Fairy X Devil
Chapter 16: Training Days (Part 1)
Disclaimer: I Don't own Fairy Tail, Highschool DxD or any of the things affiliated with it. They both belong to their respective owners.
"I can't believe that we have to do this." Natsu groaned with his peerage and Ravel in tow. There were a lot of things Natsu liked about being a devil, the fights, food and the fact that he didn't have to take responsibility for the damages he caused. However, days like these reminded him of how sometimes being Devil was the worst thing ever. "Do I really have to do this?"
"Yes Natsu-sama, you did agree to come to Rias-sama's aid whenever she needed it." Grayfia reminded her master as she walked beside him. Natsu let out an annoyed groan before questioning why he had to host this meeting. He was no stranger to hosting events for Devils, he usually didn't hate his guest with a burning passion. "That's because you offered." She reminded, maintaining her ice-cold persona. The strongest Queen could understand why her master was acting this was, but she knew things would get out of hand quickly if she coddled him.
"Master sounds stressed out... I know how to help him." Sayla suggested. The Dragon Slayer looked more than ready to jump at the chance, but the horned woman backed down when she saw caught in Grayfia's icy gaze. Not many things could stop Sayla from serving her master, but Grayfia was on that extremely short list of things. "Sorry Master." She apologized, quickly looking away.
"Don't worry Natsu-kun, I've been working on a technique to maximize stress relief, nya." Kuroka informed. Unfortunately for Natsu, his Queen refused to let up and turned her terrifying gaze over to the dark-haired neko. Kuroka was not quite as fearless as the horned demon so it was no surprise that she backed out almost instantly. The older sister of Koneko instantly transformed and retreated to her master's shoulder. "I'm sorry Natsu-kun, Grayfia is too scary, nya." She apologized, rubbing up against the man.
While Natsu consoled his dark-haired servants, Ryoko started to question Ravel. "Why is Senpai in such a bad mood? He's usually quite happy when Rias comes by." Ryoko asked the blonde, who had looked worried the entire morning.
"Rias' fiance, my brother, has come to visit." Ravel answered, sounding a lot less confident than usual. Ryoko seemed to perk up at this and remembered some of the chatter she had heard around the house. She'd heard about some sort of engagement a few times, but Rias was a new factor in all of this. She could only imagine how her master felt considering how close he was to the redhead. "Natsu and my brother have never really gotten along and this doesn't help." She said, sounding a little torn.
Natsu caught onto this and decided to do his best to comfort the blonde. "Don't worry Ravel, Grayfia said that we should be able to talk this out." Natsu clarified as they neared the large set of doors. Ravel still seemed uneasy, but his words managed to calm her down a little. "Alright, let's do this." He sighed before opening the large set of doors. Upon doing so Natsu and his group were met with a very tense room. On one side, there was Rias who looked unsurprisingly pissed off about the situation. The woman's peerage managed to hold back a little in terms of their disdain for the people sitting across from them. Well, most of them did apart from Asia, who didn't really know what was going and just looked a little confused.
On the other was Riser Phenex, the youngest son of the Phenex clan and Ravel's older brother. Riser was a tall man in his early 20's with short blonde hair and dark blue eyes. He wore a burgundy blazer, matching pants, and black dress shoes. Underneath the blazer, he wore a white dress shirt that was one button missing. He was accompanied by his peerage, which only consisted of women. It would have been a full peerage, but he was missing one person. The young man had an air of arrogance and his holier-than-thou attitude shone through by how he carried himself. "Finally, I've been waiting long enough." Riser said rudely.
The pinkette looked ready to snarl at the man, but Grayfia stopped him with a look. Natsu and his own group took a seat on the couch between the two groups of Devils. The silver-haired maid looked at her master once again, signaling for him to start. Her look also told him to keep calm about the situation. "I won't be keeping you here for long Riser." Natsu replied, struggling to contain a growl.
"I see that you've finally taught your pet some manners, I'd hate to have him ruin our wedding." Riser laughed, looking over at the redhead. Rias was ready to react to the comment, but the blonde Devil continued to speak. "If he manages to behave, I might let him come to our wedding party." He continued, with his smile growing cockier. The redhead was once again going to speak up, but someone else beat her to it.
"You will not speak to my Master like that." Sayla growled with a killer intent like no other. However, the sight of the enraged demon only served to entertain the blonde man. This only pissed the demoness off more, which would prove to be a near-fatal error. 'Suffocate.' She ordered, activating her curse. The young Devil was going to laugh off the order, but his sudden inability to breath made that impossible. Sayla watched the man struggle and gasp for air with devilish delight. She would have enjoyed the sight of the blonde's struggle for a little longer, but Grayfia shot a stern glance. "I won't stop if he speaks to Master like that again." She muttered. The demoness took great joy in watching the blonde struggle to catch his breath, but her rage didn't subside.
