Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume10 Chapter4
Chapter 4 - Iseria Seaward
"—This direction leads to the underground entrance."
Under Rinslet's guidance, Kamito and the team returned to the central area of the abandoned city where they had fought Valaraukar in a deadly battle.
Avoiding the still burning flames, they entered the depths of the debris-filled historic ruins to find a long and narrow staircase leading down underground.
"...To think there was a place like this. How amazing of you to notice it."
"I was initially transported by the Leap to the underground maze. Also, if it weren't for this girl who led the way, I would probably still be trapped underground."
"Girl who led the way?"
"We'll surely meet her again once I return underground."
Rinslet used spirit magic to lit a light in her palm as they walked down the dark staircase.
Kamito and the rest exchanged glances and followed her down.
These steps seemed to have been built during extremely ancient times and were severely worn and eroded.
"...What a creepy place."
Ellis hugged her shoulders and grumbled.
"Ara, are you afraid?"
"O-Of course not!"
Ellis denied defiantly.
Seeing the usually stern and awe-inspiring captain of the knights display such an unexpected side, Kamito smiled wryly.
"Ooh... Kamito, what are you laughing at!?"
"Sorry... Hey, don't swing your sword in a place like this!"
"Okay, we've arrived."
Rinslet turned around the hand with light.
At the bottom of the staircase was a passageway with High Ancient script carved on the flanking walls.
"...This place too, is it a historic site dating to the Spirit War?"
"Apparently. Carved on the stone walls are names of ancient spirits."
Fianna felt the carvings on the walls with her fingertips as she spoke.
"Up ahead, there's even a wall with Est-san's name on it."
Kamito looked at the sacred sword at his waist.
Est was a legendary spirit weapon active during the Spirit War. It was not too surprising for her name to be carved on historic sites dating back to the Spirit War.
Next, Kamito looked up to examine the walls of the passageway.
The passage was so narrow it was almost impossible to swing a sword. If they met an enemy ambush, things could get troublesome.
"Are there any Forsaken Spirits here?"
"Now that you mention it, I was not attacked at all."
"This place is different from the ground surface. It's filled with an air of purity. Perhaps this was a mausoleum for spirits in the Spirit War."
"...I see, a mausoleum."
In that case, it was only natural that the Forsaken Spirits born from the spirits' resentment would not appear in this place.
When they first heard Rinslet explain about the underground maze, everyone was still slightly apprehensive. But after considering the low chances of encountering enemies here, it should be much safer than traveling above ground.
However, there was still a huge problem.
"...So, do you know the way?"
"Yeah, no problem for sure."
"...For sure? This description makes me very worried."
Ignoring Ellis' criticism, Rinslet snapped her fingers.
The massive white wolf was summoned from empty space and opened its mouth.
Together with blowing snow, out came—
"...A frying pan? As well as eggs, flour and milk?"
"...Rinslet, what on earth are you doing?"
"Next, I'll make special pancakes."
Rinslet held the frying pan and smiled adorably.
"Actually, I do feel a bit hungry."
Ellis and Fianna looked at each other.
Speaking of which, Kamito and the group only had a bit of soup and bread during dawn.
Furthermore, in defense of the young ladies' honor, elementalists easily become hungry through the use of spirits.
...Absolutely, it was not because these girls were gluttons.
"I'll prepare food for everyone later."
After putting a fire spirit crystal on the ground, Rinslet placed the frying pan on top of it.
"These are offerings for summoning a spirit."
Kamito asked in amazement.
"My savior who rescued me when I was lost underground and showed me the way to the surface."
...After that, several minutes passed.
As sizzling sounds came from the frying pan, the sweet fragrance of slightly charred butter wafted through the passageway.
While making her special pancakes, Rinslet explained the whole story about how she escaped the underground maze.
—Of course, she also talked about the incredible girl she met inside the maze.
"...A young girl spirit."
After hearing her story, Kamito crossed his arms and muttered.
According to Rinslet, a spirit with a young girl's appearance had told her how to reach the exit to the ground surface.
"Must be quite a high level spirit to be able to take on human form."
Like Est and Restia, spirits who manifested in complete human form were extremely rare, even in Astral Zero. Of course, not all high level spirits existed in human form, but appearing as a young girl implied that she must be quite a powerful spirit.
"She really needs to be thanked properly for helping you, Rinslet."
"Yeah, so I promised her already, we'll help her leave this place."
The girl spirit was apparently sealed in this underground maze by a powerful barrier. Furthermore, she had lost virtually all her memories.
"Are you able to release this seal, Your Highness?"
