Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume10 Chapter1
Chapter 1 - Muir Alenstarl
—The first night of the Blade Dance final round had arrived.
After defeating Muir Alenstarl's militarized spirit Valaraukar, Kamito and his entourage left the center of the abandoned city and took refuge at the historical ruins of a shrine to rest.
The fire spirit crystal they placed on the ground glowed red, illuminating the pitch black darkness in the shrine. A simple hearth was built using stones nearby and a pot bubbled as soup boiled inside it.
"...Night time in Astral Zero is really cold after all."
Sitting on Kamito's right, Ellis shivered.
"...Yeah. It really did not feel that cold during the preliminary round."
"That was thanks to Her Highness the imperial princess' Barrier."
Sitting on Kamito's left, Rinslet replied.
Holding a bowl and a spoon in her hands respectively, she was dressed in a cute apron over her uniform.
Despite being a highborn daughter hailing from the Empire's elite nobles, the aproned look suited her unexpectedly well.
"It is possible to set up a barrier of wind, but divine power will involuntarily spread out and easily attract swarms of Forsaken Spirits. Furthermore, it would be best to conserve energy for now."
Ellis nodded honestly. After all, she had exhausted her strength in the consecutive battles against Lily Flame and Valaraukar.
Similarly, having exhibited norm-defying power for Kamito's sake, Est was now in deep slumber in sword form. Resting against the wall, she was probably not going to wake up for quite a while.
"Speaking of which, Captain..."
Rinslet coughed deliberately.
"Aren't you leaning too close to Kamito-san?"
Ellis instantly blushed.
"I-I cannot help it. Unlike you who were born in the northern part of the country, I am very vulnerable to cold."
"Your demon wind spirit should be quite warm to hug. Claire frequently uses Scarlet as a body pillow."
"...But Simorgh's face is kind of scary."
"Well, well, indeed it is an intrepid face."
Watching Kamito's group as they chatted—
The girl sitting opposite them bore a blankly staring expression.
Her ash-gray hair was tied up on the sides of her head. Her eyes were blue like the surface of a pristine lake.
Dressed in a military uniform, her petite body was sitting with her knees drawn up to her chest.
Muir Alenstarl—the Instructional School's second ranked combatant.
The extraordinary Monster—specialized in mass destruction.
Like a small animal that was wary of humans, she kept a delicate distance away from Kamito's group.
"Muir, you're going to catch a cold. Why don't you move closer to the fire?"
Hearing Kamito's words, the two young ladies beside him instantly prepared a stance.
This sort of tense atmosphere had repeated itself many times.
(...Oh well, it's only natural for these two to be on alert.)
After all, Muir was the one who attacked them only hours earlier.
Furthermore, Muir had tried to kill them before.
These acts could not be forgiven nor forgotten so easily. In actual fact, the two highborn ladies were not exactly pleased with the way Kamito was handling things.
Muir quietly shook her head.
"Don't wanna. The temptresses who bewitched Onii-sama are over there."
"W-What are you talking about!?" "Well I never!"
Ellis and Rinslet raised their voices at the same time.
"Kamito, I still think we should take away her magic stone."
"Seconded. She is far too dangerous!"
Indeed, after fighting Valaraukar—
Kamito had decided explicitly not to take away Muir's magic stone.
In a blade dance, taking the loser's magic stone was the winner's legitimate right. In fact, Kamito's decision could be said to contravene the spirit of the Blade Dance held by the Elemental Lords.
Naturally, Ellis and Rinslet were likewise opposed to Kamito's decision. Even so, Kamito did not take Muir's magic stone because he wanted to have a good chat with her after four years of separation.
On the day the Instructional School was attacked by the unidentified archdemon...
Kamito felt quite guilty about leaving young Muir behind alone.
"Muir is not an ordinary elementalist. Having lost her militarized spirit, she can't do anything."
In actual fact, Muir was not even capable of using a contracted spirit. The special power she was born with—the Jester's Vise, caused spirits to go berserk until their very being was consumed to nothing.
