Oh man this is when the plot really POPS off. Once again, I'm not a fight scenes writer or a smut writer - this chapter has no smut, but it does have some fighting scenes. Lower your expectations a few more bars, and lower it a bit more so that it becomes a tripping hazard for dwarves, and you'll be good to read

Thank you for the support.

Chapter dedicated to El Risitas because I suddenly remembered him and felt a bit blue while writing


Death's Chosen


[XIX]

||Tipping Point||


"Goddammit—" Issei cursed under his breath as he landed another strike at Isabela's bruised solar plexus, directly above her abs and unguarded by the green jacket she wore as once again, the Rook keeled over, clutching her stomach, and coughing on all fours. "Stay the fuck down!"

"—GHAKH!" Isabela hacked a clot of red into the wooden floor, joining with the rest. Evidence of her utter humiliation.

Her breathing ragged and painful, but not as painful as the ebbing sores spread all over her body. She stood absolutely no chance. He was faster, more agile, and hit harder and sweat less than her. Even his footings were measured and precise, unlike her whose legs trembled as she got up for the umpteenth time, and brought her torn gloves in front of her bleeding mouth.

"Come on…" Isabela rasped, "I'm not… through with you… yet…"

She staggered but it was Issei who gritted his teeth. Their last one minute felt like a lifetime on its own.

{The resilience of a Rook is astounding,} Balthazar idly commented. Unfeeling but not without a pinch of deserved respect for standing against a Chosen. {Really thought you had her that last time.}

'That's what I thought. I can't keep doing this, Raz. It doesn't feel right anymore.'

{Well. Then leave her be. Maybe the others will finish her off, or she'll succumb to her injuries.}

With that, Issei lowered his curled fists, the black and violet and red brass knuckles made from Power of Destruction and a portion of the Void to contain its shape fading away as Balthazar recalled the weapons for later usage.

"Why aren't you being called away already?" Issei seethed as he approached her, not even evading her weak punch that felt like a tap to his chest. "We're done here, alright? You fought, you lost, and you clearly need some help."

"Un...hand me…" Isabela fell limply into his shoulder, her mask already shattered, now no more than shards of white scattered on the wooden floor. "...n...nnh..."

"Hey! Stay with me! Er— Gure- Gurei- Grayfia!" he shouted at the tall ceiling of the gymnasium. "Anyone watching?! She obviously can't fight anymore so why is she still here?!"

When he got no response, he felt a twist in the stomach. Isabela was still breathing. Shallow, but he could pick up her pained grunts. Did he have to beat her unconscious? What if she died first before losing her consciousness?!

"This Game is fucking sick," Issei growled, anger lying deep in his voice as he swiftly shifted Isabela and himself to carry her in his arms, and rushed to the back entrance. He kicked the door and was greeted by the sight of a raging flame and a forest that was burning, the fires spreading and licking the skies where he would have spotted Akeno and Yumi evading Riser and his Queen at all cost under Rias' command.

But they didn't matter. Not right now.

"Rias! Can you hear me?!"

"Yes Issei?" her voice rang, sewed with worry. "What's the matter? Are you alright?"

"I'm fine— are you with Asia? Are you still in the clubroom?"

"No, we abandoned the base long ago before Riser started his fire. We're in the baseball field." He picked up laughter from her background. Children's laughter? And was that buzzing noise the revving of chainsaws? "Atalanta is moving towards us. Where's Raynare? Are you still fighting Isabela?"

"Don't know 'bout her, but I'm heading to you."

Time went stiff for Isabela the moment she was brought into the murky Shadow Dimension. He dove and evaded the whips created by the sea of fire raging in the overworld, and plunged into the white lashes created by Rias' hair.

The sun on the mystical green skies shone on his eyes as Rias moved out of the way of an attack as one of the twins was charging at her, only to be saluted by a brutal kick to her chest that was done out of sheer instinct alone.

"Nel!" the other twin cried as she dashed to her sister, kneeling down and patting her in the back as Ile coughed several times.

"Oh shit-" Issei gasped as he retracted his extended leg, wincing a little. Hitting fellow teenagers was alright since it couldn't be helped that they were of the opposite sex, but these girls looked like middle schoolers. And... well, something didn't sit right with him. "...Man, Riser really is broad with his taste huh..."

