Chapter 2 – Supernatural

[Ready to go, count zero~! Kamen Rider Agito~! You must become more—]

Takeshi turned off the action figure-like alarm clock next to his bed and turned his sights to the ceiling.

"I couldn't sleep a wink…"

Takeshi let out a dispirited sigh as he got up from his bed and opened the curtains, the rising sun's light flooding his room. Despite his best efforts, yesterday's events were still weighing on his mind, preventing him from even dozing off. As such, he had resigned himself to a sleepless night in the end.

The only bright spot was that nothing else of note had happened, much to his relief. No Strays had come banging at his front door or something like that. Stifling a yawn, Takeshi picked up the school uniform he had tossed on the chair the night before and started dressing.

"Takeshi, are you awake? Breakfast is ready, and we shouldn't keep our guest waiting."

"Coming down in a second, Mom!"

Takeshi responded to his mother's call. After making one last check to ensure everything was in order, he headed downstairs to the dining room, where a middle-aged woman of average height with a petite build, short auburn hair and green eyes was busy setting plates.

"Good morning, Takeshi."

Ryuugamine Shiori, the lady of the house, smiled upon seeing Takeshi, but her expression then morphed into a frown as she kept speaking.

"Did you rest properly? Is your body hurting anywhere? Are you perhaps still feeling dizzy? Maybe you should stay home today just to be on the safe side. Taking care of your health is of the utmost priority after all. Maybe I should also request a leave from work so that I—"

"Woah, woah, slow down there, Mom. I'm fine. Everything's fine. It was just a dizzy spell, nothing to fuss over. There's neither a need for you to take a leave nor for me to miss school."

Takeshi made a placating gesture as he rushed to assuage his mother. Him collapsing on the side of the road due to vertigo, Rias noticing him and bringing him back home was the story the two youths had come up with to excuse his bruises and Rias's presence in the Ryuugamine residence.

As for Rias convincing his parents to stay for the night even though she was a total stranger or the fact that his parents hadn't questioned him more about his 'accident', that was something Takeshi couldn't wrap his head around. However, he did notice that his parents' expressions had become glazed at some point while Rias was speaking to them, so he figured she had used some mysterious Devil magic or something like that to persuade them.

"If you say so…" Shiori said with an unconvinced expression. "However, please, don't take any chances. If you feel sick again, call your father or me, and we'll come pick you up straight away. Promise?"

"Yes, Mom." Takeshi rolled his eyes as he sat at the table. "Seriously, you're such a worrywart…"

At that moment, two more people deep in conversation entered the dining room. One was Rias, while the other was a bespectacled middle-aged man with messy black hair, amber eyes similar to Takeshi's and a muscular build. Upon catching sight of Takeshi, the man grinned.

"Yo, Takeshi!" Ryuugamine Hiroto, Takeshi's father, said with an energetic tone. "You're looking better today! As expected of my son, you won't let a trivial thing like vertigo keep you down!"

"Good morning, Ryuugamine-kun." Rias greeted Takeshi with a smile. "Were you able to get some rest last night?"

"Good morning, Dad, Gremory-senpai." Takeshi nodded at the two of them. "Unfortunately, I was a bit too high-strung to sleep. But I'm feeling fine, so there shouldn't be a problem."

"That's good to hear."

"Rias-san and I were just having a very interesting conversation." Hiroto said as Shiori started putting food on everyone's plates. "Apparently, both her father and older brother are into the construction business as well among other things. Why, their company was the one that built that large high-class hotel in Kyoto which was featured in the news a while back. Isn't that right, Rias-san?"

"Yes, that is correct." Rias said. "However, their work in that department so far doesn't seem that impressive compared to the project you're currently undertaking. If memory serves well, once the Redevelopment Project is complete, Kuoh's size will be tripled, if not quadrupled. This must be a big responsibility for you."

"It is, but I prefer to think of it as a big opportunity." Hiroto smirked. "Plus, everyone in this family loves a good challenge. Isn't that right, Shiori, Takeshi?"

"Took the words right out of my mouth."

"Can't argue with that."

The two of them said in succession, prompting Rias to smile. Once Shiori had finished serving, she sat down as well, with everyone putting their hands together as they bowed.

[Thanks for the food.]

For a couple of minutes, there was no sound other than the movement of chopsticks. Eventually, Rias spoke.

"These are delicious, Shiori-san. As expected, nothing beats a homemade meal. However, I do feel bad for imposing on you. Not only did I burden you with my presence last night, but I'm also intruding on your breakfast time as well."

"Nonsense." Shiori waved her hand in a dismissive manner. "Rest assured that you aren't bothering or burdening us at all, Rias-san. You helped our son, so that's the least we can do for you. Not to mention, you're the first guest he's brought home in a long time."

"Then, if I may be so bold, may I ask what exactly did you put inside this miso soup?" Rias asked. "Its taste is simply divine compared to the ones I've had in the past."

"It's quite simple actually. The recipe goes like this…"

As the two women started conversing, Hiroto edged closer to Takeshi and whispered to him with a mischievous smile on his face.

"…So, when can I expect some grandchildren?"

It took all of Takeshi's self-control to not choke on his breakfast.

"…Aren't you skipping quite a few steps there, Dad!?" Takeshi whispered back with a frantic tone while glaring at Hiroto. "To begin with, where the Hell did this come from? I'm sure I told you that Gremory-senpai and I hadn't even spoken to each other before yesterday. We're practically strangers."

"Eh, but that's such a waste." Hiroto frowned. "I mean, look at her. She's beautiful, she's well-mannered and she comes from a rich family. What more could you possibly ask for?"

"Maybe get to know her a bit first?" Takeshi sighed. "Plus, I doubt you'd be singing the same tune if you knew what she was…"

"What was that? I didn't quite catch that last part."

"It's nothing."

"Oh my, look at the time." Rias said as she got up. "We really should get going if we don't want to be late for school, Ryuugamine-kun."

"Right you are, Senpai." Takeshi followed suit, grabbing his bag before turning to his parents. "See you later, Mom, Dad."

"It was a pleasure meeting you, Shiori-san, Hiroto-san." Rias bowed to Takeshi's parents. "Once again, thank you for your hospitality. On the name of the House of Gremory, I swear I shall repay you for this."

"No need to be so formal." Shiori smiled. "The pleasure was all ours, Rias-san. We'll be glad to have you over again."

"Don't be a stranger, Rias-san." Hiroto grinned. "If you need help with something, our door is always open for you."

After that exchange, the two youths exited the Ryuugamine residence, walking side-by-side as they made their way to Kuoh Academy. Despite having walked this path numerous times before, Takeshi couldn't help but feel that everything seemed more vibrant today, more alive.