"Eh, let's see..."
Prompted by Rinslet's question, Fianna rested her chin on her hand as she entered deep thought.
"I think in my current state, I will have difficulty releasing a barrier that is able to seal a high level spirit. But I will still try my best..."
Rinslet bowed her head.
"However, will that spirit really appear?"
Ellis asked, a little doubtful.
"Rest assured. Even Fenrir offers undying praise for my pancakes."
Rinslet placed her specially made pancakes on a porcelain dish and sprinkled liberal amounts of honey.
"...But it is hard to imagine spirits of the highest level being enticed by food."
Ellis said, somewhat worried. Kamito agreed on this point.
(...Well, we do have a sword spirit here who loves bean curd.)
After that, they waited a while longer—
"...No one is coming."
Rinslet surveyed her surroundings, slightly taken aback.
...If this continued, her specially made pancakes were going to get cold.
"Then can I test the taste, a little bit?"
Rinslet slapped Kamito on the back of the hand just as he was reaching out to the food.
"Kamito-kun, I allow you to taste me carefully, okay?"
"Fianna, what on earth are you talking about!?"
Just as Kamito retorted—
He suddenly felt someone's intense gaze.
"What is it, Kamito?"
"Well, I felt someone watching just now—"
Kamito reached for the hilt of his sword as he stared into the depths of the darkness.
Twitch... Where the passage made a turn, he discovered a figure that quickly hid itself.
Kamito rubbed his eyes.
(...I think I saw something resembling insect antennae?)
Twitch, twitch... He saw two bouncing antennae again.
"That thing, Rinslet, could that be...?"
"It's Miss Spirit!"
Rinslet raised her voice. Movements could be sensed in the darkness again.
"Kamito-kun, hurry and give chase!"
Before he replied, Kamito had already started running.
The other party was also very swift in movement. But compared to Kamito when he was serious, it was nowhere near enough.
In the darkness, Kamito pushed his fleeing quarry to the ground. It was a little violent, but capturing this nimble fellow would be very difficult otherwise.
"W-What are you doing, you insolent fellow!"
The girl struggled desperately in Kamito's grasp.
She was apparently wearing an outfit with a very long hem. Kamito could hear the sound of clothing rubbing intensely.
"...I'm sorry! Please calm down and listen to me!"
Another round of struggling.
"Kamito-san, where are you?"
Rinslet and the girls lit a light and ran over.
"...Kyah!" "Ahhh!" "Wha...!"
The three girls instantly froze in expression.
Getting a bad premonition, Kamito looked at the girl he had captured.
Tears glimmering in her clear eyes, the girl was half-naked with her priestess outfit pulled wide open.
"Kamito-san, what on earth were you trying to take advantage of in the confusion!?"
Rumble rumble rumble rumble rumble rumble rumble rumble...!
"N-No, this is a misunderstanding!"
On the floor, Kamito frantically screamed for dear life.
Chew chew. Chew chew.
The young girl dressed as a priestess was enjoying the pancakes.
On top of her hair which resembled the color of shimmering water, two antennae of hair stood upright adorably.
This girl was the spirit who had helped Rinslet.
She was definitely a powerful spirit but one could not get that impression from her at all. In a certain sense, she was an even more carefree spirit than Est.
"Please eat as much as you'd like. I've got plenty of ingredients."
Rinslet smiled as she kept tossing the frying pan.
"Thank you. Your snacks are really tasty."
The spirit girl smiled as she handed the dish over to Rinslet.
Having two younger sisters, Rinslet was especially adept at taking care of young girls. However, since this girl was a spirit, she should be actually much older than Kamito and the rest.
Suddenly Kamito's eyes met with the girl spirit.
But she immediately averted eye contact.
She seemed to be quite wary of everyone apart from Rinslet, especially Kamito.
...Oh well, I guess it's because our first encounter happened in such a terrible manner.
"By the way, Princess Maiden of Ice."
The girl paused her hand that was holding a pancake and asked Rinslet.
"Why have you returned here?"
Rinslet placed the frying pan aside and instantly sat up properly.
"Miss Spirit, in truth, I have a request to make of you."
The girl spirit tilted her head slightly.
"Yes. Could you please show us the way through this underground maze?"
Rinslet explained their situation to the girl.
"Of course. After all, I was able to enjoy these tasty pancakes."
With honey still smeared around her mouth, the girl nodded.
"Please accept my utmost gratitude."
Rinslet bowed her head very politely.
Although many high level spirits were quite hard to please, this girl acted like a forthright and obedient child.