""Hey we might be small but we're legal!"" Both of them instantly complained, defending their Master from vile implications.

"...Good to know you're alright," Issei muttered, watching the one he decked got up, though wheezing a little.

"Issei!" Rias' voice came from his back left, and as he turned, she and Riser's Pawns all looked confused upon seeing Isabela lying on his hands. A very hurt Isabela. "...Issei? What… what're you doing with her body?"

"Hey drop Isabela now you fiend!" Another voice. The tan-skinned one who looked like a belly dancer.

"Shut it!" he seethed, and Shuriya actually flinched. "I'm trying to help her! Rias, Where's Asia?"

Noting something was terribly off, Rias unfurled her bat wings as she landed near him, and inspected the terrible condition Isabela was in.

"She's… she's barely breathing?!" She exclaimed, her eyes widening. "Atalanta bring Asia here!"

As Issei laid down the Rook carefully on the dirt field, Atalanta arrived with Asia clinging on her back, likely because Atalanta was much faster than her. It was kinda a cute sight given the current predicament, but again, now was not the time.

The Holy Maiden peeled herself away from the Huntress and immediately knelt down before Isabela, not even having to be ordered as her natural tendency to save others regardless of their skin had kicked off. Meanwhile, Atalanta naturally drew her bow, creating three black arrows, ready to be fired upon.

She had it pointed at the ground, but she wasn't going to let anyone attack her or her new allies. Rias allowed it as she wanted to be sure as well.

The warm soft glow of the Twilight Healing radiated from her hands, as Riser's Pawns finally lowered their guard and skepticism, and as Atalanta withdrew her arrows, letting it turn to black dust, they approached them to have a closer look.

"...Wh...what's wrong?" Shuriya asked, still cautious. "This isn't some kind of a trick, right?"

"She should've been called out long before…" Rias muttered, her hostility completely wiped out by confusion and a pale sense of dread. "The System is that it reverts your body to its condition ten seconds ago, hence why life-threatening injuries are still savable, but that shouldn't mean you have to reduce her into this… state…"

That explanation was for Issei alone, he was aware. "So this isn't intentional right? The hell's going on here?" 'Raz? Any clues?'

{Nope. Can't sense anything outside this bubble,} The Game Field, he meant. {Might have to head on outside if you want to see it. We'll probably combust from the pressure of the Dimensional Gap.}

'...Can you at least not be so casual about it?'

Balthazar shrugged.

"...Y-you did this… to Isabela?" A shaky voice reached out to him.

"It was a fight, alright," Issei replied, a bit more defensive than he intended to. "I'm sorry your friend didn't come out on top."

"That's… not what I mean…" Shuriya muttered, her eyes glued to her friend's bloodied state. "She's our best fighter... Not counting Lord Riser, obviously… but… what… What kind of monster are you?"

"The kind I gotta be," The last bit stung, but Issei firmed it. He knew what he was. "I've gotta warn the others then…" he told Rias, earning her nod as she prepared to broadcast the message via the telecommunication magic circle hovering next to her ear. "If you girls do something funny, I'll do something… er… funnier..."

His finger wilted as he realized his threat felt short, but Issei sank into his shadow nonetheless, bursting through the inky black sea to prevent needless deaths from happening. Raynare's side, especially…


break


The fallen angel had seen better days, but also had seen her worst.

This was far from either.

Three of them against her? Finally the odds were even. She was getting bored of riddling that Knight with welts. Raynare would have gladly added more if she didn't retreat into the school building, licking her wounds.

"Be careful! She's stronger than she looks!" The knightly Knight shouted at her two allies who had swooped in to her rescue, by simply distracting Raynare from fully finishing her off. She remained true to her words; Raynare really peeled that breastplate off her chest, revealing a wrap of white bandages with a few red splotches underneath.

She would have added Karlamine to her tally if not for the two devils. One had an oversized paddle she called a sword, while the other was a brat with a stick.

Seriously, where did that cocky bird even find these girls?

Whatever…

"Promotion: Rook," she casually chanted, and stood with a smug smile as Mira's staff smashed into the side of her stomach, and broke into pieces, leaving her unharmed and the devil wide-eyed with shock. Shock that was replaced with pain as she drove her heel into her stomach, tossing her away like the garbage she was.