I guess nearly dying does make you appreciate the little things a bit more.

Takeshi thought so as he gazed at the cloudless sky with a small smile on his face.

"—mine-kun. Earth to Ryuugamine-kun. Can you hear me?"

"Gah!"

Takeshi was startled when Rias's face suddenly appeared before his eyes, causing him to stumble and almost fall down.

"Are you alright?" Rias asked. "My apologies if I surprised you, but you didn't respond at all even though I was calling out to you all this time."

"Sorry about that, Senpai…" Takeshi said while rubbing his neck. "My thoughts…they were wandering a bit."

"Still thinking about yesterday's events, eh?" Rias nodded with an understanding expression. "I can't blame you for that. All this must have come as quite a shock to you."

"It has, but I was mostly thinking about how lucky I was to have made it out in one piece." Takeshi said. "Speaking of which, you still owe me an explanation about everything that happened, Senpai."

"Don't worry, I haven't forgotten." Rias said. "But this is neither the time nor the place for such a discussion. Make sure you clear your schedule for today after school. Once classes are finished, someone will come and pick you up on my behalf."

"Pick me up and take me where exactly?" Takeshi eyed Rias in a suspicious manner. "Your Devil lair?"

"Something like that, though not quite as sinister."

Rias giggled while saying so. Takeshi couldn't help but think she was really cute when she smiled like that. However, whatever pleasant feelings he had were replaced by a feeling of dread upon realizing he had overlooked something crucial. He was commuting to school next to its number one idol, something that was bound to garner a lot of attention from his surroundings. As expected—

"That's…Ryuugamine and Rias-senpai…together?"

"Why is the Rias Gremory, who hasn't shown any interest towards any guy, walking next to him…?"

"Is Ryuugamine blackmailing her…?"

"Wouldn't be surprising… Think there's something fishy going on with him after all?"

"I heard that Ryuugamine's family is well-off just like Rias-senpai's family. Maybe their parents set them up?"

"No! I refuse to believe that my chances with Rias-senpai are now zero!"

"Dude, don't kid yourself. They were always zero to begin with."

Such whispered discussions could be heard coming from all around Rias and Takeshi by passing students, prompting the latter to let out a small groan. He had a feeling his life was about to become even more complicated than before. As for Rias, she looked unperturbed, either because she hadn't heard everyone's remarks or because she didn't care for them.

"I'll be going ahead. See you later, Ryuugamine-kun."

Rias said as she and Takeshi split from each other at the school's entrance. Feeling as if the numerous stares from the surrounding students were burning holes through him, Takeshi made his way to his classroom, only to be met by even more stares and an uncomfortable silence upon entering. Taking a page out of Rias's book, he paid no heed to them and their hushed conversations as he sat down. However, the next distraction proved far too difficult to ignore.

"Ryuugamine, you bastard! What's the meaning of this!?"

Rushing into the classroom while flanked by his two friends, Issei slammed his hand on Takeshi's desk, his face inches away from Takeshi's face.

"First off, you're too close." Takeshi said as he pushed Issei's face away with his finger. "Second, what's the meaning of what?"

"Don't play dumb!" Matsuda shouted. "The whole school is talking about it! That unattainable flower, Rias Gremory, actually walked to school with you even though she shuns most boys! What's the deal with that!?"

"Doesn't the whole school have anything better to do than this…?"

Takeshi sighed as Motohama spoke next while fixing his glasses.

"I thought of you as a comrade in our unpopular guys alliance, but you're actually craftier than you let on, Ryuugamine. To think that your aim was Rias-senpai all along… Truly devious. What happened to our oath of us four becoming 'magicians' together?"

"I don't remember swearing any such oath with you guys." Takeshi said with a deadpan look. "Also, you're blowing this way out of proportion. There's nothing going on between me and Gremory-senpai."

"You really expect us to believe that!?" Issei exclaimed. "What, you just happened to run into her and she let you walk to school with her!? Do you take us for idiots!?"

"Believe what you want, and that goes for all of you listening even though you're pretending not to." Takeshi said, causing all the students present to flinch. "Classes are about to start, so don't you three think you should be getting back to your classroom?"

Issei looked like he wanted to say more, but refrained upon realizing they would be late if they stayed here longer.

"This isn't over, Ryuugamine! We'll be back to wring every last bit of information out of you!"

With that parting line, Issei, Matsuda and Motohama dashed out of the classroom, disappearing as fast as they had come.

"Can't wait…"

Takeshi sighed once again. He had a feeling this would be a long day…


Later on…

"Finally…"

Classes had just finished in what might have been Takeshi's most frustrating day in school so far. His anxiousness and impatience made him feel as if time was passing by slower than normal, while the constant pestering from the Perverted Trio at random intervals and his classmates' hushed gossiping only served to further aggravate his irritation. That's why he was glad it was over.

A small commotion outside of the classroom that sounded like girls shrieking caught his attention. Just as he wondered what had happened, the answer presented itself in the form of Kiba Yuuto, the school prince, who walked inside the classroom and headed straight for Takeshi.

"Hello, Ryuugamine-kun. I've come to pick you up."

Cue even more shrieking and hushed discussions erupting around the two boys. From what little he could make out, they seemed to be discussing the possibilities of the school prince and the school oddity having a secret rendezvous, something which only added to Takeshi's frustration. Once again, he chose to ignore them as he focused on the blond-haired youth.

"Pick me up, you say?" Takeshi narrowed his eyes. "Did Gremory-senpai ask you to do this, Kiba-kun?"

"That's right." Yuuto confirmed it. "I'm here under Rias Gremory-sama's orders. Please, follow me. Everyone's waiting for you."

Takeshi did as requested and followed behind Yuuto. After a couple of minutes of walking, the two of them found themselves in the back of the school, where the old school building was situated amidst several trees.

From what Takeshi had heard, most students avoided that place due to its somewhat eerie atmosphere and had labeled it as one of the Seven Wonders of Kuoh Academy. However, from what he could see, the two-storey building before him looked old, but well-maintained and not creepy at all. It seemed the students were exaggerating about things as usual.

"Gremory-senpai is in there? Why?"

"This is the headquarters of the Occult Research Club, of which Rias Gremory-sama is the President." Yuuto explained. "However, this is mostly a cover for our activities."

"Your activities?" Takeshi raised an eyebrow. "Like going around town and killing snake monster-shaped ladies?"

"Among other things." Yuuto smiled. "But I'm getting ahead of myself. President should be the one to explain things."

