy look.

    Asia was blissfully unaware of what had just happened as she was having a pleasant conversation with a now nervous looking Akeno as the older girl had actually seen what was going on with the loud whispering all around.

    The Himejima noticed that I was looking at her way and she gave a confused look over what had just happened, her mind conflicting over what she should think of what had just transpired.

    The girl was rightful in being unable to bring out a proper reaction, but I guess that it had to be somewhat hurtful to be this indecisive about how she would have to deal with her former King.

    “So, that is little Rias?” Lilith asked as she approached me, her eyes still looking right where the fellow redhead had gone away to. “I can see some resemblance with Sirzechs, but she looks… a little more like Sapphire back when she was that age.”

    I turned at the woman and blinked. “She changed a lot since last time I’ve seen her, I didn’t expect her to-”

    “Improve this much?” The former Queen guessed with a hum. “I guess that you aren’t even aware of why she is even here.”

    I frowned. “And you do?” I countered back, getting a little smile out of her much to my surprise.

    “Why, I think that is a simple supposition to make,” The red-haired woman replied. “She is here to find forgiveness.”

    “I told her that I wouldn’t give her that kind of peace,” I commented without hesitation. “She warranted my own contempt and the ones she should really work to ask for forgiveness should be Asia and Issei-”

    “But I think you are missing something about this very predicament that you yourself should know well about,” Lilith hummed quietly, red eyes sporting some curiosity. “Weren’t you the one giving her assistance over that arranged marriage issue in exchange of ‘peace’, the very help she shunned by trying to get that ludicrous deal from Diodora?”

    I tensed a little at the mentioning of the now-deceased bastard, my eyes narrowing at the curious query she had just forwarded.

    “Yes, I did help her at first and-”

    “Forgive me if I interrupt you here, but I wish to ask you if that also broke the trust you had with her?” Lilith pressed on. “Did that sudden development bring or not the end of some ‘treaty’ of sort?”

    I blinked, my mind grasping just a little of her comment. “You mean to tell me that, she is trying to-”

    “Mend the broken bridge, the first of many.” The former Queen admitted with a sigh. “While that wouldn’t do much over the lovely blonde and the easy-to-tease brunet, I reckon that it would be the first true step towards her redemption.”

    “So why isn’t she even trying to talk to me if this was the case?” I poked at her guess. “Why wouldn’t she just-”

    “Forgive me again,” The woman interrupted again. “But you did also say that she did already ask for forgiveness from you, didn’t she?”

    I slowly nodded, starting to feel fairly uneasy at how much the woman was quickly dismantling the thought behind Rias’ current attempt at seeking forgiveness.

    “Then why would she want to waste time with senseless and empty air when she can easily prove it to you with a fight?”

    I frowned at that, blinking at the blunt reasoning. “But fighting wouldn’t-”

    “It would prove a change from her part,” She interjected once again. “That little Rias is finally walking towards a brighter route compared to the little potential growth she would attained by keeping her ways.”

    “So… this is going to be a thing? Really?” I questioned, drawing a brief chuckle out of her.

    “T-Truly easy to convince, aren’t you?”

    I snorted at that mirthful query.

    “Are you kidding?” I half-asked back to her. “You literally steam-rolled any attempt to debunk this theory coming from me, so I don’t think easy fits well with-”

    Attention, the competitors are requested to take position by the section of the seats left to them. The first round will start soon. I repeat-

    I turned at the sudden warning, ready to end the discussion here but the woman decided to throw just one last thing before letting me go.

    “Good luck with Vali, sonny~.” She smiled widely and I blinked at that.

    “You meant ‘the competition’, rig-”

    “No, I meant Vali, sweetie,” Lilith giggled as she pushed me towards the direction where the other participants were going. “He sure is going to make sure to end up fighting you, one way or another.”

    I decided to leave this curious statement for later as I did follow the instructions as to where to exactly go and, as I entered the slightly smaller room with multiple chairs that gave to the large battle arena, I ended up taking a seat close to the aforementioned Lucifer as the rest were taken by the rest of the participants.

    The silver-haired young man glanced my way briefly before silently nodding and turning his attention right at the large screen above the arena displaying all the individual pictures of the various competitors.

    Soon the monitor went dark, only to display for some moments ‘Round 1’ in pure white letters.

    The words disappeared as two enlarged photos appeared on the electronic billboard, a ‘Vs’ dividing the two and showing whom was going to fight for the first match.

    The first one I recognized was… Issei.

    The young brunet standing out of his seat and already walking towards the small staircase that led to the arena and he was followed moments later by his opponent.

    My jaws dropped as I saw a familiar dark-haired man smiling, a shadow-like dog keeping by his side as he followed the young Host of the Red Dragon to the setting of their fight, my brain having to reboot as I connected dots.

    It would seem that the first fight will be a ‘Protagonist vs Protagonist’ scenario, eh?

    That would seem the case, yes.

    I let my eyes widen in surprise as Tobio Ikuse looked genuinely interested at the younger man that he was supposed to have a battle with.

    Part of me contemplated if the leader of Slash Dog was aware or not that Issei wasn’t certainly going to be a breeze, especially with his Boosted Gear capable of giving him a strong Balance Breaker and semi-Juggernaut Drive.

    The two took position, the arbiter being a young woman I couldn’t recognize appearing as a hologram by the fighters’ side and… she started to count.

    “5, 4, 3.”

    Issei smiled nervously, his Boosted Gear appearing on his arm.

    “2.”

    Tobio returned the smile with a smirk, his magic already bubbling act in preparation.

    “1.”

    I blinked, feeling excited for this glorious moment and-

    “Start!”

    It began, the two rushing at each other, ready to prove their worth against another!

    ---------------d-d-d-d-----------d-d-d-d-------------d-d-d-d-----------d-d-dd----------

    ~Issei’s POV~

    Keeping up with the speed displayed by the clearly-more experienced Sacred Gear Host, Issei was definitively understanding why Baraqiel-sensei had praised so much the young man he was facing first in this tournament.

    Tobio Ikuse, former student to the Nephilim Institute, Leader of one of the best-known squad in Grigori (Team SLASH/DOG) and holder of Canis Lykaon.

    This Sacred Gear was mostly unknown to him, only that Baraqiel had deemed it capable of fending off the Boosted Gear and that Hoitsu-senpai had held off against it when it had gone berserk.

    Nothing much, but still enough to offer him a scope of the potential of said inner ability.

    Sadly, this was hardly going to matter if the brunet didn’t manage to retaliate with the current disadvantage imposed by the flexibility displayed by the ‘Bartender’.

    Friendly as he might look to be, Tobio-san was indeed holding little against him and the punches that managed to get through his defense were starting to sting on his skin even though was a Devil.

    Magical-wise, Issei’s core was very close to the quantity coming from the full human, something that meant a lot considering how much training he had gone through to reach this level.

    His reserves had been rather low in his early days as a Devil, something that had been as annoying as the fact he had been a ‘Pawn’ to her peerage.

    Then he was sent to train with Baraqiel, Asia joining him with a minor focus compared to his much-needed growth in terms of power.

    Being a Devil and having something as powerful as the Red Dragon Emperor as his Sacred Gear, the brunet was put to hell and back for the sake of bringing out the vast potential held within himself and his inner ability.

    Stress, fatigue and blood were major variables in the month that saw him delving in preparation for something this huge to happen.

    While his interest over ladies ‘in that specific way’ was mostly gone, his childish intrigue over epic and flashy fights hadn’t never left him alone.

    He could still remember when he had fought with Vali against Kokabiel, or rather ‘steamrolled’ the Fallen Angel until he ceased to be a menace to the world; the experience had been annoyingly disappointing, mostly because the preparation had been ‘overkill’ against the threat that was the now-deceased rogue member of Grigori.

    Then he had gone in Tokyo, fighting against numerous low-tier monsters attacking civilians without hesitation nor mercy.

    That defense did bring him some satisfaction as he was saving innocent lives while also dealing with the horde of fiends attacking the capital of the nation.

    Fast-forward to now, after weeks of difficult training… Issei was genuinely happy that he was actually doing this well against someone as old as Tobio.

    The human didn’t have the same means to grow so quickly, but what he couldn’t make in terms of power and magic, he did with ingenuity and cleverness.

    Two elements that were now helping the Hyoudou build up some resistance against the exchange dominated by the man, enough to provide him time to think and plan out something to counter this one-sided fight.

    He huffed as he silently and suddenly gained a Boost, something that seemed to catch by surprise the dark-haired fellow as one of the punches finally bypassed his own guards.

    The impact was enough to create some distance, enough for Issei to drop momentarily the boost and reset the counter without suffering from the drain imposed by the improvement.

    It was something that just a few holders of the Sacred Gear had been able to do in the past, the full mastery of the Boost determined by a ‘clear mind over unwavering emotions’, or being capable of steeling their own minds before the intensity of some situations.

    The pressure was palpable this close on, Tobio truly feeling like a giant to face this soon but… he had to try.

    At least for his friends and… Asia.

    The mere mentioning of the blonde’s name was enough to renew Issei’s determination as his opponent appeared to be coated in shadows, only to become something similar to a bipedal wolf-like monster of darkness.

    A shroud of negativity reached towards him and it clicked on his mind what he was looking as as numerous black swords and several small-sized wolves started to rush towards him.

    It was his Balance Breaker, he mused quickly before bringing up his Scale Mail.

    With his dragonic wings in full display, the boy didn’t hesitate to use them to boost his greater speed, swiftly engaging both blades and animals before those could pile up against him.

    His first intervention granted him some relief as it seemed to push Tobio to rush to the rescue of his support, giving him the chance of capitalizing at the sudden closeness of his opponent.

    He boosted thrice, his body now feeling some strain as he started to exploit the immediate shock at his aggressive stance, pushing the older Sacred Gear holder to a more defensive approach.

    Breaching his guard, Issei punched and kicked without restraint as he was aware of the full extent of his opponent’s power, what kind of incredible magnitude it had once the user started to get serious.

    He just had to keep the wolf-like foe stunned and unbalanced while he landed as much damage as possible, hopefully getting to bring him to a frail enough state to conclude this match.

    But just like a certain Murphy would say, plans do tend to fail at first contact and his little hope was crushed the moment he felt a snarl and his last punch didn’t cause any visible reaction out of his opponent.

    Eyes widened, Issei jumped back and away as Tobio brought up a scimitar-like blade to strike him but only ending up nicking part of his armored arms.

    Time to bring up the big guns.

    A small orb of red energy formed in front of his closed palm, his fist slamming against it and directing it at the irritated man as a beam of pure magical energy erupted from the sphere.

    The wave slammed quickly against Tobio, surprising the foe just momentarily as he was soon pushed even further away from the recovering youth.

    Yet, despite the intensity of the attack, the more-experienced fighter managed to jump away from the trajectory of the beam, rushing swiftly against Issei as the boy prepared another Dragon Shot.

    The attack blitzed once again, its intensity mesmerizing but failing to land on the more cautious foe, Tobio jumping by the side and disappearing in a blur.

    The brunet had just enough time to blink as he found a snarling bipedal monster slamming its fist onto his mask, creating some cracks on it and sending him slamming on the ground.