"Come now… Promotion: Knight," Raynare giggled. A sadistic smile on her face as the Knight with a peculiar choice of pineapple-top-like hairstyle swung down her blade, missing her nose by inches because she took a step back. "Is this really it? Did your dear Lord find you in the streets or something? Do you even know how to use your sword? Is the size just to compensate for your lack of skills?"

Well, not at all, but Raynare wanted to gloat a bit. It's in her blood. Her villainess blood.

Siris was skilled. Yumi was just more skillful and relentless and knew how to utilize her speed to never give her opponent a breathing room. The spars had given Raynare a substantial advantage against Riser's Knights, and bolstered with her promoted Pawn, there was no way these fools could beat her.

Some scratches here and there… some shallow cuts on her unarmored body, sure… but they were nothing more than an ant's bite; annoying at most. Irritatingly itchy. But slashes from demonic swords sting just as much as a regular steel sword now.

That is, if it hits.

Raynare parried a diagonal slash with a lightspear, embedding an angry red line on Siris' stomach as the Knight reeled back, one hand clutching her wound.

"Tsk…"

"Maybe try a reasonably-sized sword next time. I can cut you in half when you're lifting it."

"...I'll wipe that arrogant smile on your face."

"That's what your friend told me earlier. It's still there. Here, I'll give you a closer look." her four wings expanded and propelled her forward with a powerful burst of air.

Siris raised her two-hander, clenching her jaw and gritting her teeth as Raynare tore through her. With every new red slice, she winced, and Raynare's grin grew wider as both Wrath and Lust empowered her strikes. Perhaps a bit of Glutton too. She couldn't get enough of this. This might be a bit too addictive than she thought.

With a graceful swipe, Raynare cut a thin slice across her opponent's fingers, causing her to drop her oversized sword - flaming sword or not, the trick had always been to go for the hand and fingers. Swordsmen were useless if they couldn't grip their sword.

And without her sword, Siris realized the direness of her situation as she desperately raised her hands, crossing her forearms as Raynare prepared to hack her vertically. But it was a feint. Raynare instead reigned in one lightspear, and hammered it right through Siris' abs, and let it stay in there as her muscles clenched tightly, burning from the holy power coursing through the light-infused weapon.

"S-Siris!" the blue-haired Pawn cried, shirking in fear as Raynare's hawk-like eyes fell on her petite figure.

"Don't worry for her…" she muttered with a soft chuckle, casually pressing one lightspear into one open wound that was a bit wider than the rest, feeling it sear as she cauterized it shut. "You're next in line."

A violet lightspear materialized in her hand, and Mira whimpered in fear as she saw its angry sparks lashing out to the air, filling her with a growing dread as she clumsily stumbled to her back. "N-no… L-Lord Riser…"

"Back away from her you crow— nggh!" Karlamine winced, dropping to her knees as she caught herself by embedding a sword into the dirt. "She's just a kid!"

"Then we're in agreement that kids shouldn't play an adult's game," Raynare hummed, and unceremoniously threw her lightspear like a javelin.

The Knights screamed as the Pawn, frozen in fear, shut her eyes as if it could lessen the pain.

It didn't, but the pain never came either.

She heard the buzzing, but it didn't hurt as it should.

Mira opened her watery hazel eyes to see the lightspear had landed next to her head, and she quickly scrambled away from its intoxicating light aura, squirming to her feet as she fled to Karlamine.

"Hmph. Missed."

It wasn't mercy that spared Mira from her. Mercy is for angels.

Fallen angels pursue desires. Harming kids was not one of them. Scaring them was another kind of satisfaction though. Especially ones who wore their emotions on their sleeve. Or in Mira's case; her red overshirt-jacket-cloth-thing. Raynare never cared about the Japanese or their culture. Just another place she worked in.

She still was going to count the Pawn as hers, no matter what Akeno was going to say once this admittedly fun game ended.

"Now where were we again…?" her eyes flitted as Raynare returned to her last prey, at the woman who had just pulled out a lightspear out of her stomach, and now holding the hole it left behind with both her shaky hands.

Siris' skin was nearly as pale as her white cheongsam-like outfit. She tried to reach down to her sword, but she fell over instead, having to use her one hand to stop herself from completely meeting the dirt ground.