After saying so, Yuuto entered the old school building, with Takeshi following behind him. Going up the stairs, the duo arrived at the second floor in front of a classroom with a sign that read [Occult Research Club] hanging above it. Yuuto knocked on the door and spoke.

"President, it's me. I've brought Ryuugamine-kun."

"Good job. Come in then."

Yuuto opened the door, gesturing for Takeshi to step inside. As he did so, he was surprised by the interior, which was filled with strange signs, words and glyphs. The middle of the former classroom was occupied by a large magic circle that gave Takeshi the goosebumps for some reason. There was also a large desk inside the room along with a couple of sofas and a shower on the corner. Sitting on the desk was Rias, with Akeno standing next to her, while a white-haired girl with a petite build was sitting on one of the sofas and munching taiyaki.

"Ah, you're here, Ryuugamine-kun." Rias greeted him with a smile as she stood up. "Please, have a seat. Akeno, if you would bring us some tea, please?"

"Of course, President."

Takeshi sat on the empty sofa, with Rias sitting on the one across him next to the white-haired girl.

"You must be acquainted with Yuuto and Akeno, but you probably don't know this girl." Rias said as she gestured to the girl sitting next to her. "This is Toujou Koneko, a third-year student in Kuoh's middle school division."

"I'm Ryuugamine Takeshi. A pleasure to meet you, Toujou-san."

Takeshi introduced himself while bowing. Koneko also bowed, but remained expressionless and didn't say anything in response. Takeshi assumed she was a girl of few words.

"Here's your tea."

Akeno placed a steaming cup on the table, and then went to sit next to Rias. After blowing it a couple of times, Takeshi took a sip from it, letting out a satisfied sigh.

"This is really good. You made this, Himejima-senpai?"

"Ufufu, sure did." Akeno let out a small laugh. "I'm glad it's to your liking."

"Yuuto, there's no need to stand." Rias said to the blond-haired youth, who was standing near the door. "Take a seat as well."

"Yes, President."

After Yuuto had sat down next to the girls, Rias turned her sights to Takeshi, causing the latter to straighten up.

"I promised you answers before, and I intend to deliver, Ryuugamine-kun." Rias said. "However, let me start with a question first. How much do you know about Christianity and the Bible?"

"Not much." Takeshi admitted. "I know Christianity is a monotheistic religion common to the western countries, but is not that widespread here in Japan, especially after the end of the Shimabara Rebellion back in 1638. As for the Bible, it's a collection of religious scriptures sacred to Christians that details the guidelines of their faith among other things if I'm not mistaken. I suppose Devils fit in there somewhere?"

"Indeed." Rias said. "We Devils are one of the three mystical races recorded in the Bible. We are the denizens of the Underworld, or what Christians commonly refer to as Hell, tasked with fulfilling requests from humans that summon us. In exchange, we receive an appropriate price from them."

"Price?" Takeshi gulped. "You mean…taking their souls or their firstborn or something like that?"

"No, no, nothing like that." Rias made a dismissive gesture. "True, the Devils of old used to collect souls from their contractors, but we don't do that anymore. In this day and age, we receive objects of value or money as payment from our customers. Much more efficient."

"That's one stereotype crushed." Takeshi remarked. "You said there are three races, so what about the other two?"

"The other two are the Angels and the Fallen Angels." Rias said. "Angels are the agents of Deus Trinity, the God of Christianity. They reside in Heaven and are responsible for hunting down Devils and Fallen Angels among other things. Fallen Angels are former Angels that fell due to having impure thoughts or committing a sin. Like Angels, they are also our enemies."

"Wait, so Fallen Angels and Devils aren't the same?" Takeshi frowned. "I sort of had the impression that the Angels who fell were transformed into Devils or something."

"Unlike what some forms of media portray, that's not actually the case." Rias said, and then frowned. "Well…I guess it kind of is when it comes to our first leaders, but that's a tale for another time. You only need to remember that Fallen Angels and Devils are two distinct races."

"The first Fallen Angels took control of a portion of the Underworld a long time ago, forming the Grigori organization, and have been at odds with us Devils ever since." Yuuto added from the side. "While we gather strength and influence by forming contracts with humans, they also make deals with humans and seek to use them against us. As for the Angels, they seek to destroy both races and employ trained humans as warriors to hunt us down."

"So…there's a war going on between the three races behind the scenes?"

"There was full-scale war going on for a long time, but it ended about six centuries ago." Akeno said in response to Takeshi's question. "Right now, it's more of a tense armistice. There are small conflicts occurring here and there, but there are no large-scale battles anymore. All three factions came out exhausted from the Great War after all. Continuing it would only mean certain annihilation for everyone involved."

"I see…" Takeshi muttered, still trying to wrap his head around all this. "Does that mean Christianity is the one true religion and everything else is just made-up nonsense?"

"No. Every other religion exists as well."

"…Come again?"

Certain he had misheard something, Takeshi couldn't help but ask so.

"All the other Pantheons and deities worshipped by humans across the world are real." Rias repeated. "I never said that Christianity was the only religion that existed. If anything, I'd say that the humans' knowledge about deities is incomplete and quite lacking."

"But that's…"

Takeshi struggled to find the words to speak. While he was amazed at how the world was much bigger than he actually thought, he had a hard time wrapping his head around the fact that every Pantheon ever recorded actually existed. Christianity's existence was already hard enough to swallow as it was.

"Are you alright, Ryuugamine-kun? You're looking a little pale there."

Rias asked with evident concern. Takeshi took a deep breath and gulped down his tea in one go in an attempt to compose himself. After feeling confident that he could speak without reducing himself to a stuttering mess, Takeshi addressed Rias.

"…Sorry, but this went completely beyond my expectations." Takeshi said. "All these Gods actually existing… If this got out, the world would be overturned big time and there'd be chaos in the streets."

"Right you are, which is why the existence of the supernatural is kept hidden by everyone involved." Rias said. "Gods are beings that depend on human worship after all, and such a revelation could have unexpected ramifications on the human world."

"No kidding…" Takeshi said. "But wait, if the Shinto Gods are real, that means Japan is their territory, right? In that case, what are Devils doing here?"

"Since there is a small presence of Christians in this country, we're allowed to operate here as long as we don't infringe on territory that is under the direct jurisdiction of the Shinto Gods and their followers." Rias explained. "We also don't request assistance for problems that concern our faction and vice-versa unless the situation is truly dire, to the point where it has ramifications for both of us. Is everything clear so far?"

"Yeah, I think I got the general idea." Takeshi said. "However, I'm more interested in that monster that attacked me yesterday. What exactly was that thing? I think you called her a Stray Devil…?"