    There was just a brief moment of calm before the Balance Breaker of Canis Lykaon prepared to claw at his armor and Issei decided to intervene quickly by deploying an experimental technique he had developed thanks to Baraqiel’s teaching.

    Since Ddraig was a dragon, the boy could theoretically make use of the intense flames available to natural-born dragons thanks to his Boosted Gear. The Balance Breaker gave him even more of a chance of succeeding as he was given some dragonic resilience to fire.

    The technique was fairly complex in details as it required utmost attention and concentration, something that the safety of the training grounds allowed but the current instance hardly favored.

    He had to close his eyes, ignore the giant scary fiend ready to claw at him, to truly find the focus required by the complicated move.

    By inhaling some air to fill his lungs, Issei would then create a fire within his stomach with his own magic; using Tranfer and Boost, he would then increase the power and intensity of the flame before breathing out the now condensed flame out of his mouth.

    It was experimental as he wasn’t truly a Dragon, the only resistance to fire being the one allowed by the Boosted Gear (in minor role) and from his own Balance Breaker

    The Flame Blaze erupted brightly out of his lips, he could taste the fiery blast breaching out from his throat and reaching out to his opponent.

    It slammed onto the Wolf’s unsuspecting chest, a yelp leaving its ‘lips’ as the flame got him flying up above ground for some time, piercing through his Balance Breaker and causing some non-negligible damage before the brunet was forced to let go of the technique.

    He felt his breath labored as Tobio dropped back on the ground a few meters away from him, the shadows dropping as he knelt for a moment in clear pain.

    His clothes were damaged, his shirt ruined as burns were now present on his now visible chest, a good sign that the gamble actually paid off.

    Issei dropped off the Scale Mail, his visor too cracked to allow some proper sight over the battle and his body strained a little by the experimental ability.

    His throat felt hoarse and his stomach was hurting slightly as he slowly got up from the ground and prepared to make good use of his current 5 Boosts.

    Rushing towards the weakened Tobio, the boy expected to conquer victory in that very moment as the man seemed to barely realize the incoming punch, eyes widening in little panic at the sudden offensive.

    But before the brunet could ever get too close to the weakened foe, a snarl alerted him of some danger and he was forced to divert away as a large wolf-dog tried to cleave him with a scimitar.

    The creature made by shadows was snarling at him, the blade held tightly in its maws, ready to deal some damage to the surprised young man.

    The beast returned to the assault, this time its speed proving to be far too intense for Issei as some cuts started to form on his shirt and pants, a small flesh injury appearing on his cheek as he tried and failed to steer away the endless cutting he was enduring.

    His body groaned at the strain he had to deal with until now, but the student decided to go a step higher and deliver the sixth Boost.

    New energy, a newer drain adding to this increasing weariness as he finally got through the swift offensive-defensive nature of the wolf’s stance.

    Soon, the battle seemed to take a sharp turn towards a true end to the match as a kick managed to land by the head, forcing the familiar to drop the sword, while a followup got to push the beast away to recover.

    The shadow-dog whined in pain and before it could jump back in action, its wobbly leg showing that the last attack did leave it with a concussion, the mutt was stopped by the silent gesture of its wounded user.

    Tobio held its hands up in surrender. “I-I think this is enough,” He shook his head, a small smile appearing as Issei nodded at him. “T-To think that you were going to be this tough… Hyoudou-san.”

    The Boosts were all dropped in that precise moment, relief and fatigue reaching out for the brunet as the young man smiled at the words. “T-Too kind, Ikuse-san.”

    The bartender smiled back. “T-Tobio,” He said as he was slowly helped up by the brunet and Jin. “Y-You may call me Tobio-”

    “Then p-please, call me Issei, Tobio-san.” The youth interjected tiredly, drawing a bigger smile from the nodding man as they both retired to the stands, medics ready with bandages and Phoenix Tears.

    Their ears at that point were deafened by the roaring of the people excited by the concluded battle, the monitor returning to life as it displayed the ‘highlights’ of the fight before announcing Issei as the winner of that match.

    Winner of the First Round, Issei Hyoudou.

    The spectators roared once again, everyone praising both brawlers as they retreated away and the second match prepared to be delivered.

    As Issei left a thankful Tobio to the medics, he glanced at the large screen as he walked up the stairs, his attention taken by surprise as the next match-up was proclaimed.

    He would have expected the match to be about someone that truly wasn’t attached to their group so that he could enjoy some fights without having to worry about any of his friends.

    But fate is a cruel thing and what ensued was indeed… stunning.

    Second Round! Kunou Sakakibara vs Rossweisse!

    This- This could really make things awkward and… explosive…

    Oh fuck.

    ------------d-d-d-d-------------d-d-d-d--------d-d-d-d-----------d-d-d-d-----------d-d-d-d-----

    AN

    Ise is a smart boy, he is here to delight people by going for a full fight with the protagonist of the second franchise written by Ishibumi (DxD being actually the third).

    Rias is here too and boy, oh boy, she will make some mincemeat of her opponents!

    A hint for next chapter? Well, I can think of just one: Do you believe in Gravity?

    Lastly, I want to give a shootout to Siegfried XIII and his story RWBY: Glyphed Swordsman in FF. Truly an amazing story and I’m more than honored that it was inspired by Magical Trickster DxD. Just like I said in that review, Keep up the good work!

    Future milestone 1: 1080 Followers and Favorite.
     
  3. Threadmarks: Innocence and Maturity
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

    Joined:
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    Chapter 80: Innocence and Maturity


    ~Kunou’s POV~


    The cheering was loud enough to drown the last words of cheerful encouragement coming from her Niichan, but the blonde kitsune was in no need to hear his voice to know that he was going to cheer for her.


    Smiling moderately at the public’s grand reaction to her presence, the young Yokai felt glad to have finally decided to pick a new battle kimono for the occasion as she could feel herself better in that new set of clothes.


    Her theme was still white and red like her miko dress, the major differences with the kimono being that she had some golden-black details by the small sections where her sleeves began and the very sleeves were halved as to offer more maneuvering space for her arms; her skirt was a little shorter than her haori but still falling beyond her knees.


    As the girl started her descent through the staircase, her curious golden eyes blinked silently at the woman taking precedence by the stairs.


    With long silver-white hairs and aqua-colored eyes, this individual looked as confident of her abilities as she was embarrassed of the current predicament she was supposed to deal with.


    Rossweisse was a Valkyrie, her battle armor resembling well the standards imposed by the Norse profession.


    Despite the class being compared much to Christian Angels, Valkyries were made by girls born in Asgard that ended up showing a grand propensity to fight and managed to pass through the various specialized schools designed for the role.


    The requirements to be accepted within the order were still fairly high, much higher compared to other mythological orders of this kind and that was enough to put the young blonde in a careful guard about this curious situation.


    A few moments passed and soon the two were staring at each other from the proper standing points of the arena, the countdown having yet to start and that very instance offered Kunou some more hints about her opponent’s personality and current emotions.


    Some nervousness was there to be picked from her expressive face, but it wasn’t as extreme to warrant any false misunderstanding over this foe’s capacity towards this battle.


    Since Rossweisse had come to the event as the first one among the Norse Pantheon to be enlisted in the fighters’ list, it was good to assume that her prowess was nothing to scoff at.


    Blue eyes were failing to keep a straight look at the kitsune, more than enough to make the girl think that the older female was severely underestimating her with the way she looked this relaxed.


    But instead of getting irritated at this possible discovery, the blonde merely let out a wide grin and nodded.


    “May the best one win, Rossweisse-nee~,” The young teen said chirpily, her voice seemingly drawing a surprised and even more embarrassed look from the Valkyrie.


    And while the woman returned the kind words with a nod, within her mind Kunou couldn’t help but giggle at how fun this early bit of the fight was going to be, endless possibilities of amusing escalations unfolding inside her head.


    The countdown began, but instead of paying much attention to it, the girl decided to act just like her opponent thought her to be; a naive little girl that was mostly unaware of what was going on.


    So when the horns rung again and the battle commenced, Rossweisse hesitated to move from her starting position, looking confused as to how she was supposed to deal with such a delicate situation.


    Before her was a little yokai, with possibly little fighting experience and some magical knowledge thanks to her upbringing as the heiress to Kyoto’s Yokai Faction.


    Maybe there were more thoughts lurking within the white-haired young woman, but Kunou decided to not think about it and try to test the waters by merely taking a single step towards the battle-armored woman.


    Blue-eyes widened as she tensed in minor surprise at the relaxed posture adopted by the younger girl, the sight of someone this young and inexperienced sure to bring some questionable morality-related issues about the matter.


    Doubts were not besetting the mind of the Valkyrie and the kitsune was just basking in that endearing psychological warfare with a little grin.


    She might have been truly innocent about some aspects of life, but some of the interesting aspects of exploiting her current adorable and childish self were presented as an idea by Kuroka.


    The dark-haired Nekoshou quietly pointing out how both hers and Ko-chan’s youthful appearances were some good means to bring some weakness to a moral-bound enemy.


    This is why, despite the little amusement coming to the blonde from this curious development was quick to vanish at the need of capitalizing with the openings just obtained.


    She had to press the advantage now before the woman could finally begin the match.


    “Rossweisse-nee, can I ask something from you?” The question seemed to catch the Valkyrie off-guard, eyes wide open and blinking as her lips twitched tentatively.


    “A-And that is?” The moment those words left her opponent’s mouth, Kunou smiled widely as her body tensed up eagerly.


    “Don’t hold be, okay?”


    And with that, the blonde didn’t wait to see the reaction on her foe’s face, rather she rushed towards the eased guard of the woman and commenced to burn her defense. Literally.


    Fists coated in fox-fire, the kitsune roared fiercely as she started to punch the woman’s undefended chest, her first hit landing right onto her stomach.


    Surprise turned in stunning pain on the Valkyrie’s face as the young woman was unable to react properly at the initial beating, her mind failing to concentrate at the sudden suffering she was facing.


    Some yelping ensued from her lips, bringing some more efforts from the younger enemy to continued with this assault.


    Yet, despite the element of surprise and the magically-enchanted fire punches dealing more damage than with normal hits, her little stunt was rewarded with a quick blast of water reaching out from the blue lights forming on the woman’s hands.


    Retreating away as quickly as possible to avoid getting soaked by that attack, Kunou’s eyes narrowed on the annoyed expression now present on the pained face of the silver-haired lady.


    Ears twitching attentively, her golden eyes carefully studied if the water had somehow ended up drenching any of her clothes.


    It wasn’t about coverage of her modesty, her underclothes being capable of withstanding the liquid but the issue was if the outer bits had been turned wet.


    Electricity-based spells weren’t certainly something that the girl wanted to get acquaintance with just yet.


    But while, much to her relief, her battle kimono hadn’t been hit by the water and only her arms had been hit by the wet blast, Kunou’s eyes fixed upon the approaching blue thunder zig-zagging towards her and soon she prepared to test out some of her training with Akeno.


    The Himejima had been quite restrained with her abilities while teaching her, but after facing lighting several times in the last few spars was enough to bring some interest in developing a counter to this kind of magic.


    And said counter was bestowed in the form of a little rule of magic that was so easily neglected by many practitioner of the arts.


    Timing the approaching electric attack, the kitsune brought her enchanted hands up right as the magical spell was about to struck her and she carefully palmed the tip of the attack with precise speed before redirecting it back around to the user of said spell.


