On the other hand, at that time—.
Rias Gremory visited a certain remote farm somewhere in Italy. On the farm — working in the grape field was a man around two metres tall with a sturdy body who was dressed in work clothes. Despite the young appearance of his body, he was actually an eighty-seven year old man. The old man — after Vasco Strada noticed Rias Gremory, a smile emerged on his face.
“Good day, Your Eminence Vasco Strada.”
“Well well…if it isn’t the Gremory Princess. Have you been well lately?”
Strada welcomed Rias into his secluded home, and they began a tea party on the balcony. After the two of them sat down, Strada raised the teapot so that he could pour a cup of black tea for Rias. Although Strada had poured a cup for Rias, Rias cut straight to the point of what she was after.
“I didn’t come here to drink tea today.”
Strada placed his hand on the table as he showed a gentle smile.
Rias asked directly
“—Have you heard of the Rating Game World Tournament, Your Eminence?”
Strada lifted his head as he looked up at the sky.
“Fufufu, I don’t suppose you have any idea about the number of guests I’ve already had, Princess…”
“It seems as though you declined all of those offers, Your Eminence. Considering your own skills, I’m sure you can imagine the temptations.”
Strada’s wish was to spend his remaining day’s peacefully here as a human. This was something that Rias also knew. So Strada in turn asked Rias
“Since you especially came all the way here despite knowing this old man’s reasons…I presume that you have some way to persuade this me? I’m not as young as the Sekiryuutei boy. This old man has devoted his entire life to God, and he also understands that his mission is over. The Evil Dragon War was my final battle.”
Perhaps that was what Strada believed. But Rias thought
Is this what His Eminence truly thinks? Does he truly not have any nostalgia? —Can the Evil Dragon War truly be regarded as the final battle of his life?
He had gone through the battle of the Church warriors, a fight against Arthur Pendragon, and the Evil Dragon War that had occurred not too long ago. Rias had already become quite deeply fascinated by Vasco Strada’s ‘sword’. Rias said
“—In the prime of Your Eminence, you were able to totally defeat Fallen Angel cadres, and also ultimate-class Devils. Even the Maous were fearful of your sword.”
Legends about Vasco Strada could always be heard of in the Underworld. Some had called him
[The Church’s Device of Violence]
Others had said that he was
[The Violence of Heaven]
Others had said that he was
[The Vatican’s Evil Killer]
Others had said that he was
And some had called him
[The True Devil]
The Devils who had survived despite seeing the appearance of him in battle all felt immense fear at the time, and they trembled as they said this
—I never want to see that man again.
The Devils felt fear from the bottom of their hearts when they saw the young Vasco Strada. The Devils called him a ‘Devil’. Indeed, they called him a ‘Devil’—. But, that ‘Devil’ was about to become a piece of history. He wanted his life to end here. He hoped for it to end this way. Rias earnestly thought
—Is this not too pitiful?
Strada sipped the cup of black tea as he said
“You wish to hear the heroic tales of battle of my younger days huh…but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Well, Princess. The Maou’s little sister. What do you want to ask me? What do you want to say to me?”
Rias — solemnly said
“—My [Knight] Kiba Yuuto, the present wielder of Durandal Xenovia, the wielder of Hauteclere Irina, Cao Cao who is regarded as a peerless genius, and the wielder of the Holy King Sword Collbrande Arthur Pendragon. After you became an executive of the Vatican, many talented people have appeared—. When Your Eminence was young, you regarded battle more highly than anything else, I’m sure this is what Vasco Strada believes.”
Rias stood up, and she grew more passionate the more she spoke
“—As a warrior, and as a swordsman, you should do your utmost to fight against them!”
Rias’ passion-filled words poured out, and even the volume of her voice rose. After Strada heard Rias’ speech, he fell into silence. He calmly looked up at the sky. Rias quietly waited for his answer. Strada picked up his straw hat from the table and put it on, and only spoke after covering the top half of his face.
“…Princess of the Devils. What I’m about to say may be taboo for a believer of the Church. But, please regard them as the words that are left deep in the heart of a former swordsman as you listen to them.”
After a brief pause, Strada, the man known as the [Violence of Heaven], said
“—If I was born sixty years, no, fifty years later, then I would be able to enjoy this era in which so many strong people have gathered. …It would be a lie to say that I don’t have any regrets. When I crossed blades with Arthur Pendragon — I wanted to cut him down because my heart was filled with a passion that swirled, and it could have been ignited if only I had been born even just thirty years later.”
After finally hearing his true words, Rias relaxed as she whispered the temptations of a Devil to Strada.
“If I said that I could rejuvenate Your Emimence’s youth, what would you do? Of course, rather than using a Devil’s method, it would be like the work of God—”
These words caused Strada to stare at Rias from under the rim of his hat. Rias continued
“—With the power of the [Sephiroth Graal] and the Demon God Balor, along with senjutsu, it should be possible to temporarily return you to your youth, right? This isn’t a Devil’s method. It’s simply an application of the Sacred Gear System created by the God of the Bible and the power of a sage.”
This was the new possibility that Rias had explored with her team members up until now. It was also a strong statement to convince Strada. Seeing a ray of hope, Rias came here for the final piece of the puzzle. Rias placed her hand on the table and created a small transportation magic circle, from which an object emerged. It was a long and slim briefcase. Rias unlocked it and allowed Strada to view the contents within. Inside — there were two long swords. One of them was a sword with a crimson blade. The other one was a sword with a blue blade which seemed to radiate an aggressive holy aura—. Rias pointed to the holy sword which released a holy aura.