"This issue is connected to the war Akeno spoke of." Rias's expression became more serious, causing Takeshi to stiffen. "Once the Great War concluded, all three factions found themselves on the brink of extinction. We Devils especially were hit pretty bad, having lost more than half of the founding noble families and our leaders, the Devil Kings. As such, it was decided that we should recruit and turn humans and other creatures into Devils in order to preserve our race."

"Recruit…and turn?" Takeshi frowned. "Then, that creature back there was also turned into a Devil?"

"That's right." Rias nodded. "Among the Reincarnated Devils, there are some who commit crimes and abandon the master they serve, running off to the human world usually and causing all sorts of trouble. These Devils are given the label of Stray Devil and are to be captured or disposed of when encountered."

Rias took a sip from her cup before continuing.

"Stray Devils typically have a low life expectancy, since they are killed by either us or members of other factions. However, in some rare cases, Stray Devils can evade pursuit long enough to join with other Strays and form a group. We call such a group a Cluster, and it's most likely what we're dealing with here."

"That means there could be a dozen Stray Devils out there similar to her?" Takeshi shivered. "Isn't that pretty bad?"

"It's unlikely there are that many Devils gathered in this Cluster." Rias said. "Such a large group would have drawn a lot of attention to itself long ago. No, I estimate we're dealing with three to four Stray Devils, including the Lamia we killed yesterday. Having a member of their group taken down should be a major blow to them."

"However, you still don't know where they're hiding, do you?" Takeshi asked. "That means they'll keep killing people in the meantime."

"Rest assured that we're doing our best to draw them out." Rias said. "We won't allow them to do as they please anymore. Before I elaborate on that though, we should first address the matter of your Sacred Gear."

"Sacred Gear…" Takeshi murmured. "That's the strange belt that appeared while that Lamia was trying to kill me, right? What's the deal with that?"

"Sacred Gears are artifacts created by Deus Trinity and bestowed to certain humans upon birth." Rias began explaining. "For example, many historical figures over the ages rose to prominence by utilizing the power of the Sacred Gear they were born with. They grant a variety of abilities to the possessors, ranging from mundane ones to ones that can potentially destroy the world if misused."

"Destroy…the world!?" Takeshi shouted with a shocked expression. "I'm carrying the equivalent of a planet buster bomb within me!?"

"That's unlikely." Rias said. "There is a very small number of Sacred Gears with such power, so chances are you don't have something like that. It definitely gives you power beyond that of average humans though. Most Sacred Gear possessors in the human world use the abilities granted to them to gain positions of power or fame. You'd be surprised by how many important people worldwide are secretly Sacred Gear possessors."

"If that's the case, how come the existence of the supernatural hasn't become public knowledge already?" Takeshi asked. "I mean, for every cautious Sacred Gear possessor, there has to be at least one or two idiots who'd try and show off. Get their moment in the spotlight along with tons of money, you know?"

"Like I said before, all factions make sure to intervene if our world is in danger of being exposed by modifying individuals' memories and covering up traces of supernatural activity whenever necessary." Rias said, and then smiled. "Plus, you'd be surprised by how easy it is for people to dismiss the truth even when they're staring at it right in the face. In this digital age, they're more likely to attribute special abilities and supernatural occurrences to elaborate set-ups made possible through technology rather than magic."

"Can't argue with that." Takeshi said. "Have you encountered other Sacred Gear possessors before, Gremory-senpai?"

"Of course." Rias smiled. "Why, there is one in this room apart from yourself, Ryuugamine-kun. Yuuto, would you please give our guest a demonstration?"

"Yes, President."

Yuuto extended his arm, with a blade materializing out of thin air. Grabbing its hilt, he pointed at the blade as he spoke.

"This is my Sacred Gear, Sword Birth. It enables me to create Demonic Swords with various attributes and abilities."

"Woah, that's so cool!" Takeshi exclaimed with sparkling eyes. "You can create as many blades as you wish without limit? When you say attributes, does that mean your swords have elemental powers? What about concepts? Can you create concept-destroying blades?"

"Easy there, Ryuugamine-kun." Yuuto made a placating gesture, somewhat surprised by Takeshi's intensity. "To answer your questions, I can create blades up to a certain limit, I can give them some elemental powers, and no, I cannot create blades that can cut concepts. If I could, my Sacred Gear would probably be classified as one of those world-destroying ones."

"That's a shame." Takeshi said. "Still, it's a pretty cool Sacred Gear. What about mine? Which one is it and what sort of powers does it have?"

"First things first." Rias said. "Let's try summoning your Sacred Gear. Can you do it at will?"

"Hmmm…"

Takeshi closed his eyes and concentrated, trying to recall the sensation he had felt yesterday. However, despite his best efforts, nothing seemed to be happening. After a few seconds, he opened his eyes and let out a sigh.

"I've got nothing. Sorry, Gremory-senpai, but it doesn't seem to be working."

"In that case, we'll start with the first step." Rias said as she stood up, with Takeshi following. "Ryuugamine-kun, I need you to close your eyes and picture the strongest being that comes to mind."

"Strongest being…"

Takeshi did as Rias asked, closing his eyes and bringing the image of a certain person in his mind.

"Done."

"Good. Now, imagine them in a specific pose where they look the strongest and mimic it. The image of power and rush of emotions should help you summon your Sacred Gear once again."

Although he was a little reluctant to pose in front of everyone, Takeshi's eagerness to call out his Sacred Gear overpowered whatever small amount of embarrassment he felt.

"Transform!"

Takeshi shouted as he thrust his left hand forward and made a fist with his right hand, swinging it next to his left shoulder. Then, he made a motion with his left hand as if inserting something in his belt.

"Open your eyes. In this place filled with demonic power, it should be easier for the Sacred Gear to appear."

Feeling a rush of power, as if an unknown switch within his body had been flipped, Takeshi opened his eyes as his waist glowed. Once the light died down, the chrome-colored belt from yesterday could be seen enveloping his waist.

"Oh, I did it!" Takeshi cheered as he tapped the belt. "This is my Sacred Gear, eh?"

"That's right." Rias said. "Now that you've done it twice, you should be able to call upon it and dismiss it at your command with ease. All you have to do is remember the sensation you just experienced."

Takeshi gave a mental command, causing his Sacred Gear to disappear. Then, doing as Rias said, he summoned it once again by recalling his earlier feeling.

"Nice." Takeshi grinned. "Does this thing have a name, Senpai?"

"We were hoping you could help us a bit with that, Ryuugamine-kun." Rias said. "I had Akeno look through the Sacred Gears we Devils have documented yesterday, but found nothing about yours. Of course, that doesn't mean much considering there are a lot of Sacred Gears still unknown to us. Did you notice anything about it or its capabilities yesterday?"