    A stinging sensation spread through her her hands and arms, the magical input needed to impose such a difficult manipulation draining a little on the magical presence on her upper limbs.


    But her difficult task was kindly rewarded when an awestruck Rossweisse managed to bring up a weak barrier to defend herself from her own attack before it hit her, the resulting explosion giving the blonde the time to plan out her next strategy.


    Eyes blinking at the cloud of smoke originated from the impact, her golden orbs stared up as a swift gust of wind created by a now-irritated silver-haired Valkyrie, the woman rushing up in the air and conjuring numerous small- and medium-sized light spears by her sides.


    Oh?


    Panic surged the moment the girl saw all the bright projectiles rushing her way, forcing her to move away as quickly as possible and beginning to dodge the strafe fire coming from the infuriated woman.


    With her opponent now away from her physical reach, Kunou had to switch her pace to maintain herself unscathed from the enraged barrage of magic directed all towards her.


    At least she was now aware that her foe preferred magic over close encounters, something that mattered very little until she got close to her once more.


    But how?


    If it had been Ko-chan, she would have used her Devil Wings to even out the current disadvantage, but the kitsune didn’t have much of a mean that could have given her the chance of having prolonged flights.


    Her panic rising even more at the lack of quick answers, her mind went through any tidbits that she could use in that very moment, digging deep between sparring sessions and little lessons about fighting in unique circumstances.


    Then something finally clicked in the form of a story her Niichan had told her back when they had yet to be involved with the Omega Foundation, back even before dealing with leaving Kuoh Academy the first time around.


    About how Azazel had met him, how they had ended up recruiting the young man in Grigori and…


    How he had beaten his winged opponent without having any means to fly.


    Debris created by the attacks of his own opponent, large pieces of marble and stone being used to create platforms to launch a powerful and debilitating strike upon his enemy and, while there was anything big enough to truly launch at the distracted woman, there was something she would do with her Fox Dragon Mode.


    The grand burst of energy filled her with renewed resolve, her speed and perception of the world heightened enough to allow her to dodge effortlessly the multiple small-spears as she began her little but possibly successful plan.


    The now silver-haired Yokai rushed through the area and eyed her first step to victory, jumping up in the air as she avoided another barrage of magical projectiles; her feet tapping softly onto the little specks of dirt that had been propelled to the sky by the continuous explosive blasts raining onto the ground.


    With a determined expression plastered on her face and her hands cupped to the side, she started to prepare the final blow.


    “Kame-”


    The blonde jumped away and onto the next, closer speck towards the still-irritated opponent, avoiding another flurry of bright lances, as she continued with her unbending will.


    “-Hame-”


    The familiar orb of energy formed, some little red-like magic energy fusing with the light-blue and slowly turning the usual orb into a purplish sphere.


    In that moment, the realization of what was going on finally reached Rossweisse, the Valkyrie snapping away from her murderous ire and her eyes widening in surprise at the approaching white-haired and red-eyed girl.


    Some panic was now present on her face, forming three strong bubble-like barriers all over her body as she continued with her attacks, hoping to dismiss this assault before it succeeded and got too close to her.


    But it was too late for that as, just as the kitsune landed on the last ‘platform’ available, the girl promptly sprung up and above the light-gray projectiles and above the surprised Valkyrie.


    "-HA!"


    Before the silver-haired lady could do anything about it, Kunou released the concentration of energy in her hands, a dense magical beam diving right onto her opponent’s barriers and promptly pushing her down towards the floor.


    The first two barriers collapsed almost instantly much to the Norse girl’s expectations, her last defense holding well against the powerful blast but failing to keep up with being slammed so suddenly onto the floor.


    The following explosion cracked it, Rossweisse yelping as felt her whole body hurting as it was forcefully pressed on the ground, her vision growing blurry momentarily as dust rose from the floor.


    Moments of silence ensued, the public lessening their yells of encouragement as they waited for the resulting outcome of that skirmish.


    Was it over already? Or maybe the Valkyrie was biding her time and-


    “Gotcha~!” The dust was wiped out as the now normal Kunou landed softly on her chest, blue eyes widened at mirthful yellow ones. “I think I have you beat, Rossweisse-nee.”


    A giggle left the yokai’s lips while the older female huffed and pouted at that statement.


    “I’m not defeated yet and-” Before she could end with her protest, the girl proceeded to dig her index fingers on the woman’s sides, causing her to jump in surprise. “E-Eep! S-Stop!”


    “Yield!” The kitsune childishly demanded, a little smug smile plastered on her face. “Or I will tickle you~!”


    Irritation replaced surprised, but the Valkyrie was offered little means to leave that powerful hold without getting hurt and defeated in the process.


    But what a humiliating defeat! To a child of all people, no matter her upbringing and teachers.


    She was Odin’s bodyguard, someone that was trained by Brynhildr herself! She couldn’t just give up for so little and-


    Then little fingers began tickling her sides, twitches echoing in her throat as she tried and failed to keep within herself the sudden need to burst out laughing.


    Her efforts were futile, giggles preceding a full blown array of chuckles and laughs while the blonde continued restlessly with her ministrations.


    Kunou giggled herself because of the red-faced smiling face on the lady, moments later cheering as the woman finally conceded defeat at that horrible ‘torture’.


    With her victory assured, she decided to wait for her opponent to get up to lead her back to the seats while holding her hand, gaining some loud ‘Aww’s from the spectators of her match.


    Ladies and gentleman, sportsmanship at its finest!


    But while the kitsune nodded at those words, an embarrassed Rossweisse groaned in her free hands but didn’t let go of the younger female’s hand until they had gone back to the competitors’ section.


    Another Valkyrie with long-blue hair, this one a little older than the silver-haired lady, rushed towards the two but before the young woman could have said anything, she found herself pulled in a tight embrace.


    Blue eyes went wide as she caught her teacher sighing tiredly at her. “Brat, you did well.”


    The comment made her even more surprised, confused that someone as usually strict as Brynhildr could be this much forgiving of what has just happened in that match.


    “B-But I lost-”


    “Against someone much stronger thank yourself,” The mentor interrupted, lessening the hug to show a proud expression to the younger Valkyrie. “You fared well and Lord Odin did praise your efforts.”


    “I-it wasn’t much-”


    “But it was still enough for someone of your current level of power,” The blue-haired woman continued with a nod. “Don’t be ashamed of having tried and failed against the inevitable.”


    But despite the encouraging and meaningful words, Rossweisse still felt like she could have done much more and… decided to quietly take her seat back beside her mentor, ready to see who was next now.


    -------------d-d-d-d-------------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d------------


    ~Hoitsu’s POV~


    I have to admit that I’ve been quite tense when the battle began.


    My expectations of Rossweisse having been fairly high, the woman supposedly a master magician in this current stage of her life and her prowess with rapid-firing multiple small-grade spells without showing any issue was a deign display of this ability.


    Even her attempt to induce an electrocution, which failed thanks to Kunou’s quick-thinking, had been something worth of some consideration as her mastery of elemental magic was nothing to scoff at.


    But just as I prepared for the little blonde-haired missile to land onto me, giving me the tightest of hugs, I found my attention taken away from the happy-looking girl and back to the large window over the stadium’s arena.


    With the kitsune’s loud and boisterous retelling of the fight, I was unable to hear what was the next fighters for the match, hoping that it wasn’t me and… I was graced with quite the match-up the moment I was granted some sight over the scene.


    Two individuals, both men, were standing one staring at the other in the official standpoints.


    The first one was middle-aged and had gelled hair, the color a mixture of red and blue; Heterochromic eyes, one blue and the other red. He was wearing a purple scarf over his formal looking jacket, dress black pants and a pair of formal shoes.


    At first I couldn’t understand whom I was looking at, then rethinking about his appearance some red flags were quick to rise up at the sight of this important figure.


    Mephisto Pheles was the current leader of the Grauzauberer, a large Magician organization that worked as a neutral faction for Mages of all kind.


    Similar to Grigori in terms of neutrality, the organization accepted the outcasts of Hell’s, Heaven’s and even Earth’s societies.


    The man was also the very Devil that contracted Johann Georg Faust, a renowned German alchemist, scientist and magician from the 15th century, giving him the knowledge that made the man famous for centuries.


    Decades of wisdom, power and incredible experience all held within a single mind.


    A dangerous threat to deal for sure, but one I would mind to share some words with in the future once this tournament was done.


    But despite the impressive background behind this legendary man, I couldn’t help but be more inclined to believe that the winner of this fight would end up being the one he was facing against.


    Sairaorg looked incredibly calm for someone going against someone like Mephisto, the calm violet eyes fixed on the elder giving off a sense of determination and confidence, enough to put me in a state of utter certainty over whom was going to win that battle.


    Kunou adjusted herself on my lap as she turned her focus right where I was looking at and her golden eyes widened as she leaned on my chest.


    “Niichan, isn’t that Sairaorg-san?”


    I nodded at her question, preferring to keep quiet as I wanted to see this match unfold quietly and without any distractions.


    The girl seemed to understand my little state of mind, merely keeping sight over the fight herself as she was curious of whom this individual truly was, to have urged a tournament like this to exist.


    The countdown began, urging both contenders to prepare their stances at the approaching start of this battle and…


    They both sprung to action when the horns rung once more, both becoming blurs as they started to exchange blows.


    The leader of the Grauzauberer was surprisingly fast with his pace, keeping up well with the peak performance exerted by this ‘relaxed’ Sairaorg, something that got me suddenly curious as I also noticed his spell-casting with immensely quick for even a Devil.


    Spitting whispers so suddenly and almost making no sense, the magician was throwing a lot against the heir of the Bael Clan, the bulky young man tanking most of the attacks without showing major stress of discomfort.


    Rather it seemed like the brawler was facing some irritation for another unidentified reason, something that got up to not lower his guard even once even as there was little damage coming from the base offensive spells.


    I continued to stare fixedly at Mephisto, the old man looking cautious and incredibly-focused as he continued to ‘distract’ his opponent more and more.


    Nothing was being done by the magician to actually try to ‘hurt’ his foe and that actually got me confused as to why.


    The elder sure had more in his repertoire than this little ‘firework show’, something going missing from the scene that I couldn’t just confirm from the current situation unfolding.


    Even the kitsune looked confused, a hum building in her throat as she tried to understand herself why both were stalling each other.


    Then, something even more curious happened as the Bael went for a strong jab, aiming right at Mephisto’s head.


    The old man didn’t seem to even flinch at the incoming powerful blow, easily ducking and drawing some long distance from his opponent… in a single step.


    I blinked, then again as I tried to made sense of what had just happened in mere seconds.


    One moment the magician had been standing still in his position, then once the first blow was thrown at him, he avoided it with millimetric precision before side-stepping several meters away from his opponent.


    Sairaorg himself stopped his approaching to look at his foe with unveiled confusion and curiosity, the young man trying to see what was going on with the now-smiling magician.


    “Is he using magic to enchant his body?” The blonde commented quietly.


    I sighed. “I don’t think so, there is no presence of energy coating his body or reinforcing his physical attributes,” I replied with the same calm tone. “I think the explanation is a little more complex than that.”