A violet lightspear blazed in her hand as her smile etched its way back to her lips. "You I don't mind toying a bit more…"

Her friend shouted her name, Siris closed her eyes, and surrendered everything to fate.

But Issei tended to defy fates, as the Chosen had surfaced from the pool of Raynare's shadow, and promptly fired a bullet of Destruction to deflect the homing lightspear.

"What the— Issei?!" Raynare swiveled around, her barely covered breasts slapping him in the face as he wasn't standing straight.

"...Why can't that happen when we were fighting…" he mumbled, shaking his head to forget the sensation of her melons. "Something's not right, Yuum— Raynare. The uh… the System isn't working right. People who couldn't fight didn't get spirited away like they should."

Raynare narrowed her eyes, and folded her arms. "What?"

"The teleportation thing. It's not doing its job," Issei explained offhandedly as he crouched to Riser's Knight who looked more hurt. "Asia's in the baseball field. Can you bring that one there?"

She glanced at Karlamine, then at him. "What? What's happening here? Whose side are you on?"

"Does it matter?! Someone could get killed here!" Issei snapped, livid, surprising and confusing both sides. He might well be the most powerful out of them, yet still he was the most humane. "Let's go. Hang on to me uh… you."

"I can…" Siris grunted, shoving away his hand, "stand on my own…"

"No you can't," Issei persisted. "Quit bulshitting or I'll bonk your head. Hard."

Siris gave one last look of confusion at him and her fellow Knight, but as Karlamine nodded her head with a degree of caution, she let the boy carry her by slinging an arm around his shoulder. Shock crept to her eyes when they fell into their shadow.

"...What kind of power is that? Is he a devil?"

"Something worse or better. Fuck if I know…" Raynare pinched the bridge of her nose. She was still going to count that Knight in her bet.

"Raynare, do you read me?"

"Gremory," she grumbled. The ashen taste had dissipated but it was still bitter having to serve under the devil. "Your loverboy just took my kill away from me and then told me to spare the rest. You know anything about this? Or is he just bullshitting?"

"Did he mention the system?"

"Something like that. Hell if I know what he's talking about."

"It's malfunctioning. This never happens before... Satan Beelzebub made sure of it. But it's not important, Issei's here already. Can you get Riser's—"

A shattering crack cut their chatter, as a black tear sliced open the skies and radiant sunlight spotlighted the glamorous entrance of a Goddess and her Servant.


break


"What's happening?!" Lady Phenex shot out from her seat the moment the display screen went black.

"Darling it's fine," her husband immediately clasped her hand, drawing circles with his thumb. "Our boy's strong. He'll protect them as he has before."

"But this is different! Satan Lucifer? Please tell me this is never intended?""

"We made no such scheme, Lady Phenex," Sirzechs got up as well, looking around the lavish living room of the Gremory mansion as he saw his parents' eyes rich with fear over their daughter. But they weren't the ones he looked for.

It was the maid standing readily behind a table of consoles imbued with magic and Ajuka's calculations.

"Grayfia, enter the Dimensional Gap. Head to the Game Field. Stop the Game and bring everyone out of there."

She dipped her head. "At once, Satan Lucifer."

As she exited the room, Sirzechs turned to the parents. "My Lords and Ladies, I understand the worries in your heart. I feel it as well. That's my little sister in there regardless of my title. I assure you, Riser, Rias and their Peerages will be safe from harm and brought to us as soon as possible."


When he caught the disturbing crack as the skies literally ripped itself apart, Issei activated his Vision and zoomed in on the two figures floating down, and noted the bright golden light from one of the women, while the other was purely white.

{A Goddess,} Balthazar affirmed grimly, coating his host's body and limbs within his dark mist. {And her Chosen, of course…}

'...She got fox ears…'

{Hm? Hmm. So she seems. What about it.}

'I dunno. They're just… look so fuzzy. I mean those pom-poms in her ears. Don't you wanna squish it?'

The Wayfarer hummed thoughtfully. {Have you ever eaten a fox before?}

Issei was deeply disturbed. '...No?'

{Can you try it? I'd like to try it.}

'Wh-what?! No! And I'm not eating a dog or a cat either! I'm Japanese, not Chinese. Live seafood is the farthest I can eat!'

