Hello guys, I'm back with another chapter. Once again all I can do is apologize for the long amount of time you guys had to wait for this update. I technically completed this chapter 1 week ago however my laptop experienced some technical difficulties and I could no longer log back in so I had to send it to repairs which luckily only took 1 week to get it back. I honestly thought I would have to wait like 2 or 3 weeks for it so I'm thankful because now I can give you guys an update. I was planning on making the chapter longer but you guys have waited long enough for my chapter so I decided to post what I have now and continue on in a later chapter but as you guys could already assume based on the previous chapters, we are getting closer to the conflict with Kokabiel. I'm sure a lot of you are excited for that and I can tell you that the next chapter is in fact the start of the battle where new characters will be revealed. Although most of you have already guessed some of my mysterious characters. I knew I could not hide it from you guys since you are as much of a fan of them as I am.
Anyways once more I want to thank all of you guys for all the wait you had to endure and still are willing to keep reading my story. I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart. Without further ado, let's get on with the story and I hope this chapter was worth the waiting.
I do not own any of the High School dxd characters. Those belong to the original author.
After parting from Irina and the others, Issei immediately begun his search for Kiba in order to let him know about the compromise he and Matsuda have been able to get from the exorcists. Using his keen senses, he focused on trying to find Kiba. Eventually, he was able to pinpoint Kiba's presence and Issei immediately raced towards him.
Meanwhile, the aforementioned Kiba was busy trying to find any clues as to the location of the missing pieces by finding Freed. He had encountered him by accident previously when the fallen exorcist has murdered another priest, probably someone else that had been sent by the church. However, the most important thing to note was that the bastard was carrying one of the fragments of Excalibur, most specifically Excalibur Rapidly. This fragment granted the user enhanced speed which allowed Freed to be able to keep up with Kiba speed granted to him by his knight piece. It also helped Freed that Kiba was enraged at the sight of the fragment which affected his combat ability. Just like in the fight against Xenovia, he allowed his rage to get the best of him which not only allowed Freed to escape but also he had sustained a few injuries in the process. Had he been in a normal state of mind, he would have no doubt defeated Freed with ease even with the enhanced speed granted to him by the fragment. He had been training with Issei and Tiamat for quite a while and his strength and speed had improved leaps and bounds which was demonstrated in the battle against Riser to the point that someone of Freed's caliber could never hope to match. However, this was only if he was thinking rationally and unfortunately, his emotions got the better of him the moment his eyes gazed upon the object of his vengeance. This caused his fighting capability to be dulled to the point that he fought evenly with Freed which ultimately led to Freed's retreat. Anyways, Kiba was continuously trying to locate any hints as to the whereabouts of Freed or the fragments of Excalibur but with very little success.
"Where the hell are they hiding?" he mumbled to himself. You would think with Freed's personality, it would be easy to find him considering the guy loves to kill what he believes are devil scum yet for the past few days, he could not find an inkling of his presence. Whoever is backing him must be controlling his movements. That's the only reason someone as violent as Freed could remain this well-hidden.
"you know, I think it's the first time I've heard you swearing Kiba." Kiba immediately jumped back upon hearing the voice call out behind him. He quickly conjured up a sword but soon saw that the unknown voice was in fact Issei who was leaning on a wall with his arms crossed.
"How did you…" Kiba was about to question where the hell he came from.
"If you are wondering how long I've been standing here then the answer is not long. If you were wondering how I was able to hide my presence from you when I'm this close, then it's because I've been practically training my whole life to hide my presence for obvious reasons. Not to tute my own horn but I believe I've mastered it perfectly." Issei smiled as he praised his own ability. Say what you will but he had spent the majority of his life mastering to hide both his presence and his power. It's also part of the reason why they took so long before returning to Kuoh.
Kiba stared at Issei. "Did Buchou ask you to come and stop me?" That was the naturel conclusion to make for Kiba as his king had made it no secret that she did not like the fact that he was off on a suicide mission to find the fragments of Excalibur. Maou forbid Kiba actually found them, Kokabiel would easily dispatch him and this scared Rias to death.
To Kiba's surprise however, Issei shook his head. "No, she did not send me here to stop you but rather we have decided to help you." Issei revealed.
"Help me how?" Kiba inquired, curious on the matter. Seeing that he had Kiba's attention, Issei began to speak.