"Ara, even without a contracted spirit, killing you Onee-chans is still very easy."
"...What did you say!?"
Hearing Muir's boastful remark, Ellis glared back severely.
"...Muir lost to Onii-sama, yes, but Muir did not lose to you two, Onee-chans."
"Muir, shut up—"
Kamito forcefully ended her conversation.
"...What you just said now, even I would be angered!"
"Stop talking about killing this or that whatever all the time."
Kamito stared at Muir head on.
Muir began to sulk and pout—
Despite her reluctance, she still nodded.
Kamito secretly breathed a sigh of relief.
(...Muir is not a bad kid.)
She simply had no concept of good and evil.
This was a common trait in the orphans raised by the Instructional School.
(...Before meeting Restia, I was the same too.)
"The soup is ready."
Cough cough. Rinslet coughed deliberately.
As she lifted the lid for the pot, a delicious aroma of fish soup wafted over.
The crimson soup was filled with chilli peppers and spices with diced pieces of white-colored fish, shelled prawns, scallops, mussels and other sumptuous ingredients.
"Wow, looks very delicious!"
"This is Bouillabaisse-style fish soup. It's very effective in warming up the body."
"...You really know how to make everything."
"I made preparations in advance before the finals began. Besides, Fenrir's alternate dimension is even able to keep the fish fresh."
Sitting by her obediently, Fenrir barked happily when it heard words of praise from her.
As soon as Kamito received a bowl of soup from her, he instantly drank in big mouthfuls.
"Gulp gulp... Phew..."
"Does it suit your tastes?"
Rinslet asked, a little apprehensive.
Kamito burped with satisfaction.
Despite the large amount of chilli peppers in the red soup, it was not as spicy as its appearance suggested. A complicated mix of delicious seafood flavors were concentrated together. The soup warmed the entire body from within.
"Phew, looks like my efforts were not in vain... Fufu♪"
Rinslet happily covered her red cheeks with her hands.
"Hmm, so Kamito turns out to enjoy spicy cuisine, I see now..."
For some reason, Ellis began to write a note in her mysterious booklet with a serious expression while sitting beside Kamito.
"Muir, you must be hungry, right?"
Kamito extended a bowl filled with fresh soup out to Muir.
"Don't want any. Not hungry either. I don't want charity from enemies."
"...~Y-You, what is with that attitude!?"
Seeing Rinslet anger, Kamito frantically tried to make peace.
"You just used a militarized spirit of that level. You can't possibly be not hungry."
"Trained combatants from the Instructional School can execute combat missions continuously for a week without eating."
"...That's true. However, now is not the same kind of situation."
Kamito shrugged and moved the steaming bowl beneath Muir's nose.
Gulp... Muir swallowed.
"Come on, just drink a mouthful. While it's still hot."
"Hmph, Muir's stomach is not hungry..."
A cute sound resounded in the shrine.
Muir shifted her gaze away from the soup defiantly.
"D-Don't wanna. Maybe it's poisoned."
"How impudent, of course I won't poison it!"
Rinslet objected loudly.
"Hmph, who knows?"
"...Sorry, Muir doesn't mean any offense."
Kamito apologized softly for Muir's words.
"In the place where we were raised, wariness of poison is only natural..."
Despite her domineering airs, Rinslet was actually quite gentle at heart. Displaying a mixed expression, she nodded.
"Muir, don't worry. See, aren't I drinking it too?"
Kamito drank a mouthful of soup in Muir's view.
Muir gurgled in her throat.
"I-In that case..."
"Onii-sama must feed Muir. Or else Muir refuses to believe."
Suddenly, she said something incredible.
"What did you say!?" "What!?"
Ellis and Rinslet yelled at the same time.
"...I-I need to feed you, Muir?"
"That's right, Onii-sama."
As if examining Kamito's expression, Muir smiled mischievously.
"Muir, don't toy with me."
"Not toying with Onii-sama... See, ah~!"
She slowly drew her face near and opened wide her lovely dainty lips.
