Disclaimer: I do not own Fate/Stay Night or High school DxD, just the original concepts and plot in this story. This Crossover is a complete AU

Chapter 2:

They're calling me what!?

I gazed down at the courtyard from between the blinds of the window. Three boys, the infamous Perverted Trio, ran screaming from a pack of girls, members of the girl's Kendo team going off their uniforms, who chased after them with shinais and bokkens raised over their heads.

I couldn't help but shake my head at the sight.

"Any reason why those three are still at school? Considering their actions I'm surprised you haven't had them expelled, if not outright arrested." I turned away from the window towards the girl I was addressing.

Like her sister, she was a fairly petite girl, though not as full-figured and a few inches taller despite being a few (hundred) years younger. Violet eyes gazed out of her heart-shaped face adorned with purple spectacles and framed with black hair styled in a bob-cut.

She was dressed immaculately in her Kuoh Academy uniform, the female version of the one I was currently wearing. Despite mine being literally brand new, her uniform seemed to actually be in better condition. She gazed at me with a no-nonsense face that wouldn't have been out of place on a stereotypical strict librarian which, had I been an ordinary student, would have intimated me enough to guarantee my best behaviour.

However, since my resurrection, I have seen Serafall break through her little sister's false exterior too many times to fall for it. Really, after seeing her run away in embarrassed tears while being chased by an apologetic magical girl, it was hard to picture Sona as an intimidating figure.

Though for her pride's sake, if nothing else, I was willing to at least pretend that the strict image has some effect on me.

"Considering your personal stance on rule-breakers, I would have thought you out of all people would have dealt with those three since day one. That you've tolerated them for an entire year is something I wouldn't have believed if I hadn't seen it myself. Well, unless you have a soft spot for perverts that I was unaware of, Sona?"

And it's true, well, not the pervert part, but Sona's almost fanatical adherence to rules.

I had never known a bigger stickler for rules in my life. It's to the level that even the teachers are afraid of her. In the few hours I've been here I've seen two separate cases where teachers broke out into a panic at the mere sight of her heading their way, quickly checking themselves over to make sure that they aren't failing to meet her standards.

I swear I once saw a terrified teacher leap into a janitor's closet when he noticed Sona walking towards him and realized that he hadn't buttoned his shirt up properly.

If my old friend and the student council president of my old school Issei Ryuudou was here, I had no doubt Sona would have found herself with a new admirer. Considering his own straight-laced nature and the fighting efficiency that Sona carried out her duties with, I had no trouble imagining that he'd end up worshipping the ground she walked on by the time the week was out.

Then again, it may be a good thing he's not here. After all, I don't want to see how he'd react when he finds out he shares his name with one of the Perverted Trio.

"Hardly," She scoffs out at the accusation as she adjusts her glasses. "If it was up to me I would have gotten rid of those troublemakers long ago. Unfortunately, it's not up to me, at least not entirely. And Shirou, while I won't object to you referring to me by name outside of school grounds while we're within it, I would appreciate it if you were to refer to me as Kaichou."

"Whatever you say, Kaichou," I replied, though try as I may I couldn't quite stop a hint of amusement from colouring my voice. I swear I've been hanging around Serafall for too long, as I could not help but think how adorable little Sona looked when she was trying to act all grown up.

That I was only a year older than Sona just goes to show how much Serafall has succeeded in corrupting me these last few months.

Sona narrowed her eyes, no doubt catching the barely concealed laughter in my voice, but she thankfully let things be and allowed the conversation to return to the topic at hand.

"What do you mean it's not up to you?" I asked, sitting down on one of the foldable chairs that lined the walls of the student council as I did so, "Your family runs the entire school. No matter what kind of big shots their parents are they shouldn't have anywhere near the amount of pull to stop you from expelling them. Even if they did somehow managed to keep the police from getting involved."

"I wished it were their parents that were the problem." She breathed out a tired sigh as she adjusted her glasses by its sides again, a habit that tended to pop up whenever she was irritated or thinking. "And you're mistaken; my family does not own the school. Or at least, they're not the only owners."

That stumped me for a moment, as I vividly remembered being told by Serafall herself that Kuoh Academy was a Devil owned school. She should know after all, she ended up buying it when she found out Sona was planning on attending.

In fact, the only reason why she doesn't own the entire school outright was because another Devil ended up getting ahold of the remaining shareholders before she did and ended up buying the rest of the shares.

The answer hit me like a slap to the face.

"Gremory." I tried to keep my voice neutral as I said that name, I really did, but I must have failed as I noticed a rare, small smirk make its way to Sona's usually expressionless face.

"You really don't like the Gremorys, do you." This time it was her voice that was coloured with amusement. "They're not as bad as you make them out to be. I would know, I've been friends with Rias for years after all."

"I have never met Rias so I will reserve my judgment until I do. And you're wrong; it's not the Gremorys as a whole that I dislike. Just one particular one that I'm not entirely fond of." And the less I thought of that prick the better.

Only Archer had ever been able to get under my skin as easily as he did.

Judging by the smirk that remained sitting on her face, Sona didn't seem to buy my reasoning. Fortunately, she decided to drop the topic.

Making her way behind a desk, she drew out a chair and sat down. "Rias seems to have taken a bit of interest in those three." She explained, with a beginning of a frown on her lips. "It appears that one of them is a Sacred Gear wielder and Rias is dead set on making him a part of her Peerage."

I couldn't quite hide my incredulity at that. Really, them? I haven't been here for a full day and I've already heard about them. Multiple time. I've literally had both students and staff members pull me aside and warn me about the there, to make sure I didn't get mixed up with the wrong crowd.

Apparently the Perverted Trio had plans on becoming the Perverted Quartet.

Whenever a new male student ended up joining the school, whether they were freshmen or a transfer student like me, they tried their best to invite them into their little group. Well, so long as they weren't too good looking that is. It seemed that the trio had some kind of grudge against good looking guys.

In the end, it turns out that they were right in warning me. The Trio had barely laid their eyes on me before I found myself invited to join them in peeping.

...Wait a minute. I'm pretty sure I should be offended for some reason.

However, at the clear scepticism on my face, Sona's frown became a little more pronounced as she gave me a sharp nod of silent agreement.

There is no surprise that Sona would disapprove of recruiting any of those three into her Peerage. In the Underworld, a Peerage was more than one's personal army, they were the representative of one's King. Good or bad, everything a Peerage does will reflect on their King's reputation. And with a reputation like theirs, well...

That was not even mentioning that if those three were having this much trouble controlling their lusts as humans, there is no telling how horrible they'd be once they've been turned into devils.

Plus I had my own doubts about one of them bearing a Sacred Gear.

Sacred Gear wielders were not chosen at random. They weren't chosen at all, rather Sacred Gears were drawn to souls that matched their nature. A Pyromaniac might draw a flame-based Sacred Gear while a particularly cunning and sly soul might attract a serpent-based Gear.

It was for that reason that so many Sacred Gear users often end up with personalities that resemble their Sacred Gears.

I couldn't completely repress the shudder that ran through me at the thought. It was terrifying to contemplate what kind of Sacred Gear those three might have when you took in their behaviour.

Looking up to find Sona staring back at me with a mixture of understanding and revolution in eyes, I knew that she shared my fear.

Once again shed adjusted her glasses before speaking.

"I have of course tried to dissuade her from her current course of action but it has proven a fruitless endeavour so far." She released an exasperated sigh. "I'm afraid as long as I have known her Rias has always been a stubborn one, even as a child. Once she decided on a course of action there is no persuading her from it."

She appeared to hesitate for a moment.

A faint coating of red, so light that I only caught it because I was staring straight at her, made its way onto her cheeks and I realised with a started that Sona was blushing. Visibly steeling herself, Sona carried on, "And as I can't think of any way of putting this delicately, I'll just come out and say it. Rias is a nudist."

If I was drinking anything at the moment, Sona would have undoubtedly borne witness to me doing a perfect spit take. Instead, I just choked on air for a moment, gasping in disbelief in her direction.

Though her expression remained in the usual stern state that she always wore, Sona's blush only deepened under the force of my incredulous stare. If I had any doubts about the legitimacy of her words, they were gone as soon as I realised just how hard she was fighting down her blush.

"W-What?" I sputtered.

"She a nudist, they all are. The whole Gremory clan is a bunch of nudists." It was as if once the flood gates have finally opened, she just couldn't stop, the words just came pouring out of her. "If you think that's bad, imagine how it was like for me when I accidentally discovered this at a sleepover when I was just twelve. I saw my best friend's brother, the bloody Maou Lucifer himself, walk out of the bathroom stark naked and his only reaction was to ruffle my hair as he walked on by while wishing me good morning. Do you understand how weird that was? Now every time I hear some curse about 'by Lucifer's balls', I literally have a mental image of them pop up because that memory of his actual balls was seared into my adolescent mind."

By the time she had finished her little tirade, Sona was literally panting. Her shoulders rose and fell with every breath, while her face was flushed red from a mix of exertion and embarrassment.

After taking a moment to catch her breath, she quickly began to collect herself. Sitting straight up, she gave a quick tug to her shirt to straighten out any wrinkles before clearing her throat, "Sorry about that."

"...You've wanted to get that off your chest for a while now, haven't you?

She gave a quick but sharp nod in response, "You have no idea."

An awkward silence hung between as Sona no doubt mentally reprimanded herself over her outburst and while I tried my very best to purge the image of a naked Sirzechs waving his dong in front of a traumatized twelve-year-old Sona from my mind.

I failed, oh how I failed.

Thankfully the sound of the chair being pushed across the floor as Sona stood up was able to break me out of my morbid thoughts.

"Anyway," She made her way towards a small chess table while she spoke. "That's the reason why Rias isn't bothered by the Perverted Trio's behaviour. In her mind it isn't a big deal to be seen naked, she actually finds the lengths they'd go to do so rather amusing." A disapproving frown made its way back to her face. "From her perspective, it's the girls who are overreacting. As it stands, I only control half the school, so I simply do not have the authority to expel them. Rias has the right to veto any of my decisions and vice-versa, at least when it comes to school matters. While I can force the issue if I wished, I'll be forced to owe Rias a favour, which is something I'm unwilling to do over such a minor issue as those three."