"Keep you damn servant under control or I'll do it for you." Riser threatened as he stared down the Dragon Slayer. Natsu just rolled his eyes and started calming down the demoness. Even he was getting a little worried about what the raven-haired woman would do if he left her unchecked.
"Maybe if you showed some respect to our host, that wouldn't have happened." Rias pointed out, which only enraged the blonde and his peerage. The already thick tension in the room got even thicker as both sides got on guard. If he was so focused on calming down the demon, he would have noticed that his house was seconds away from being torn to the ground. Luckily for him, his maid was ready to act. "And I will never marry you."
"That's not your choice, our families have already agreed to it." Riser claimed, which further angered the woman. This brought an arrogant smile to man's face.
"I've spoken to both heads of the families, and that is longer be the case... Rias-sama has been allowed to fight for her freedom." Grayfia pointed out which brought a delighted smile to Rias' face. Riser seemed to be surprised by the sudden announcement. "However, should you win, they have to grant you one request as well the hand of Rias." She added, looking visibly annoyed about the last bit.
"I know exactly what I want." Riser said, looking over at Sayla. At this point, the demoness was calmed, but she continued to act hostile to maintain her master's attention. With this being the case, the man's comment didn't go unnoticed, which only made the demon hold onto her master tighter. "Yes, when I win, I'll take Rias and that horned otherworldly beauty as my new bishop." He proclaimed, sounding rather excited by the prospect. "So how will we determine a victor."
"Easy, you and Rias are gonna have a rating game. If she wins, the engagement is off, and you know what happens if you win." Natsu explained, finally turning his attention away from the demon at his side and the black cat on his shoulder. "It will be happening in two weeks, is everyone happy with that?" He questioned, looking at both groups. Riser remained smug and Rias nodded.
"I can't wait to dethrone the supposed King of Dragons." Riser said as he stood. His peerage followed suit and they started making their way towards the transportation circle Grayfia had made for them. However, before they could reach it, someone from Natsu's group stood up.
"Brother, you don't have to do this." Ravel told her brother, but he didn't seem to pay her any mind and continued to make his way out. The young blonde looked visibly upset as her brother disappeared along with this group of female Devils. Natsu noticed this and went to comfort the young lady. "He hasn't always been like this." She muttered when she felt the pinkette's hand resting on her head.
"I know, maybe I just have to beat some sense into him." Natsu suggested, brightening the girl's mood a little. Unsurprisingly, the young blonde got a jealous look from pretty much every woman in the room. She didn't really mind and started making her way out of the room. As his blue-eyed fiance left the room, Natsu turned his attention to Grayfia. "Thanks for sorting everything out for me." He thanked, making his maid smile.
"Of course Master, it is what you requested." Grayfia replied as she started preparing a very large transportation circle. As Riser and his group disappeared, all tension did the same and the remaining Devils started to relax and mingle. Koneko beelined for her older sister and they started catching up. Sayla and Akeno had a lively conversation about a certain Dragon Slayer. Gryfia, being the perpetually busy devil she was, found something to do around the house with Ravel offering to help out.
In the meanwhile, the pinkette's pawn made her way to Asia. The former nun looked just as confused and lost as she had during the entire exchange, and they'd grown to be good friends in the short time they'd known each other.
"Hello, Ryoko-san." Asia commented with her usual bright smile. Since Asia was had taken the position of the newest devil and the fact they were classmates, Ryoko found that she was the easiest to speak to. "Devils sure are confusing." She said with an awkward giggle. The young bishop had looked like a lost lamb throughout the entire exchange, which was a feeling the short-haired swordswoman could truly relate with.
"Yeah, I'm still not used to being a Devil... Must be even harder for you." Ryoko replied rather sheepishly. The two started conversing about school, which slowly transitioned into one about how they were acclimating into Devil culture. Maybe it was the fact she was the most normal or just the blonde's overwhelmingly friendly aura, but the woman was one of the only ones she could have a normal conversation. The two were eventually joined by Kiba for what was certainly the most normal conversation. While the two newcomers and Kiba chatted away, Natsu and Rias were having their own, much more intimate conversation over in the next room.
The two childhood friends were currently locked in a tight embrace. The second they'd entered the room, Rias had jumped the pinkette haired Devil. This clearly wasn't an issue for the Dragon Slayer as their embrace was a mix of passion and lust. Both were loving it, but both wanted to do so much more. "Just a little longer Rias, and then I can make good on my word." Natsu told the crimson haired beauty, holding her close.
Rias knew it was bad to have favorites as a master, but she couldn't deny that title to Natsu. The Dragon Slayer had been there for her as long as she could remember, and she couldn't imagine life without the energetic man. She loved him for both the good and bad aspects of him. So it was no shocker that part of her resented her parents for setting up the engagement despite her obviously growing feeling to the pink haired man. "You better Natsu, I would never forgive you if you didn't." Rias told the man, holding him even tighter.