"Well…I did seem to be running faster and jumping much higher than a normal human should." Takeshi said while rubbing his chin. "I think I was much stronger as well, considering that I was able to kick that Lamia away."

"Then it's a Sacred Gear that amplifies one's basic parameters?" Rias frowned for a bit. "But then why…? In any case, how about you give us a demonstration, Ryuugamine-kun? Perhaps this will help both of us understand things a bit better."

"Demonstration? Where exactly?"

"Come and you'll see."

Takeshi followed after the members of the Occult Research Club, who led him to the back of the old school building.

"Akeno, place a barrier if you would. We don't want any onlookers here."

"Right away, President."

Some sort of magic circle appeared in front of Akeno's hands, which she pointed upwards. Takeshi felt a chill going down his spine as a crimson wave of energy spread around the area before disappearing.

"What was that?"

"Just a simple anti-detection and human-warding barrier." Akeno explained. "You can let loose here without worries. Ah, but you'll need some targets first."

Akeno pointed at the ground, with three magic circles materializing there and three human-shaped dummies made out of metal emerging from them. Takeshi couldn't help but gawk a bit at the unexpected display of magic.

"Thank you, Akeno." Rias said before turning to Takeshi. "Now then, Ryuugamine-kun, if you would be so kind as to punch these with all your strength."

"…Punch them?" Takeshi raised an eyebrow. "With my bare hands?"

"There's no need to worry." Rias said. "The Lamia you fought should have been much tougher than these dummies. Just remember that a Sacred Gear responds to a user's thoughts and feelings. The more intense they are, the more power you can draw from it."

"Intense emotions…" Takeshi said. "Then, it's kind of like a Hazard Level, isn't it?"

"Hazard Level?" Rias tilted her head to the side. "What's that?"

"Never mind." Takeshi said as he bumped his fists together. "All I have to do is punch those dummies, right? Here I go!"

Takeshi's fist struck one of the dummies, opening a wide hole on its chest.

"Oh, that's quite nice!" Takeshi said with a wide grin. "Superhuman strength confirmed! Awesome! This is truly power that exceeds the limits of humanity!"

"…It's not that impressive."

After saying so, Koneko punched the second dummy, sending it flying and crashing into a nearby tree. She then turned into Takeshi with a somewhat smug look on her face.

"Oho, so that's how want it, my dear Kouhai?" Takeshi grinned. "Very well then. Take a look at this!"

Facing the remaining dummy, Takeshi kicked it with all his strength. The dummy flew off, crashing into the edge of the barrier and sending a ripple through it. Takeshi turned to Koneko and made a V-sign while grinning. Rias sighed upon seeing this.

"You two, this isn't a competition…"

"Of course it's not." Takeshi said. "After all, I won, didn't I? Better luck next time, half-pint—woah!"

Takeshi jumped to the side, barely avoiding Koneko's jab.

"…Don't call me short."

Koneko spoke with an annoyed expression.

"You could have just told me that without trying to deck me…" Takeshi muttered before turning to Rias. "Did you get anything useful out of this demonstration, Senpai?"

"For now, it looks like physical amplification is indeed this Sacred Gear's only trait." Rias said. "I'll contact the Underworld's record holders later and see if they can dig up some more information about it. In the meantime, we'll help you whenever possible with practicing with it. Perhaps there are more abilities that are dormant as of yet."

"I hope so, because this Sacred Gear seems pretty basic all things considered." Takeshi said with a troubled expression before turning to Yuuto. "You want to trade yours with mine, Kiba-kun?"

"Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way, Ryuugamine-kun." Yuuto said. "Sacred Gears are embedded into their users' souls. Extracting a Sacred Gear would spell certain death for the possessor."

"Damn it." Takeshi clicked his tongue in irritation. "Can't be helped then. I'll make do with what I have."

"That's all any of us can do." Rias remarked. "Let's move on to the final matter and the other reason I called you here today. Ryuugamine-kun, if possible…I would like you to cooperate with us in the subjugation of this Cluster."

"…Pardon?" Takeshi said after a few moments of silence. "You want me, a normal human with a Sacred Gear I've barely began to understand, help you hunt down these creatures that are probably as strong or even stronger than that Lamia? Are you out of your mind, Gremory-senpai?"

"Trust me, I normally wouldn't suggest this, but I'm afraid you might be already involved with this problem." Rias spoke with a foreboding expression. "Since they've gone after clients of ours for the most part, we believe this Cluster might be targeting us Kuoh Devils specifically for some unknown purpose. If so, it stands to reason that they're monitoring our movements to some extent. And if they do…"

"Worst case scenario, they already know I'm a Sacred Gear possessor and that I'm somewhat affiliated with you, which makes me a potential target." Takeshi groaned. "Great, just great. I haven't been involved in the supernatural for more than a couple of days and my life is already in danger… Still, my earlier point still stands. I can't fight as of yet, so I don't see how I can help you."

"Well…" Rias hesitated for a bit before speaking. "If they're really monitoring us and we could convince them you're fully affiliated with us, we might be able to set a trap for them with your aid. Chances are they'll aim for you in order to kill you and thin our numbers, or capture you to set a trap for us by using you as a bargaining chip."

"In other words, you want to use me as bait to lure them out." Takeshi said. "You do know that the bait ends up getting eaten most of the time, right? I'm not sure I like this plan of yours at all, Senpai."

"This is the only way we can draw them out and confront them on our own terms." Rias said. "The sooner we bring this incident to a close, the more lives we'll be able to save. Moreover, I'm not asking you to do this for free. An appropriate compensation, whether it's money or goods, will be prepared by my house—"

"Compensation?" There was a glint in Takeshi's eyes for a moment. "If I can make some profit out of this… Suddenly, this doesn't sound like such a bad plan at all."

"Ara, ara, Ryuugamine-kun changed his tune rather quickly. I wonder why, ufufu~."

"…Greedy Senpai."

"Haha, I didn't expect that."

Ignoring Akeno, Koneko and Yuuto's words, Takeshi addressed Rias.

"That said, I'm still not fully convinced. To begin with, how do I know you'll keep your end of the bargain? More importantly, how can I be sure you won't use me as a sacrificial piece or a meat shield to take down these Strays? Or that you won't abandon me and save yourselves if the situation goes south?"

"You seem to have some pretty serious trust issues, Ryuugamine-kun." Rias said with an amazed expression. "Do you really think we're the sort of people who would abandon others? We did save you yesterday, didn't we?"

"You did, and I'm grateful for that." Takeshi said. "However, at the end of the day, the only one you can fully depend on and trust is yourself."

"That's quite the depressing outlook."