Pulling out a rather comfortable looking wooden chair from under the chess table, which I noted was of superior quality compared to the rest of furniture in the room, Sona took a seat while indicating for me to seat myself on the other one. I complied with her silent request and soon found myself seated across Sona with a chess set between us.

It was at this moment that my mind had finally been rebooted from where it had still been clogged by images of a naked Sirzechs and realized that I had just willingly placed a chess set between Sona and myself.

I was about to get my butt kicked, wasn't I? Very badly at that.

Chess, well, let's just say it's not quite one of my strong points and leave it at that. I'm not exactly terrible at it. It's just that I'd never really played it before I became a devil. Being Japanese, Kiritsugu was always more interested in Shogi than chess, and the only person in my age group that was interesting in strategy board games was Issei, and he was a Go player.

Sona, on the other hand, is said to have been born with a chess piece in hand. Even in the underworld, where the average age of players is measured in centuries, Sona is famed for being one of the greatest living chess players, despite just turning eighteen herself.

She was able to get out of an arranged marriage with a former suitor, who was apparently an avid chess fanatic and an amateur chess champion, by gambling her hand over a game of chess. The suitor jumped at the chance at what he perceived as a riskless method to solidify his marriage arrangements and needless to say she wiped the floor with him.

It was odd how the entire Devil race appeared to be so obsessed with chess.

I simply could not comprehend it. I mean, it would have made some sense if Devils enjoyed strategy or board games in general, but that didn't appear to be the case. As far as I can tell, outside of chess, Devils have no interest in them at all.

Serafall told me it was due to how similar chess is to the Rating Games, an incredibly popular sport not just in the Underworld, but the Supernatural world as a whole, which in my opinion was more bull than one of Kotomine's sermons.

The battlefield had almost nothing in common with chess, anyone who set foot on the one could have told you that much.

But that wasn't important at the moment. There were other, more vital matters that needed my attention, such as trying to think of a way to avoid getting my ass kicked by a teenage girl that probably weighs less than a hundred pounds when soaking wet.

During my short existence as a Devil, I have learned one golden rule that seems to be able to get me out of almost anything.

When in doubt, ask yourself, what would Serafall do?

...It was at moments like this I realized how messed up my life's become. If someone told me just a year ago that I would one day be willing to try to emulate a Demon Lord that loves to cosplay as a magical girl to get me out of trouble, I would have asked what the hell have they done to piss Zelretch off.

"Enough about that," Sona's voice drew me from my thoughts, "As enjoyable as discussing school politics with you is, that's not the reason why I invited you over."

She waved a hand over the chess set, "I have a few questions that only you'd be able to answer. And while we talk, I hope that you'd be willing to indulge me with a game of chess."

No doubt taking note of the hesitant expression I wore on my face as I eyed the chess pieces, she raised an eyebrow at me. "You do know how to play...don't you?"

"Of course I do," I reassured her as I finally figured a way out of this mess. "It's just I'm still rather new at it and there is a couple of rules that I'm not quite clear on, I was hoping that you'll clarify them for me."

"Certainly," She nodded, "What do you need me to clarify?"

"Well, just to make sure," I reached out and picked up the knight piece, "The horsey is the one that goes two step forwards and one to the side, right?"

The rest of the student council members, who so far were pretending to be busy with paperwork while eavesdropping on our conversation, broke out laughing at my comment.

I could see Sona try and fight to keep her stoic mask in place as she glared at me, but judging by the way the corners of her mouth kept twitching upwards, she couldn't quite pull it off.

I know it was rather mean of me, but I did promise Serafall I'd try to break Sona out of her shell from time to time and make sure she at least has some fun.

Besides, while I hated to admit it, Serafall was right, teasing Sona was so much fun. When she gets like this, glaring at me over the rim of her glasses, she resembles nothing more than a little kitten trying to give you a death glare. It just makes her that much cuter.

I wonder if this was how Rin felt like when she teased me. If so, I finally understand why she did it so often, this was hilarious.

She tried to hold her glare on me for a moment longer before she gave up with a sigh and allowed a wry smile to make its way to her face, "I see, my sister has been rubbing off on you."

It was sad but true. There was no way I could have stuck with Serafall for so long without having some of her habits rub off on me.

I shamelessly nodded my head, "When it comes to Serafall it's either fight her or join her and well, you should know better than anyone well how impossible it is to defy her for long." She gave me an understanding look at that.

"Now," I set down my knight piece back on its proper place on the board. "I believe you have some questions for me."

Obviously noting the shift in my voice, Sona straightened her posture and looked me in the eye as she spoke. "Yes, as a matter of fact, I do. Now, don't take this the wrong, Shirou, but why are you even here?"

"What, do I need a reason to go to school?" I deflected. I had nothing to hide, but that didn't mean I was gonna make it easy for her. Besides, I knew Sona loves to play these kinds of mind games. She's the type that would rather put the pieces together herself than just have me outright tell her. "Just because I'm a Devil now doesn't mean I want to be known as a high school dropout. I never did get the chance to graduate before I was reincarnated."

"That's not what I meant and you know it." The light glinted off her glasses as she adjusted it. "What I want to know is what you're doing here, as in the human world, rather than simply entering a Devil high school or getting homeschooled."

Sona flicked a finger and Tsubaki, Sona's Queen and the student council vice-president, appeared by her side and handed her a sheet of paper.

Without even looking at it Sona held the sheet out towards me, "This, Shirou, is the result of your placement test. Since you didn't have any transfer papers we had to test you to measure your level of education. Do you know what you scored?"

"No, but I have a feeling you're going to tell me." Not even bothering to reach for the paper I replied.

Again she didn't even bother to glance at the paper as she focused her entire attention on me, "You passed."

"Passed?" I cocked my head in confusion. "I thought it was a placement test, how can I pass? Do you mean that I made into the senior year?

She watched me carefully, probably assessing my sincerity, before apparently deciding I was being serious, "No," She shook her head. "I meant that you passed, as in you passed high school. According to your results, you can sit your graduation exams right this instant and pass with a solid B. Better if worked on your social studies and modern literature grades."

Really? Now isn't that a pleasant surprise for once. I've always been a pretty diligent student, but it's been a while since I've last been to school. Despite all the last-minute cramming I've been doing in the last few weeks, I wasn't quite confident on how well I'd do. Seems like I ended up getting myself all worked up over nothing again.

"So let me ask you again. Shirou, why are you here? If education was all that mattered, you would be better off in a university rather than a high school."

"I could ask the same thing of you, Sona." I countered, "From what I've been hearing your education level is so much higher than high school level that you're probably not learning anything from any of your classes, are you? That you're taking several additional online university courses on the side is a proof of that."

Going by the look of astonishment on the faces of the rest of the student council members, it seems none of them were aware of how far ahead of her coursework their leader was. Sona, on the other hand, hardly seemed surprised that I knew. Then again, considering that Serafall was my master, it wouldn't have taken a genius to put two and two together.

Serafall has always been a proud older sister after all. Hardly a day goes by without her bragging about her little 'So-tan's' achievements.

"Not that it matters, but the reason why I decided to remain in high school is that I believe there are some things that cannot be taught in a classroom or learned from the pages of a book. By fulfilling my duties as a Student President and interacting with peers my own age I have learned things that I would have never learned otherwise.

"Now, stop stalling and answer me, Shirou. Why are you here?" Judging by the way she glared at me, it didn't look like she'd allow me to deflect again.

I just gave her a shrug in response. "Why are you asking me a question whose answer you already know?"

She stilled for a moment before asking, "My sister sent you here, didn't she?"

I didn't bother replying, I doubt she expected me to anyway.

Sona didn't seem to surprise by my response, or lack of it, just upset. She removed her glasses and pinched the bridge of her nose, before exhaling loudly. Though I kept my eyes on her, I noticed from the edge of my eyes how the rest of the Council froze at her reaction.

Sona held her position for several seconds longer before, with one last exhale through her nose, she returned her frames to its proper place, folded her arms and stared straight at me.

"When I persuaded our parents to allow me to attend Kuoh Academy, my sister promised me that she wouldn't interfere. As much as I love her, I will never be able to grow if she tries to hold my hand at everything I do, and Kuoh was supposed to be an opportunity for me to experience life on my own. To learn how to take care of myself without my family backing me every step of the way or for my sister to save me the moment something goes wrong." When she first started, she spoke in her usual calm manner, but slowly her control started to slip.

She didn't shout or even approached anything near that level but considering how even-tempered Sona usually was, for her, this was the equivalent of throwing a temper tantrum.

"I am the sole heir of the Sitri Clan, one of the last few remaining Pillars of the Underworld, and one day I'll be expected to lead the entire Clan and all its territory. Yet how does she expect me to do that if she won't even trust me to run one little school?

"When I first informed her about coming here, she told me she understood. The while she didn't like the idea of me so far away from her, she'd respect my decision and wholeheartedly support me. So far, except for sending an occasional familiar to check up on me, she has kept that promise."

"Until now.

"So tell me, Emiya Shirou, why has my sister decided to back out of her promise!"

"Whoa, wait a second. I think you're misunderstanding something here." I quickly stopped her before this mix up gets any further out of hand than it had already had. I knew teenage girls could get a little bit emotionally fickle at times, but I always thought Sona was an exception to that particular rule.

I swear, these two sisters will be the death of me. Even if they appeared to be complete opposites, they had even more in common. That both of their hot button topics were each other just proves it.

"While it's true that your sister sent me here on a mission, I promise you that other than the fact that it's happening in your territory, it doesn't have anything to do with you at all."

"If that's the case then tell me what your mission is."

"I can't tell you—NO, wait, I really can't," I quickly interject as soon as I noticed her face beginning to darken. "It's classified, other than those who are directly participating in it, only the Maou and their Peerage are authorized to know about it."

Which was the honest truth, I wasn't supposed to let anyone know exactly what I was doing here unless I absolutely had to.

Sona scrutinized me through her glasses, no doubt looking for even the slightest hint of deceit. After what felt like a small eternity, she relented.