"Well, it looks like I've got another reason to kick Raiser's ass." Natsu replied. The pinkette then separated from the hug before he adopted a determined look on his face. "So, when are we gonna start training?" He questioned with an excited grin. The woman let out a small sigh when she heard this and just shook her head.
"I thought it would be a good idea to let everyone have a few days of relaxation before I let you train them." Rias answered, with genuine worry in her voice. She could still remember watching one of Natsu's training sessions and felt nothing but pity for Sayla and Kuroka. It was clear that Natsu had taken his training tips from a certain maid and upped the intensity. "Please don't make me regret letting you take control of this." She requested, sounding the extra concerned about her band of devils.
"Don't worry, I'll get everyone into fighting condition." Natsu replied with a smile. With talk like this, it never surprised her that he got along famously with certain members of her family. The red-haired Devil just hoped that a certain cousin of hers wouldn't show up and add fuel to the already raging fire. However, she'd be lying if she said she didn't want to invite them just to see the pink haired man so excited. "We should probably head back with the others." He said as he got ready to leave.
Unfortunately, the heiress stopped him by grabbing by the scarf. Natsu stopped and turned to face the red-haired woman. The woman gave her pawn a wanting look that he simply couldn't deny. "Not quite yet Natsu, it's never the two of us anymore... Can't we just enjoy that?" Rias requested. The woman had long since come to terms that Natsu would never be hers alone, but her selfish side simply didn't care. She cherished every moment alone she had with the Dragon Slayer. She loved her friends dearly, but she sometimes yearned for the days when it was just her and Natsu running around the Gremory household.
"I don't see why not." Natsu replied, bringing his master into another tight embrace. The pink haired man took this as a chance to admire the woman in his arms. Her status as the most beautiful woman in the school was well deserved and he really couldn't keep his eyes off of her. "Beautiful." He muttered, taking in her unique scent of cinnamon.
Rias closed her eyes and simply allowed herself to enjoy the warmth radiating from the Dragon Slayer. Unfortunately, she only got to enjoy this for a few moments as two of the devils in the other room got impatient. "My my, Looks like Rias is hogging Natsu all to herself again, how unbecoming of a master." Akeno teased, poking her head into the room.
"It's also Master's fault for enabling this kind of behaviour... He should be spoiling his servants." Sayla added, her tone sounding more jealous than playful. Rias let out a small squeak as she was called out by the two dark-haired devils. The red-haired woman started to turn the same crimson colour as her hair as she was found out. The horned demon continued to pout about not being in Rias' place while Akeno giggled at her longtime friend's flustered expression.
"Akeno!" Rias squealed, finding herself unable to regain her composure. The Devils continued to watch as Rias failed to collect herself at all. It got to the point that even Sayla got over herself and started laughing. Though the dark haired Queen could relate to being unable to contain herself around the Dragon Slayer, it didn't make it any less funny to her. She also thought it was the best way to let her best friend unwind, especially after today's events.
"You can't expect me not to make fun of you for being greedy, you're not the only one who wants our dear Natsu-kun." Akeno reminded as she grabbed a hold of the fiery Devil. She then shot Rias a look that was half teasing and half serious as she pushed her heavy bust onto the man. 'Sharing is all well a good, but I can't just sit back and watch.' She reminded herself with a smirk.
Rias finally regained her composure and also grabbed onto her pawn. "I guess I should keep that in mind, but I have no intention of spending less time with my precious pawn." Rias retorted with a smirk.
While the two continued their friendly lifelong rivalry, Sayla used every bit of self-restraint she had not to push the women away and assume their position. Normally, this would have been an impossible task for the demon, but recent developments were making restraining herself possible. 'Since Grayfia is bearing his child, the cat bitch is an incompetent lover and the humans he is contracted with can't keep up, so it falls on me to handle Master's lust... However, that familiar maybe a bit of a bother.' Sayla reminded herself as smirk started to creep to her face.
Natsu found herself getting a little worried. He'd learnt that a smirking Devil meant that he was fucked, but he never knew if that was good or bad for him. The pinkette decided to do what he always did and just let things play out. "Come this way Master." Sayla quietly requested.
A rather normal week had passed for Natsu and the group of Devil. Sure, there was the occasional stray Devil and oddball that summoned a few of them, but compared to the whole fallen Angel situation, this week had been a normal one. The only thing that was really different was the fact there were a lot more Devils around the Dragneel household. Natsu didn't mind this at all since it just meant that everything was a lot more fun for him and it was great seeing everyone getting along so well. He almost felt bad about having to end these relatively peaceful days.
'We can't lose to Riser, and I'm sure they'll have fun training, I sure do.' Natsu told himself. The Dragon Slayer sat up from the bed he shared with his demonic Rook, Neko Bishop, and icy Queen. He looked down at the trio of sleeping Devils, smiling at the blissful women. 'I guess I should let them sleep a little longer, but it doesn't mean I can't get some early morning training myself.' He thought.