{Why limit yourself? I wonder if they taste like chicken.} The gluttonous Devourer sniggered, causing a mild avalanche in Issei's head. {Sensing a great Divine Power from this one, boy. Magic is her main strength. Close in and keep her from casting spells.}

With haste, Issei detached himself and adopted a defensive position, putting himself a good distance in front of Rias' and Riser's Peerages as they were still bewildered by the last events.

"Issei…?" Rias muttered softly. Her love for him manifested into worry as she could tell what was bound to happen. "Again? This soon…?" She wanted to see him fly. With or without her. But the thought of seeing him getting hurt horrified her still.

'...Wonder if I'm gonna start to face them once a week…' A slight trepidation was lined in his thoughts.

{Frankly? I doubt it,} Balthazar alleged. {I think you'd know. Boss would have probably told you. That cursed lion girl was a special case since she's not exactly a Chosen when she faced you.}

'But this one is, right?'

{Oh definitely. Yet I doubt this encounter is clean…}

Issei eyed the two floating women, cautiously watching them float with all the time in the world, as if they didn't just rudely interrupted a serious event.

'...I've a feeling I'll need a bigger shield than some buckler.'

{I'll see to it,} The dragon affirmed, {Just think whenever you need one and I'll conjure and despawn so you can remain mobile.}

'So it'll pop in and out?'

{Aye. Just make sure your left hand is empty.}

'Sure thing.' His eager smile didn't go unnoticed by Rias. 'Let's do this. Let's let her do her monologue and come up with a plan.'

Balthazar couldn't even deny he was impressed by the boy's way of thinking.

"Aah~! Devils and their… games." The Goddess exclaimed as her white regal priestess robe floated gracefully. She remained in the air, of course, because the artificial ground was too unsightly for her soles. Not unlike her Servant, who had landed with an elegant twirl, striking a pose of her own.

"Who are you?!" Rias had risen to her feet, standing several feet away behind Issei. "What do you want?!"

Her red lips twirled into an arrogant smile often found in many devil nobles. "Nothing that concerns you or your… feeble peons." The Goddess giggled, enjoying the confused looks of her audience. Ah… to be bathed in the spotlight once again. The main source of attention. Fitting for a deity as bright as the sun itself.

"My name is Ōhirume-no-Muchi-no-Kami…"

"Shortened to Amaterasu for convenience sake~!"

"Quiet, fox," the Goddess hissed.

Tamamo tucked her ears and covered them with her hands, bracing for a paper fan. "Eeek— yes I'm sorry Okami-sama!"

"...A Goddess…? Here…?" Riser's dark-skinned Pawn muttered in disbelief.

"W-w-wait, wait… we're not going to fight a Goddess, right?"

"We're barely even legal!" Ile completed her twin's thoughts. "Shuriya, protect us!"

"I hold no interest in you devils and your diminutive squabbles…" Amaterasu scoffed as she conjured a billowy cloud where she could relax herself upon. "Just the boy, that is all. Interfere and I will bedazzle you by showing you how meager it is for a God to snuff a soul. Or a dozen."

"What have you done with the Rating Game? The injured shouldn't be here!" Rias seethed, deeply insulted. Not just her, her entire kin was being looked down upon. God or no god, this kind of slight shouldn't be ignored or forgotten, else the entire devilkind wouldn't be respected.

"Oh ho ho~ shut it, temptress. Like I said, the struggles of mortals are of no concern for the immortals… and mortals shouldn't snoop into the business of the immortals. They tend to… expire, rather quickly."

"Mmm~! Mm!" Tamamo nodded, her arms folding and nose in the air as she rapidfired her words, "Gods mean business and they rarely forgive interlopers and appropriately so as it is like standing up in the middle of a marriage ceremony with the Gods as the groom and business as the bride~ which is extremely romantic and dramatic but—" Amaterasu struck her Servant with a painless jolt of light. "—ayayatatata~!"

"Shut it you mutt…" Amaterasu grumped, as her fair skin contorted with glee as she saw a trail of fire flaring above the distant sea of flames. Four more devils… thought two seemed unconscious. "Ah… wonderful. More spectators to marvel our glory..."

"The hell are you?" Riser Phenex fired a question. His Queen laid limply on his hands, the very reason of his burning anger. "Rias! Do you know anything about this?!"