She seemed to almost physically deflate, slumping over slightly as she relaxed back onto her chair. After a brief moment, she glanced back up at me and, with a slightly embarrassed look on her face, gave me a weary smile.

"Sorry," She mumbled out, "It's just..."

"Don't worry," I said as I waved her apology away, "I understand."

And I really did. I could completely understand where she's coming from. From her point of view, it must have been a minor miracle for her sister to leave her alone for this long, especially when you consider how incredibly overprotective Serafall can be.

Then to have me, a member of her Peerage, arrive out of nowhere without any warning or reason, it's no surprise that she jumped to conclusions. It was only natural for her to be suspicious of how compliant Serafall has been of her demands so far.

Unfortunately for her, her paranoia is well-founded.

At any given time, there are approximately two dozen highly skilled devils that were assigned by both Sirzechs and Serafall to patrol the borders of the city and prevent anything too dangerous from wandering in.

Really, that Sona was willing to believe that both she and the Gremory girl would have been left entirely unguarded even for one single moment just went to show that for all of her intelligence she could be quite naïve at times.

Even if you were willing to ignore that they were both the sole Heirs to two of the most important families in the Underworld, they were still the beloved sisters to the leaders of all Devilkind, the Maou. And they honestly expected themselves to be left unguarded while they remain on earth? That's the equivalent of leaving the President's daughters unprotected in a politically unstable country. It's just not going to happen.

Still, I have no intention of letting her find out about this, not from me at least. No way I'm gonna let myself be dragged into that particular mess.

"Anyway," I began after of a quick clearing of my throat, "while I can't give out any details, I can at least assure you that I'm not here to babysit you. I was in fact given explicit orders not to interfere in any way unless it was a matter of life or death. Anything short of that and I'm not allowed to get involved."

"I see." Despite the near-perfect poker face she wore, it was clear that Sona was rather pleased with this particular bit of news. "Yet that doesn't explain why you're here in particular, as in this school. I doubt whatever assignment you're on required you to pose as a high school student."

I nodded my head at that, "That true, but I wasn't lying when I said I never had the chance to graduate."

That had always irritated me for some reason. While it's true that neither my past ambition of becoming a Hero or my current reality of living as a Devil would benefit from me formally getting my high school diploma, the thought of never graduating, especially after all the years of work I put into it, just irks me. Especially since I only had a few more month of my formal education left.

Plus, there was only so many times I could take Serafall teasingly calling me a high school drop out before I started to get the hint. You couldn't tell by looking at her, but Serafall takes education quite seriously.

"Part of the reason why I'm actually here is as a cover. Anyone looking will most likely come to the same conclusion as you did when they realize that I was attending the same school as my master's sister and not dig any deeper after that."

"That's a likely assumption." Sona nodded her head in agreement only to pause. She tilted her head in thought, "You said 'part', so is there another reason why you're attending Kuoh?"

"Ah, well." I couldn't help but scratch my cheek in embarrassment at that, "Apparently Serafall wanted us to get to know each other better."

There was a brief moment of silence.

Then, whether at my words or my obvious embarrassment, Sona gave me a faint smile. "I'd like that."

Before the moment could become any more awkward, or embarrassing, I quickly changed the subject.

"Anyway," taking a moment to clear my throat, I subtly tried to scan the room for something to talk about and found one as my eyes landing on the chess set before me. "I heard that you're almost old enough to qualify for the rating games. Do you plan on participating in this year's Young Devils Gathering?"

The knowing smile on her face told me she knew exactly what I was trying to do, but decided to play along anyway. "As a matter of fact, I do. I'm not sure if you've heard, but there is going to be an unusually high number of heirs qualifying for this year's gathering. It will be the perfect chance for me to test myself and prove my worth to the rest of the underworld. Plus Rias definitely plans to enter and there is no way I'm going to allow her to get one up on me."

Despite Sona's surprisingly childish attitude when it comes to her well-known rivalry with the Gremory heir, I couldn't fault the rest of her reasoning. "And what do you think your odds of winning are?"

"Truthfully?" she asked which I nodded. "Zero."

"Oh~?" Despite my questioning tone, I couldn't help but smile in approval at her response. Unlike many of the younger Devils or even the older ones, Sona has no delusions of grandeur when it comes to her combat capabilities. "Why would you say that? Don't you have any confidence in your Peerage's strength?"

"Not at all," There was no hesitation in her replay, "I have the utmost confidence that my Peerage is more than capable of handling anything that they end up facing."

Around us, Sona's Peerage practically preened from her praise, even as they continued to pretend they weren't listening and maintain their charade of working.

Masking my smile at their hijinks, I asked, "So, what's the problem then?"

"The 'problem', as you put it, is the competition." She pushed her glasses by the bridge of the frame-up her nose as she spoke, causing it to flash as it reflected the light, "I already mentioned that this year's gathering will be unusually large, well, consequently it's also going to be unusually fierce."

Pausing, she shut her eyes and gathered her thoughts, before continuing, "Like every gathering, there are several strong Devils among this year contenders, but there are two that stand out head and shoulders above the crowd."

Lifting one finger in the air, "First, there's Riser Phenex. Despite being well-known as a playboy and minor troublemaker, Riser is undeniably a genius when it comes to using his family's flames. His regeneration is at the level that would have taken most Phenex's the better part of a century to reach, and yet he's barely over twenty years old.

"The matches he's participated in this year only solidified that fact. Despite that the majority of his Peerage consist of members with substandard combat abilities, he has won all eight of the matches he's fought in and emerged without a single wound to show for it. Three out of the eight opponents he's faced simply resigned when they realized that none of their attacks were able to harm him even after he invited them to freely hit him.

"That doesn't even take his sister into the equation. While less talented in her control over the Phoenix flames than her brothers, she more than makes up for it with her intelligence. Ravel Phenex is a first-class tactician with a gift in small-scale strategy that I can honestly say rivals mine."

I raised an eyebrow at that. Coming from Sona that was quite a high praise indeed.

"While Riser has a more laissez-faire approach to managing his Peerage in battle, which basically consists of him just sitting back and doing nothing, Ravel takes a more hands-on approach.

"Though she doesn't directly participate in the fight, she often leads a part of the Peerage to combat the enemy and helps them coordinate, as all the while she stands back and assesses the enemy's battle style for threats and weaknesses. Under her leadership, they were able to win two matches without having Raiser get involved at all.

"Together they form a formidable team that covers each other's weak points rather well. While they do have some rather large flaws that can be exploited, the raw power of two High-Class Devils in one team makes it almost impossible for any team in their age group to take advantage of it."

I nodded my head in agreement with her assessment. I knew most of this information already, but I had a feeling she was explaining this to her Peerage just as much as she was to me. Plus while I knew why it was unlikely for her to win, I wanted to see if her reasoning matched my own, so I made sure not to interrupt her explanation.

"While I have never met the pair or seen any of their matches, I've heard the Phenex siblings are one of the favourites in this year's gathering." I added, "Second only to him of course."

Sona nodded solemnly, "Yes, him," she raised up a second finger, "Sairaorg Beal, the strongest of the young Devils.

"He was born with neither skill nor talent, and even failed to inherit the power of his bloodline, the Power of Destruction. By Devil's standards, he was born a cripple. With such handicaps, he should have been a weakling that would be incapable of fighting even Low-Class Devils, let alone High-Class ones.

"But apparently someone failed to tell Sairaorg that, because over the last three years he crushed every High-Class devil born in the last century and at least half of the ones born earlier, all in one-on-one duels.

"Today he is the closest among the younger generation to becoming the next Satan, a Maou." Sona shook her head in disbelief, "Honestly, the only way for Sairaorg to lose is if he decided to fight the entire tournament alone without his peerage, and even then I'm not entirely sure that he wouldn't win."

The scary thing is that she wasn't exaggerating in the slightest if anything she was understating things. Sairaorg was a monster, pure and simple. Devils usually took centuries of training to reach Ultimate Class level, and that's with the power they inherited from their Clan. This guy did it before he was twenty when he was considered a cripple magic-wise.

After finally finishing her explanation, Sona lowered her hand. "And that's why realistically, I don't believe I have any real chance of winning. With only one of them entering it would still have been difficult, a long shot. Both? My chances have dropped so far below zero, it practically became an imaginary number. That even before you take into account that they both have full Peerages while I'm still in the process of building mine.

"If this year's gathering wasn't so important, I would honestly consider delaying my debut for another year, but unfortunately that would have made me look like a coward and as an Heir, I can't allow my reputation to be damaged in such a way."

I couldn't help but feel a stirring of pride at her analysis. While it wasn't word for word, Serafall had basically told me the same thing and for mostly the same reasons. Looks like my master's little sister is gonna turn out just fine.

Unfortunately though, while most of what she said is accurate, it's also incomplete.

I had to bite back a grimace. Though I hate playing the bad guy, it was for her own good. Ah, well. Time to clear up some misconceptions.

"Even if you don't expect to win, I hope that doesn't mean you intend to lose."

Sona smirked at me. "Hardly," she replied, "while first place is beyond me, it is still possible for me to rank pretty high. I have scouted the other participants and have found that the majority of them are hardly a threat at all. The few that are, I have already prepared a basic strategy to counter them if I ever end up playing against them."

"So you expect to end up doing pretty well then?"

"I do." There was no hesitation.

"How well?"

"I estimate that as long as I don't get unlucky and end up facing either Phenex or Sairaorg in one of the earlier rounds, I would have a fair chance of winning fourth place, maybe higher if I end up getting lucky."

I deliberately let out a quiet snort in response.

And, naturally, Sona caught it.

"You disagree?" She asked while cocking an eyebrow.

"Yes," Well, here comes the tough love part. You owe me for this, Serafall, "You won't make it anywhere near that far."

"Why do you think that?"

"Because you're too weak."

It was incredible how much quieter the practically silent room became as everyone in the council room just froze. Sona went rigid in surprise so fast that it looked like she was electrocuted, hell, even her Queen Tsubaki's jaw dropped in disbelief.

For a human, what I said wouldn't have been too bad. Even for a Devil, a race that prided itself on its strength and power, it would have been only mildly insulting. Well, that would have been true if Pride wasn't this Devil's chosen deadly sin.