Natsu sorted through the mess of clothing, eventually finding something to dress his nude lower half. After stretching his slightly sore body, he started making his way to his yard. About halfway, the pink haired man picked up on the sound of swords clashing. When the fire mage reached his yard, he was pleased to see Kiba and Ryoko engaged in a friendly, but intense sparring match.
The pink haired man found himself intrigued by their stark contrasts in styles. Kiba's style was a lot more traditional, showing off his many years of formal training and superior speed. Ryoko, on the other hand, looked a lot wilder and seemingly amateurish. However, neither Kiba or Natsu were naive enough to see it like that. Kiba's time with a sword and Natsu's combat experience allowed both of them to see that the pawn fought based on instinct much like her pink haired master. "I've been meaning to ask, where did you learn to use a sword?" Kiba questioned, as he parried the woman's attack.
"Self-taught." Ryoko replied firmly, dodging Kiba's blade and attempting to strike back. This came as no surprise to Kiba considering just how unconventional the woman's fighting style was. Her swordplay was certainly not as rough as Natsu's, but it was just as unpredictable. However, unlike Natsu, who's unpredictability came from a lack of skill, the woman did it purposely.
"That's impressive, but that makes me wonder what you were doing that meant you had to learn to fight like this." Kiba pondered, once again parrying the woman's strike. This comment seemingly hit a nerve and spurred on a string of attacks that caught the blonde completely off guard. He suddenly found himself completely on the defensive. Normally, the Knight would have been able to handle an onslaught like this, but the Pawn strikes were much quicker and stronger than before. 'Have her eyes always glowed like that and has her hair always been that colour?' He wondered, noticing the blonde in the woman's white hair.
Kiba's concentration was completely thrown off by this sudden development and the bloodthirsty look in the Pawn's eyes was making regaining any ground impossible. Normally Kiba would have been able to combat such a savage and reckless style, but the look in Ryoko's eyes was making it nearly impossible. It was becoming apparent that he'd either have to start taking the woman seriously or find himself in a more difficult situation.
However, before the blonde-haired devil could make a decision, the pink haired man managed to catch onto this and intervened the only way he could. 'Fire Dragon's Roar!' Natsu roared. Both Kiba and Ryoko barely managed to dodge the attack, both having to leap and landing prone.
Natsu looked at the down at the two, mainly at the blonde. "Kiba, are you ok?" Natsu asked the downed swordsman. He simply started getting up and gave the pink haired man a quick nod. The Dragon Slayer than turned his attention to his Pawn and gave her a confused look on his face. "Is everything alright Ryoko, what was all that about?" He asked.
"I'm fine Senpai, I just got a little carried away... I'm sorry Kiba-san." Ryoko apologized as she got up. The pawn had a look of guilt on her face as she tried to collect her.
"It's alright, you just caught me a little off guard, I think I'm going to head inside." Kiba replied as he started making his way inside. Natsu watched his longtime friend head in before turning his attention back to his pawn.
"I think I'm going to head inside as well." Ryoko said, only for her master to stop her. She raised an eyebrow to this and simply gave him an inquisitive look.
"You're not done training yet, it's never a good idea to stop when you're still worked up." Natsu told as he started moving into the middle of the yard. Never one to disagree with her upperclassman, Ryoko followed the pinkette back into the center of the yard. "Plus, I want to see if your training has paid off." He added as he ignited his fists with flames.
"I wouldn't want to disappoint you Senpai, I'll give you my best." Ryoko replied. There was a certain fire in the young woman's eyes as she readied her blade. She was honestly a little glad to be facing the pinkette. The shorted haired teen knew that she didn't need to worry about hurting the man and grinned at the chance to vent her pent-up energy from before.
She rushed at the pink haired devil, not holding back whatsoever. Not only did she want to show her improvement to her master, but the teen also wanted to impress him with her skill. Ryoko moved with a speed that would leave most people in awe and the strength behind her first attack held the power to easily cleave a person in half. Despite this Dragon Slayer managed to dodge the attack with ease, leaving the woman's side wide open for a swift fire infused punch.
Natsu took the opportunity, landing a strong blow that knocked the younger Devil back a few feet. Though the hit was a strong one, the woman looked more than ready to keep going. "That's the spirit, let's see if you can keep it up." Natsu challenged with a wild smile. The woman returned this with a smile of her own.
"Senpai, is this really necessary?" Ryoko questioned, sporting the heaviest blush of her life. She was currently sitting naked in the household's large bathroom having to wash the back of her upperclassman. She was certainly embarrassed by the situation, but there was so much more than that. She'd somewhat gotten used to the rather shameless antics of the other Devils, but she didn't think she was quite ready for something on this level. The man had just told her that they were bathing together and she had just agreed without thinking about. She didn't mind, but she was also confused about why he hadn't asked one of the many eager girls in the house.