    Just as I said this, I noticed the magician prepare several more energy blasts while he took hold in his hands of something that was glimmering from afar.


    The Imperial Purpure’s eyes widened in surprise as he started to dodge numerous knives thrown at him at some neck-breaking speed.


    A quick look at the disposed blades made it clear why the young Devil feared those as I perceived a soft undertone of holy energy coming from the daggers.


    Mephisto started to move once again and… it was a weird spectacle of blurs, the man appeared to be running all around the confused Sairaorg while continuing to throw knives at him.


    The young man managed to avoid all of the dangerous metals tried to stab onto him, his violet eyes now showing some major anger at the usage of holy weaponry, something that was unusual as the attacker was a Devil himself.


    It was with this little deadly circus that I started to finally see something familiar coating over Mephisto, a kind of magic that wasn’t there to enchant his body… it was doing something completely different than that.


    The speed… it wasn’t just speed. It was the entire body and mind acting together with magic to attain this absurd pace and… it just couldn’t be any enchantment.


    But it was a glimpse of his form that actually gave me a theory, a moment in time where the man stopped being a blur and appeared in a somewhat familiar pose.


    It was Jojo-esque, there was no doubt about it, yet the new hint barely offered any other ramifications of what this could mean.


    Sure, there were many Jojo fans among Devils, as the show had managed to get many individuals endeared by how wacky it was and how well aesthetically it was too look at.


    But still… there had to be something I was genuinely missing from this picture and-


    Then I realized what it all meant.


    The surreal speed, the lack of magical boosting behind such a situation and… wasn’t Mephisto intrigued by the human studies over natural physics?


    It wouldn’t be completely surreal to think that, despite the lack of Stands, one of the strongest abilities was being used here with the use of some scientific basis coupled with magic.


    The reason why I felt like I had seen this kind of magic before wasn’t truly unfounded as I had been close to someone specialized in this kind of magic.


    I glanced to the side, my eyes trying to find someone in particular and my eyes landed right on a certain redhead.


    Mio looked confused herself at the scene and possibly feeling a connection to what was happening before her eyes and what she was used so regularly.


    Do you believe in Gravity?


    Oh? So you finally speak?


    We were having a discussion, nothing to worry about-


    For now. Let’s just say that Apophis felt someone familiar among the contestants.


    What?


    As I’ve said, nothing to be concerned about. He can’t be here, not with so much security employed.


    What the heck were those two referring about?





    Anyway, the comment forwarded by Shiranai was correct.


    Mephisto was taking major inspiration from Enrico Pucci, specifically the Time Acceleration ability that only [C-Moon] and [Made in Heaven] were known for.


    Instead of using Gravity itself to accelerate everything but the user, it was the user himself that was being accelerated within time.


    And how was he doing all of this without having Gravity-type magic coating his body? Well, the secret was that he wasn’t accelerating his body but his proximity by making use of a bubble-like radius for the self-sustaining spell.


    Fascinating to the sight, confusing to bystanders that weren’t aware of the specifics behind the theory of relativity and incredibly infuriating for anyone that was facing this kind of threat.


    Sairaorg wasn’t going to lose because of this, but it was sure going to stretch the time for a long period before Mephisto truly drained.


    This theory, which now looked to be a genuinely good possibility, would explain why the elder was keeping some distance off from his opponent and why he couldn’t make use of any high-tier spells against his foe.


    The young Bael was still confused and was surely going to end up unaware even after the match about the logic behind such situation.


    No blow would ever land, at least until Mephisto deemed so and if he didn’t want to surrender once his reserves were low enough to call for his own defeat.


    The match continued as expected, Sairaorg continuing to have some minor difficulty with his opponent and then the old magician decided to surrender after dispensing enough flashy spells around to make the match somewhat endearing to look at.


    But just as the two contenders returned up to the competitors’ stands, I decided to approach the two with Kunou on tow.


    The violet-eyed brunet was quick to greet us. “Hoitsu, Kunou. It’s good to see you today.”


    We nodded both at the greeting.


    “It’s good to see you too, Sairaorg, and I’ve to say that this match sure was bizarre to look at,” I commented carefully, my use of that specific word seemingly causing the old man to freeze for a moment and look at my way with a curious look.


    “Indeed, it’s impressive that Mephisto-san to keep up with my balanced pace,” The young man replied back, but my eyes were already on the magician himself.


    “It’s more about magic and science,” I explained quietly, drawing a confused frown out of the brawler. “It was Gravity.”





    “What?”


    But before I could answer that question, the leader of Grauzauberer decided to intercede.


    “I created a gravitational bubble to accelerate the time around me,” The elder admitted with a huff. “A very taxing move, but one that makes me happy to use so smoothly.”


    I blinked. “Your favorite character is Pucci?”


    “A complex man driven by the consciousness of creating a better universe?” Mephisto mused back. “Everyone’s a villain until the reason behind their ‘duties’ are shown to a reader or a spectator. Pucci was flawed, but his growth was admirable.”


    I nodded at that explanation and I couldn’t fault him to praise one of the main villains written by Araki.


    There was just a degree of humanity in each of them that renders it all… sad when they die at the end of the various parts.


    Except for Diavolo, the man deserved his punishment.


    I felt Kunou tugging at my sleeve in that very moment and I looked at her and her curious face.


    “What are you two talking about?” She inquired quietly, drawing some curious expression from the old Devil, the man unaware of what would follow next.


    I blinked and smiled. “It’s one of the non-animated parts of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. Part 6 to be exact.”


    The girl’s eyes lit at the mentioning of Jojo, the kitsune then glancing at the elder. “That means you are a Jojo’s fan too, Mephisto-san?”


    The magician was surprised and stomped by the questions, eyes moving from the girl right to look at me, to which I replied with a simple shrug.


    Finally he glanced back down to the blonde and nodded.


    “I am, yes,” He admitted happily. “And it’s nice to know that you are fan yourself, Kunou-san.”


    The girl giggled at the kind tone and returned the nod.


    Meanwhile Sairaorg was giving me the most confused expression. “’Jojo’?”


    As I opened my mouth, someone else decided to jump in.


    “It’s one of the animes I recommended you to watch, Sai,” A familiar feminine voice answered on my stead, causing all of us to look at the origin of the reply and- “But I guess you were busy training because of the tournament.”


    A small smile was on her face, her ahoge twitching just once as the redhead showed just some nervousness at the situation.


    “Hoitsu-san, Kunou-san,” Rias greeted with an uneasy but polite tone.


    I blinked. “Rias-san,” I greeted back, while Kunou merely sidestepped behind me, keeping quiet as I glanced at Sairaorg and nodded.


    “Well, I guess we will see what kind of next fights will await us, Sairaorg. Hopefully, the match-up will give us the chance of sparring like I’ve promised you.”


    He gave a calm sigh and a defeated nod. “I think ‘luck’ will favor that kind of battle, Hoitsu.”


    After this closure, I silently retreated back to my post, Kunou settling on my lap as she silently looked away from the young Bael and Gremory.


    Rias looked saddened by the lack of formal gesture to salute her, but she merely accepted it with a tiny grimace.


    Hopefully Asia hadn’t seen that one scene happening.


    But before I could find some rest over the matter, I couldn’t help but notice the screen now calling a new match, a groan building from within my throat as that was a nightmare of a match-up.


    Vali Lucifer vs. Diehauser Belial


    ------------d-d-d-d-----------------d-d-d-d-------------d-d-d-d-------------d-d-d-d-----------d-d-d-d-----


    AN


    I think I’ve waited for too long to show Part 3 to the cast.


    Once the tournament arc is done and folded, I will give it ‘main priority’.


    Future milestone 1: 1100 Followers and Favorite.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2020
  4. Threadmarks: Worthless
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Chapter 81: Worthless


    ~Vali’s POV~


    The deafening noise created by the people spectating the match was quite irritating, the unnecessary distraction surely going to prove as a slight issue to deal with.


    He had fought with a crowd of spectators, but the annoying presence of so many Devils and other mythological beings was more than enough to put a stronger pressure on Vali over the already complicated fight that awaited him.


    Diehauser Belial, the Champion of the Rating Games, the head of the House Belial and… someone that was certainly worth of those titles if not more considering the slight energy coming off from his relaxed state.


    It was like a calm ocean that was moments away from abruptly envelop him in its immense raw power.


    He could match it if he didn’t hold back, he knew that, but much to his inner chagrin that wasn’t something he couldn’t afford to try in this brawl of all places.


    Not this early in the tournament and especially not with this challenger of all people.


    The gray-haired Ultimate-class Devil seemed calm with a slightly interest glint emanating from his dull eyes while they waited for the start of this important match.


    The youngest Lucifer against the Emperor, the youngster against the strong past.


    It was ironic how someone like Diehauser had turned out into the worst thing he could have ever tried to achieve in his life, especially after his cousin’s death.


    Cleria Belial had died by ‘forbidden love’ when she was discovered eloping with a young human Exorcist, Masaomi Yaegaki, by Devil’s society.


    Her execution, happening closely to the one issued by Heaven against the young man under their service, spurred some surprise and shock from the Underworld at the revelation of such a scandalous relationship and a handful of people even went as far as consider it an issue born from the Belial’s traditions.


    Differently from other Hell’s clans, the House of Belial was quite reformist and moderated with its following of the laws of the Underworld, something that had always bothered the Old Devil Clique ruling the government from the shadows.


    Diehauser was no exception to the humble tones of his family, fostering quite the close relationship with Cleria and… her death didn’t leave him without any changes.


    Gone was the cheerful champion, instead a very self-disappointed Devil replaced him ever since the girl’s death.


    There was no passion in winning, not much of an interest to improve with what he had achieved in so little and…


    That infuriated the Host of the Vanishing Dragon as he could see the blatantly wasted potential!


    “Vali Lucifer,” The Emperor spoke with a quiet voice, blinking just once before bowing his head towards the younger Devil. “It’s an honor and a flattering development to have you as my next opponent.”


    Being brought back to reality, the young man hummed as he noticed at the countdown was already down to 5.


    Little bantering, nothing meaningful or ever-so distracting… but Vali decided to play around with this introduction.


    4.


    “Diehauser Belial, I will show you no mercy,” The Lucifer stated without hesitation, voice lacking any warmth but also any true coldness.


    3.


    There was some surprise growing at the comment, but he didn’t seem completely caught off-guard by it. “That’s some boisterous claim, Scion Lucifer,” The man frowned back at him. “I hope you can back it up.”


    2.


    Albion was quiet and quite disdainful of what his plan for the match was all about, finding the lack of major participation to be quite… irking.


    1.


    He took a defensive posture, the same example was followed by Diehauser but there was just an element of lazy within the way he was guarding himself.


    So many opening. All of them fake ones.


    “Start!”


    Vali bolted backwards as he dodged a quick rush from his opponent, gaining a little edge as the older Devil was forced to give a brief chase to begin some close-fighting against the less-experienced foe.


    It was something expected, something that he could have countered by enveloping his body in the Balance Breaker but… it wouldn’t work in the long-run.


    Not only was that action expected, but the chances of ending up ‘surprised’ and drained by Diehauser’s special ability made it a must to keep a careful mind around this dangerous threat.


    In fact, with the Scale Mail failing to already show at the clear disadvantaged, the surprise within the Emperor’s eyes seemed to grow even more.