Kamito could not help but feel his heart racing. Then—
"...Seriously, what am I going to do with you?"
Shrugging lightly, he filled a spoon with soup and delivered it into Muir's mouth.
Widening her eyes, Muir's face instantly went bright red.
She swallowed the soup with a gulp.
"...Hmph, n-not bad!"
She offered her comment as she turned her gaze away.
"A-Another, okay... Ah~!"
"W-Wait a minute!" "Hold it right there!"
Ellis and Rinslet frantically interfered.
"Kamito, th-that is so unfair! Me too..."
"S-Same here, I-I want..."
Blushing, the two girls shyly demanded.
"W-Why would you two want to be fed too, Ellis and Rinslet!?"
"I just want it!"
"Indeed! I simply want it!"
Closing their eyes, the two girls brought their faces near.
...Although Kamito had no idea what was going on, he decided it would be prudent to simply do as they say.
"...Okay, say ah—"
Kamito delivered the spoon into the lovely lips of the highborn ladies one after another.
"Oooh... What is up with me, to have done something so shameful..."
"Th-This is so embarrassing!"
Covering their blushing faces with their hands, the two girls murmured in seductive-sounding voices.
...Looking like that, they really seemed so innocent and adorable.
"No, I feel quite embarrassed too..."
Kamito scratched his face awkwardly.
Watching Kamito, Muir pouted unhappily.
After enjoying a modest yet delicious meal consisting of bread and soup only—
"...How vexing, Onii-sama really became the Demon King of the Night!"
Muir sulked and said.
Currently, Kamito and Muir were the only ones present inside the shrine.
Ellis and Rinslet had gone outside for regular princess maiden purification.
There was apparently an ancient purification site near these ruins.
Although the two girls left partially for scouting out incoming attacks, their main reason was to let Kamito and Muir have some private time together.
"...D-Demon King of the Night? Where did you hear that from?"
"Lily has always been investigating Onii-sama all along!"
Kamito answered with his eyes half closed.
"...This is totally a misconception, okay? By the way, why would a highly accomplished master of espionage like Lily gather such erroneous information?"
"Because instead of being erroneous, it is the truth?"
Kamito shook his head insistently. That is so not the truth... Probably.
(...Wait a minute, now is not the time for chatting about this.)
He coughed deliberately.
"...What is it? Onii-sama."
"...Uh, why do you call me Onii-sama?"
Kamito asked directly.
Ever since their first encounter at the Instructional School, Muir had been addressing Kamito as Onii-sama.
He had asked many times in the past and each time her answer was the same.
"—Not gonna tell you. Onii-sama, figure it out yourself."
...That was it.
Muir turned away sullenly.
"If I can't remember, then I won't recall it no matter how much I try. I basically remember nothing from my childhood or when I was first brought to the facility."
Indeed, in the dark dungeon where the flow of time could not be sensed, Kamito and the others had received combat training nonstop.
Or perhaps, it was precisely the combat training in the dungeon that gradually shaved off Kamito's memories and emotions, destroying them.
Probably because of that, Kamito had no impression of his homeland.
The only memories he barely preserved were—
(Those times he spent together with Restia...)
...Anyway, pursuing the matter like this would probably just make Muir lock her heart away even more, which would be putting the cart before the horse. Kamito tried to change the subject.
"Muir, what happened on that day?"
"On that day?"
"Four years ago. After the Instructional School was wrecked by the archdemon of flame... By the way, you fought the archdemon directly, didn't you, Muir?"
"Yeah, fought—and lost."
As if completely unconcerned with her defeat, Muir nodded calmly.
The archdemon who only needed half a day to destroy the Instructional School, an organization in command of the strongest combat skills. Back then, Muir was obviously no match because she had level restrictions on the spirits she was authorized to employ.
"Not long after that, the Empire sent the Numbers to investigate. Many people were captured, but Muir had already escaped long before then—"
Henceforth, she wandered around until she came into contact with Murders on a certain street.
There, she was hired as a professional assassin and began living in the underground circuit.
(...Just like me.)