"Of course it is Ryoko, Grayfia and I always bathed after training... It made getting thrashed all the time a little more bearable." Natsu replied with a nostalgic look. The young Devil was now blushing even harder as she remembered just how close Natsu was with his faithful maid. She always wondered how a cold and strict woman like Grayfia ended up with a fiery and immature man like Natsu. The two were pretty much the opposites of each other, but then again opposites do attract and it wasn't like the maid hid her affections for the man when they thought they were alone. "Ryoko, you've been cleaning the same place for a while now." Natsu pointed out, pulling the woman's head out of the gutter.
"Sorry senpai, I got a little lost in thought." Ryoko confessed stuttering and stammering over her words. Things only got worse when the pink haired man turned around and questioned her. She quickly covered herself up, getting a confused look from the older Devil, who was stilling waiting for an answer. "I was just thinking about training." She lied, simply too embarrassed to tell the truth. Luckily, Natsu was willing to believe the blushing beauty.
"Don't worry Ryoko, you did pretty well so there's no need to dwell on it... Why are you covering up?" Natsu replied, making the woman even more embarrassed. It only got worse as the pink haired man continued to stare at what he could see of his underclassman. Though she was very well endowed, she had a fair bit a muscle on her. "You've been training for a while." He muttered as he continued to examine his pawn. The Dragon Slayer's keen eyes started picking up on the small scars that littered her body. He felt like a poor master for not noticing this before and it got him thinking. "So how come you were living alone?" The pinkette questioned.
"Family issues and I'd rather not talk about it Senpai." Ryoko requested. She didn't expect much since the young man clearly didn't have much in the terms of boundaries. However, Natsu just gave her a nod before telling her to turn around. "Ok, Senpai." She said, doing as the fire mage ordered.
"If you don't wanna tell me it's fine, we haven't known each other for long so I don't expect you to spill your guts out to me." Natsu replied as he started cleaning the woman's back. The man's show of restraint and his sudden action confused her slightly, but she decided to just go with it.
"Thank you, Senpai." Ryoko muttered, her blush growing deeper. The man behind her continued to confuse the hell out of her, but she didn't mind this too much. Though it involved her being completely naked, getting to enjoy a peaceful moment with her Dragon Slaying master was a welcome change for her and for once she actually got to enjoy it without interruption.
Though the Dragneel household enjoyed a somewhat peaceful morning, things did eventually pick up and it became more chaotic than usual. The Devils were preparing for a multi-day training trip, headed by the pink haired man. This sent Devils into varying states of panic with the exception of Asia and Ryoko. The two new Devils didn't know what all the fuss was about and neither of them had the guts to ask their seniors. Both had just focused on getting their gear prepared for their training. Barring Grayfia, who remained in her maid outfit, everyone was wearing a tracksuit.
The slightly on edge Devils had all gathered and Natsu's devoted maid was preparing a teleportation circle. Grayfia was busy focusing, Rias looked worried for the other Devils and Natsu looked excited. The pinkette was so excited that he had forgotten his crippling weakness, which only made the others worry. "Ok guys, you better buckle in cause this is gonna good." Natsu claimed, frightening the group of Devils even more. Even the cool and composed Akeno shuttered a little, which just made the new Devils even more terrified.
"What's going to happen to us?" Asia asked, scared out of her mind. While she wasn't scared of the pinkette, but the reaction he was getting made her insanely worried.
"I don't know... I thought we were just training with Senpai." Ryoko replied, doing her best to stay calm and failing horribly.
"You're not wrong." Koneko chimed in. The young Devil was shivering and doing her best to keep the black twin-tailed cat in her grasp. The cat was none other than Kuroka, who was desperately trying to free herself from Koneko's iron grip. "Nee-san, please don't resist, I'd rather no hurt you." The Nekomata requested. The two women were about to start asking around, but Grayfia had finished her preparations.
"The portal is ready... Natsu-sama, please calm yourself and step through." Grayfia told her master. The maid shot the pinkette a quick yet sharp glare, which calmed the man somewhat. Natsu moved forward onto the portal, his blonde-haired Bishop and his faithful maid moved to his side, who turned to face the rest of the group. "Natsu-sama, Ravel-sama and I will go ahead, the rest of you will follow five minutes later." She instructed as they started to fade away. As this happened, Dragon Slayer's motion sickness hit him hard. "Come here Master." She said, bringing the pink haired man into an embrace.
The Devils waited nervously for what felt way longer than five minutes. They waited in silence. Most of the Devils seemed to be mentally preparing themselves, with only three of them not following this trend. Kuroka was busy trying to escape from her sister's hold while the two new Devils were just trying to figure out what the hell was going on.
Rias was the first to speak up and break the tense silence. "All of you, please be careful when we step through, Natsu refused to tell me what he has prepared." Rias apologized as she led the group towards the glowing circle.
"What the hell is this place?" Ryoko questioned, sounding shocked and frightened by what she was presented with. The large pleasant house was gone and it had been replaced by a charred and blasted hellscape flanked by jagged mountains. The clouded sky had a strong red hue to it, torrents of flames shot up into the air the ground looked ready to give way. The only sign of civilization was a large castle sat on top of an especially deadly looking mountain off in the distance.