    And then the man spoke.


    “You are holding back a lot,” He commented blandly. “I thought you were above arrogance, Scion Lucifer.”


    “I am not arrogant, Lord Belial,” Vali replied with a hint of boredom, something quite awkward to listen to considering he was facing a losing battle against the close-quarters master. “Actually, I think you are too foolish to see the bigger picture.”


    Throwing a kick at the younger Devil, which was dodged by Vali by ducking below the lifted leg, the Champion slammed his elbow quickly on the young man’s chest by interrupting his rotation to press on the aggressive nature of his own offensive.


    The Lucifer flinched, feeling the stinging sensation of the blow spread across his entire torso, numbing it a little as he managed to back away again from the exchange of attacks.


    “Forgive me, but I’ve to say that this is just downright childish,” Diehauser continued to comment, sighing tiredly as he punched right through the younger Devil’s guard. “I’ve heard- I’ve seen your prowess during the battle of Tokyo, against Kokabiel and-”


    “You- You still don’t understand what is going on, don’t you?” Vali coughed a little, a devious smirk finally appearing on his face. “To think the one that discovered the ‘King trick’ could be so clueless about such a simple trap. I’m truly bored by your mind, Belial.”


    The blank mask seemed to crack momentarily as a little but non-negligible spike within the older Devil’s energy was more than enough to confirm the sore button.


    “It was Rizevim-”


    “Actually no,” The silver-haired Lucifer scoffed at the mere mentioning of his grandfather, the man being ever-so secretive over the identity of major supporters within Qlippoth.


    No, the information came from a fortuitous development that had happened days ago after a peculiar experience.


    Something that was meant to give a major boost to fight… actually ended up giving a more intimate insight upon his rival’s mind.


    Endless secrets all held within Hoitsu’s inner self, so many and so massive for a single individual to keep onto without having someone else discovering all of them.


    It explained so much, but it also give him infinite questions over the past, the present and their future.


    And that was what truly worried Vali, to deal with such a secretive individual about trust and truthfulness of the actions that led them to this point.


    Was he angry? No.


    It was blatant to see why it would have been urgent to keep it all bottled up, some of the unknown elements discovered being world-shaking and worrying for an existential perspective.


    But the Lucifer wasn’t certainly someone that lingered upon his existence, the ‘why’ he was alive in this blank world being fairly unrequited and unneeded as he was fine by merely being alive.


    No, he was fine with it as it all had a logical sense, the world was rolling within the requirements of a human mind.


    It wasn’t chaos that created the world, nor was random the happening of certain event; it all stemmed from the imagination and references to a bleaker world in terms of moral corruption that breed this reality.


    Truly a horrifying development but also unfortunately much better than just… having nothing to stand onto.


    He sighed, mind returning to the current state of things and away from the difficult debate as today’s match was going to be the real mean to reach out to Hoitsu.


    Only the brunet could give him some straight answers instead of information without context, something that was much required about some… strange bits of the ‘canon’ timeline that just didn’t make any sane sense.


    He just had the time to blink before he was forced to quickly tilt his head to the side, the swift punch from his opponent.


    Diehauser looked annoyed, the mere mentioning having indeed brought a new state of restlessness within the man.


    “And what kind of trap are you referring to?” The Belial inquired with a forced tone. “From what I’ve seen, you have just played around and failed to bring up anything to-”


    He stopped as his advance was paused by… something latching onto his left leg.


    Grey eyes running down to the leg, Diehauser was impressed by the natural affinity displayed by enchanting, reinforcing and manipulating simple dirt into becoming some resilient mud from a fair distance from the area of casting.


    “Ingenious, but… useless.”


    The older Devil freed himself by moving his leg out of the restriction, his raw power being more than enough to outmatch the little attempt to halt his attacking drive and-


    “Not the trap,” Vali muttered as he threw out of his hand a small white orb that was quickly flying towards the distracted enemy.


    The Belial brought his right hand up, his open palm ready as the explosive Light Bomb utterly vanished before his eyes.


    There was no surprise in his mind, the nature of his ‘Worthless’ ability being well-known to him as its capacity had served him well in the Rating Games-


    CRACK!


    Pain erupted from his face as an armored fist slammed with unexpected speed and power, the effective result being his sudden flight away from Vali’s proximity and several meters away from where the youth was.


    The pure-white Balance Breaker dissolved mere moments later as the young Lucifer started to walk, his intent approaching the slowly-recovering Diehauser.


    “Your ability, the ones that nullify any techniques, spell and Sacred Gears’ states,” Vali proclaimed with a minor scowl now visible from his face. “The one you so consider ‘Worthless’, but could become so much great with proper training and practice.”


    The man sighed while he stood up, his robes were now sporting several cuts all over it but overall he seemed fine.


    “So you know about it and… you lured me into thinking you were too arrogant to properly react in a formal fight,” He coughed, yet the noise did show a minor hint of amusement and renewed interest. “Bloody brilliant.”


    “Not as brilliant as you paint it, considering the impressive mind you have,” The Lucifer’s scowl increased while he continued to chide his opponent. “A few years ago, this cheap trick would have been easy for you to catch before it even began… yet now you are so geared for Rating Games, to make them pleased of your fake loyalty to even consider making a proper study of this fight.”


    A snort left Diehauser’s lips. “You know a lot, don’t you?” He asked softly before steeling up his entire frame, preparing his guard once again. “But still, I guess I should be a little more ‘honest’ with my actions rather than showing some politeness.”


    “You speak as if you stand a chance against me,” Vali continued with a sigh. “Yet you fail to understand that with your ace dismantled as it is, there is no chance for you to win.”


    “Another trick?”


    The scowl returned. “This will be much more than a simple one.”


    But before the younger Devil could do anything worrisome against the Belial, Diehauser bolted towards him, his speed tripling from his initial one as he let out a little more than half of his full power.


    The gloves were mostly off and now it was time to teach a lesson to a pompous brat.


    Before the Emperor could even try to deal the first attack upon the calmly-waiting Lucifer, the young man brought his open palms near his forehead and… yelled.


    SOLAR FLARE!


    Diehauser’s eyes were wide open at the two shouted words, bringing him even more pain as the following blinding light led him to pause and flinch at the sudden ambush.


    The technique had been sudden but terribly effective in its deployment, giving the opportunity to Vali to fully unleash a counter-attack in the form of a beating.


    Donning once again his Balance Breaker and switching to the Empireo Juggernaut Overdrive, the young Devil didn’t hesitate from pummeling the disoriented opponent, his much-stronger hits bringing more pain to the distracted Belial.


    The damage was non-negligible and his mind was screaming to react at this sudden brutality, yet the lack of sight and focus was more than enough to ruin any chances of recovering from the unrestricted offensive.


    It was five minutes of silent beating, with the attacker keeping his lips closed while he smashed the Emperor to the floor and-


    THUD!


    The final hit was a left punch by his stomach, forcing the man to recoil before being slammed down on the ground once again.


    “And with the preparation done,” Vali commented quietly as he took to fly over the aching frame of the older Devil. “I shall end this fight at once.”


    It was going to be flashy, just like many spectators wanted from such fights and… it was about time to bring a message to Hoitsu. A proper one this time.


    Stopping mid-air, the Host of the Vanishing Dragon brought his both his hands together at chest level facing the same direction while curling his gingers.


    Energy started to channel in a dark-gray orb forming onto his hands, a circular aura forming around his entire armor.


    He felt a grin forming, the tense preparation and the careful concentration of the massive amount of energy converging to his palms bringing him a sense of… giddiness.


    Was this the same feeling that Hoitsu felt when using this kind of techniques?


    Interesting.


    Galick-!


    The mere muttering of the first word caused a sudden intensification of his efforts, drawing more on his mental concentration as to not destabilize and explode the orb.


    Diehauser had barely risen up from the ground, looking shocked and barely awake to see the scene unfolding.


    Vali forced both of his palms in front of him, forcing the orb forward as it exploded in a beam of gray light with a soft purplish undertone.


    GUN!


    The blast was strong, but carefully calibrated to not be a killing blow as that wouldn’t be convenient for anyone, especially the young Lucifer.


    Considering how stingy the commission of judges for the matches was, being owned by members of the Old Devil clique, it was best to not ruin too much any of their ‘puppets’ before the entire Underworld’s eyes.


    The explosion was incredible, but nothing that truly threatened the spectators nearby as the inner barrier did well in their job of protecting the bystanders sitting behind them.


    Moments of quiet passed thorough the coliseum, enough to wait for the dust and the smoke to settle down and reveal a wounded but still-alive Diehauser.


    The man looked barely lucid as medics were quickly sent to recover him and escort him out of the arena, the proclamation of Vali’s victory following soon after.


    With a little sigh, the young Lucifer landed down near the staircase that led to the contenders’ seat, dropping from his Empireo Juggernaut Overdrive and back to his base form.


    Just as he made a few steps to reach the booth, he stopped as he noticed a shadow coming from the end of the stairs and… he sighed once again as he noticed who it was.


    Hoitsu had noticed his message. Now it was time to have a proper talk… but who is the real liar here?


    ------------d-d-d-d-------------d-d-d-d-----------d-d-d-d-------------d-d-d-d-------------d-d-d-d-------


    ~Lilith’s POV~


    If Lilith had to be honest, when Zekram had decided to settle her by this specific section of the arena, she hadn’t expected to end up dealing with this kind of shenanigans.


    Especially not from this kind of individuals.


    “Truly an interesting development,” One of the goddesses sitting by the ‘VIP booth’ purred intrigued.


    She had brown hair combed in a short manner, she had some spectacles and was wearing a dark gray blouse with dark dress pants that ended in a pair of formal shoes.


    Yellow eyes were shining brightly at the sight before her, almost elated at the brutality expressed by the fight.


    “To see someone as young as little Vali to give a proper pummeling to Diehauser,” She praised happily. “I wonder what kind of guy he is and I wonder if he would accept an apprenticeship of sort.”


    “To think that you would be this much excited for fights, Athena,” Shiva mused with a surprised tone. The Hindu God blinked at the giddiness coming from the usually-quiet individual. “Actually, I didn’t even expect an introverted like you to be this interested in this fight in particular.”


    The Greek Goddess snorted at this. “I remind you that I’m also the Goddess of War, Shiva.”


    “And she is also far more hardcore about single fights than I am,” Ares commented quietly, while writing some messages in his phone.


    The Greek God of War had half-shaved black hair and a dense beard on his face that seemed to have been tended about a few hours earlier by how well-cut it seemed to be.


    He was wearing a military-green half-sleeved shirt and a pair of green-and-brown striped cargo pants that ended in a pair of black boots.


    Despite the militaristic outlook and its main purpose, Ares looked completely uninterested by the tournament as a whole and, from Lilith’s perspective, the deity looked like a child brought to see some lengthy theatrical work that just failed to catch his attention.


    “Seriously, you should have seen how pumped up she was when Perseus went against Medusa.”


    “The hag deserved that and even more,” Athena shot back with a huff, arms crossing close to her bountiful chest. “To think that some morons would spread lies about the origin of our feud. I mean, do you remember what happened to Uncle Poseidon?”


    “Uncle P never recovered after that unplanned twenty-four hours session,” Her brother groaned at remembering that very instance.