"There's your answer." Rias nudged her chin at the Goddess, lips thin with anger. Eyebrows lowered and hands crossed. "She broke the barrier and replaced it with her own. "Bring her here, my Bishop will heal her. Where's Akeno and Yumi?!"

"We're here, Senpai," and Yumi dove down, passing Riser who was cautiously descending. And the Knight laid down the beaten Queen, her white and red priestess outfit destroyed, revealing a body charred with soots of ashes and light cuts.

"...Oh goodness… Akeno… Asia!"

"Yes Senpai!" Asia rushed over like a field medic, leaving the stable Rook and healed Knight.

"They fought each other while your Knight kept me on a wild goose chase," Riser churned, fist coiled in rage after he placed Yubelluna next to Rias' Queen. Just seeing her writhe painfully nearly made him explode in fury.

"We found them both lying on the goddamn ground when I passed by," Yumi explained. "The recall system isn't working, is that because of them? Who are they? Why are they here?"

"Yes. God and Chosen. Issei," Rias replied, and Yumi's expression went grimmer. "Don't go to him. The best thing we can help him is by staying put."

Yumi nodded, but Riser wasn't pleased.

"Why? Because some pompous bastard think they can take us all on?"

"She's a Goddess, Riser."

"And we're devils," the Young Phoenix seethed. "Defying gods or goddesses is in our nature, especially one that's arrogantly messing with our affair!"

"Riser, don't—"

His fiery wings blazed, flaring brightly as Riser soared into the skies, leaving a burning trail of hot orange fire.

"—escalate..." Rias sighed, muttering her words. She couldn't reel in her opponent, but her Servants took priority as well. "Raynare, where are you?"

"Gym," the fallen angel responded. "I'd go out but I'm not sticking my head out when there's a bloody goddess."

She heard chatters alongside her voice. She had to be with Riser's Servants. "What about your previous enemies?"

"They're fine. Some brat came over and—"

"Who're you calling a brat!"

That must be Ravel.

"—drop some Phoenix Tears..." Raynare completed her interrupted sentence, possibly glowering at Riser's little sister because Rias could hear a shrill 's-stop looking at me like that!' followed by a menacing, 'Why? Am I scaring you? Good.'

Rias glanced at Akeno, still writhing in pain even as Asia was healing her wounds. Next to her, Riser's Servants had gathered around Yubelluna, doing their best to tend to their Queen. Asia had cleaned the dirt surrounding Akeno's cuts with her own nun outfit, tearing the skirt part with a bit of magic and using it as a makeshift rag. Sweats were beading from her forehead, travelling down her small but determined face.

She couldn't keep this up for much longer.

"...There should be some first aid kits in there. Big white box with green cross. We've got a few injured here and Asia's getting exhausted. See if you can find them. Then exit from the back entrance and head to the baseball field near the tree line; that's where we are. The forest is no longer burning, but watch out for the smoke."

"Yea, yea… I got it."

With that, their communication was cut. A bit impolitely, but Rias couldn't be too strict at this moment in time.

She was aware of what would happen, and quickly gathered her present Servants, as well as Riser's, who were all worriedly looking at him then their unconscious Queen, dread in their chest, as the Young Phoenix was being made a fool by a Goddess who had just swatted him away like flies with a hand made of sunlight.

"All of you, I need you to listen. Not as your enemy, but as a fellow devil. There's no use invoking the anger of a God, Satan Lucifer will surely have taken notice of this interference and has sent someone to investigate; the best we can do is simply wait and stay and see to the wounded."

She earned some nods, a few uncertain ones, but that was good enough. The rest she could do was pray… pray that this too would end, and no one had to lose anyone or anything. Herself, or even Riser.


A black claw coiled around his chest as Issei saw his supposed final foe of the Rating Game was easily bashed away by the Goddess. He knew she wasn't his opponent, at least not now, but there might come a time where he had to face them as Death's Chosen.

But this feeling he felt wasn't a feeling of fear or uncertainty… rather, a strange mix of anger and excitement. Like it was smiling at him as it was pushing him off a cliff, where he might lose himself and never find a way back up, forever falling deeper and deeper until eventually he couldn't tell that he was still falling, because he'd grown used to it.