"Speaking of where the leylines are the most concentrated in this abandoned city, it should be—the Lost Cathedral."
"The oldest sacrificial altar in the abandoned city. It was mentioned in the research materials Milla gathered."
Fianna clapped her hands together and said.
"Right, it was the headquarters of the faction opposing the Elemental Lords during the Spirit War in the past—"
The girl spirit nodded with a meek expression.
"You're quite knowledgeable of this place's history... But didn't you say you lost your memory?"
"I have been imprisoned here for almost three years. It's been so boring all this time so I have spent the time reading the history carved on these walls of the maze."
The girl spirit displayed an expression of despair.
"Miss Spirit, regarding this matter..."
Rinslet began to speak slowly at this time.
"Regarding the seal placed upon you, perhaps there might be a way to lift it."
The girl spirit widened her crystal-clear eyes.
"Yes. Princess, Your Highness—"
Urged by Rinslet, Fianna stepped forward.
"My name is Fianna Ray Ordesia, the second princess of the Ordesia Empire. I wish to offer the best of my humble efforts to attempt releasing the seal that binds you."
Fianna announced her name and title to the high level spirit with proper etiquette.
The girl looked at Rinslet with a troubled expression.
This spirit was really shy.
"Don't worry. Her Highness the princess is my friend."
The girl spirit stared straight at Fianna—
"...I understand. I believe you."
Finally, she nodded as if resolving herself to some decision.
"In that case, may I be privy to your true name?"
"My true name..."
The girl spirit hesitated in response to Fianna's inquiry.
Rinslet suddenly understood.
"The seal placed upon you is very likely one that has a fixed and specified target. If we don't know your true name, it is impossible to release the seal."
The girl spirit remained silent for a while—
"...She is Rinslet's friend, is that so?"
Then turned towards Rinslet again.
"Yes, that is correct."
"Then I shall inform you expressly. My name is Iseria—Iseria Seaward."
Fianna's dusk-colored eyes widened.
Kamito and Ellis could not help but exchange glances.
Because, that name was—
Suddenly, Kamito felt his head hurt.
(...That pain again.)
—Throb. Throb. Throb. Throb.
(...What on earth is going on? As soon as I heard that name, why—)
Gritting his teeth, Kamito tried to hide his pain.
Luckily, no one noticed his unusual behavior.
Everyone else's attention had been grabbed by the name the girl spoke.
"—The name of the Water Elemental Lord, right?"
Instantly, everyone fell into silence.
One of the Five Great Elemental Lords. The Water Elemental Lord—Iseria Seaward.
Her personification was generally regarded as a woman carrying a water pitcher.
Why would this girl spirit utter this name—
Her serious expression did not seem like she was joking.
"Indeed it is the name of the Water Elemental Lord. I found that out on the walls in this place."
The girl finally spoke amidst the tense atmosphere.
"—However, back when I first woke up in this abandoned city's underground, this was the only name I could remember."
The girl spirit bowed her head, a little disappointed.
Fianna responded with a "Oh, I get it now" expression:
"Perhaps you are kin to the water spirits?"
"Yes, that should be right, I feel solace whenever I am near water."
"The kin of water spirits have intimate ties to the Water Elemental Lord. It's not that surprising for the name Iseria Seaward to be present in your memories."
"Other than that, I have nothing that can identify myself. To someone who has absolutely nothing, this name is my cherished treasure."
The girl spirit nodded.
"—Hence, that is why I answered with the name of Iseria Seaward."
Rinslet gently placed her hand on the girl's shoulder.
"So, what else can you remember?"
Kamito asked after his headache finally subsided.
"All I know is the history depicted on these walls."
"...Hmm, this might be a bit tricky."
Fianna rested her chin on her hand as she worried.
"After all, you must recall your true name in order to release the seal."
Iseria slumped her shoulders in disappointment.
"Wait a minute, Your Highness the imperial princess."
As Rinslet glared at her, Fianna frantically waved her hands and clarified.
"H-However, I will surely do my best to help. If I do some research in the Divine Ritual Institute's Biblion, perhaps I may find methods for memory recovery. Although it might take some time, if you don't mind waiting until the current Blade Dance finishes—"
"Don't worry. I am already used to waiting... Thank you."
Iseria looked up and displayed a sincere smile.
Then she turned around and tugged Rinslet's sleeve.
"Very well, let's go. I will take you all to the Lost Cathedral."
—After that, Kamito and his group followed along the dark passage.
Providing lighting and walking in front, Ellis suddenly shuddered. She seemed like she was frightened by the water droplets dripping from the ceiling.
At some point along the way, the walls of the passageway switched to uneven rock.