Pride, Sona's weakness of the seven. And I, someone who was practically one step away from being her family, just stomped on it, in front of her entire Peerage. A little harsh, I admit, but there were few better ways to gain someone's attention and make them listen, and I mean truly listen than to hurt their pride.

"Why, you bastard, apologi-", the only male in the student council, a blond-haired kid, charged straight at me only to be stopped by Sona's raised hand before he could take more than a step.

Never taking her eyes off me, Sona scrutinized me for the better part of a minute before deciding to speak.

"Explain yourself, Emiya." She growled out at me, glaring murder all the while. Once again her attempt at intimidation made her look nothing more than a murderous little kitty. It was actually every bit as adorable as Serafall claimed.

I, however, made sure to keep these thoughts to myself as I waved my hand over the table between us in response, "This right here Sona is why you're weak."

Judging by the taken-aback looks I was receiving, they looked like they were willing to listen to me then let their temper get the better of them. Good, that will make things easier then.

"Chess?" For the first time it wasn't Sona who spoke but her Queen, Tsubaki, "You're saying the Kaichou's weakness is chess? But she's amazing in it."

"That's not quite what I meant," though I replied to Tsubaki's question, I didn't take my eyes off Sona as I spoke. "And it's not just your Kaichou's, but also Devil kind as a whole."

Pointing at the chess set in front of me, "Tell me, Sona, what does Chess and the Rating games have in common? And I'm talking about the practical aspects, not the superficial stuff like names and titles."

If Sona was in any way thrown off by my line of questioning, she didn't show it. She just stared at the board game for a few seconds before looking back up at me, "I'm not exactly sure what you're asking me, Shirou."

"Let me rephrase it for you this way," I crossed my arms before me as I leaned back into my chair. "What exactly do chess and battle have in common?"

This time she didn't bother to glance at the chessboard but focused all her attention on me, as she contemplated the question.

"Normally I would answer something like strategy or tactics," she began, "but I have a feeling that isn't the answer you're looking for."

I nodded my head at her answer.

A little bit naïve maybe, but no one had ever accused Sona of being stupid.

"The answer is simple, almost nothing at all."

I had already lifted my hand up to stop the retort that Sona would have undeniably replied with before I even finished my sentence. Sure enough, Sona already had her mouth opened before she managed to stop herself.

"Now, I'm not claiming that Chess isn't useful for developing strategic thinking or planning, which it undoubtedly does, only that its use in developing battle skill is greatly overvalued in modern Devil society." I continued after making sure I wasn't going to get interrupted. "In fact, outside of basic strategy, it shares almost nothing in common with real-life warfare.

"And yet Devils as a whole seem to worship it as the ideal war game simulator. The amount of hype Devils seem to pile up on chess is so ridiculous that it has actually started to negatively affect the fighting potential of the younger generation of Devils."

"For example," I raised a single finger, "There is a military term known as 'information uncertainty'. It's when you're unsure how accurate the information you have on the enemy is, or a situation where you don't even have any information at all. That is a key aspect on any battlefield and something that simply doesn't exist in chess." I added another second finger. "Then there is the amount of forces each side has. In chess, no matter your skill level, your starting pieces are equal in number and strength, which is a completely ridiculous scenario in real life, one that will never occur."

I quickly added a third, fourth and fifth finger to the others. "Then there is the terrain and weather advantage, communication problems, panic and morale among the soldiers." I formed my hand into a fist. "And perhaps the most important lesson at all, Chess doesn't teach you when to run away. Victory is always possible in Chess, in real life, sometimes all you can do is run. There are times it's much better to retreat than stand and fight till you die a meaningless death. This simple lesson, learning when to run, is one that too many people fail to ever learn until it's too late."

I know, I know. This coming from a guy who willingly fought Gilgamesh and other Servants as a human probably makes it the most hypocritical thing I've ever said, but it doesn't make it any less true.

Finally, I lowered my hand.

"Chess, Sona," I continued after I allowed a few seconds for my words to sink in, "Is a great starting point for developing your skills as a strategist, but if you cling to it for too long it will only end up limiting you. And that is something that is already happening to you."

I spread my arms and indicated the entire room with a wave, "Your choice of Peerage is a perfect example of this."

Anger, genuine barely restrained anger, flooded her face as she all but hissed at me, "Watch your next words, Shirou. Or even your master won't be able to save you."

I was barely able to bite back a smile at her response and even then I only succeeded because I was sure she'd misinterpret it.

Heh, I knew there was a reason why I liked this girl.

She was angrier with me over the slight of her peerage than when I insulted her. This means she has more Pride in them than she had in herself. For all their outer differences, the more I get to know these two sisters, the more similar I found them to be.

I raised both my hands up in front of me in a placating manner, "Now, now, calm down. That's not what I meant. I didn't intend for you to take what I said as an insult toward your Peerage."

"Then what exactly did you mean, Shirou?" While Sona hadn't quite cooled off, at the very least she didn't look like she was making any plans to rip my head off anymore.

"Your peerage, they're a reflection of how you fight."

That at least was able to throw her off enough to knock the wind out of her sails.

Before she even got the chance to ask, I answered. "They're all like chess pieces. No, to be more precise, they're more like surgical knives."

I glanced around the room at all seven members of her Peerage.

"Even with just a glance, I can tell that almost everyone in this room was chosen not for their raw fighting abilities. Instead, you chose them for their abilities to counter your enemies' strength or to exploit their weaknesses." I gave them a knowing nod when I saw their eyes widened in surprise at how close I hit the mark. No doubt they wondered how I was able to figure that out just by looking at them. In truth, I knew most of this from the reports Serafall gave me, but they didn't need to know that. "Like a craftsman choosing his tool, you picked every piece in your peerage in preparation to exploit any situation that you find yourself in.

"Now, that is not necessarily a bad thing. Quite the opposite really, I can honestly say that many Peerages can benefit from adopting your approach."

"Then what the heck is the problem?" The blond hair boy yelled out. Well, looks like I figured out who the loudmouth of the group was.

"The problem is that you took it too far. Your plans for creating a Peerage that can adapt to every scenario has ended up creating several potentially fatal weaknesses." I addressed my words to Sona. "The first and the most obvious one is, your entire attack plan requires information on the enemy to work. You can't exploit their weaknesses nor nullify their strengths if you don't know what they are. Without detailed and accurate data on your enemy, your entire attack strategy falls apart.

"In a war reliable information is a scarce resource.

"What method have you prepared for scouting information on the battlefield? Other than familiars, which are easily stopped, or your family's information network, which is only geared towards Devils, you have no efficient method for gathering the information you'll need to win."

"Sure," I waved a hand flippantly in the air, "In a Rating game it might be possible to gather information on your enemy, but it's equally possible for you to miss something. I'm sure more than one Devil will have a trump card or two hidden up their sleeves.

"More importantly," Looking Sona straight in the eye, "Never forget that rating games are supposed to be a simulation of real war. There is no point in learning techniques that can only work in what is basically nothing more than a popular game, but is ineffective in a real fight where actual lives are at stake."

I paused to make sure the last statement sank in. If nothing else, I hope that she will at least take that particular lesson to heart, it may just end up saving her life one day.

"The second key mistake is the lack of raw fighting strength in your Peerage. It's all well and good to try and exploit your enemy's weakness, but there is no point to it when you're too weak to take advantage of said weakness."

Seeing the looks of confusion on some of the Peerage members, I tried to think of a better way to explain it. "Hmm, give me a second to think of an example." I leaned back into my chair as I ransacked my brain for a solution. "Ah, got one!" I exclaimed while punching the palm of my hand. I'm gonna have to change the details of the fight quite a bit, but it will do.

"A few years ago, I had to fight a very powerful witch. For convenience' sake let's simply call her Caster for now. Anyway, the biggest problem I had was with actually hitting her. For all her magical prowess she was rather fragile, so a single solid blow would have taken her out for good. Yet she was a fairly fast opponent, almost as fast as a knight, but the real problem appeared when she demonstrated her teleportation ability. She could jump from one place to another in a heartbeat, only needing a couple of seconds at most to cast the spell.

"What made it worse, she was an incredibly powerfully mage. Each of her spells was capable of bringing down a small building and she can cast dozens of them simultaneously. At times when she went on an all-out attack, it almost felt like it was raining spells."

That memory brought a grimace to my face. She was probably the most annoying opponent I had to fight in the entire war. I mean, sure, Saber may have had A-class magic resistance, but I sure as hell didn't!

"So the entire fight she would simply snipe us. She'd teleport to the top of a building a couple of hundred yards away and just bombard us with spells. There was no point finding cover because her spells would just plough right through it. Whenever we tried to rush her she'd just teleport away and we couldn't sneak up on her because she littered the place with familiars that would inform her whenever someone managed to get close to her." Saber might have thought of them as low-quality, but those Dragon Tooth Warriors were a pain to deal with.

"To make matters worse Caster was a prodigy of magic, on a scale I have never seen before, so magical based attacks or abilities were completely worthless against her." I pointedly looked at two of the Council members, Sona's two bishops, a long black haired girl and a brunet with braids. "So that invisibility spell you're so fond of will be less than worthless against her." I turned back towards Sona.

"So what will you do?" I questioned, "You are capable of harming her but not reaching her. Even your fastest peerage member has no chance of reaching her in time before she teleports away. None of your spells or magical tricks that your peerage specializes in will work on her. All the while she's raining spells down on you that will end up taking your peerage out one by one if you don't finish her soon." I gave her some time to think it through. "So what will you do?"

As I watched her ponder the problem, a thought hit me. "Ah, just to clarify. This is not a hypothetical scenario, Caster was as real as you or me and I wasn't exaggerating in the slightest when I described her combat abilities. She really was that strong." While it's true that the Casters class always had a bad rep of being weak in the Holy Grail wars, that was only because they were matched up against other heroic spirits. Compared to the standards of ordinary magi or even Devils, they were absolute monsters.

While Sona was still lost in thought, one of her Peerage members, a handsome looking blue-haired girl raised her hand. I felt a little too much like a teacher as I indicated for her to speak, "You said you fought this 'Caster' person right?" Seeing my nod, she continued, "Well, seeing as you're here with us alive and well, you obviously must have won right? So how did you win?"