"He's managed to make it more terrifying than last time, but I wouldn't expect any less from my Master." Sayla claimed, blushing up a storm. Ryoko was convinced that the heat had already fried the demonesses brain and turned to the other Devils. Asia and Kuroka looked as terrified as Ryoko did, the same could have been said for Koneko, but she was making a somewhat decent to attempt to hide her fear. Rias, Kiba, and Akeno all seemed to be readying themselves for something, drawing weapons and preparing magic. The short-haired Devil decided to follow suit and she was very glad she did so.
Moments after they had appeared, the already unbearable heat suddenly increased. The origin of this was a large fireball heading right towards them. "RUN!" Rias called out. The group did exactly as the redhead ordered, running from the blast as best as they could. However, Asia was a little slow and was only able to escape the blast thanks to Ryoko grabbing her. While the two inexperienced Devils managed to escape the brunt of the attack, they were still blasted forward and ended up landing prone. The two weren't given a moment of relief as they felt a great heat building up below them. Both reacted accordingly, getting up and started trying to catch up to the other Devils. They were both happy that they'd moved as fast as they did because seconds later, a giant torrent of flames shot out from the ground where they'd landed. "That's only the beginning, keep running." The heiress ordered.
"My my, Natsu-kun really isn't holding back, and most of our supplies are gone." Akeno pointed out, looking back to the smoldering crater left behind by the pinkette's attack. The Devils still had their backpacks, but everything else had been reduced to cinders. "Rias, will this be a problem for our newer additions?" The blacked haired woman asked.
"Unfortunately, Natsu was adamant about keeping the details to himself, we just need to get to the castle." Rias replied, sounding a little annoyed. She could still remember the smug expression on the Dragon Slayer's face when she gave him permission to do this. "Just don't slow down." The woman continued, speeding up as she did so.
"Sayla-san, what is this place?" Asia questioned, struggling to keep up with the horned woman. The blonde had never seen such a horrid place in her young life and she was more than a little afraid.
"This is Hell, but more specifically, my master's very own domain, Tartarous... It is unlike most places in Hell, he's truly made it his own." Sayla replied, sporting an incredibly heavy blush on her face. The former nun found herself worried about the woman's reaction, but she didn't really get to dwell on that. Only moments later, a loud horrifying roar came from behind them. Curious, the Devils turned only to find a large blue Dragon was speeding towards them and tearing up the ground beneath it.
"Sayla! Koneko! Slow her down!" Rias ordered in a panicked voice. She hadn't expected to see the Dragon Slayer's familiar so early on. What's worse, she could tell that Tiamat looked angry.
"With pleasure." Sayla replied with a wild smile on her face. While the Demon looked far too excited about the prospect of facing a Dragon head on, Rias was glad to see the enthusiasm.
"Of course." Koneko confirmed, sounding a little less zealous than the horned woman. The two Rooks took their positions and braced themselves for the impact. However, their woes weren't over yet as their broken and beaten path split into three mountainous paths. They weren't there before and it was impossible to tell where they lead.
Rias then looked at the other Devils under her command. "It's best if we split up here... Kiba, keep Asia safe and make sure you keep moving." Rias ordered the blonde haired knight before pointing towards the left. Kiba nodded before picking up the former nun and speeding up dramatically. The redhead turned to the pair of black haired Devils. "Akeno, Kuroka, make stay together and block your path off if you can." She continued, pointing towards the right. "Ryoko, you'll stay with me." She ordered.
As Rias finished giving her orders, they all heard a loud impact and the sounds of the ground being completely torn up. Ryoko quickly turned to see that Sayla and Koneko holding back the gigantic beast. Though Sayla had taken a more demonic form that was simply exuding power, both her and the nekomata were struggling to keep the Dragon Queen back. Despite their best efforts, the duo had already lost a good amount ground and they looked like they'd be overwhelmed in a few moments. The shorted haired woman stopped, turned and prepared to help her fellow Devils. "You've got to trust their abilities, we have to keep moving." Rias instructed, grabbing the woman by the hand.
"Sorry Rias-senpai, let's keep going." Ryoko replied, before turning following the woman. Though she was still a bit hesitant to leave the two with the raging Dragon, she wasn't going to disobey the redhead.
"Keep in mind that they are rooks, and you probably won't find tougher ones." Rias comforted as they made their way towards their paths.
"I hope the castle isn't too messy Ravel-sama, Master prefers his home in Japan so we don't come here often." Grayfia apologized as she finished her tour. The silver-haired maid and the blonde heiress started making their way to balconies where Natsu was waiting.
"Everything is perfect, there's really nothing to complain in regards to the castle. It's more so the hellfire and lava in the front yard." Ravel said, getting a somewhat embarrassed look from the stoic Devil.