The girl spirit—Iseria was holding hands with Rinslet with great affection between them.
Fianna whispered from behind at this time.
"...Say, are you really okay?"
"What are you talking about?"
"Stop pretending. Just now, you looked a bit strange, Kamito-kun."
As expected of the former Queen candidate princess maiden. Her senses were truly keen.
"...Well, it's much better now."
Kamito stopped playing dumb and admitted honestly.
"—I heard a voice. Her voice."
"Kamito-kun's past contracted spirit?"
Fianna looked at the Vorpal Sword at Kamito's waist.
"No, that voice... Was not Restia's. Although it was very similar."
—The beckoning voice, tempting him to awaken as the Demon King.
Although Restia also hoped for Kamito's awakening, Kamito was certain it was not her voice.
"Somehow there's an ominous feeling to it. Restia's voice is supposed to be more soothing..."
"...Hmph, how envious."
The princess pouted for a moment then resumed a serious expression.
"The Kamito-kun who rescued me was not the usual Kamito-kun."
"...Yeah, I know."
Fianna was referring to back then when Kamito pointed his sword at the girl from the Sacred Spirit Knights.
(...At the time, I was swinging my sword purely on destructive impulses.)
But without losing his consciousness. After all, he was still swinging his sword by his own volition.
(If Est hadn't stopped me, if I continued—)
A terrible chill ran down his back.
That something lying dormant within Kamito would surely awaken.
Whether or not it was the existence known as the Demon King, who knew—
Restia did not answer.
His beloved sword, so familiar three years ago, was now nothing but a heavy piece of iron.
"Is the Darkness Elemental Lord's power really lying dormant in my body?"
Kamito whispered softly to himself.
...Anyone. He wanted someone, anyone, to refute him.
"Regarding that, I don't know for sure."
Fianna shook her head.
"However, I do have some ideas."
"Kamito-kun, your body deflects virtually all of my holy magic. Perhaps the reason is—"
Fianna stopped... What she was going to say was obvious.
The darkness attribute was opposite to the holy attribute—That was what she meant.
(I am the Demon King who will bring ruin and destruction to the continent?)
—In the past, that was what the old men at the Instructional School called him.
Fianna spoke swiftly to cheer up Kamito from his depression.
"Umm... O-On further thought, Kamito-kun, you're already the Demon King of the Night!"
"...Uh, that doesn't really count as cheering up."
Kamito shrugged wryly.
"...Ooh. What are you two whispering about?"
Walking in front, Ellis glared back with displeasure.
"W-We're not whispering, okay... By the way, has your knight spirit recovered, Fianna?"
Kamito frantically changed the subject.
...He did not want Ellis and the rest to worry over him as well.
Fianna realized his intentions.
"Yeah, recovered to a certain extent. However, the two spirit seals of Scarlet and Georgios are mutually interfering. Let alone highly systematic ritual magic, I fear I can't even release my elemental waffe."
"That's really quite problematic, Fianna. Your elemental waffe is quite important."
Kamito commented with arms folded.
The elemental waffe Save the Queen was a trump card that was capable of greatly raising the team's power.
Without it, new tactics would need to be devised.
(Come to think of it, Claire has always been the one who came up with the team's tactics...)
Just at this moment—
"...Did you hear that?"
Kamito heard faint sounds of water.
Still holding Rinslet's hand, Iseria turned around at this time.
"There is an underground hot spring up ahead. One of my favorite places."
Kamito and the girls asked at the same time.
"Well, the abandoned city isn't located in a volcanic zone, right?"
"Of course it is no ordinary hot spring. The fires of war left over from the millennia-old Spirit War continue to burn underground to this day."
"Fires, several thousand years old... How amazing."
Kamito was astonished by the grand scale of things.
After walking a little while longer—
As described by Iseria, there was a massive underground lake covered with white steam.
"I never expected the abandoned city to have an underground lake like this..."
Ellis exclaimed emphatically.
Intense pillars of fire gushed from the surroundings of the underground lake.
Just as Kamito and the group neared the lake surface...
Fianna suddenly screamed.
The spirit seal carved on her right hand began to emit dazzling light, illuminating the surroundings.
"Fianna, what happened!?"
"I-I don't know either... Wah!"
Crimson flames burst out from the spirit seal and landed on the ground.
From the flames appeared—
It was the hell cat spirit, lit on fire.
Scarlet ran around nimbly in the cave, rushing towards the fires burning around the underground lake.
"...Scarlet has already recovered huh."
Fianna commented as she breathed a sigh of relief.