    “And the smiling trash had the nerve of choosing my temple of all places to try and get some demi-god children!” Her irritation was palpable while other deities continued to listen to this curious tale, some already giggling and snorting at the terrible deeds suffered by the known Virgin Goddess.


    “At least you don’t have the same crazy issues like Artemis-”


    “Don’t even mention that airhead,” The woman muttered with a groan, interrupting Shiva much to the latter’s dismay. “Seriously, I don’t see why ‘marrying’ that moron of Orion would be a good idea; even as a teddy bear, that idiot is still as perverted as he was back as a human.”


    “Plus Arti is pretty much focusing on her Huntresses nowadays,” Ares added with a frown. “Also, do you remember if Atalanta is still leading or not the group?”


    “The poor cub girl?” His sister asked with a surprised look, sighing as she was unaware herself of the matter. “As much as a strict kitty she can behave, I would be impressed if she is still dealing with the complaint list.”


    Lilith blinked at this, feeling like she had heard that name before. Then she remembered it from one of her mostly one-sided discussions with a certain sack of bones and lies, thus the redhead jumped in the conversation.


    “I think Hades did mention that Atalanta was still leading,” The former Queen of the Underworld commented with a small smile. “There were attempts to leave, but Artemis stopped her from achieving any of that by-”


    “Aggressive cuddling and promises of more vacations?” Athena interjected with an amused glint. “I can see my little sister do something like this and- It’s good to see you, Lils.”


    “’Thena,” The redhead nodded back at the greeting.


    “Lilith, it’s been so long and I thought that Hades was lying about you ‘leeching off from him’,” Ares said before flinching at the irritated smile on the woman’s face. “Still, it’s good to see you well and fine.”


    “I bet Uncle H was giving you hell with his melodramatic monologues about how much of a failure he is with gardening,” The brunette said as she tilted closer to the widowed lady. “Still, if you have a chance of seeing him again, mention ‘Bone Daddy’. That always gets him jumpy ever since a large number of girls have showed up at his doorstep to ‘conquer his heart’.”


    The redhead snorted with a twitchy smile at that nickname. What was wrong with certain girls nowadays?


    “I-I will try to do that when I catch up with him once again.”


    “I feel like nobody else noticed you, Lilith, we need to change that,” Ares continued with a genuinely interested tone as he turned to the rest of the group. “Hey guys, you forgot to greet Lilith here! Do I need to remind you whom are we talking about?!”


    The loud demand was met with positive chattering as multiple deities addressed the now-blushing woman, slightly awed by how many people still remembered her after so long.


    Most of the deities there knew about her through her husband, Lucifer having gone far and wide to keep neutrality during the Great War, sometimes ending up making strong bonds with major gods of different Pantheons.


    The Greek one had been one of the first ones that he had entered in contact and Hades and Athena were the first deities to meet with him.


    It was surprising to see that she was still part of their memory and… she smiled brightly.


    “It’s good to see you all here too!”


    A resounding roar of genuine happiness echoed from the entire booth as they all tried to get to hold some words with the widowed leader of Hell, some even going as far as to give her quick hugs and praise her well-kept form.


    No men tried to do that with any resemblance of lecherous expression, far too many women in the room to survive an eventual collective retaliation from any of them.


    Still, just as the entire section lit up at the discussions now focusing with Lilith, the redhead was also asked to reply to some of the pressing questions regarding the members of her family that were competing in the tournament.


    “Sapphire is going to fight, I heard,” Odin commented with a giddy smile. “Will she don her magnificent armor?”


    The question was first met with a furious look from Frigg, the Allfather’s wife going as far as starting to squeeze at the old man’s left arm and forcing him to reformulate the query with a more appropriate tone.


    “I-I mean, will she be fighting with the same ardor she had in the Great War?”


    The redhead sighed. “She will be quite annoyed with some of the competitors as she expect her opponents to be as strong as her at least.”


    “Which is a tall requirement considering that some individuals invited here don’t have her potential, experience and years of wisdom,” Ares commented quietly.


    “And from my understanding Vali is indeed your great-grandson,” Shiva joined in with a curious voice. “We’ve seen just a glimpse of his power but, since I can see a little ‘deeper’ than many can… I wonder if Lord Zekram got enough precautions for that fight.”


    Lilith didn’t need any specifications to what the Hindu God was referring to.


    It was no secret that Vali was trying his best to get matched against Hoitsu and the brunet wasn’t certainly backing away from any confrontations against his rival.


    Both had been careful to promise to moderate their power to an eventual brawl, but the redhead was genuinely concerned that a simple promise wouldn’t be able to keep them from going beyond they had planned.


    It’s in their blood to find cheerfulness in bringing the heat to the discussion, to spark the fire and create the brightest firework for the sake of improving and showing their progress.


    While it was clear that Hoitsu had no blood-relation to the Morningstar Clan, he was still as ‘hyped’ for this kind of events just like her husband was when they moved to the Underworld.


    It was unclear to say what would happen if the young pseudo-human decided to go to that very major step and escalate the conflict to a very explosive stalemate, but it was a sure thing that Vali wouldn’t hesitate to bring the fullest out of each other for the sake of ‘honesty’.


    Oddly enough, this development within her youngest descendant was… actually a positive thing considering the young Lucifer’s upbringing.


    Rizevim had crossed the line by inciting the abuse, yet most of the fault lied within the now deceased Razevam and his own issues.


    Vali’s rivalry, albeit violent and aggressive from an external perspective, was actually healthy over the perceived nature of such bond.


    Both were endeared by the chance of fighting each other, to strive to beat one another as to push beyond the limits.


    Hoitsu’s stable life offered to his rival a proper sight over what a normal life should be (or at least as normal as one should be instead of one of complete solitude) and that did improve immensely the boy’s efforts to overcome his traumas.


    No longer he stuck to the past memories about his dysfunctional family with his parents, now he was looking at the future as an independent but still family-attached young man with a need to continue to develop and fulfill his true potential.


    To make things even more absurd, said rivalry managed to turn inconsequential the infamous relationship between the Vanishing Dragon and the Welsh Dragon as Vali barely cared to entertain any hard feelings towards Issei Hyoudou and the brunet was more than happy to keep the status quo as it was with his current life.


    “Lady Lilith, if I may ask,” A soft but strong feminine voice intervened and brought her out of her thoughts. “Can I ask you about one individual, a certain Hoitsu Sakakibara?”


    Lilith turned her attention to look at a certain… fox-haired young woman.


    She had long pink-hair that were tied and kept-short, two pink fox ears visible on top of her head and… a pair of bright golden eyes. A youthful face.


    She was wearing a blue kimono with golden-black details and she was showing her bountiful cleavage.


    The red-haired woman blinked. “He is my… great-grandson too.”


    The pinkette’s eyes widened in surprise. “Truly?”


    “Wait!” Athena jumped at this, “You mean to tell me that the young man, Hoitsu Sakakibara, the one that has his own fan club for good reasons… is related to you?”


    “Partly, but yes.”


    “That brat was in Tokyo,” Ares commented with a more interested tone. “He was in the first line when your rebellious sonny decided to ‘conquer the city’.”


    The redhead flinched. “He… was.”


    “I humbly apologize if bringing this topic up can sound awkward at the moment,” The unknown Japanese goddess mentioned. “But I was inclined to know more about the fellow that is taking care of my granddaughter.”


    “Your… granddaughter?” The former Queen asked in confusion, failing to understand which of the girls around Hoitsu this stranger was referring about.


    “Oh, I forgot to introduce myself,” She gave a quick bow and nodded, a regal smile appearing on her face. “I’m Amaterasu, Shinto Goddess of the Sun and I consider lady Yasaka, the current leader of Kyoto’s Yokai Faction as my surrogate daughter.”


    At that introduction, her red eyes widened in realization.


    “So you are talking about little Kunou?”


    The goddess eased at the mentioning of the little girl’s name. “Yes, I consider the little kit as my kin. She is my grandchild in all but blood.”


    Lilith nodded at this and thought well about how to answer this situation.


    “So you wish to know a little more about Hoitsu?”


    The fox-eared woman nodded. “Yasaka-chan mentioned him with positive comments. Albeit I was skeptical over her handing him temporary guardianship over Kunou-tan, I’ve heard some positive comments from the child’s development.”


    “Hoitsu and Kunou are quite close as brother and sister, I can say without hesitation that both are quite content of the state of things instead of-”


    “Pursuing something a little more scandalous,” The kitsune goddess mused with a small smirk. “I guess that I will have some discussion with Kunou-tan as to properly verify this… but I guess you are quite sure of this, Lady Lilith.”


    “You should see how adorable the cutie is when she yearns for his praise when she does well at school or during training,” The kind mother mentioned with a lovely note.


    Sadly, this was lost by Amaterasu as the Shinto deity sighed. “I can’t much relate to this description as… I didn’t have much of a stellar relationship with my brothers.”


    That caused Lilith to blink in surprise. “Then I… guess it would be best to wait for a proper time to approach the two.”


    The fox-eared pinkette smiled. “Indeed and- It seems like the next fight has been announced.”


    The sudden warning got the redhead to turn her attention to the monitor displaying the current selection of the next match.


    If before she had been particularly nervous over the situation, now she felt paling at the name displaying on the board.


    W-When did he- how did he enter the-


    Her mind had to reboot, her eyes going wide open as she caught full sight of the names and the photos portrayed above the words.


    Hoitsu Sakakibara vs. Rizevim Livan Lucifer!


    ---------------d-d-dd-------------d-d-dd-----------d-d-d---


    AN


    Things happen, everything explode boom!


    Reference to Orion (Archer) from FGO and Amaterasu is Caster from Fate/Extra…





    Yep, today I’m truly going all in.


    Also quick note to make it clear why this AN is so gloomy: Once again there is someone that is translating a story of mine without authorization in Wattpad. I’m starting to get tired of having to give second chances to those that don’t understand the incredibly simple idea of saying that ‘this story is not mine, it is owned by SocialistBukharin/JustBukharin’. I know I’ve already said this in the past, but I can’t help but think that my patience is being abused in those cases.


    If there is no reply from the post I’ve sent to the person uploading my chapters, I will have to report the story. Period.


    Lastly, some feedback about the tournament arc would be nice as we are approaching the 100th chapter milestone and things need to be somewhat smoothly at this point.


    Hopefully things will proceed well and… CIAO!

    Future milestone 1: 1170 Followers and Favorite.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2020
  5. JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Updated improved versions for Chapters 3,4 and 5! Grammar polishing and some other additions have been included to the chapters.
     
  6. Threadmarks: The Masks We Wear
    JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    Chapter 82: The Masks We Wear


    “What was that.”


    While I was trying my best to appear unfazed by what I had just seen unfolding in that fight, I couldn’t certainly let Vali go with the little stunt he pulled.


    There was no doubt that what I’ve just seen, that Galick Gun, was a confirmation for some suspicions I had back when we decided to try out the fusion.


    I could remember the odd memories that had appeared on my mind by the very moment we had defused, our connected mind splitting back in our individual ones and… a copy of our respective memories was given to the other.


    I had been completely unaware of this detail, unsure if that was a unique exception to me or if it was actually something that was known of this technique.


    Goku, Vegita, Trunks and Goten.