"Plus, you're Devils, a race completely different from humans." Takeshi continued, ignoring Rias's remark. "There's no telling how you think or what sort of values you have. Making some profit would be meaningless if I don't come out of this mess in one piece, so I would appreciate it if you could give me some assurance, Gremory-senpai."

"Your concerns aren't unfounded, Ryuugamine-kun." Rias said. "You don't know us, just as we don't know you. No matter what I say, I can't reassure you about our intentions in a manner satisfactory to you. At this point, I'm afraid you'll just have to trust us, just as we must trust you that you won't make a deal behind our back and sell us out to the Stray Devils."

"That's…fair, I guess." Takeshi said. "Still, as a sign of good will, you could perhaps provide half the payment now? Then deliver the other half when everything's said and done? I'd prefer it in cash and sent to my bank account."

"That can be done." Rias said. "As for the total sum…how about that much?"

Takeshi let out a whistle upon hearing the proposed sum from Rias.

"Quite generous, aren't you? I'd be crazy to turn that much money down, so you've got yourself a deal. One other thing though. What happens if the Stray Devils decide to attack my house? Also, what about my parents? What if they target them?"

"Don't worry, I've taken the appropriate measures." Rias assured Takeshi. "I set up several wards and anti-intruder spells around your house yesterday that will notify us immediately if any Stray Devils approach. As for your parents, I placed a basic teleportation seal on them. If any of the Strays try to attack them, they'll be transported to the Occult Research Club and rendered unconscious, provided that they are within the limits of this Prefecture."

"Thank you, Senpai." Takeshi bowed to Rias. "I'm grateful for your consideration. What's the next step?"

"Like I said before, we must convince them that you indeed have a close connection with us." Rias said. "There's no better way to do that than having you spend some time with one of us. Koneko."

"…Yes, President?"

"Would you accompany Ryuugamine-kun for the rest of the day?" Rias asked. "You don't have to do anything special. Just being together should be enough to convince the Strays if they're watching. Is that alright, Koneko, Ryuugamine-kun?"

"…Understood."

"I don't have a problem with it." Takeshi said with a smile. "Though Toujou-san might be bored with me. I haven't gone out with people my age in some time…"

"I'm sure it'll be fine." Rias said before turning to Yuuto. "Yuuto, I would like you to shadow them and try to ascertain if anyone is observing them. If they do, that means our prey has taken the bait."

"Will do, President." Yuuto turned to Takeshi with a mischievous smile on his face. "I'll be watching closely to make sure you don't do anything untoward to Koneko-chan."

"Please." Takeshi waved his hand in a dismissive manner. "Even if I tried to, she would probably flatten me in five seconds tops."

"…Three seconds tops."

Koneko remarked, prompting Takeshi to chuckle.

"I'll take your word for it."

Once the three youths had taken their leave, Akeno turned to Rias with a curious expression on her face.

"I'm surprised you didn't ask Ryuugamine-kun to become part of the Peerage, Rias. Is it because his Sacred Gear doesn't seem to be that powerful?"

"It's true that his Sacred Gear troubles me, but for a different reason." Rias said with a frown. "We might not have the extensive database the Grigori have regarding Sacred Gears, but we should have at least catalogued most, if not all of the common ones. However, you weren't able to find anything about Ryuugamine-kun's Sacred Gear. Not to mention, Sacred Gears usually awaken during childhood, not when one is a teenager. Don't you find all that strange?"

"You think there's more to it than meets the eye? Perhaps something dangerous?"

"Maybe I'm overthinking this." Rias admitted. "However, I could sense there's something off about Ryuugamine-kun. The atmosphere around him is somewhat…unsettling for lack of a better term. Whether it's because of him or his Gear, that's something I can't say as of yet."

"Is that why you wanted him to work with us?" Akeno asked. "So that you could keep an eye on him? I suppose that's also why you placed your Rook next to him and your Knight to observe them."

"I just hope nothing happens on that front…" Rias sighed. "We have enough trouble on our hands with this Cluster without adding more to the pile. In any case, we should give an update to Sona. She's going to be angry if we keep her out of the loop. Not to mention, she might have some new information for us."

"Right."

Akeno nodded as the two girls started making their way back to the main school building.


"In hindsight, I should have expected this…"

Takeshi rubbed his temples, while Koneko next to him remained impassive as ever. Standing before the two of them were the members of the Perverted Trio, matching expression of outrage on their faces. Apparently, they had been lying in wait for him just outside the school gates.

"Ryuugamine, you little…" Matsuda said with a trembling voice. "Not only Rias-senpai, but you've also put your hands on the school mascot Toujou Koneko-san! You damn traitor!"

"You've finally crossed the line and become one of those detestable normies, haven't you!?" Issei wailed. "Damn it! Good for you I guess, but this is the worst! More popular guys mean less chances for us to get a girl!"

"Execution by flaying…no, execution by stoning!" Motohama bellowed. "That's the only punishment fit for oath breakers!"

"…Friends of yours, Ryuugamine-senpai?"

Koneko addressed Takeshi with a deadpan look, prompting the latter to snort.

"No, they are acquaintances at best." Takeshi said before turning to the three youths. "I don't know what sort of crazy scenario you've come up with this time, and I don't want to hear it. There's nothing going on between Toujou-san and I, just like there's nothing going on between me and Gremory-senpai."

"Liar!" Motohama exclaimed. "Gremory-senpai is one thing, but there's no way you're not aiming for Koneko-chan! That budding physique, complete with a petite frame and small breasts, is simply irresistible! Not to mention—"

"OK, for your sake, stop right there, Motohama." Takeshi cut off the bespectacled youth's rant, having noticed Koneko's displeasure growing by the second. "Trust me when I say you'll regret it if you say another word. In any case, you guys are once again making a fuss over nothing. I approached Gremory-senpai this morning because I was interested in joining the Occult Research Club. Senpai said she'll think about it and had Toujou-san here show me the ropes. That's all."

"You…want to join the Occult Research Club?" Issei asked with a dubious expression on his face. "Then why didn't you say anything about it before, Ryuugamine?"

"Because my business is none of your business, Hyoudou." Takeshi said. "Do me a favor and stop pestering me. Let's go, Toujou-san."

Leaving behind the members of the Perverted Trio, Takeshi and Koneko walked in silence for a couple of minutes before the latter spoke.

"…You were much more patient and tolerant with those three perverts compared to the average student. Are you sure they aren't your friends?"

"No, but they are among the handful of people who will strike a conversation with me every now and then." Takeshi said. "Got to be grateful for that. But enough about them. Is there any place you'd like to go, Toujou-san?"

"…There is one. Follow me."