"Before coming here to find you, Matsuda and I had gone after the 2 exorcists and after much discussion, we have agreed upon a compromise in regards to their mission as well as your goal." Kiba raised his brow.
"What sort of compromise?"
"In exchange for our help, after we manage to defeat the enemy and recover the fragments of Excalibur, the two exorcists have agreed to allow you to destroy one of the fragments of their choice. They had already stated that the church was prepared to destroy all of the stolen fragments if recovery was impossible so it was easier to convince them, or at least one of them, to allow you to destroy one of them in exchange for helping them recover the rest. In the end, both sides would win. You get to destroy an Excalibur fragment while they get to retrieve all the other stolen fragments to complete their mission. What do you think?" Issei finished telling Kiba about their arrangement and now awaited his answer.
Kiba, for his part, was still very shocked to hear that there was any compromise to be made. He thought the church would sooner go to war than to bargain with their enemies especially devils but he knew Issei isn't someone who spouts lies so it must be true. However, why should he settle for one? If they were willing to let them destroy one then isn't it better to destroy them all and be done with it.
"I'm happy to hear that but what if I want all of the fragments to be destroyed?" He asked Kiba however Issei dropped his smile.
"A little too greedy I see. Typical of a devil I guess but Kiba, while you are my friend, if you can't accept the terms we all agreed upon and want to actually destroy all of the fragments then I'm afraid I'm going to have to stop you right here and now. If I don't, you will probably get in the way and your actions will put everyone's lives in jeopardy and I cannot allow that." Kiba glared at Issei.
"You would stop me even after knowing my reasons."
"I'm stopping you precisely because of that. I'm going to say something you are clearly not going to like but your vengeance is useless."
"WHAT?" Kiba yelled clearly angered at Issei. Nevertheless, Issei continued unbothered
"I'll repeat it then. Your vengeance is useless. You bear hatred towards Excalibur for the death of your friends but Excalibur didn't kill your friends. It's just an object that has no sentience whatsoever."
"It doesn't change the fact that Excalibur was the reason for my family's death" Kiba replied angrily at Issei. Issei simply shrugged.
"Maybe but it's also true that you would have never met your family had it not been for Excalibur, no? I heard you were all orphans who had never met until you were gathered by the church." (A/N I could be wrong about this part, not sure but if am, sorry :P)
Kiba didn't deny that so he looked down to the ground. "I would have preferred never knowing them if I knew that they would have been able to lead normal lives, healthy and safe." Kiba mumbled silently however Issei enhanced hearing could easily pick this up.
"That could have been a possibility. However, the more likely one is that, even if Excalibur never existed, the church would have simply pursued a different weapon. Whether it would have been another Holy weapon or even a Longinus so who's to say the same tragedy wouldn't have occurred?" Issei tried to reason with Kiba by pointing out that even if the Holy Sword Excalibur didn't exist, the church would have created a project based on another weapon.
"Besides, even if you hunted down and destroyed all the pieces of Excalibur, I can guarantee you that you will never find closure that way because you are haunted by the nightmares of that day but more specifically you keep asking yourself why."
"Shut up!" mumbled Kiba.
"Why did this have to happen?"
"Shut up!" Kiba stated a bit louder.
"You keep asking yourself why did they all have to die but eventually your mind shifts to a single question that plagues you more than anything"
Then Issei's voice seemed to overlap with his own at that instant
"Why did they have to die while you/I lived?" Kiba clenched his fists so tightly that blood started dripping from his fists before shouting
"SHUT UP! How could you possibly…"
"Understand?" Issei interrupted Kiba causing the boy to look at him surprised as Issei continued. "I understand more than you know, my friend or have you already forgotten about my past I shared with all of you. The day I lost aunty Shuri and seemingly Akeno was the worst moment of my entire life. How could such a thing happen? It wasn't fair. It wasn't fair to Akeno. It wasn't fair to aunty Shuri and it certainly wasn't fair to uncle Barakiel who had lost everything. So many questions spiraled inside my mind but the most prominent among them was simply why. Why didn't I accompany them that day? Why couldn't I arrive on time to save them? Why was the constant question I kept asking myself ever since that fateful day. That is why I can promise you that this path of yours will never bring you any form of closure even if you manage to destroy Excalibur."
By this point, a few tears could be seen escaping Kiba eyes as he looked down to the ground.
"They should have been the ones to survive… not someone like me."
"I know. I had the same thoughts. If you could, you would gladly sacrifice your life if it meant they could live out theirs. Isn't that right?"