I broke out in a smile at that. Even though I knew it was my Pride getting the best of me, as I would never have even imagined myself behaving like this before my Reincarnation, I couldn't resist a chance to show off one of my swords.

Plus, seeing as how Sona and the rest of the Peerage were watching me as they waited for my response, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to hammer the lesson in.

Raising both my hand before me, palms upwards as if I held something invisible within them, I began to project a sword.

Though perhaps calling it a projection was no longer accurate. In this world, one without Gaia's interference or degrading of Magecraft, my swords have become something more than a mere projection. They may be copies still, but they're copies that would no longer fall so short from the original.

That was not all that changed with my magic. Since becoming a Devil, I no longer need an Aria to activate my circuits. That's because my circuits were always on. The amount of Od I now possessed in my body was ludicrous. At a level that would make even Rin turn green with envy. That's not even mentioning the changes that my circuits have undergone.

Right now my circuits have reached a standard of quality that would have been impossible for a human to achieve. Nothing short of a Dead Apostle could channel anywhere near as much Prana as I was currently capable of. That was the reason why I no longer needed to close my circuits; I no longer even noticed the strain of them being kept open. Plus as a devil I needed to have my Prana, or Mana as they refer to it here, flowing throughout my body to survive. Mana was apparently the equivalent of blood for Devils, we needed it to keep pumping through our bodies or we'd simply drop dead.

A web of lines formed over my hand for the briefest instant, shaped in an outline of a sword, before with a flash of light, it was replaced with the real thing.

Exclamation of surprise and startlement came from all around me, which I ignored as I looked down at the sword that I held in my hands.

Caladbolg II: The Fake Spiral Sword

It was a modified sword, one that never existed in real life, at least not in its current form. Based on the demonic sword wielded by the Irish hero, Fergus mac Róich, it had been altered to become more aerodynamic so that it may be fired from a bow.

Honestly, I'm not entirely sure if I could even refer to it as a sword anymore. Unlike most swords, the blade of this one was not straight or even curved but spiralled around like a screw. It looked more like a revolving drill bit than anything. If not for the hilt that was attached to the end of this spiralling blade, I doubt anyone would have guessed it to be a sword.

Done with my examination of the sword, not that it needed one, my blades were always perfect, I looked up to find every person in the room staring alternatively at either the blade or me with expression ranging from absolute shock to one of wonder as if I had performed a miracle worthy of Christ himself.

What? What is going on? Why are they acting so surprised? Something like this shouldn't surprise them, everyone here has seen magic before, and hell, they should all be capable of performing magic themselves. I mean, they're Devils for Hell's sake-

Oh~ right, Devils, forgot.

Devils are inherently beings born of magic. Unlike humans, who can easily survive or even thrive without even a drop of magic, Devils will drop dead without it. This made them especially sensitive to magic and magical anomalies, far more than a human mage or magus could ever be. And what did I do inform of them? I summoned a Noble phantasm packed with so much power, that it's more than capable of wiping the entire school off the map in an instant.

From their point of view, I had just summoned a sword that can tear down mountain tops with a single swing, from what appeared to be nothing but air. And I currently have that very same weapon of mass destruction draped across my lap like one would a cat.

Thinking about it that way, their surprise is starting to make a lot more sense.

Sona being the first to recover, not surprising considering she probably witnessed her sister do far more outrageous things growing up, was the one to ask the question they were all thinking. "Shirou," never taking her eyes off the Noble Phantasm, "What is that?"

"This?" I repeated as if I wasn't sure why she was asking, "This, Sona, is a sword."

"That's a sword?" The boy asked this time and the words came out of his throat in a strangled almost terrified whisper. Clearly he never experienced power even approaching this scale before. Most likely because he was only recently reincarnated. What I did was impressive, yes, but the supernatural world was full of monsters. Compared to what some of those beings are capable of, what I just did was nothing special.

"Well, yes and no," I answered, "To be accurate, it was a sword, now it's more of an arrow. It's called Caladbolg, and it was this weapon that was able to slay Caster."

Patting the side of the sword, careful not to cut my hand on the sharp edges, I explained.

"This was my solution to the Caster scenario. Caladbolg, in the hands of a skilled archer, can basically be fired upon a target like an arrow." I traced a path on the coiling edge of the sword. "You see how the blade corkscrews? When fired, it will cause the sword to spiral so fast that it can penetrate any target by creating a twisting distortion in space. The effect was so powerful that it tore thought Caster's magical defences like paper and was so fast that she didn't have enough time to even try to teleport. Even if she had, I honestly believe that she would have been twisted along with the space anyway."

Ok, I admit. I basically ripped this move from Archer, but so what? He was essentially me anyway; you can't plagiarize from yourself, now can you?

"Wait, wait," I was interrupted by blondie again as he pointed an accusing finger at me. Seems I was right in pinning him as the loudmouth. "You have a Sacred Gear too?"

I smiled at that, it wasn't a bad assumption by any means. It made sense too. No magic was able to craft swords out of thin air, at least not of this quality. Sacred Gears, on the other hand, were famous for doing things that were supposed to be impossible, magically or otherwise. It was, at least to them, the only thing that could explain what I had done.

It wasn't a bad assumption, but that still didn't make it the right one.

"No, I don't," I answered him and left it at that. It'll give them something to ponder on.

"Anyway, back to the original topic. Sona," She looked up from her examination of the blade, "this was my solution to Caster. An extremely powerful non-magical long-range attack. When I found I didn't have the speed to get close to her, nor the magic to match hers, I relied on the pure destructive power of this weapon to win."

"So answer me, Sona," finally getting back to the original question, "how would you have dealt with Caster if you and your Peerage had to face her as you currently are?"

This time I made sure not to interrupt Sona as she pondered the dilemma. I merely sat back and watched her think. Sona was a smart girl, far smarter than me if I was being honest. I had no doubt she'd figure out what I was trying to tell her on her own.

The fatal weakness of Sona's Peerage is the pure lack of firepower. I wasn't exaggerating when I said that this world was filled with monsters. Ones so powerful, that no amount of strategizing or planning can let you defeat them, simply because most people just lacked the strength to even scratch them, let alone actually injure them.

Compared to them Caster was nothing more than a fly. Yet Sona didn't even have anywhere near the power to defeat her.

Even that Gremory girl's Peerage had a better chance against Caster. Though I doubt she'd win considering how cunning she was, but in a straight head-to-head battle, she'll at least have a fighting chance. With her Power of Destruction and her knight, who was reported to be one of the fastest Devils alive, there was the real, if small, possibility of them winning.

With Sona, even that small possibility doesn't exist.

"Shirou," Sona called out, bringing me out from my thoughts. I looked up to find her watching me with a rather suspicious look on her face. "You've been taking a great deal of interest on my Peerage today, almost unusually so. In fact, I can't even remember a single occasion where you brought up the topic before." I resisted the urge to look away from her violet eyes that she had locked onto mine. "So, why the sudden interest?"

Now, you see, that's the problem with smart people. They made it almost impossible to sneak anything past them.

I shrugged, "Isn't it only natural to talk about Peerages after you brought up the Young Devils Gathering?"

"Actually," if anything my attempt in deflection just seemed to have made her even more suspicious, "I'm pretty sure it was you who brought it up."

"Did I?" Crap, I'm not even sure if that's true or not. "I honestly can't recall."

"Shirou, enough." She crossed her arms and glowered at me. "Just tell me what you're up to."

Ah well, looks like the jig is up. Even if I've gotten better at it recently, I've never been any good at this subtle manipulation stuff.

I rubbed my hand through my hair a couple of times as I looked away, "Well, it's just since the Gathering is only a few months away I thought you could use a hand in getting yourself ready, that's all."

She actually looked surprised at that. "You want to train us?" Her frames slipped down her nose as she said that. Huh, I guess, whatever it was she suspected I was going to say, it wasn't this.

"Pretty much," I crossed my arms and nodded at that. "So what do you say, want me to help out?"

For a long while, she just sat there, staring at me in disbelief before slumping back in her seat with a sigh. She took off her glasses and rubbed the bridge of her nose, "My sister put you up to this, didn't she?"

It wasn't so much a question as it was a statement.

"What?! No! Of course not." My denial was so over the top that I doubt even a kindergartener would have believed me. "She'd never do that, never. Especially since she knows that her beloved little sister would never accept anything from her if she thought it might be taken as favouritism. On the other hand, sometime over the last month she gained the most peculiar habit of talking to herself out loud. She kept repeating the same thing too. Kept going on and on about 'If only there was someone who would help my dear So-tan train, I wouldn't be so worried' or something like that. It was actually starting to get a bit creepy by the end."

It really was. The last night I spent in the Underworld, I ended up waking up to find Serafall standing next to my bed, just watching me with unblinking eyes and repeating the words over and over again. I suppressed a shiver at that memory. I'll give her this much at least, Serafall sure knows how to get what she wants.

Propping her head on one hand, the one that still held her glasses, she just gave me an exasperated look. "So let me get this straight. The entire 'chess is worthless' speech you just gave me was basically nothing but a sales pitch, wasn't it?"

"Yup." I nodded, not even bothering to deny it, "It was completely true, mind you, but yeah, basically that's what it was."

Covering her face in her hands, she just tiredly muttered through them, "You could have just asked, you know?"

"Actually no, I couldn't." I corrected her, "Not only would you have refused my offer if I just flat out asked you, but I'm technically not allowed to. Remember, my orders clearly state that I'm not allowed to directly interfere in your business. Butting into your training, even if it ended up becoming beneficial, would have qualified as direct interference. On the other hand, if you came and asked me to train you, it would not count as interfering as I would have been invited to join, thus I'd have been perfectly in my rights to accept and help you train."

Rather convoluted, wasn't it? I personally thought the entire situation was rather stupid, but apparently Devils love this kind of stuff. From the very first day of me setting foot in the Underworld, I've had it drilled into me that as a part of Maou's Peerage there were formal rules of behaviour that I was expected to follow. That was especially true since the Maou's themselves seemed to disregard them so completely, that their Peerage members are forced to pick up the slack by following them extra hard in their place.