Takeshi followed after Koneko, with the two of them finding themselves in front of a large arcade.

"Oh, I've come here before several times, though I frequent the one downtown usually." Takeshi said as he turned to his companion. "Is Toujou-san a gamer as well?"

"…You could say that. I'll let Senpai chose the first game. We'll settle the score like that."

"The score…?" Takeshi wondered, but then he realized what she meant. "Is this about the strength measurement of my Sacred Gear from before?"

"…I refuse to let things finish as my loss." Koneko said, her fighting spirit evident. "That's why, we'll have a showdown here. Best out of three games."

"Nice look you've got there." Takeshi grinned as he cracked his fingers. "However, I won't relinquish my victory even to someone as cute as Toujou-san. I'll take you down once again."

"…Less talking, more playing." Koneko said. "What's your choice?"

"I think a racing game is just what we need to get our blood flowing." Takeshi pointed at a nearby machine. "Don't you agree, Toujou-san?"

"…Let's do this."

Once both players had taken their seats, the race began. Takeshi was confident in his driving skill and took the lead early on, but was surprised to see Koneko keeping up with him, operating her car with dexterous movements. His surprise turned into shock when Koneko managed to overtake him at a sharp turn and eventually reach the finish line first.

"…The first round goes to me." Koneko remarked. "Didn't expect that, eh, Senpai?"

"No, I didn't, but it's too early to start celebrating." Takeshi said with an intense expression, his hands twitching. "What's the next game?"

"…My favorite." Koneko led Takeshi to a fighting game machine. "…What do you say we make this a bit more interesting?"

"I'm listening."

"…Fifty matches." Koneko said. "The one who wins the most takes this round. Sounds good?"

"Perfect."

Both youths took their positions, chose their fighters and started the first round. Although the first matches would go either way, this time, it was Koneko's turn to be surprised as Takeshi seemed to adapt to her fighting style after a while, cinching win after win. Despite her best efforts and the occasional win, the match eventually ended with a 31 – 19 score in favor of Takeshi.

"I forgot to mention it, but those kinds of games are my favorite as well." Takeshi said with a smug look. "Bad choice, Toujou-san. With this, we're even."

"…So it would seem." Koneko remarked, a little impressed by Takeshi's display of skill. "And the tiebreaker will be…?"

"I don't know about you, but I'd like to move my body a bit." Takeshi gestured at a dance arcade machine. "How about you, Toujou-san?"

"…Challenging a Devil to a physical contest?" Koneko raised an eyebrow. "Are you trying to lose on purpose, Senpai?"

"I always play to win." Takeshi declared. "Besides, I've got a secret weapon of my own."

Takeshi tapped his waist, with a dull metallic sound being heard. Koneko also saw a glint for a brief moment.

"…You summoned your Sacred Gear?"

"I wasn't sure if I could so underneath my clothes, but I just thought of it and it worked." Takeshi grinned. "Good thing it did, or else everyone here might have freaked out a bit."

"…That won't be enough to beat me." Koneko said. "You're going down, Ryuugamine-senpai."

"Took the words right out of my mouth." Takeshi shot back with evident fighting spirit. "One loss is bad enough as it is. There's no way in Hell I'm giving you the match as well."

"…Then, let's settle this."

Both youths stepped on the machine with matching expressions of determination on their faces. Once the start prompt was given, they both began moving with such fast and dexterous movements that their feet seemed to disappear. Getting perfect score after perfect score, they eventually had a crowd of onlookers gathered around them, gawking at the spectacle before their eyes and cheering for the two youths.

This went on for several minutes, with both Koneko and Takeshi matching each other's score and ending up with draw after draw. However, after some time, Koneko slipped up and missed a step, allowing Takeshi to claim victory.

"It looks like it's my win again, Toujou-san." Takeshi made a V-sign as the people around them clapped and cheered. "But you were pretty good. If this had gone on for a while longer, I would have been the one to lose."

"…Yes, it's your win. For now, that is. But there is always next time."

Koneko declared with a resolute look, prompting Takeshi to smile.

"I'll take you on anytime. In fact, how about trying a different game right now? Or maybe another racing game? I wouldn't mind a rematch."

"…It's getting late." Koneko said. "How about we get something to eat? There's a good place nearby."

"Now that you mention it, I'm feeling a bit hungry." Takeshi said. "Lead the way, Toujou-san."

After leaving the arcade and walking for several minutes, Takeshi and Koneko arrived at a café near the station. The staff seemed to be familiar with the white-haired girl as they led the two of them in what seemed to be one of their best tables. Plus, once Takeshi gave his order of castella and mocha, the waiter left after Koneko asked for the usual.

"This seems like a nice place." Takeshi remarked while taking a look around. "Do you come here often, Toujou-san?"

"…Yes." Koneko nodded. "Their chocolate parfait is unmatched. You should try it next—give me a moment."

Koneko cut off her sentence as she put her hand near her mouth, whispering something in it. Takeshi was puzzled, but didn't interrupt her. After a few seconds, she turned to him and spoke.

"…That was Yuuto-senpai. He hasn't detected any suspicious movements around us so far."

"Kiba-kun?" Takeshi raised an eyebrow. "How did he contact you? I don't see any cellphone on you."

"…Magic."

"Right, magic…" Takeshi sighed while rubbing his temples. "This is going to take some getting used to…"

"…It looks like we wasted your time for nothing." Koneko bowed her head. "I'm sorry, Senpai."

"Hey, what are you apologizing for?" Takeshi said. "I wasn't expecting us to get them on the first try. Plus, escorting a cute girl like you is never a waste of time, Toujou-san."

"…Shameless flirt."

Koneko said, but didn't sound annoyed. At that moment, the waiter arrived, bringing Takeshi's order and an oversized chocolate parfait that shouldn't be possible for a single person to finish. Much to his surprise, Koneko started digging into it in an enthusiastic manner, devouring it bit by bit. He couldn't help but wonder where such a petite body stored so much food. Perhaps having noticed his thoughts, Koneko frowned.

"…Are you thinking of something stupid, Ryuugamine-senpai?"

"Not at all!" Takeshi said in a hasty manner. "I was just wondering if I could have a bite out of that delicious-looking parfait…?"

"…No. This is mine."

Koneko put her hand in front of her dessert in a protective manner.

"Come on, don't be stingy." Takeshi pouted. "Here, I'll give you some of mine in exchange."

Takeshi cut a piece of his castella with his fork and offered it to Koneko. After some deliberation, the white-haired girl opened her mouth wide and ate the castella in one bite. She then cut a small piece from her parfait and offered it to Takeshi, who also gulped it down in one go.