    They had never expressed any comment about this very notion and yet, with that fight ending in such a flashy and familiar way, I was now sure it was something Vali had experienced too.


    The silver-eyed young man seemed so smug, resuming his walk up the staircase after noticing my presence by the end of his path, almost eager to have the kind of discussion I had planned to have with him.


    He stopped right in front of me, glancing up with right onto my face and giving a brief nod.


    “Follow me,” He half-ordered in a whispered manner, taking a quick turn away from the main line of sight of the other competitors, a visible majority already staring at this interaction with a certain fascination.


    Enough to indulge me to comply, albeit begrudgingly, at the swift command and walk beside him until we were far away enough to begin a proper conversation.


    “I know you have questions-”


    “You saw my memories,” I interrupted with a little scowl on my face. “Yet you decided that, instead of saying anything about it, that you had to ‘show’ me something with that flashy attack.”


    He snorted. “As if you haven’t seen about my past,” He pointed out snidely, glancing back with a narrowed-eyed look. “You are the one that hold the most secrets, some of those could easily destroy governments, mundane and supernatural ones. You can shatter people and… I wonder if I should consider myself manipulated or not.”


    “If you aren’t angry, then I suppose you know that I didn’t manipulate anyone-”


    “Except earlier in your ‘adventure’, when you decided to withhold essential information that could have helped immensely Grigori’s investigation over Kokabiel’s true intentions and his connection with Qlippoth,” The Lucifer intervened with a sigh, causing me for my irritated front to falter for just a moment. “There are some hefty punishments for keeping some of the knowledge you are aware of.”


    I blinked at this, feeling a little unnerved by what he was suggesting.


    He is awfully infuriating today.


    Only today? But I suppose you can say that he is much more pushy considering what he could gain from this discussion.


    A lot. He could gain so much from just pressing the right buttons and he know that.


    But not with blackmail of this kind.


    And I bet he knows that too...


    I was skeptical he would have gone along and told Azazel about this stuff, I knew him well enough now to know that he wouldn’t just wait this much to confess such a massive revelation off to his surrogate father.


    Yet his words brought up one of the sour aspects of the aftermath of the attack on Tokyo that I had been digesting alone and away from privy eyes and ears.


    While I had been incredibly transparent over giving enough information over the organization of the former Khaos Brigade, I had kept to myself some of the lesser details over their doings.


    Things I had long expected to have not been impacting the current situation as they didn’t seem to have the advantages they had in Canon.


    A feeble consideration, one that was easily demolished when the attack at the Tepes Castle began, the assault coming just after a self-destructive invasion issued by Rizevim, proving to me ultimately that the man didn’t care to always have the ‘upper hand’ in his plans.


    He had gone in, expecting to find some fierce resistance, but his efforts to try and resurrect the Evil Dragons had failed miserably… but that hadn’t been a true defeat.


    Not only that instance had brought up how dangerous the defeated group was even though cornered by the three factions of the Christian Pantheon, but this also showed how powerful Rizevim alone was compared to Azazel.


    Despite his pact with Fafnir, the Governor-General had barely caused any issue to the son of Lucifer and he would have probably died if the crazy man had decided to take the fight seriously.


    Yet the very thing that got me to understand the importance of proper information-giving was the full report I was allowed to look at once the invasion of the capital had concluded.


    The leader of Grigori had offered me just a passing read of the paper, but I was caught off-guard by a detail I had missed during the attack itself.


    The main force of assault had been created by monsters, Yokais that had been long yearning for violence and had been easy to recruit for such a big operation against humans, especially after what had happened with the Alucard debacle.


    Yasaka had also mentioned about the tensions rising within her territories by the time this event happened, forcing her hand multiple times to suppress some act of aggression against pacifist figures within the Kyoto’s society.


    Things were under control, the war-hawk faction having never represented much of a threat to woman’s rule, but it did raise some perplexing thoughts over my true capacity in preventing some of the more dangerous situations from ever happening.


    There had been some victims in Tokyo despite the presence of so many defenders, but the light casualty count hadn’t left me relieved.


    This is why, despite my own doubts over handing over some crucial information to Azazel about Trihexa, I still went through with it even though I didn’t offer any foundation whatsoever over said information.


    The Fallen Angel had been confused himself at my sudden evidence over the delicate subject, but his trust over me, built over giving more than enough proof of my genuine interest in doing the right thing, surprisingly proved to be a good replacement to this.


    I was unnerved by this because I knew that this just didn’t make it a proper reason to adopt tighter security controls at the seals keeping Trihexa.


    And despite the numerous assurances that the Beast of Apocalypse was never going to be freed with the renewed garrison stationed by the area by the three factions, I was still feeling the unpleasant sensation that something will still go wrong about it.


    It’s just paranoia at this point. Even if Azrael decided to go in himself, he would find his way interrupted by too many individuals at once.


    To borrow enough time for some God-Tier ally to arrive and either repeal or kill him on sight.


    See? There is nothing to worry about, Hoitsu.





    “What do you want?” I finally demanded, my voice showing none of the turmoil lingering within my mind and…


    Vali merely smiled. “I want two things.”


    I frowned at the dual request, but gave a slow nod for him to continue.


    “First, I want to fight you without any restraints. I don’t want you to hold back anything, I know you are always holding something even during serious fight,” He explained with a calm tone. “I want you to show me the same full expression of your might, the one you used before we had reached this level, before this became this much important.”


    Drat, he wants you to really not hold back?


    What are you two talking about? I know that Hoitsu never held back when-


    He wants me to fight him as if I wanted to kill him.


    What?


    The instance he is referring about, is the time when I fought Diodora- or rather, I decided to show no mercy against that bastard.


    He is so interested in having a ‘proper fight’ that he would deny himself the limits imposed by the tournament.


    I wonder if the building would hold well about that.


    Considering how much strong you two are? I think Zekram might be finding himself paying some hefty costs if that was to happen.


    Without much of a choice left for me to pick, I merely nodded, prompting the young man to continue.


    “The second thing I wish from you is...” Vali paused, drawing some more attention as I got curious over this hesitation. “I want your name.”





    “What?” I logically asked, taken completely off-guard by that request.


    He sighed. “Everyone knows you either as Hekishoku or Hoitsu Sakakibara, but I want you to tell me your real name, the one you had before… you came in this dimension.”


    ...Oh Gods.


    What is he talking about?


    That is a very funny topic-


    Then please, enlighten me over this comedic story behind such an odd statement.


    “You- You know about that-”


    “Yes, I know everything about your past life,” The young Devil interrupted with a sigh. “We could go in great lengths about your own past, but then again, I think it’s the present that truly matters. I want to hear your real name and I want you to confirm that you wouldn’t lie about this anymore.”


    “I can’t tell them-”


    “Oh? You can’t?” Vali interjected with a mocking tone. “Well, too bad. You are going to tell those you care deeply about this after your match.”


    “But they-”


    It was instantaneous, his right hand reached for my neck as the young man pushed me right onto the nearby wall of the corridor. He looked incredibly furious.


    “You are the one that decided to focus on having a family, of having people to trust you,” He said with quite the angry tone. “Don’t give me the crap that you can’t for some stupid reason, if you truly care for them, then do yourself a favor and be truthful about this.”


    He let go, I blinked blankly as I tried to recover from those words.


    Before I could tell him anything as a response, he started to walk away, looking fairly neutral over this discussion and I couldn’t help but grimace at the truth behind those words.


    If I want to ever commit myself over keeping what I’ve gained after this much time, it was rightful for those close to me to at least know who really I am.


    They had all accepted me as part of this strange family, they have entrusted me with their emotions and their loyalty and… I had given them little in return compared to what I was holding inside of me.


    Was it selfishness? Was it fear or… was it just something I couldn’t truly explain?


    Why? Why was I afraid of any wrong reactions to this if… if I know they care for me?


    I took a moment to sight, to glance at Vali and I cracked a tiny smirk at that little wakeup call.


    To be someone that doesn’t care about ‘family’, he sure does seem to have a soft spot to bring us back on track.


    He is quite the oddball about that.


    Sure and… by the way, what was he talking about when he said ‘your match’?





    Hold up!


    “Wait, what do you mean ‘my match’?!”


    I started to run towards him, looking particularly confused, but then I noticed at the end of the corridor the large electronic billboard displaying my name and-


    FUCK!


    -----------d-d-d-d------------d-d-d-d-------------d-d-d-d-----------d-d-d-d---------d-d-d-d-------


    I had no idea that the crowd would have been so much… deafening from this part of the arena.


    I didn’t expect the acoustics to be this loud and incredibly distracting, something that had to have seriously hindered over the previous fights and was going to create some irritation in the next matches.


    Descending quickly from the staircase, I was greeted with the strangest of sights, the further expression I could have ever seen on Rizevim’s face.


    Childish annoyance, if not anger at the situation before us.


    “Why did you even decided to take part to the tournament?” I decided to ask out of confusion.


    The man huffed. “Truth be told, I was expecting to make some winning spree and get some pocket money from the bets,” He said before pointing his thumb back at the stands. “I have Euclid making some bets over my matches but, much to my immense displeasure, I’ve to fight you first and that isn’t acceptable.”


    I frowned at that explanation, finding even more confusion from the fact Rizevim was ‘distraught’ from facing me… especially with how elated he had been in the previous times he had to fight me.


    “You… don’t think you can win?”


    “Considering how much you have grown with that pest that is Vali?” He shrugged with a certain look of sarcasm. “You really want to draw some hopes for me to succeed against you?”


    “I’m… not that strong-”


    “Forgive me if I ask, but have you considered checking your limits after that week-long training trip?” He shot back with an exasperated voice. “I can tell you already, that I’m not even going to try to survive that possible onslaught.”


    My frowning deepened. “I can’t keep it up for long-”


    “But that miser amount of time is more than enough to get me massacred and no, thank you!”


    So what? He is planning to yield defeat or-


    He would have done that already instead of waiting so long.


    He plans to fight, just not by the rules of the tournament.


    What?


    He said that he couldn’t win this situation, but he never said anything about a draw.


    I blinked at this suggestion and once again spoke.


    “But you don’t want to surrender without a fight,” I pointed out, getting a fascinated look from him. “So you either you bet on losing or-”


    “Losing? Me?” The crazy man snorted and shook his head before displaying a scandalized look. “While it would be a good way to get some easy money, it would shatter my reputation of grand fighter and billionaire!”


    ...Since when was he both of those?


    “So drawing?”


    Finally his maddening smile appeared on his face. “I mean, would you like to draw or surrender to me?”


    I narrowed my eyes at this. “I hope you know that I will not back away from the fight-”


    “But you are holding back until some proper challenges,” He interrupted again with a mirthful tone. “Either Sairaorg or Vali. Maybe even your little Imoutos or even one of your grils taking part in this little competition.”


    He wasn’t… too wrong about it. Both the Bael and the Lucifer were worth of my full capacity, but I certainly wouldn’t go too far against anyone else.


    “So how about we go for something of a compromise?” He offered. “You fight me normally, I fight you… lazily and we do lots of flashy moves while also prancing about JoJo or other animes.”


    “But if it’s ending in a draw-”


    Before I could finish the sentence I saw the man bolting towards me, fist cocked and ready to rush in the form of a punch.