"Unfortunately, Natsu-sama's training regimen is a little intense and he's very careless... It's my fault for setting him on this course, which is why I am happy about your engagement." Grayfia admitted. Ravel as caught completely off guard by the sudden compliment and started blushing furiously. This went unnoticed by the maid, who simply continued to walk and talk. "However, it also doesn't help that his familiar is being rather rowdy today, she's usually a lot more agreeable."
"It truly isn't too troubling, the backyard is truly breathtaking." Ravel replied, returning to her composed self.
"You're far too polite Ravel-sama, but that's one of the many reasons why I truly believe you and Sona will make excellent brides for Natsu-sama." Grayfia continued as they reached the pinkette who was seating and looking off into the distance. The blonde exploded into yet another blush at the reminder of her marriage to the pink haired man.
"Oh, you guys are here... I've missed this place, so many good memories." Natsu looking towards the ruined courtyard. He then turned his attention to the far distance. Thanks to his enhanced senses, he could hear the sounds of battle in the far distance. "I hope Tiamat isn't too rough on them." He thought aloud.
"Natsu-sama, I'm going to finish a few additional preparations, I implore you to spend time with Ravel." Grayfia said, pulling up a chair for the younger Devil. The maid then swiftly made her way back into the castle. The pinkette only got a small glimpse of the woman's face, but her sickly expression made it obvious what the problem was.
"I guess it's just to two of us for the time being." Natsu said, smiling at his fiance, who was currently stood next to him. The woman returned the smile and decided to use their privacy to attempt something bold. Being alone with the Dragon Slayer was such a rarity so now was the perfect time to act. However, her nerves quickly getting the better of her.
'He's your fiance for Lucifer's sake, just take that stupid leap.' Ravel told herself, struggling to keep it together. It only got worse when Natsu sent her a confused look. Overwhelmed by the look she was getting, she just acted, launching herself at the man. Moments later, she found herself pressed against the pinkette's warm body "Sorry for that, I don't know wha-" She attempted to apologize before she felt embraced by the older man. She was far too embarrassed to finish the apology and she also didn't want the man to stop hugging her. The young woman returned the hug before looking up the Devil.
"There's no need to rush into things Ravel, we've got plenty of time." Natsu replied, with a bright smile on his face. The woman found herself blushing even harder and while Natsu's smile only intensified. "How about we visit the backyard, the training seems to be going well and I think Grayfia would have wanted me to show you the garden." The pinkette said, ending the hug.
Ravel quickly got back up and collected herself just as swiftly. "Yes! That sounds like a wonderful idea." Ravel replied, doing her best to maintain her elegant lady-like aura. However, she failed horribly at this, coming off like a giddy schoolgirl. Natsu thought it was adorable and decided to keep his mouth shut as they started making their way to the back.
'I wonder how they're doing?' Natsu wondered, with a smirk on his face. "Hey Ravel, do you have Phenoix tears ready?" He asked, getting a nod from the cheerful woman. "Good, they'll get here in a couple of days and we're probably gonna need them."
"Looks like we've to escape the worst of it." Kiba said, placing Asia down. Though the path had allowed them to escape the raging Dragon behind them, it had not been an easy journey. Saying that their very narrow path had been treacherous would have been the understatement of the century. It had been filled with pitfalls, pillars of flames that shot out of the ground and walls around them.
Asia had unsurprisingly been in a state of panic the entire time, which didn't make things easier for Kiba, who had to deal with all the obstacles. His reflexes had saved the pair of blondes a number of times, but Asia was surprising, observant, catching things the Knight missed.
However, the two weren't' concerning themselves with that right now, the two had finally found a place to rest. The two sat down with their back to the most stable wall. However, both knew it wasn't going to be a lost one considering the loud rumblings from behind them. "Kiba-san, are you ok... You were slowing down a lot near the end." Asia said, sounding rather concerned for the man.
"I guess that's true, Natsu has really stepped things up from last time, these paths weren't even here the last time." Kiba sighed, reaching into his bag for something to eat. Asia started to do the same, but couldn't help examining the man, who was now sporting a number of burns and cuts. The woman attempted to move closer to the man and heal him, but the man simply scooted away.
This continued for a few more minutes until the former nun eventually had enough. "Kiba-san, what are you doing?" Asia asked, sounding confused and a little frustrated by the situation. She wasn't sure why the man was denying her help. Though she hadn't known swordsman for long, she knew he wasn't too prideful to accept help from his comrades. "We still have a long way to go, I don't think we'll be able to get through if your injuries get worse." She pointed out, attempting to move closer once again.
"It's really no big deal." Kiba claimed as he got back up. Though the man didn't look as stable as usual, the man stood with enough confidence and pose to convince the new Devil. "I can stand perfectly fine, but I think I was wrong about things getting easier from here on out, so I think you should get your rest." He said as he heard more rumbling ahead. Asia let out a small sigh before she started silently eating her food.