"Ah, young love. Aren't they cute?"

"I remember when I used to do things like that with my husband."

The hushed conversation coming from two smirking ladies sitting in a nearby table caused both Takeshi and Koneko to blush as they just realized how their action could be misinterpreted. Seeking to break the uncomfortable silence that had ensued, Takeshi cleared his throat and spoke.

"So…have you fought Strays like the ones we're facing before, Toujou-san?"

"…Several." Koneko said as she kept eating her parfait. "It's a common problem in Devil society. There are several masters who mistreat their servants, causing them to run away, while some servants…get drunk on their newfound power and go on a rampage…"

Takeshi noticed that Koneko's expression had become glum for some reason. He assumed there was some story there, but felt he had no business inquiring about what was probably a loaded subject for the white-haired girl.

"I see." Takeshi said. "And you guys feel confident you can take them on despite their numbers?"

"…Like I said, we've done this before." Koneko said. "If things get too difficult, we'll request for reinforcements from the higher-ups."

"Then why haven't you already done so?" Takeshi asked. "Looks to me like the situation is already serious enough to warrant some extra help."

"…It's not that simple." Koneko said. "If President asks for help and it turns out she could have handled this on her own, her estimation will be lowered and her standing among her fellow heirs of noble houses will take a hit. Also, this might have an impact on the reputation of her family as a whole."

"Devil society sounds like a royal pain in the neck." Takeshi remarked, but then frowned. "Wait a minute, did you just say heir to a noble house? Is Gremory-senpai a noble?"

"…Yes." Koneko nodded. "There are seventy-two noble houses in the Underworld, with more than half of them having gone extinct due to the war like President said before. One of the surviving ones is the Gremory family, which President belongs and is the heir to."

"Damn…" Takeshi spoke with an amazed expression. "Gremory-senpai always had a noble atmosphere around her, but to think she's actually a noble… But then, what's she doing in the human world? Shouldn't hunting Stray Devils and making contracts be left to the lower-class folk?"

"…Most High-class Devils are required to acquire hands-on experience in making contracts and dealing with problems." Koneko explained. "It's considered part of their training for when they eventually inherit the position of head or house."

"That makes sense, I guess." Takeshi said while sipping his mocha. "So, you guys are what? Her servants?"

"…We're her Peerage." Koneko said. "Every High-class Devil has the right to recruit servants, though some choose not to. I'm a bit surprised President didn't ask you to join her Peerage."

"Even if she had asked, I'm not sure I would have accepted." Takeshi said. "Being a servant doesn't sit that well with me. Plus, I don't think I would qualify even with my Sacred Gear. It seems a bit too basic."

"…That remains to be seen." Koneko said. "But if that's how you feel, President wouldn't force you. She and her family are among the kindest Devils in the Underworld."

"Kind and Devil usually don't go together, but I'll take you word for it." Takeshi said as he glanced at his cellphone. "Since it's getting late and we haven't had a hit, we should probably head back."

"…I'll cover the bill." Koneko said as she signaled the waiter to come. "I lost the match, so it's only fair."

"Suit yourself, Toujou-san." Takeshi said. "I'm not one to turn down someone's kindness. Or a free meal for that matter."

After paying, Takeshi and Koneko left the café and started making their way back to the former's house. Feeling anxious about the possibility of the Stray Devils attacking them, Takeshi couldn't help but glance around at random intervals. He thought he caught sight of Yuuto's figure tailing them once or twice, but couldn't be sure. He just hoped that if the Strays were watching, they hadn't located him.

"…Relax, Ryuugamine-senpai." Koneko said. "Even if the Strays do end up attacking us, Yuuto-senpai and I will keep you safe."

"I appreciate that, though it's a little demeaning to be protected by my junior…"

Takeshi remarked. Despite his worries though, the trip home proved to be an uneventful affair. No Stray Devils attacked them, much to his relief.

"This is goodbye, Toujou-san." Takeshi said after the two of them arrived at his house's front door. "Thanks for keeping me company today. For my first outing with a peer in quite some time, I've got to say I enjoyed myself."

"…Koneko."

"Hm?"

"…There's no need to call me by my surname." Koneko clarified. "You can use my name if you want."

"In that case, feel free to use my name as well." Takeshi said with a smile. "Is that alright, Koneko-chan?"

"…Understood, Takeshi-senpai." Koneko responded with a faint smile of her own. "See you tomorrow."

After bidding farewell to her, Takeshi headed towards the garage to check up on his motorcycle. Much to his surprise, it had been restored to its former condition, bearing no sigh of the damages the Lamia had inflicted to it. He tested the bike by revving it up and was pleased to see that everything seemed to be in working order.

"They actually fixed it…" Takeshi remarked. "Magic sure is handy. Better remember to thank Himejima-senpai for this tomorrow."

Suddenly feeling exhausted, Takeshi dragged his feet up to his room and fell on his bed. His outing with Koneko had distracted him and kept his mind occupied, but now, the weight of everything he had learned today felt like crashing on him all at once.

"Devils, Angels, Gods and monsters…" Takeshi sighed. "This got way more complicated and bizarre than I expected. Not to mention, I've got to act as bait for a bunch of psychopathic Stray Devils. Gremory-senpai and her group seem nice enough, but can I truly count on them? And then, there's you."

With a mental command, Takeshi summoned his Sacred Gear, tapping the belt with his fingers.

"What are you?" Takeshi asked. "What's your name? Are you really just a strengthening Sacred Gear, or are you hiding something else? Would be nice…if you could do…something amazing…"

Takeshi's exhaustion got the better of him as he fell asleep. Because of that, he failed to hear the faint whispers that seemed to be coming from the belt.

[…You…power… That desire…ruin…soon…]


This concludes Chapter 2. Thankfully, work wasn't as hectic as expected, which allowed me to post this chapter sooner than expected. Not much occurred here other than Takeshi's introduction to the supernatural, but expect things to pick up during the next chapter.

Regarding the renaming of DxD's God into Deus Trinity, this occurred for two reasons mainly. One, it's because I feel uncomfortable using God's name due to my faith, so this helps me disassociate the two even further. Second, it's because I find it amusing imagining that DxD's God had a child-like form similar to that of the True Demon Lord Deus Trinity from the Trinity Seven manga.

Moreover, I'd like to clear up a small misconception because I'm sure someone will comment on that. In the Light Novel at least, Devils can say God's name without getting a headache, and the same holds true here with the new name. I'm not sure why some people seem to think otherwise when it's been stated that Devils like Asia and Xenovia got headaches because they were trying to pray.

Well, that's all for now. As always, please read, review, but most of all, enjoy!

See you all next time!