{Boy! Now's not the time to freeze!} Balthazar snapped him out of his… foreboding foreshadowing. {That phoenix will fight to the bitter end and then some— I don't care for his life, but if you want to save him, then step in and fight her Chosen!}

"Ouch… that must've hurt…" Said Chosen was still on the green patch of grass, passively looking up, wincing as her God blasted the devil with another beam of light. He would've disintegrated completely if Amaterasu wasn't purposefully holding back for the sake of prolonging her entertainment.

'Yeah… right. My bad.' Issei straightened his posture as he balled his fists. The same black brass knuckles appeared within his hands, now cleaned from devil blood decorating them earlier. "He—"

"You saved my life," Atalanta suddenly stood next to him, eyes dead set at the fox girl. "Let me fight for you."

"Sure, next time," he replied just as fiercely. "I got a bad feeling things are gonna get messy… They're devils, not like what we are. Well… you're a devil too but you know what I mean."

Atalanta sighed. "You're a good person, Hyoudou. But a Servant puts herself first before their Master."

"You're not my Servant… you're like… a helper or something like that."

"I'm aware the term doesn't sit right with you, but it's just a term. Nothing more," she said with a chuckle. "I've lost most of my power, but at the least let me weaken her or reveal to you what she can do. I don't plan on getting myself killed on my second day of this new life."

{Not a bad idea. If she's so willing and knows when to quit; why refuse? In the meantime, maybe you can get that god's attention or bring down that bird and stop making things worse for himself.}

"But… well… alright."

With his sigh as approval, Atalanta drew her bow from her shoulder and dashed forward. "You! Amaterasu's Servant! If you wish to fight him, then you must go through me!"

Two bright chestnut-colored vulpine ears perked up as Tamamo shifted her attention to the incoming Archer, and found herself grinning.

"My, my~ a lion for an appetizer?" she danced gracefully around the three black arrows being shot at her as they whizzed past her neck, waist, and under the curl of her bushy fox tail. "...don't mind if I do."

"Hey you're not who I'm here for!" A petulant shout came from the Goddess, "your enemy is the boy, Caster! Not the Archer! And stop attempting to punch me you twit!" Amaterasu griped, slamming another giant hand of light to the devil's side by flicking her wrist.

Riser came down hurling into the new school building, shattering an entire window and breaking a few chairs and tables as dust billowed from where he crash landed.

Red flames fixed his broken bones and regenerated his missing flesh and torn outfit as the Phoenix rose again, fists clenching and jaw thrusted forward in indignation. Yet before he could fly away from the hole he created, a figure manifested from the darkness of the classroom.

"Riser! Stop! You're just gonna get your asskicked again!"

He recognized the voice. He turned around, and saw him. "You? How did you get here?"

"Not exactly the time to talk about that, don't you think?"

"Right," Riser scoffed, "there's a god I need to burn."

"That's not it either!" Issei cried out, moving between the students' desks. 'Hey that one is Rias''. He thought, recognizing the seat near the not-broken-window as it was where Rias liked to gaze outside like a character during a dramatic build-up scene of an anime.

"What do you mean that's not it?!" Riser seethed, annoyed for a good reason. "She's the bitch that malfunctioned the System! If I don't take her down, Yubel can't get the medical attention she needs! Or even Rias' Queen!"

Issei slackened his shoulders. "...Wait, Senpai's hurt?"

"Yubel fought her. Ended in a stalemate," the Phenex grumbled. "And do you think we're not trapped here? We're practically in her cage… whatsyourface?"

The Chosen lowered his eyelids. "Hyoudou. Issei Hyoudou."

"Right, Hyoudou." Riser angrily dusted himself, patting his red suit and pants. "The obvious thing to do here is bring her down so we can all go home, and I'll do it by myself. As if I'd put my girls in line against a haughty goddess… Who gives a damn about the Game anymore. None of us are in the right mood."

Well Issei could agree to that sentiment. "You're right, but the goddess wants me, not you."

"What, so you're going to face her alone?"

"Not her! The other girl!"

Riser scrunched his blonde eyebrows. "There's another girl?"

"You didn't see her? She's got big tail, big fox ears, big chest…" Issei would soon come to learn Tamamo referred to them as her Mana Tanks.

"So I just need to take her down? Is that what you're telling me?"