Favouritism, for example, is one of the key issues. Apparently, when the four new Maous were coronated, there was a big fear among the Devils that they would end up using their power to unfairly support their family over everyone else. That was actually a rather valid concern since nepotism rampant in the Old Devil faction. So to dissuade those concerns, the new Maous willingly distanced themselves from their family by throwing away their old Clan names and adopting the traditional names for Satans.

That's actually why Sona refuses anything from her sister. Everyone knows how much Serafall loves her and Sona is apparently terrified of getting her sister in trouble. Unfortunately, it was actually a valid concern.

Just look at Grayfia. She has to go so far as to dress herself up as a maid to make it clear that she's not expecting to get any special treatment by marrying Sirzechs, and she's his bloody Queen. Well, actually, I've heard a few rumours that claimed she did it because Sirzechs has some kind of maid-dominatrix fetish, but that was too disturbing to contemplate, so I decided to just disregard it.

While it's not as bad as I was making it sound Sona, who has always been a stickler for the rules, has always taken things a bit to the extreme to make sure they're followed.

Raising her head from her hand, she gave a dead-pan stare, then without warning broke out laughing. Not a little one either, but an actual full-bellied laugh that shook her entire body. That actually caught me off guard a little bit as I had never actually seen Sona laugh so much before and, going by the looks that the rest of her Peerage were giving her, neither had they.

When her laughter finally subdued, although she still let out an occasional chuckle, she looked up at me with shining eyes, "I can see why my sister chose you. A better match in hell has never been made before."

"Don't you mean heaven?"

"I know what I said, Shirou," she returned her frames to their usual place and give me one of her rare smiles, "And trust me when I say there is no way heaven would ever approve of the two of you."

In spite of myself, I felt oddly pleased with that.

Letting out one final chuckle, Sona took a deep breath before shutting her eyes. Remaining almost completely still, she released her breath in one slow exhale. When she was done, she opened her eyes again and I found myself staring at a completely different person.

Gone were all traces of laughter and humour, disappearing as if they were never there. Sitting ramrod straight in her seat, Sona looked at me with a face that was equally formal as it was cold. Not a hint of warmth remained; it almost felt like I was looking at a stranger.

This was a side of Sona that I rarely saw, although it was the one she apparently wore the most. This Sona wasn't my master's little sister nor was she the girl that was quickly becoming my friend. This was Sona Sitri, the heiress of Sitri Clan, the president of Kuoh Academy's Student council.

Cold and formal, it was something that I have only seen once before, the side of her that she wore when we first met, though it didn't last as it quickly melted away when Serafall introduced us and told her who I was.

It was as if she had some kind of internal switch that she could simply flick and switch between personas.

She looked at me straight in the eye before lowering her head in a formal bow, "Emiya Shirou," She stated, "I, Sona Sitri, heir of one of the 72 pillars, humbly invite you to attend the training session of both my Peerage and myself and grant us whatever assistance that you are willing to offer."

See what I mean? A complete stickler for the rules, this one. She could have just said 'want to help us train?' and that would have been enough. Even most of the older generations weren't this formal outside of work, but since she chose to go down this route that means I have to respond in kind and, honestly, I'm still not used to this kind of thing.

Returning a bow that was equally deep, not an inch lower or higher, "I, Emiya Shirou, servant of the Leviathan, gladly accept the invitation."

I'm pretty sure that wasn't the proper response, but it will do. Now with that part over, I made sure to come out of the bow the same time she did.

Then like that her mask was gone, and the usual semi-formal Sona was back.

"Well," she adjusted her frames, "That was twenty minutes of my life I'm never getting back." Though she said it with a smile to let me know she was joking.

She then looked over my head at something, "We've been here longer than I've originally expected. You'd better hurry up if you want to have time to eat."

I twisted in place to look at the clock that was mounted on the wall behind and found that she was right. Lunch was almost halfway over.

Rising from my seat, I started to make my way to the door, "Well, while I still have a few things I wanted to talk to you about, they can wait until after our first training session at least. When is that by the way?

"Our next scheduled training will be held tomorrow evening at seven in the school courtyard." She replied, "Now go to lunch, Shirou, I don't want you slacking off on your first day at school because you were hungry."

"Got it," I had just reached the door at that point and had slid the door halfway open before I remembered something.

"Oh, and Sona," I looked at her over my shoulder, "It's up to you whether or not you choose to listen to my advice, but when you choose your remaining Peerage members make sure they're the power type."

She just waved me away, "Understood, now get going already."

Nodding, I turned to leave but was stopped when I was halfway out the door.

"And Shirou," I turned to find her staring at me, "Call me Kaichou when we're at school."

I smirked at that, "As you wish, Kaichou." And shut the door behind me, walking away to find a quiet place I can have my lunch at.

Silence filled the Student Council room, its occupants listening intently to the receding footsteps of their departed guest. When at last it could no longer be heard the entire Student Council relaxed, releasing a breath of relief almost as one.

The blue-haired girl, Tsubasa, dropped a stack of paper she was working on onto a nearby desk before slumping down on a nearby chair.

"Well," she said after running a hand through her hair, "That was unexpected."

Turning her head towards Sona, she commented, "Kaichou, when you told us to prepare for guest a today, I didn't expect it to be him."

"Who was that guy anyway?" Saji, the only male left in the room, asked.

"You mean you don't know, Gen-chan?" Momo looked surprised at that, before with a small exclamation of realization the raven-haired beauty palmed her head, "Ah, that's right. You were reincarnated just a couple of months ago, weren't you? Of course, you wouldn't have heard."

"Heard what? Is that guy a big shot or something?"

"Something like that," Tomoe, a cheerful-looking girl with pigtails responded. Glancing at Sona from the edge of her eyes, she added with a playful smile, "Although what really surprised me was how open Kaichou was acting. I don't think I've ever seen her act like that outside of us, Rias and her precious Onee-sama. Normally she's so shy that she barely says anything more than she needs to."

"That's true." Tsubaki agreed as she handed her King a cup of steaming tea, "I really didn't expect the two of them to get along so well. Or at least not this soon."

Taking the cup from her Queen, the topic of the conversation decided to interrupt. "How many times must I tell you not to talk about me as if I'm not even here?" Lifting the cup to her lips she paused, "And besides," she added before taking a sip, "I'm never shy."

"Sure you're not." Tomoe's playful smile turning into a teasing one as she agreed insincerely.

Letting out a sigh, Sona decided not to comment on her knight's tone, "I don't see what's surprising about my behaviour," deciding to go back to the original topic of the discussion, "It's only natural; after all, it wouldn't be too much of an exaggeration to say he's practically family."

"Eh~~!" Saji yelled out in surprise, "You mean you're related to that guy?"

Grimacing at the sound of her pawn's overreaction, Sona set her teacup down, "I guess it's not surprising that you don't understand", she muttered quietly to herself before, with a sharp nod, she stood and faced Saji.

"Very well then, as your King, it would be remiss of me to keep you ignorant." She clapped her hands and pointed at a chair for Saji to sit in, "So it's time for a history lesson."

Pacing across the room with her hands folded behind her back, Sona waited for Saji to settle himself on his chair before asking, "What do you know of my sister?"

"Ah," Seemingly startled by the question, Saji paused for a moment to think on it before answering, "Well, your sister's a Maou, right?" He said, sounding a little uncertain. Seeing Sona encouraging nod he carried on, "The Leviathan, one of the four leaders of the Underworld and is responsible for foreign affairs. She and the other three were war heroes from the civil war and are considered to be among the strongest Devils in history."

"Correct," She nodded while she continued to pace in front of him, "And what about her Peerage?"

"Her Peerage?" He repeated before racking his brain for an answer. "I...I..." he muttered out loud for a couple of seconds before slumping forward, disappointment filling his posture.

"Sorry, Kaichou, I don't know." He admitted, looking more than a little ashamed by his inability to answer.

The smallest hint of a smile made its way to her face at her Pawns overreaction, "Don't beat yourself up over it, Saji, it's only natural for you not to know." She told the depressed boy, "After all, she doesn't have one."

"Really?" The shock of that particular revelation seemed to knock him out of his depression. "Even though she's a Maou?" He asked, incredulity clearly written all on his face.

Grimacing at the question, Sona nodded as she subconsciously increased the speed of her pacing.

"Since the end of the Civil War against the Old Devil faction, my sister has refused to form a Peerage. Not even a single member." She lectured. "As you can no doubt imagine, my sister's lack of a Peerage came as a surprise to a lot of people. It soon became a huge subject of controversy in the Underworld. Add in the fact that it had been over two hundred years and the problem only grew. It reached the point where rumours began to spread about her."

Her grimace turned to an outright scowl, "Rumours," Spitting that word out like a curse, "Which claimed that the reason why she refused a Peerage was because she disapproved of Reincarnated Devils as a whole. That she considered them a blight on the purity of Devil-kind."

She angry waved her hand before her as if dismissing the idea, "Preposterous, of course, my sister has never cared even the slightest bit about the blood purity of Devil-kind before, but that didn't stop the rumours from spreading anyway. And every year the problem just seemed to keep getting worse.

"It reached the point that the other Maous had tried to intervene and attempted to force her to form a Peerage, even if only in name, but that ended up blowing up in their faces. She was steadfast in her refusal to form a Peerage, not even a single member. Even informing her that she would run the risk of losing her position as a Maou if public unrest on the matter continued to grow, failed to persuade her.

"In the end it only made matters worse, as when the public found out how hard she fought against the idea of forming a Peerage, it only helped to feed the flames." She paused her pacing and turned to face Saji as he continued to listen attentively.

"Honestly, Saji, things were getting really bad. You have to understand that one of the biggest issues that plague modern Devil society is the subject of the Reincarnated Devils. Remember, we have only been able to reincarnate humans to Devils for the last couple of centuries and, while that may appear as a long period of time for you, for Devils, who can measure their lives in millennia, that was little more than a decade ago at most. Over two-thirds of living Devils still remember a time where the Evil Pieces system didn't exist."