Kiba didn't answer but Issei took the silence as a yes. He breathed out.
"Look, the offer still stands. The two exorcists are willing to allow you to destroy one of the fragments and you have to know how lucky you are to even receive such a favor. Had it been any other exorcist, they would have never allowed themselves to make deals with their mortal enemies. The same could be said for Rias Gremory. She is trying very hard to make sure you are safe and to help you as much as she can. Any other king would have probably deem you a stray and get immediately executed. The two sides are trying to settle the situation with as little conflict as possible and make sure this does not blow over to another great war. That is why, if you are still planning to continue your quest, then I will stop you here. You may hate me if you wish but at the very least, you will be alive to do so and Akeno, Rias and the others won't have to grieve the loss of their friend." Issei finishing explaining the alternatives to Kiba who wore a saddened expression unbefitting of his usual cheerful self. Kiba knew Issei was serious and he would be true to his word and knock him out should he continue to interfere. His thoughts reverted back towards his peerage. Rias Gremory, the women who saved his life and gave him a place to be when he was on cusp of death. Akeno Himejima, the one who acted as an older sister and cared for everyone. Koneko Toujou, their resident Nekomata who like him was a kindred spirit that was saved by Sirzechs and given a place to belong with Rias. Matsuda and Asia, the two new additions to the family and finally Issei Hyoudou, the Dragon God who has befriended him and even trained him during their time of need.
He took a very deep breath to calm himself down and then looked up towards Issei who was waiting for an answer.
"You said I would be allowed to destroy 1 fragment, right?" he inquired to be sure. Issei nodded.
"Yes. The exorcists promised that in exchange for our cooperation that you would be allowed to destroy 1 of the fragments of their choosing. If it can bring you at the very least a small bit of closure, then it's a deal worth taking into consideration. What do you say?"
"Alright, I'll admit that this is the best I'll ever get based on the circumstances however I would like to talk with the exorcists once more." Kiba stated. He wanted, no needed to confirm something.
"Sure. I was planning on reuniting with them as soon as I got your answer anyways so I can take us to them now." Issei responded.
"You know where they are already?"
"Of course! It's pretty easy to track them since all I have to do is locate the faint holy energy emanating from their holy swords. As long as they haven't left the city, I can easily find them." Issei boasted with a smirk.
"If you can do that then couldn't you locate Kokabiel and the other fragments?" Kiba couldn't help but wonder why Issei didn't just find the enemy and be done with it.
"My senses may be powerful but they are not omnipotent Kiba. There are limits to it especially if my enemy is constantly concealing their presence. In addition, I'm assuming Kokabiel and his associates are hiding somewhere outside the city to make it difficult to track them. I can't even feel the presence of the fragments of Excalibur they have in their possession. Kokabiel might be a warmonger but he is definitely not stupid. He took all the precautions to make sure he couldn't be found otherwise I would have kicked his ass by now if I could. In any case, he will probably make a move soon so all we can do is prepare and be ready for anything." Issei explained.
"Alright. Anyways, go ahead and lead the way. I still would like to talk to the 2 exorcists"
"Sure! Follow me" Kiba then followed Issei who was keeping track of the location of the 2 exorcists.
They walked across Kuoh until they had finally found them alongside Matsuda.
"Oh, I see you managed to find him. That was fast" stated Matsuda once he spotted Kiba next to Issei.
"I did." He answered before looking at Irina and Xenovia "I explained to him the terms of our agreement and after a bit of convincing, he is on board although he says he has a question to ask the two of you." He pointed towards Kiba who nodded.
"Is that so? I'll answer if I can so go ahead" Irina stated.
"If you are aware of the Holy Sword Project then you must know who was responsible for that tragedy. I want to know who it is." Kiba got straight to the point and asked something he had been dying to know ever since that day. He needed answers.
"We do know who was responsible. It was Valper Galilei. He was the high priest who not only came up with the project but was responsible for managing it." Xenovia was the one who answered his question.
"And what became of him after all this?" Kiba asked.
"After the Church realized the atrocities he committed, he was excommunicated on the spot." She answered. However, her answer wasn't an answer Kiba and the others expected.
"Excommunicated…" Kiba mumbled, eyes as wide as can be before he glared at the two exorcists "That is all that monster got after murdering my family. How is that any difference from letting him go free? What bullshit is this?" He screamed in rage. The man is outright responsible for the death of his family and all he received in turn was excommunication? That is just a slap on the wrist. What kind of unfair justice is this and coming from the faction of Angels of all beings. Even Issei seemed angered at this.