All the orphans who grew up in that facility knew no other way to survive. Let alone relying on relatives, even their family registry records were nonexistent. Where Muir and Kamito's fates diverged was the fact that Kamito's first assassination target was the Dusk Witch.
"...Next, meeting up with Lily happened two years later."
After making contact with Lily Flame using the intelligence network of the Murders, Lily introduced Muir to that woman named Cardinal. After that, Cardinal—
"She is the one who now calls herself Ren Ashbell, the Strongest Blade Dancer."
"Was she using the Murders network to gather orphans from the Instructional School?"
Due to the Instructional School's collapse, the orphans who were left with nowhere to go were highly likely to make contact with Murders.
She probably put informants in place beforehand in anticipation of that.
That Jio Inzagi was most likely recruited in the same manner.
"That woman told me I could meet Onii-sama as long as I entered the Blade Dance."
"She—Ren Ashbell, what is her goal?"
Muir shook her head.
"No idea. I don't care about what she thinks."
...On further thought, it was true. Team Inferno's members did not share a common a goal. They were simply an alliance with aligned interests.
"However, that woman did say—"
Muir pressed her index finger against her lips.
"Muir and others were gathered for the sake of making Onii-sama awaken."
Kamito was shocked.
...For some reason, the word made him feel quite unsettled.
"So, awakening means... Making me retrieve my past power?"
"Who knows? Indeed, Onii-sama is a lot more useless than before."
Ignoring for now Muir's caustic commentary—
(...Was Ren Ashbell and Restia's goal simply "that" alone?)
Kamito muttered to himself mentally.
According to Fianna who was captured by Sjora Kahn once, Kamito was the current reincarnation of the Demon King who inherited the power of the Darkness Elemental Lord, Ren Ashdoll.
(...Within my body, is that kind of existence really present?)
Ever since the Blade Dance started, he kept feeling something awakening within him.
Was he really recovering his power from three years ago gradually or was there more to it?
"Oh, sorry. I was just thinking about something."
Seeing Muir tilt her head, Kamito scratched his head as he apologized.
"Seriously, all Onii-sama needs to think about is Muir."
Muir pouted and rested her head against Kamito's chest.
"All I want is to have Onii-sama by my side. Everything else is not needed. This world hates Muir, so it would be best if all others disappeared."
"It's not like that..."
Kamito was just about to refute her assertion when—
Suddenly, Muir touched the burning fire spirit crystal with her hand.
Instantly, the fire spirit sealed in the crystal went berserk and spewed out intense flames.
Kamito frantically grabbed Muir's arm.
"W-What on earth are you doing!?"
Only to find Muir's palm slightly burned.
"...See? I am being hated. By this world."
The special ability Muir was born with—the Jester's Vise.
Spirits touched by her all descended into madness.
The berserk spirits eventually used up all their power and disappeared from the world.
It could not even be considered a special power but a cruel curse.
"Since the world has rejected Muir, Muir will reject the world."
Looking down upon the fire spirit spewing intense flames, she murmured.
"But back then, only Onii-sama did not reject me."
"Yes. The day Onii-sama was brought to the Instructional School."
"...Sorry. I really—have no recollection of those times."
"It's okay if you can't remember. To Onii-sama, it was probably just an insignificant remark. But to Muir, it was an important promise."
Muir displayed a dream-like a smile and yawned cutely.
"...Hoo, getting sleepy here."
"Probably time to retire for the night. I have to recover my energy too."
Injuries could be cured using magic, but sleep was the best method to replenish depleted divine power.
"Is it really okay for you not to take Muir's magic stone?"
"Maybe while Onii-sama is sleeping, Muir will steal Onii-sama's magic stone?"
"You're not going to do that, Muir."
Kamito then laid himself down on the ground. With Ellis' Simorgh keeping watch outside, surprise attacks from other teams should not be a worry.
Looking up at the ceiling that was entangled with tree roots, Kamito spoke up.
"What is it? Onii-sama?"
"Say, once the Blade Dance is finished, do you want to return with me to the Empire?"