She turned and resumed her pacing. "In recent years tension between Pure Devils and Reincarnated Devils has risen to an all-time high. And with the numbers of Reincarnated Devils steadily increasing compared to how the number of Devils from the 72 Pillars keeps declining no matter what we do with each passing century, the situation didn't seem to be getting better any time soon.

"Despite all that it wasn't an immediate issue. Devils, because of their long lives, take far longer to change socially than humans do. While it is a growing problem, it was not one that had to be dealt with immediately, but it's only a matter of time. A few decades, maybe a century or two, then the issue will become too big to ignore anymore."

"The Maous, still dealing with damages from the Civil War and the remaining threat posed by the remainder of the Three Factions, could not afford to alienate any member of the Devil communicate and thus have decided to remain neutral on the issue."

"So that means-" Saji muttered out as he connected the dots.

"Yes," Sona agreed, "that means that my sister's persistence in rejecting a Peerage was seen as her supporting the Pure Devils agenda. Which meant that as far as the public was concerned, the Maous where no longer considered neutral and have already chosen a side to support."

Releasing a frustrated sigh while adjusting her glasses, Sona continued, "Instead of being something that could be put off for a later time, it quickly became an issue that had to be addressed immediately. And just when it reached the point where the Maous had no choice but to leave their neutrality and publicly take a stance on the matter," Sona walked up and stood right in front of Saji before spreading her arms open, "The entire issue became pointless as one day out of the blue, my sister pranced into the middle of a press conference that Sirzechs was holding and informed him that she got a new Peerage member and pranced right out without saying another word."

"Ehh~~~~~!" Saji shouted in shock and truthfully she couldn't blame him for his reaction, as that was the same response that every Devil in that room gave at the news, Sirzechs included. Which was unfortunate for him as many of the reporters had cameras.

His surprised face, jaw opened so wide that it reached the middle of his chest and his eyeballs bulging out, made the front page over Serafall's new Peerage member in quite a few of the newspapers. The newspaper companies have reported record-breaking sales that day, though whether it was due to Serafall's announcement or Sirzechs picture was debatable.

A smile that was a cross between fondness and exasperation graced Sona's lips as she muttered, "That's just like her."

Shaking her head at the memory, she continued, "Anyway, that occurred a little over six months ago. Not surprisingly, after all the problems that were caused by her refusing to get a peerage for two centuries, only for her to turn around and suddenly get not only a new member but a Queen at that, had the whole supernatural world buzzing."

"Yeah, I remember that," Tsubasa interjected, finally breaking the silence from the rest of the Peerage, "The Underworld's social network was filled for weeks about people messaging and tweeting each other over Serafall's new Queen. Yet at the time all anyone knew about him was his name."

"Emiya Shirou," Sona confirmed, "His name and a picture was the only thing Serafall released to the public. That was however enough to trigger a global-wide search effort for any information they could find about him.

"In the end, he turned out to be someone no one ever heard of before, and I mean no one. Every news network, spy ring and government agency within and between both Heaven and Hell tried to find everything they could on him.

"All for nothing, the collective effort of the entire Supernatural community failed to uncover even a single scrap of information on the Leviathan's new Queen." The edge of Sona's lips lifted slightly, giving her an almost proud look. Her sister's ability to drive the entire world crazy with frustration was something that she couldn't but find amusing, especially after experiencing it herself for most of her childhood.

It was nice having the rest of the world finally understand how she felt.

"The only thing they were able to confirm was that he formerly was a human, but that was only because he showed no physical or magical traits of any other race, rather than any success in their search effort."

Walking up to the seat she recently vacated, she sat down and took a sip of her now cool tea before speaking again. "But that brought up another issue. A minor one, sure, especially compared to the ones his appearance solved, but something that needed to be dealt with."

Holding out her now empty cup towards her Queen, who quickly poured her a new one, which she proceeded to drink instead of speaking.

Seeing that his King had no intention of continuing, Saji quickly reached the end of his patience, "And? What's the new problem?"

Lowering her cup and shooting her pawn a mildly disappointed look at his inability to wait and mentally promising herself to correct that weakness, answered. "His rank."

"That's it?" Saji complained, clearly not understanding the problem.

"Think about it, Gen-chan," Momo interjected. "What does a Devil's Peerage represent?"

"Themselves," after taking a moment of thinking on it, he replied. "A Devil's peerage is a representative of the Devil in question."

"Correct," Sona nodded approvingly, "Now taking that into consideration, tell me what should his rank be? Not only was he the Queen of a Maou, but he was also the only member of her Peerage, and since it took my sister so long to find just one member, it appeared that he would remain the only member for the foreseeable future. Thus the burden of representing her falls completely on his shoulders."

Taking one final sip of her tea before setting it down, she resumed. "Before Shirou's arrival, every appointed Queen of the Maous were either already high ranking Devils before they became Queens or renowned warriors of Ultimate-class fighting abilities. Shirou, on the other hand, was a complete unknown. He could have been a weakling for all anyone knew. Absurd had it been anyone else but considering that it was my sister who chose him as her Queen, there was a frightfully realistic possibility of it being true."

Sona repeated her original question. "So, what should his rank be? Too low a rank and it will be an insult to a Maou, a public slap to the face, something that no one involved wanted. Yet they could not give an unknown a high rank. Not only would it stink of favouritism, but they couldn't grant a high rank to what was potentially a weak Devil.

"Before it became too big a problem however, my sister gave an outrageous suggestion. Even by her standards, it was considered insane." Her completely grim expression was all that Saji needed to know that even after the fact, Sona still didn't approve of her suggestion.

"What did she say?"

"She wanted to arrange a fight between Sirzechs and Shirou," Sona stated calmly before closing her eyes and leaning away in anticipation of the yell of surprise that would no doubt be coming from the easily excitable teen.

After several seconds had passed and the anticipated yelling had yet to come, Sona slowly cracked open her eyes to see what the matter was, before blinking in surprise. She blinked again, and again, and one more time to be sure. Yet there was no denying what she was seeing.

There, sitting stock-still before her was a completely frozen Saji. Jaw hanging open and eyes wide in shock, his skin having paled by several shades, he remained seated completely motionless before her.

"Ah...Saji?" her voice held a rare tone of uncertainty as she questioned her unmoving pawn. "Are you alright?" When he didn't show even the slightest sign of responding to her comment, she began to worry.

"Gen-chan?" Momo spoke up as well, and when he still didn't respond, the rest of the peerage began to worry.

Ruruko, a twin-ponytailed girl, walked up to her fellow pawn and waved a hand in front of his face. "Hello~~~ is anybody home in there, Saji?"

When he still didn't react, she reached out a hand and gave him a gentle poke on his shoulder.

The moment she made contact, Saji reacted.

"Ehh~~~~~~~~!" Saji ended up screaming so loud that the windows shook in their frames. Every Council member in the room reflexively clamped their ears, while poor Ruruko had almost fallen over as she jumped back in fright.

"SHE DID WHAT? IS SHE INSANE?" He shouted out, skin still pale with shock. "She wanted him to fight Sirzechs, the Super Devil Sirzechs? As in the literal Devil himself? The strongest Devil in recorded history, that Sirzechs?"

"No, we're talking about the other Sirzechs, the one that works as a part-time accountant in the local mall." Tsubasa snarked, before reaching across the table and gently cuffing Saji on the back of the head. "Yes, that Sirzechs, and keep it down, you almost busted my eardrums."

"Normally I'd take offence for calling my sister insane, but in this particular case, I'm inclined to agree. What she wanted was completely insane." Pinching the bridge of her nose to stave off the headache that the mere memory of the event brought on. "Somehow she was able to convince everyone else to go along with her madness, and before I knew what was happening, Shirou and Sirzechs were already fighting."

"Well, what the hell happened?" He asked before noticing the serious expression his master was sporting and began feeling a little nervous. "He didn't win...did he?"

"No, of course not. He most certainly did lose." Sona assured him with a slow shake of her head, "Then again, no one expected him to win nor was it the purpose of the fight. What everyone wanted to know was how strong he was and well... He proved himself to be most worthy of being my sister's Queen."

Her eyes lost focus as she got lost in her memory "Sirzechs wanted to test Shirou, so he didn't initiate the fight and merely sat back and waited for him to strike the first blow. Instead of simply charging in, Shirou began to chant."

"Chanting?" Reya, a Bishop and thus one of the magic experts of the group, asked. "Like for a spell? But he's a Devil now; doesn't he realize that unlike human mages we don't need chants or circles to cast spells?"

"That's what we all thought too." Sona agreed. "Some of the Elder Devils watching actually started laughing and claiming how it was too soon for the kid to fight if he doesn't even know how to cast a spell properly."

Frowning at the thought of the Elder Devils, she continued, "As much as I hate to ever side with those old fools, at the time I was forced to agree. If Shirou didn't even understand the basics of how his Devil powers worked, it was going to end becoming even a bigger massacre than anyone ever expected.

"I was already apprehensive enough about the fight already, finding out that he was unable to use Devil magic however pushed me over the edge. I quickly turned around to find my sister and convince her to end this fight before she got her Queen killed, but the moment I caught a glimpse of her face, I froze in place. She was wearing a look that I recognized all too well, a cocky 'I know something you don't know' expression of hers that she always wore just before she was about to prank someone..." she paused before admitting, "Which more than often than not was me.

"Not sure whether to feel reassured or even more terrified by the revelation, I decided to simply stand out of her line of fire for the moment and watch how things played out. By the time I turned back towards the match, Shirou had just completed his chant and...well, to say what followed was unexpected would be putting it mildly.

"A ring of fire emerged from beneath his feet, quickly spreading across the field to encircle Sirzechs within its embrace and, with a flash of blinding light, a giant dome of flames had replaced the ring.

"It was a brand of magic that no one had ever seen the like of before. Despite its appearance, what we first believed to be flames were actually not, as it emitted no heat and a Phenex member in the audience could sense no fire in its construction.

"Not only were we faced with a form of magic that we could neither understand nor identify, but we also lost track of the two combatants as none of the cameras or sensors we had scattered across the battlefield could see through the dome. The few that were caught within its range did not transmit any images, which was supposed to be impossible. The only thing we could confirm was that both Shirou and Sirzechs were inside of the dome. And within nothing else we could do, we resigned ourselves to waiting it out.