"I agree with Kiba. The man not only performed inhuman experiments on children but also murdered them in cold blood and all he got as punishment was being excommunicated. He should have been executed for his crimes or at the very least imprisoned for the rest of his life."
"I also agree with Issei. Where's the justice in letting a guilty man go" Matsuda added.
"I can understand your anger. It's not like many of us agree with the decision but you have to understand that the situation was very complex for the church. Valper Galilei held a very high position and also held quite the influence within the church so we could have had an internal civil war if they wanted to hang him. That is something the church could not afford as it would have allowed the fallen angels or devils to take advantage and attack us so the decision the higher ups decided was to excommunicate the man." Irina tried to explain the situation from the Angels faction's standpoint. However, this didn't alleviate anything for Issei and the others, especially Kiba who was still glaring at the two exorcists.
"Is that reason supposed to justify the man murdering my family. The only reason we all participated in that forsaken project was because we all believed we could become special beings capable of wielding Holy Swords. Many of my family believed fiercely in your Lord and our beliefs was the only reason we could continue with those horrible experiments. Many of them prayed every day, hoping that all their pain and suffering will lead them to become something more. However, all they received in return was a gruesome death, being thrown away as though they were nothing but thrash. Yet, you are telling me the man responsible for all this was basically set free, able to restart his evil research on other kids. What's even worse is that it seems the Church is even utilizing his despicable research, the same one that killed innocent children, to make Holy Sword Wielders." Kiba bellowed as he was breathing heavily after dishing out his rage at the 2 exorcists.
"I can understand your anger at the fact that the Church is using his research to make exorcists like us but you must also understand that if we had not used his findings then all the children who died, your family would have truly died for no reason. I pray you can at least see that." Irina softly replied, not wanting to irritate the poor knight any further. Kiba, on his end, didn't reply. Instead, he looked towards the ground, both his fists clenching to hard that it was a surprise he was not bleeding yet. He really wanted to dismiss her claims but a small part of him could not help but see the truth in that statement. It still hurts regardless to know that the man responsible for their unjustified death is still out there.
"If your target is Valper Galilei then you may get a shot at him sooner than you think" Xenovia stated causing Kiba to immediately turn his attention towards her.
"What do you mean?"
"We believe that one of Kokabiel's allies is none other than the Genocide Archbishop himself. Therefore, we might end up facing him alongside the Fallen Angel cadre." Xenovia revealed to Kiba who couldn't help but be shocked at this.
"How can you be sure?" Issei couldn't help but ask.
"As we've mentioned before, Valper Galilei held a very high position in the church and was privy to a lot of information which includes the location of all the Excalibur fragments we've held in our possession. That is how Kokabiel was able to successfully steal all of the fragments so quickly and easily. Only Valper could provide the information necessary to facilitate such a thing. That is why we believe he is a part of Kokabiel's allies" She explained.
If what she stated was true then Kiba could finally have a shot at vengeance against him. He will be able to avenge his family after all these years so there was no way he was going to allow this opportunity to elude him.
"Alright, I'll work alongside you, however Valper Galilei is mine." Kiba stated. Xenovia simply nodded.
"Our only priority is to recover all of the pieces of Excalibur. As long as you don't get in the way of that then you can do whatever you want. If anything, you taking down Valper Galilei would benefit our church greatly." Irina and Xenovia's task only involved the Excalibur fragments so they didn't mind if Kiba wanted to enact his vendetta against Valper. At this point, they realized that they need all the help they could get and if they were offering to aid their objectives, they would be foolish to deny it. Even Xenovia understood this point.
Kiba nodded. Seeing that they were going to work together, he should at least reveal who he encountered previously.
"Since we are going to be allies, it's only fair that I share some information with you. The other day, I was attacked by none other than Freed who possessed an Excalibur fragment that seemed to enhance his speed greatly. He had killed some other priest who I aussumed is someone from your side." Kiba revealed surprising the two exorcists.
"I see. So that bastard is allied with the Fallen angels. We were wondering why we couldn't contact the priest that was previously dispatched here." Stated an irked Xenovia.
"You know the guy?" questioned Matsuda.