"...What do you mean?"
"Given Greyworth's resources, she should be able to fabricate family registry records for a younger sister. In addition, if I ask Rinslet, you can probably become a maid at the Laurenfrost family. After all, their only criterion for hiring maids is whether you're cute or not."
Hearing Kamito's unintentional comment, Muir blushed intensely.
"Hmph, hmph. Muir hates maids!"
Declaring angrily, Muir turned away to the side and went to sleep.
...In the end, Muir never answered Kamito's question.
Splash, quiet water noises were heard under the pitch black night.
"Captain, your breasts have grown even bigger..."
"W-What are you talking about!?"
Ellis frantically covered her bust with her arms. Droplets of water dripped down from the tips of her wet hair.
Beneath the faint moonlight, Ellis and Rinslet were taking a bath in the purification site.
As the clear spring water used for rituals stimulated their skin, it helped calm their bodies which felt like they were burning.
Naturally, Kamito was the reason why they felt scorching hot as if being burned.
"Huff... With Kamito-san, an indirect, kiss huh..."
"As a knight, what indecency have I committed..."
Having finally cleansed their bodies, they now found their minds instantly occupied by these worries.
For these sheltered highborn ladies, the "Ah~" act just now was too stimulating.
Losing their focus midway, they were unable to carry out the ritual very well.
...Hence, the two girls spent far more time on purification than usual.
"Very soon, the sun will be up."
The battle from last night was not that long ago. As they looked towards the center of the abandoned city, the flames released by Valaraukar were still burning intensely.
"By the way—"
Wringing the water out of her wet hair, Rinslet spoke up at this time.
"That girl who uses militarized spirits. Just a little bit, she reminds me of Claire in the past."
"Not that... Basically, after the Rubia incident, Claire pretty much acted similar to that. Treating everyone around as enemies, like a little animal baring its fangs out of fear—"
"...Ah yes. Indeed, Claire was pretty much like that last year."
Back when Velsaria was still the leader, the Sylphid Knights had engaged Claire in battle numerous times. Even after Ellis took over the Knights, they were often in opposition with Claire.
That said, Rinslet here would often interfere in those battles too.
"I hope Claire and Fianna gathered together safely—"
Just as Ellis looked up at the night sky.
—An explosion was heard coming from afar.
Rinslet pointed at the sky ahead of them.
Over there was a flying dragon, flapping its wings.
"That's the flying dragon spirit from the Knights of the Dragon Emperor...!"
The flying dragon spirit seemed to be circling in the air as if searching for something, spitting fireballs at the ground.
Then a bright light flashed on the ground, dazzling Ellis and Rinslet whose eyes had already adjusted to the dark environment.
"That flash? Could it be one of Her Highness the imperial princess' spirit crystals?"
"Yes, no mistake about it. I will immediately head forth to her aid. You hurry and go wake Kamito."
Inside the shrine, Kamito's quiet breathing could be heard.
He must have accumulated a great amount of fatigue from the two consecutive battles against Valaraukar. He was quite sound asleep.
Of course, as soon as Muir emitted any killing intent, he would probably wake up instantly.
Muir gazed at Kamito's sleeping face.
She murmured with a barely audible voice.
"Onii-sama, you really are the Onii-sama whom Muir loves most."
Do you want to return with me to the Empire—That was what he said.
Just like that day in the past, during their first encounter.
—In that case, I will be your friend.
—Hmph, that's stupid of you. To think you'd try to make friends here.
—Then let me be your brother. You'll be the younger sister, Muir.
(Onii-sama probably has forgotten already...)
Even so, these words were very important to Muir.
It brought a shred of solace to the Monster's broken-down heart.
(...However, I'm sorry. Onii-sama.)
Having lived in darkness for so long, the Monster could no longer integrate herself into the world of sunlight.
Muir placed her magic stone by Kamito's pillow side.
"—Goodbye, Onii-sama. I will be very happy the next time we play together again."
Finally, a sad smile surfaced—
Muir Alenstarl vanished from the front stage of the Blade Dance.