"Fortunately our wait was not a long one. Hardly a minute had gone by since the formation of the dome that it began to collapse, every bit as abruptly as it had appeared. We could finally see what was within the dome, but what greeted our eyes however was a bloody and wounded Sirzechs Lucifer...

...who had been brought down to his knees."

For a single moment, the entire Counsel room became so silent that you could have heard a pin drop before the silence was abruptly broken by the combined yells of shock from each and every member of her Peerage.


Rubbing her head at her Peerage's overreaction, Sona muttered under her breath, "By the Satans, they're multiplying."

"He did what?" Squeaked out a frightened Ruruko.

"B-b-but didn't you just say he lost?" A confused Saji question.

"I haven't heard anything about that! I thought all that happened was him giving Sirzechs a good fight." Tsubasa exclaimed, eyes wide in surprise.

Raising a single hand up, Sona signalled her Peerage to be silent, which they immediately complied. After waiting for a few seconds to make sure that they would remain silent, Sona continued.

"I believe you are all misunderstanding something. First of all, Saji." She locked her sights onto her Pawn, "Shirou did lose. He was spotted a few seconds later, unconscious and lying face down on the ground only a few yards away from Sirzechs, having succumbed to his wounds."

Turning her eyes away from her Pawn's onto her Knights, "As for why you haven't heard of this, Tsubasa, I thought it would have been obvious. Sirzechs is widely considered to be the strongest Devil in existence, his strength is so acclaimed that most people actually consider him invincible, untouchable even.

"While that is for the most part untrue, it is a useful image to have. As the public face of both the Maous and the New Devil faction as a whole, he needed to be viewed as a perfect and unmatched being. Despite the possibility that Ajuka Beelzebub may actually be every bit as strong as him, the entire Maous and Elder Devils agreed to make Sirzechs as the new poster boy for the New Devil faction when the war ended, so they did their best to bolster his admittedly already high reputation.

"That's why they could not allow the details of the match to spread. Even if he did win the fight, that he was injured at all, by a newly minted Devil at that, could not be allowed to be known to the public. All the High-Ranking Devils that were there were unanimous in that. Even my sister agreed.

"Besides, Shirou had a distinct advantage in that fight. Sirzechs's primary weapon was his Power of Destruction, something that is simply too dangerous to be used outside of a life or death situation. While he could still use it defensively, it is highly unlikely that he was able to utilize its full offensive capabilities against Shirou without taking the risk of killing him.

"On the other hand, there is no way of telling if Shirou would have also performed better in a life or death battle. Each and every one of Shirou's swords struck Sirzechs in non-fatal areas, or not immediately fatal at least. Whether Shirou would have done better or worse in a real fight," she shrugged, "Who knows?"

"Swords, Kaichou?" Her so far silent Queen asked.

"Ah, that's right. I didn't get a chance to explain that, did I?" She recalled, "When we first caught sight of him, Sirzechs body was completely littered with swords. There was easily over half a dozen blades piercing his entire body. Chest, back, legs, shoulders - everything. And there were even more planted on the ground around him. Because of that, many theorized that Shirou's magic was based on swords somehow."

"You mean just like the one he showed us." Tomoe realized.

"Exactly that."

"If he made dozens of swords like that one, I can completely understand why he did so well." Momo barely withheld a shiver at the thought of that weapon. She may not have been the most knowledgeable about swords, but she was the best in the Peerage at sensing magic. Even when she sat on the other side of the room, she was overwhelmed by the pure power that poured out of that sword, it was so dense she could almost taste it. "That sword was dangerous, Kaichou, easily a Maou level weapon."

"I, as well as many other of the Devils there, agree with you. Some even speculated that some of the swords that were spotted may have been of God-slaying level, but the swords all dissipated into bits of light before anyone got the chance to examine them."

"Either way, while Shirou may not have been able to beat Sirzechs, he was able to wound him. His blades were able to reach him, to pierce the armour of the strongest Devil. At that point, Shirou's strength could no longer be denied."

"That was enough to silence any dissenters. The Leviathan's Queen had proven his worth and was acknowledged by both the Elder Devils and the Maous as an Ultimate-level class Devil and was awarded the rank of Prince, making him an equal in status to Heirs of the 72 Pillars.

"The final result ended up completely satisfying the Reincarnated Devils faction, as this had not only dissuaded them of any doubts of my sister's stance on Reincarnated Devils, but it was also the fastest rise in rank to have ever been recorded for a Devil, Reincarnated or otherwise. To make things even better, Shirou is the first and only completely reincarnated human Queen to have been made part of a Maou's Peerage. This has caused my sister's reputation to flip among the Reincarnated Devils, actually making her the most popular among the Maous instead of the least." Sona shook her head in disbelief at that, "I swear, if I didn't know any better I would think she had planned the entire thing straight from the start."

"What about the Pure-Blooded Devils? I doubt they would have been pleased by the result." Tsubaki, the most politically conscious member of her Peerage, asked.

"That's the best part, every Pure-Blooded Devil that strongly opposed the rising pressure to grant more rights to the Reincarnated Devils were there to witness the fight and were completely cowed by his strength. For Devils, power is everything, and Shirou's strength was indisputable, so they quieted down. For now. I have my doubt they will remain that way for long."

"The problem hasn't been fixed by any means, but this event was able to buy the Maous much-needed breathing space and have given them enough time to strengthen their position before tackling the issue.

"By the end of the day, my sister had gotten her Queen, dealt with the population's discontent with her and also decided to grant her Queen a title to honour the occasion."

Tsubasa broke out laughing at that, "Yeah, I remember that title. It was awesome." At the words, several of the Devils in the room began to chuckle along with her.

"What title did she give him?" Saji asked Sona, confused at the reaction of the rest of the Peerage.

A small, mean spirited smile appeared on her face, making her look so much like her sister it frightened everyone watching.

"They named him..."

The Queen of swords.

There was not a single shred of doubt in my mind; somewhere out there, Archer was laughing at me.

I pushed myself off the wall that I had been leaning on, located at the opposite end of the corridor that held the Student Council. I stopped reinforcing my ears, no longer interested in eavesdropping on the rest of their conversation, and made my way to a quiet place to have my lunch.

Which reminds me, I had to make sure Sona starts setting up measures to protect her room from magical surveillance. Just because this was a human school is no excuse for her to get sloppy. That I was able to listen in on her for the past five minutes without her noticing was all the proof that I needed to convince her.

And still, I couldn't get rid of the sensation that Archer was laughing.

Ok, sure, he may have been betrayed by the ideals he had dedicated his whole life to, murdered by the very people he was trying to save and has to spend the rest of his existence in a perpetual hell as one of Alaya's Counter Guardian, forced to murder millions of innocent people for the thing sin of happening to be in the way, but even he has never experienced anything as embarrassing as this.

I mean, really, 'Queen of Swords', how tacky was that?

It was a good thing that there was no one in the corridor or they would have witnessed me fall to my hands and knees in despair. Knowing my luck, I would have ended up with an even more embarrassing nickname by the end of the day if anyone did end up seeing me.

I could tolerate the swords part, but Queen? Oh, come on, I was a guy! That Serafall has kept on trying to get me to adopt one of the songs made by the 'Queens" as my personal theme song didn't make me feel any better about the matter.

Oh, my Pride, my aching Pride. It actually physically hurt. It was moments like this that I sincerely hated being a Devil. When I was still a human I simply wouldn't have cared. It never mattered to me what other people thought of me and I would have barely given any thought to an embarrassing name I might have been called by. Hell, I was dubbed the 'Janitor' by most of my classmates all through junior high and all the way up to high school and it didn't even phase me.

Ever since I became a Devil, however, Pride has ended up becoming my personal 'Sin'. Fortunately, it was mostly limited to my swords and cooking, but every now and then it crops up.

Like whenever I hear myself being referred to as a Queen.

Letting out a sigh of surrender, I decided to let it go. I had better things to do than waste my time over something I couldn't do anything about, like making sure Sona or the Gremory girl didn't get themselves killed.

I could feel the good mood that I had been enjoying since returning back to school plummet at the thought. War was coming, whether with the other three fractions or some of the other groups that despised Devils. One way or the other, war was coming to the Underworld.

That's why I had to go to such lengths to make sure Sona allowed me to train her. Sona, in the end, was half-right. Her sister did send me to train her, but not for the game. I'm not sure Serafall's heart can take it if anything happened to her little sister, so I was here to make sure I'd never have to find out.

Besides, I liked Sona, I would have been happy to watch over the kid even if Serafall didn't ask me to.

Oh, just listen to me, I'm starting to sound like an old man. I was barely a year older than most of my classmates and I'm already thinking of them as innocent children.

Still, I can worry about it later. Right now I better hurry if I wanted a chance to eat my lunch. With that last thought, I quickened my pace in my quest to find a suitable place to spend the rest of my lunch.

.-but still, I was the Queen of swords.

Shut up, Archer.

Tsubaki was finishing up some last-minute paperwork, when she realized that her King wasn't in her usual spot, double-checking their work. Instead, she stood in front of her chess set, glaring down at it.

"Kaichou," approaching her, the Queen hesitantly asked, "Is something the matter?"

"...I just realized something," after an abnormally long wait, Sona answered, "I never got the chance to play a game with him. That jerk tricked me!"

Author's Note:

I'm much happier with how this chapter turned out. True, there was a little bit too much politics, that went longer than I expected to, but I'm overall pleased with it.

Cliché number 2: Why a Pawn? Seriously, why are there so many characters turned into god damn Pawns? I have seen Naruto, a person who can tear down mountains, get revived with a single pawn. I have seen OC who are Angel/human hybrids with a talent in magic that could rival Merlin get turned into pawns. Hell, I have seen characters with the power to kill gods turned into Pawns. One pawn, not eight, but one. Why? Could someone please explain to me why? It just doesn't make sense to me.

Although I believe that a Queen is a perfect fit for Shirou (He's a physical fighter that uses magic to arm himself and strengthens his body), the reason why I choose to make him Queen is for plot-related reasons that will be revealed later on.