"Of course we know of him. He was a genius who managed to become an exorcist at the age of 13. Despite being so young he was able to accomplish many big achievements exorcising the churches enemies. Unfortunately, he started killing his own allies in the process. He always had an unstable mind but the church couldn't deny his efficiency which is why they kept him until he went overboard. The church sent their dispatch unit to kill him however he has always managed to elude them. Now it seems, he has allied with Kokabiel and his cronies and becoming a real headache. Based on what you said, he must be in possession of Excalibur Rapidly. As you can guess, the fragment grants its owner a huge boost in speed similar to a knight piece of a devil's peerage. I take it he ran away during your little scuffle" Xenovia remarked, knowing Freeds personality. Freed was a combat obsessed fanatic who reveled in killing his enemies but he was also a coward who runs away at the first sign of trouble.
"He did. I tried to find him but had no such luck" Kiba replied.
"He's pretty good at hiding. It's how he evaded all our dispatch units. It doesn't matter. We will face him eventually. Since we are going to be cooperating" Xenovia took out a pen and paper and wrote their contact information before handing it out to the boys.
"If anything happens, contact this number and we will join you as soon as possible." Matsuda took the note as Kiba and Issei had already memorized the number.
"Ah thanks. In that case we should also…"
"Oh Matsuda-kun, we already have your phone number. Oba-san gave it to us when we visited last time" Irina winked at Matsuda.
"EHHHH" Matsuda was surprised to hear that.
"Is it really that surprising? You are childhood friends so it makes sense why your mother would hand your contact information to her" remarked Issei.
"I guess but I just didn't expect it. It would have been nice if she had at least mentioned it." Mumbled Matsuda. Whatever the case, both Issei and Kiba gave there own contact info to Xenovia and Irina.
"Now that we are working together, how should we begin the search?" Matsuda asked.
"Since we have an entire city to search, it would be best if we divide and conquer." Irina suggested. Issei nodded.
"I agree. We should separate into 3 groups. Irina and Xenovia will form the first. Matsuda and Kiba will be together while I can go by myself. Is that acceptable for all of you?" Issei proposed. The others simply nodded. He was by far the strongest of them all so he could deal with anything that comes his way. Best case scenario would be that Issei locates Kokabiel himself and defeats him quickly to end this problem.
"Alright perfect. Remember to be very careful. Even if you locate the enemy, do not engage and quickly notify us. You don't need to contact me. All you need to do is spike your aura and I will immediately head your way" He instructed the others to immediately contact each other once they locate the enemy. They are dealing with a Fallen angel cadre and several of his allies. It would be suicide for all of them, except Issei to engage them by themselves. Even worse if the others accidently meet with Kokabiel himself. They wouldn't last a minute against him which is why they need to be extra careful with their reconnaissance.
Everyone nodded understanding the danger.
"Alright! Good luck and be careful" Issei stated before each team headed out in different directions.
In an abandoned building, Kokabiel and his allies were getting ready to move. All they waited for was the signal to begin.
"Kokabiel, the exorcists are on the move and they have separated from the dragon" One of his allies stated causing Kokabiel to smirk.
"Very good. In that case it is time to begin. Everyone knows their jobs so make sure you do not fail me" Kokabiel ordered his men who nodded vehemently.
"Let's get this done then. I trust you will keep your end of the bargain after all this is done my dear Kokabiel" his ally stated with a wink.
"Of course. You can use any and all of our enemies as your test subjects and I'll do my best to support you with whatever you need."
"Oh goodie. If possible, try to keep their bodies as intact as possible" he asked for a favor.
"hahahaha, I don't know if that is possible mr. scientist because I really want to rip them to pieces" crackled Freed.
"I'm not asking you to spare everyone but some of the more valuable people like Rias Gremory. Having a devil capable of the Power of Destruction would make for an excellent test subject" he replied chuckling at the thought of what the power of destruction could bring to his research.
"We will do what we can but I can make no promises" Valper stated.
"Enough talking" Kokabiel interrupted. "It's time to let loose and begin another Great War. Let's go" He ordered before all their forces begun moving out.
That's the end of the chapter. This was basically just the prelude of the battle to come against Kokabiel. Next chapter, the battle will begin. Who will win. Will Issei and the others be able to thwart Kokabiels plans for another Great War or will Kokabiel manage to pull one over our heroes. Let's find out together.
Just realized that this is my 50th chapter. Pretty cool :D
As usual, feel free to leave behind a review or even PM if you'd like. I appreciate all of your support my friends.
Until next time