    I jumped backwards, putting some speed in this action I proceeded to match up with the sudden assault.


    His fist connected with my elbow, the blow barely felt as it just left a little sting on its passing but soon the match truly began as I slowly realized that the countdown had concluded during our conversation.


    “Anyway-” The Super-Devil resumed his part with a bored tone. “You hit me, I hit you, we make some flashy moves but we ultimately draw.”


    “But why it has to be a ‘flashy match’ when-”


    “Money, brat!” He cackled eagerly as he delivered a kick onto my arms to create some distance between us. “The ‘greater’ this fight is, the more people will bet on us.”


    I huffed, using some Silver Linings to distract him while throwing at him some Light Bombs.


    “Isn’t that a scam?” I asked with an uneasy tone.


    “Just like the tournament?” He said while parroting my tone in such a mocking manner. “Why, of course it is!”


    “B-But why?”


    “Pride and greed...” Rizevim replied with a shrug while mid-dodge. I tried to land a kick on his face, the Devil ducking just in time. “Okay, maybe just greed at this point but… I can buy you a little pony for you fox-eared sister.”


    “What?” I exclaimed in confusion at that strange comment.


    “Ya know, the series about- You know what? Nevermind.”


    I blinked a few times at that quick dismissal, but at this point and insanity, I just decided to pressured him at this instance of flaw.


    “Are you talking about-”


    “No, I’m certainly not looking at some kids’ cartoon during my free time while Euclid is preparing lunch!” He tensed up a little at the sudden blurting and then… he shrugged. “I mean, can’t you just be 20 percent more cooler?”


    This is just… what I’m listening too?!


    Memes, minor and old ones at that.


    “C-Can we change topic?”


    “Sure thing, pops,” He remarked with a snort. “By the way, what do you think of fishing?”


    “Uh- It’s a nice activity?”


    “I know this nice place where I used to frequent for some little fishing, there were so many species there,” Rizevim nodded while concluding this bit of his past. “Hopefully, my aggressive poking directed at Euclid about fishes and how he looked like a catfish didn’t get him angry enough to vaporize the place while I was looking away.”


    I blinked at this, leaving some Light Mines while gaining some more distance away from him, forcing him to rush once more towards me. He tripped all of the explosive gifts I had left behind, looking hardly fazed by the traps.


    “You sure sound like you enjoy your life… without world-destruction,” I pointed out hesitantly. “Why would you go so far to create chaos… if it doesn’t bring you happiness?”


    “Who said that I can enjoy just one of the two paths? Why limit myself when I can dip my fingers in ketchup and milk?” The Super-Devil asked with a huff. “Can’t I just be a free bean with hopes and dreams?”


    That’s a horrible combination.


    “Do you even have dreams?”


    The Lucifer looked offended by this comment. “Of course I do, but mine is complicated. Very silly and- Why not, I will tell you!”


    What?-!!


    His punch bypassed my arms, reaching my belly but doing only just enough push to force me to back away even more, not a real inch of damage onto my body.


    It was all flashy and nobody was getting hurt. The more I thought that this was a fake fight I was having with the ultimate jerk, the more I felt like the world was going madder by the second.


    “You know my original plan, right? The one that got Ophis onboard of the whole Khaos Brigade gig?” He inquired with a curious tone, gaining my surprise at that while I delivered two punches, one on his left armpit and the other one on his right cheek.


    “You wanted to kill or destroy Great Red by having Trihexa to fight it,” I muttered quietly. “Why would you need to-”


    “The Dimensional Gap that was once Ophis’ home is also a corridor that leads to endless dimensions,” The Super-Devil continued to explain, replying my half-question. “I wanted the answers to queries I’ve been asking myself for so long and… that even now I would like to know about.”


    From his palm he created a small magical seal and from it flames exploded right towards me, I managed to create a barrier from the shadow born from the torrent of fire, pushing it back to nothingness.


    The blast echoing and creating some smoke enough to highlight the might of the contact while also giving some display of power to the still-cheering crowd.


    But in that smoke our faces were hidden for a few moments, enough for him to see something odd about Rizevim, an expression I really hadn’t expected to see him show to anyone.


    There was no smile, there were no games.


    There was a regretful scowl and a pair of red dull eyes to match up.


    “Is there a version of me that is good?” He mused softly and with some sorrow in his voice. “Was there a point from where I could have avoided this downfall of myself?”


    The smoke dissipated and he sighed at the breaking of the scene, his fake smile returning on his face as swiftly as our close-quarters resumed.


    “Is it wrong for me to wonder?” He ultimately asked, my frown lessened to a dismayed expression.


    Of all enemies that I had faced until now, Rizevim was proving to be the one I was having some trouble to deal with.


    Not because of his power or for his quirky nature… no, my stress was conceived by something completely different and deeper.


    It was clear he was disappointed in his dissatisfying life, that the shadow of his father… my monstrous self decided to loom over his own firstborn.


    I couldn’t help myself but see it as a personal failure, that maybe the reason why Rizevim became like this was because I decided to be a cold father compared to the other siblings of the Morningstar Family.


    Did I do it out of fear or for a need to keep up with the canon nature of this tragic individual?


    The question itself was bitter to even think about, to even consider that someone like me could even decide to merely do nothing about one of his own children and…


    I blinked, the unnerving tone of this line of thoughts starting to get me incensed over Lucifer even more.


    The more I heard of him, the more I tried to find part of myself in that mythological legend, the more I found a horrible person that didn’t relate to me.


    He failed to uphold the moral standard I was so entrenched with while also appearing like a kind but calculative soul.


    Lilith’s memories of the man… this sick and twisted man…


    It just had me angry and murderous.


    If or when the encounter was to happen with the massive bastard, I will raise some hell to make it clear that I refuse his legacy.


    I refused to become his puppet and… the greatest sign of this genuine drive would be telling the truth to those that mattered.


    To tie yourself in the heart of those that believe in you.


    I felt a small smile finally appear as I glanced at the silver-haired with a new resolve. I wanted to fight now.


    “Rizevim, I know this might sound odd after this much time has passed but...” I blinked at his interested look. “I want to win. I want to fight a little more seriously and… I want to hear more about your life.”


    The Super-Devil blinked perplexed, his smile partly faltering. “You are joking-”


    “Nope!” My smile widened. “C’mon, you told me about this fishing spot and I don’t think this was the only thing you were so proud of your more peaceful life. Tell me more.”


    The Lucifer looked confused at first, but then curiosity broke through. “What- What if I didn’t want to?”


    “Then I will have to beat it out of you!” I mirthfully replied, adding more strength in my attacks as one of my punches finally got an annoyed reaction out of him. “Don’t leave me hanging now.”


    He snorted, his smile faltering into a determined one. There was still some insanity, but it was diluted in genuine interest in the battle now.


    “Oh? Are you trying to beat me, aren’t you?” He asked flamboyantly and eagerly.


    “But first I will have to approach you!” I answered with a chuckle.


    From there the fight started to pick up the pace, with me using some of the levels of Kaioken while Rizevim tapped more on his usual power and… things got pretty intense.


    Last time I fought the man was in Tokyo and I had been close to be beaten considering the great difference in our powers back then even with the Twilight Joker… but now even without that form, I was carefully matching up with the same level of might he had used in that fight.


    I was using only the first five Kaioken levels and… I was matching up with his sixty percent.


    Yet, despite the increasing of pace and momentum, I found his actions to be willingly delayed as to offer me some advantage over the matter and, just ten more minutes of conversation mixed with magical explosions, a beam clash and some true close combat, I ended up standing before his sitting and defeated form.


    He looked a little winded and while he looked ready to continue, the Devil had decided to concede defeat in quite the joking manner as the referee approached and accepted the gesture of his surrender.


    Helping him up, we both made our way to the staircase, ignoring the crowd letting out another round of deafening roaring at the proclamation of my victory.


    “I hope you remember that you promised me to show me this fishing spot,” I reminded him with a tiny smile. “Now I want to see if its as extensive as you described it to be.”


    “Of course it is!” He huffed in faux annoyance. “I can assure you that this place is incredibly cool to visit and maybe spend some holidays by.”


    “I will pester you once the tournament is over. I want to see it now!” I pressed more, causing the man to chuckle.


    “Then I will be prepare some anti-pestering maneuvers to avoid your bratting around.”


    I nodded at him as we started to walk up to the staircase and, once he had gone to retreat away from the contenders and back to ‘find where Euclid had set his peeping spot’.


    Left alone and ready to return to my seat, I made my way back to where I was previously sitting and-


    “Niichan, what was that?”


    I almost jumped at the sudden question from Kunou, my head turning to look by my side only to see the blonde rush to hug me before I could reply to her query.


    “Hello there, Imouto,” I greeted happily as I patted her head much to her visible glee. “And I guess you are referring about my fight with Rizevim, right?”


    She nodded, her golden eyes on my face.


    “That and what you were talking with Vali. He seemed smug for some reason and-”


    “Nothing much important… but I guess we could have a talk away about it.”


    Her fox ears tensed in attention. “Is anything important?” She inquired quickly, to which I gave a slow nod.


    “Mostly yes… but it’s nothing worrying. Just something I will have to also tell to the others with… proper timing.”


    I couldn’t survive telling about this secret to the whole group. I just couldn’t bear myself to do it.


    So I was going to start with Kunou as I was perfectly sure that she would digest this revelation better and… maybe I could have gained some ally in explaining this when it was the time of the rest of the people.


    With a last glance back to notice the billboard and the names appearing there, I decided to venture away from any unwanted witnesses as I prepared to deliver some truth bomb.


    Still, I shivered when I realized whom was going to fight next, praying for both contenders.


    Xenovia Quarta vs. Seekvaira Agares!


    -----------d-d-dd-------------d-d-dd-------------d-d-d-d-----------d-d-d-d------


    AN


    It’s been a long time since I’ve last updated. It wasn’t anything intentional, just had a lot to do in the last two weeks, some RL stuff and something about some modding project for a game I’m following closely.


    So… Rizevim is a broken little thing. Any surprises? I bet some, but I think it would be easy to pinpoint the sign of this fragmented state of mind.


    He was painted a villain from his very birth and the worst part that the one that began this trend was his own father.


    Does that absolve Rizevim from his crimes? No, but it does show that there is a reason behind his mindset, his chaotic sense of fun that defies morals and logic itself.


    He is a villain for sure, but not one that was given the chance to be someone else.


    Still, any thought about next fight? Xenovia is a swordswoman and Seekvaira is…





    Wait, did I just put Artoria against a stronger, female version of Kiritsugu?





    Like really, I hadn’t noticed that one. :eek:


    Future milestone 1: 1170 Followers and Favorite.
     
  7. theaceoffire

    theaceoffire Know what you're doing yet?

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    ...Why do characters become less confident and more wishy-washy when they become strong?

    Morons barely able to throw a punch are totally sure they can win, your reincarnation of Lucifer seems barely willing to defend himself. A tad frustrating.
     
  8. JBukharin

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

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    I think that is a stretch. The issue behind the lack of confidence, regarding the pre- and post- battle is something not-connected with strength.

    I don't understand what you are referring about in the first sentence, but I think the second bit is actually wrong as there is no instance of that being the case.
     
    theaceoffire likes this.
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