The hell cat spirit had appeared on its own will rather than being summoned by her.
"...Probably attracted by the power of flames that fills this place."
Kamito turned to everyone.
"...Well then, what are we doing next?"
Scarlet most probably wanted to store up the power of the fire here.
—In that case, it was going to take quite some time.
"As it so happens, we might as well perform purification here."
Ellis and Rinslet expressed support for Fianna's suggestion.
Elementalists needed to cleanse and purify their bodies in order to tap into their full power. Naturally, even as a male elementalist, Kamito was no exception. Before sneaking into the Lost Cathedral, undergoing purification was necessary.
"However, time is of the essence. We'll have to do the brief version."
The princess smiled mischievously.
"So, in order to save time, how about you join us together, Kamito-kun?"
"N-No way I'm doing that!"
Kamito yelled with his face all red.
The great throne—Lost Cathedral.
The tallest tower in the abandoned city and the point where all the leylines converged.
It was the castle residence of the Darkness Elemental Lord who led the rebel armies during the Spirit War in the past.
For the purposes of the Darkness Queen's coming, there was probably no better location.
Having finished preparations for the ritual, Rubia Elstein walked up the spiral tower.
(...When was the last time I wore these clothes?)
Instead of the Theocracy's military uniform, she was currently wearing ritual attire from her days as Queen.
In her hand were jewels infused with darkness.
Climbing the stairs and looking out the stained glass windows that were installed with vivid colors thousands of years ago, one could survey the entire scenery of the abandoned city, all covered with trees.
—The abandoned city's sky was always so dim and gray even at noon time.
As if the resentment dating from the time of the Spirit War still lingered in the sky above to this day.
The flames of the militarized spirit Valaraukar still burned where Kamito and Muir Alenstarl's battle had taken place the previous night.
Crimson flames burned entire streets. Faced with this scene, past memories were momentarily awakened—
A voice from behind brought Rubia back to the present.
Breathing heavily, a girl with jade-green hair was making her way to the top of the massive spiral staircase.
Lily Flame—the girl picked up at the Instructional School four years ago.
Rubia halted and waited for her.
Panting, Lily knelt down before Rubia.
"—Muir has disappeared from the field."
...Not a shocking report.
After losing Valaraukar, that girl was already written off as combat potential.
She had already completed her mission perfectly. The battle against Muir Alenstarl should have greatly stimulated the awakening of the Demon King within Kamito's body.
(...Kazehaya Kamito, you must be finding it increasingly difficult to resist the impulse to be devoured.)
Once he was completely swallowed by that impulse—the Demon King within him would awaken.
"Muir will come in handy in future battles. Of course, the same goes for you."
After destroying the Elemental Lords, the continent was going to descend into massive chaos due to the loss of the power of spirits.
In order to conquer that type of chaotic world, overwhelming military power was necessary.
This was the most important reason behind Rubia's alliance with the Alphas Theocracy's Murders to gather mercenaries and users of militarized spirits.
(...A great many lives will be sacrificed. But still, overall sacrifices can still be lessened.)
If power brought forth destruction, then even greater power would be used to suppress it.
—Bathump. Intense pain throbbed in her heart.
(The time for the Demon King's awakening is fast approaching—)
The Sacred Maiden and the Demon King were opposing existences.
This body could feel the signs of the Demon King's awakening—
—Just at this moment.
A terrifying roar shook the atmosphere.
As the floor shook lightly beneath their feet, fragments of stone fell from the ceiling.
"To think there would be an enemy attack...!?"
Lily Flame cried out, greatly shaken as she looked outside the shattered window.
"That's a... dragon!?"
Blowing the grey clouds apart, a black demon dragon was flying towards Lost Cathedral.
The attack just now was merely the demon dragon's breath.
"Leonora Lancaster's demon dragon spirit!"
"...The Dragon Princess huh. What an affront to the eyes."
Rubia grumbled beneath her mask.
She never expected the ace of the Knights of the Dragon Emperor to launch a direct assault here singlehandedly—
The pitch black demon dragon opened up a great hole in the middle of the Lost Cathedral and flew inside.
"...We're being invaded."
If Rubia intercepted her personally, it should be an easy victory.
However, she currently had to perform the ritual for the coming of the Darkness Queen.
—The flame of her life was almost extinguished.
The Sacred Maiden's power could not be squandered here.
"I will intercept her. But facing that Dragon Princess as my opponent, I fear I can only buy limited time."
Lily withdrew her hand from the window and jumped down the spiral staircase.
"...Lily, I am relying on you."
Rubia nodded and continued on her way to the top level.