"No, not you, I have to beat her."

"What?! Why does it have to be you?!"

"Because the rules say so!"

"What imaginary rules are you talking about?!"

"Arrgh— look. It doesn't matter. What matter is you gotta get your shit together, because that's a fucking goddess, and I don't know what a goddess can do, but she probably can level this building if she feels like it… Right now, I'm supposed to be watching how that fox girl fights, and not wasting my time here talking to you, so we both can either go out and do what we can do, in your case; helping your girls that aren't with Rias yet—"

At that, his eyes widened. "Ravel…"

"...Ra-what? Revel? Unravel?"

"My sister," his wings spread wide.

"OI WATCH IT—" Issei backed away just as the hot headed Phenex broke through a perfectly innocent wall, creating another gap. "...What the… Didn't he see this giant hole he just came from? Am I actually dreaming right now, Raz?"

{Hard to say. The line between reality and fiction has only blurred the more days we spent,} Balthazar said. {He's looking for his sister, that's fine. Now get back down there and observe the fight, and make sure no stray fires are going to harm the devils. As we can tell… that goddess doesn't hold them in high regard. Anything that happens to them is not her concern.}

Issei stepped towards the first hole, gazing at the closer soccer field where Atalanta had taken the Chosen to fight so that Rias was in safe distance. He saw beams of incandescent yellow lights being fired from some floating mirrors. He saw how Atalanta was able to keep firing as she dodged, darting left and right and even sliding on one knee, tilting her body back as a beam skimmed above her chest and face.

Then she swiveled around and continued to rain down arrows regardless of the distance.

Until another stream of light erupted from the skies, and struck her down, and drowned her scream as her opponent visibly froze, as if she herself didn't expect that attack.

{Well… this observation ended abruptly.}

Issei breathed in sharply. He felt a sharper sting from the back of his hand as his Mark smoldered.

"ENOUGH!" Amaterasu seethed, livid, her white robes lashing at the air. "Get out and bring yourself here, Hyoudou Issei! Right this instant! Or I swear in my name, I will purge every devil present!"

The same rage that Death possessed manifested itself for the first time in His Chosen. A cold rage, a frozen fury that burned. He hadn't completely realized the depth of his fury even after he plunged into his shadows. His heart rate wasn't increasing. He wasn't sweating any more than he was before. There wasn't even a speck of violent thoughts.

But the moment he emerged from Atalanta's side, Issei knew one thing for sure: that the day might not be today, or tomorrow, or next week or even in the coming months, but when possible… when he had grown stronger… more skilled... he was going to tear away a goddess' life.

And somewhere within the belly of the Realms of the Undead, Death, able to sense the slightest change of His Chosen, smiled. Not that Hades was able to tell.

The Goddess of the Sun had proven to be the right catalyst to trigger the right reaction. Best was that she willingly dumped herself into the cauldron.


To be continued...


all according to keikaku - Death, probably

This is probably my most favorite chapter so far because of how much is happening. It's just so chaotic and imo almost reflects reality. Imagine yourself in a train crash and you're the passanger; no one knows what the fuck just happened, but people are scared and screaming, possibly dying. wtf you do?

Other than that: a game within a rating game, Raynare being a mean but sorta sensible bitch, Issei and Riser proving that their unregistered middle name is Chad Thundercock, Balthazar's guiltless comment of Atalanta's likely demise, Issei's long-coming descent into madness as more doubt and truths being revealed started to cloud his wide-eyed idealistic values that maybe, just maybe, some gods are twisted, and Atalanta's fate was just the tip of the iceberg.

Also, Tamamo. She adorable yo. And her voice and intonation is just muy bien ( ͡ʘ ͜ʖ ͡ʘ) and i don't even play fate go. I know the evil that is 'gacha games' shudders

If you played Dragon Age 2, Hawke's storyline is more or less the same as Issei's heading. Except… probably not as empty in terms of the ending. Gameplay was ass and repetitive but DA 2 still has better protagonist tale than DA:I don't even at me

Morrigan best girl still

Varric best bro

Isabela best hoe

Hate blank-faced Warden tho

Next chap: Death and Hades tea time, chat about deathly stuff. Finale for the not-so Rating Game. A few unexpected appearances. Or expected if ur super smahrt. Hint: it's not Grayfia.