"This certainly not what I was expecting." Akeno sighed as she continued to make her way through ice cover path with Kuroka in tow. Though their path had started off as fiery as the others, that quickly changed. They were confronted with a cold like no other. Unlike Kiba and Asia's path, it was far more open, but that didn't make it any less treacherous. The unparalleled cold combined with the slippery ground, a plethora of pitfalls and a bullet hell of icy projectiles had made their journey quite the task. "It appears I underestimated how ruthless Natsu-kun can be."
Kuroka also let out an exhausted sigh as she examined herself. Her clothes were tattered and cuts littered her body despite expending a great deal on defensive magic. Akeno hadn't fared much better, even with her abilities as a Queen. Keeping up with the intense pace and enduring the damage was a truly mountainous task. "That's certainly true, but it looks like we've finally got a moment of rest, Nya." Kuroka replied without her usual enthusiasm.
Now it wasn't well known, mainly because the two did their best to hide it, but they didn't care for one another. They respected one another, but spending time together was the last thing either of them wanted. Luckily for them, they didn't have to deal with each other, but neither was willing to disobey a direct order from Rias. "Don't start slacking, staying around here isn't the smartest idea." Akeno said, her tone sounding rather cold.
"Very observant of you, but I know Natsu and he isn't cruel, Nya." Kuroka huffed, pulling out her bag. The golden eyed Devil just gave the woman a strong look, which gave her an uninterested look. Both knew that they would have moved through this path with relative ease if they'd actually worked together, but that wasn't going to happen.
"I guess you're right, it's not going to end well for us if we attempt to press ahead as we are." Akeno said, sitting next to the other woman.
"A little close, don't you think, nya?" Kuroka questioned, sounding somewhat annoyed.
"Ironic that you're complaining about personal space, but it's not like that. I just can't have Natsu losing a vital member of his peerage just because she's stubborn." Akeno clarified, bringing the cat-eared Devil closer. Kuroka understood this and didn't try to resist it. She instead took this time to start healing the both of them.
"Getting to that castle is going to be nearly impossible if we keep this up, it's only going to get worse from here, nya." Kuroka admitted her annoyance still coming through. Akeno simply nodded her head and continued healing her fellow Devil.
"Are you ok Ryoko? I know this has been rather harsh." Rias questioned, concerned for the younger Devil. This pair had gotten the worst of both worlds. They were faced with both a great deal of fire and ice. What's worse, was that Tiamat had decided to go down their path after Koneko and Sayla failed to stop her. The Dragoness had taken a special interest to Ryoko and making the already hellish experience worse. Words couldn't describe how relieved she was when mighty Dragon stopped pursuing her.
"I'd be lying if I said this hasn't been one of the toughest experiences of life." Royoko replied, completely out of breath. She could now completely understand why the other Devils feared Natsu's idea of training so much. She been worked to the bone and surprisingly, so had Rias. The short-haired woman had never imagined seeing the heiress work so hard and she was somewhat terrified by the woman's power.
"That's great to hear, I just hope that the others will be ok, they've really got me concerned." Rias said as she stopped moving. Ryoko caught up and gave the older woman a curious look.
"I'm sure everyone is going to be alright." Ryoko replied, confused by the woman's doubt. She'd only seen the woman as a confident optimist, so seeing this side of the woman was throwing her through a loop.
"Natsu warned me that I would have to split the groups and I decided to make the groups... Suboptimal." Rias admitted, looking back at the younger woman. Ryoko continued to give the redhead a confused look. The heiress couldn't stop herself from sighing before laughing a little. "While I have faith that Kiba will protect Asia to his last breath, but he's got a few problems with the church he's yet to sort out... Kuroka and Akeno would be an amazing team on magic talent alone, but they seem to clash in a way the others don't." She continued.
"Really, do you know why?" Ryoko asked, catching up to the redhead.
"Those two are alike in a lot of ways and I don't think that sits well with either of them... It's certainly more than that, but I'm hoping they can iron things out without coming to blows." Rias answered, not sounding confident in that last part. This only worried the young Pawn more and got her thinking a little.
"Rias-senpai, do you and I have any problems?" Ryoko asked rather innocently. Rias once again couldn't stop herself from giggling at the question, which only made the white-haired Devil even more worried.
"I must admit that I was rather jealous when Natsu started taking such a strong interest in you, but that's more of a flaw on my part... So unless you've got a problem with me, I think we're good." Rias said with an inviting smile on her face. The short-haired woman already held the redhead in fairly high regard, and this only made her look better in the teen's eyes.
"Aside from being a bit hard to approach because you're the Rias Gremory, I think everything between us is good." Ryoko said rather excitedly. Unfortunately, that excitement was shortlived as a familiar and terrifying foe reemerged.
"Ok Ryoko, let's see if Natsu's interest in you was well placed." Rias ordered as she readied herself.
It somehow took me over a year, which is bad even for me. Well, I hope you guys enjoyed this chapter. Let's hope that I become a lot less lazy with my writing and I can get back in my grove.
See you guys whenever I upload next.
-Beta read by Earth Dragon Arnighte