“This is the newest holy sword that the Church has created — Durandal II. Your Emimence, it’s an evolution of the Durandal that you wielded before. …There are many people in the Church who wish to see you in your prime. This sword could be described as a masterpiece that was dedicated to you. —The believers wish to see the sword skills of yours that were called a living miracle.”
As he looked at the new Durandal, Strada was like a father who had reunited with his son. To him, that was the kind of existence that Durandal was. The true Durandal was currently in the hands of his successor (Xenovia). However, the Durandal before his eyes — was a masterpiece that the young ones at the Church had forged for him—. As his hand moved towards the blade, he was able to feel its aura. With just that, he was able to feel the sheer extent of the feelings that had gone into the sword. He was definitely able to understand. Strada looked up at the sky. With shame and excitement, the voice that he squeezed out of his mouth was mixed with regret and excitement.
“……Oh, O Lord. I never imagined that the Devil’s whispers would be so sweet…. As expected of the Maou Lucifer’s younger sister…. This old man has never heard such terrifyingly persuasive words!”
Rias didn’t retreat. She absolutely wouldn’t retreat like this. In her mind, a particular scene resurfaced.
Not long after the game between Ise’s team and the reincarnated Angel’s team concluded, Rias went to seek out a certain person. In a corridor for relevant personnel in the stadium, Rias and that person — Bina Lessthan met. Rias already knew her true identity. Because her mask had broken in the midst of the game, Rias was able to see the face that was beneath the mask. That face — was very similar to her younger appearance. —No, it was her.
Bina Lessthan — Grayfia Lucifugus took off her dragon-like mask and revealed her face before Rias. Although she appeared to be a teenage girl who was roughly the same age as her…that face was identical to the face of her dear sister-in-law’s face in the past. Her sister-in-law, Grayfia Lucifugus had used magic to change her appearance back to how she once looked when she was a teenager, and became the [Queen] of the [Sekiryuutei of Blazing Truth] team by taking up the name of Bina Lessthan. Grayfia put the mask back on, and then said to Rias
[…Rias, I won’t say too much. But, please remember one thing.]
Grayfia stepped forward and stood beside Rias to so that she could speak at a close distance
[—I will make Hyoudou Issei-kun a Maou.]
Upon hearing her sister-in-law’s confession, she narrowed her eyes and frowned.
[…I don’t believe that this is Ise’s own intention, right?]
[That’s right, these are my own intentions. However, I believe that that this will eventually be the intention of the entire Underworld. I will support him as his [Queen].]
Why did she have such thoughts, and why did she have such feelings? All Rias knew was that — after her sister-in-law lost her brother Sirzechs, a picture had already been drawn in her mind. Moreover, the person who could make it a reality — was Ise. Even if she tried to persuade her sister, she would not listen; that was something that Rias knew more clearly than anyone else. After all, she had taken care of her ever since she was young—. She had always admired her ever since that time—. Hence, Rias made up her mind from that point onwards. —She had come to ascertain her true feelings right after the game. Rias’ eyes were filled with determination as she declared to Grayfia
[…So long as I fight, even if my opponent is onee-sama, and even if my opponent is Ise, I will win.]
Grayfia, her sister-in-law, and Bina Lessthan revealed a fearless smile as she accepted the declaration of war from her younger sister.
[Good. This is what I expect from my sister-in-law.]
Indeed, Rias made a declaration of war against her precious sister-in-law. She looked forward to having a battle against the person that she loved. Hence, Rias sought a power which was capable to overthrowing her mighty lover and her sister-in-law—. If that power could help liberate the strength that Rias and the others had even further, then it would give them more strength than ever.
Vasco Strada seemed to make a final confirmation as he dryly asked Rias
“I may swing his sword down on your future husband-dono Princess, is even that alright? Whatever my blade meets — without exception, it will be cut. Even if he hosts the power of infinity, as long as I return to how I was in those days, I will be able to cut it without a problem. —No, it will be cut.”
Rias didn’t hesitate to answer directly
“The man who is to become my husband must overcome this difficulty.”
This one line marked the conclusion. Strada stood up, and the soft smile that was on his face vanished and immediately turned into a warrior’s face.
“……A wonderful answer…! From here on, Vasco Strada shall stand up before you as a hurdle for your husband-dono’s groom training!”
“Can we agree that this negotiation is successful then?”
On this day, the strongest swordsman in the history of the Vatican announced his intention to participate in the Rating Game World Tournament. After the negotiation, both Rias and Strada sighed. Strada was concerned about the other sword that was in the briefcase, so he asked about the crimson-bladed sword.
“Speaking of which, what about this weapon? It appears to be a sword.”
Rias replied in a slightly shy manner.
“After I became engaged to Ise, Heaven gifted me a sword with a crimson blade as a blessing. It has already been adjusted so that Devils can use it. —But, neither Ise nor I will master it… So, perhaps our future children could use it?”
“I see, that’s not a bad idea. If I can live to that age, please allow me to bless to your future children.”
“There’ll be a lot of trouble if Your Eminence blesses them. After all, we’re Devils.”
Just as the two of them were chatting like that—. Rias’ mobile phone received a message. As she took it out to check, what appeared was — a shocking piece of news that Akeno had sent over.
In response to Strada’s question, Rias smiled wryly.
“……Fufufu, from the looks of things, it won’t be that easy for me to get into the finals of the Tournament. Your Eminence, I have received some news.”
Rias told Vasco Strada directly without any intentions of hiding anything.
“—The Champion may return.”
The message that Rias had received was that ‘The Champion Diehauser Belial has been temporarily released’.
“—Hmm. …This is truly, quite excellent.”
Her new team member simply revealed a bold smile to indicate his welcoming of it. The Tournament was still full of chaos and enthusiasm—.
(Part 1 of 1) (8/3)
Continues on to The Return of the King