Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume10 Chapter5
Chapter 5 - Scarlet's Secret
Water droplets fell from the top of the limestone cavern. White steam swirled and rose.
Heated by the ancient flames, the underground water helped relax stiff muscles.
Although it was no time to indulge in leisure, a final purification was necessary before they assaulted the enemy's main camp. Kamito carefully washed his body as he tried as much as possible to reach peak condition.
The Calamity Queen—Rubia Elstein.
The other Ren Ashbell and Strongest Blade Dancer whose identity had been uncovered.
(...Am I able to defeat her?)
Her power undoubtedly dwarfed Kamito's in his current state. Even if he retrieved all his senses from three years ago, it was still uncertain whether he would be able to be a match—That was how things stood.
Kamito's only chance of victory lay in—
(—The Absolute Blade's secret technique, Last Strike.)
Kamito opened and closed his fingers several times, trying to confirm his feel for the sword.
The secret technique learnt from Greyworth was Kamito's final trump card.
However, to be honest, he was not certain if he had truly mastered that secret technique.
The Last Strike was an ultimate countering technique using the sword. It could not be used unless Kamito was facing an enemy of the same level.
(By the way, how strange...)
Kamito frowned and looked up at the ceiling of the limestone cavern. Even though it was now known that the true identity of the other Strongest Blade Dancer, Ren Ashbell, was Rubia Elstein, there was something impossible to accept about it. Namely—
—She was far too strong, this simple fact.
Indeed, as a former Queen, the total amount of divine power accumulated in Rubia Elstein's body should far surpass most elementalists. Although an abundance of divine power would not result in a decisive difference in potency, it was undeniable that people with greater reserves of divine power were able to command more powerful spirits for longer durations.
However, princess maidens serving at the Divine Ritual Institute basically received no combat training at all.
Hence, she was supposed to be completely unversed in swordsmanship, just like Fianna.
Rumors regarding the Calamity Queen as a master of the sword were completely unheard of.
The first thing that came to mind was the usage of a Cursed Armament Seal to strengthen the body, but even Cursed Armament Seals were unable to turn someone untrained in martial arts into a sword master.
(...Even an Elemental Lord's miracle can't do that, right?)
—Throb. Again, the acute headache returned.
(...Damn it... What on earth is going on?)
—That pain is proof that your power is about to awaken.
The voice very similar to hers resounded in his mind.
—Very soon, you shall become the Demon King who brings ruin and destruction to the world.
(...Shut, up... Already... Shut, up...!)
Covering both ears, Kamito submerged his face in water.
(Shut up! Shut up, shut up shut up...!)
He yelled stubbornly in order to drown out the voice.
"—Please be calm, Master."
Suddenly, Kamito heard another voice from behind.
Raising his face out of the water, Kamito looked back.
A swaying figure could be seem emerging from the other side of the steam.
...Not Rinslet or any of the girls, for they should be over with Iseria, performing purification at a place a short distance away.
Next, Kamito glanced at a shaded position in the rocks. The Demon Slayer and the Vorpal Sword were both in sword form, resting against the rock.
...The figure behind the steam did not say anything more.
"...Who are you?"
Kamito intensified his tone of voice and swiftly swung his arm.
The wind pressure caused the surrounding steam to disperse instantly—
The figure emitted a strange sounding scream.
Kamito's eyes widened as he was rendered completely speechless.
Appearing from behind the mist was—
A fully wet and naked beauty.
Her body was graceful and slim like a beast's, with mildly bulging breasts. The scarlet hair was at shoulder length. For some reason, there were adorable cat ears on her head.
Rather than make any attempt to cover up her nude body that was like a work of art, the beautiful girl simply froze.
They stared at each other for a few seconds.
Then immediately, the beauty blushed before his eyes.
Frantically, she tried to flee—
...But she ended up falling spectacularly, creating a column of water.
"...Meow, meooow... Choke, chooooooke...!"
"H-Hey, are you okay!?"
Kamito rushed over and picked up the drowning cat-eared beauty in his arms.
"Kyah, w-what are you doing!?"
"I-I'm sorry... Eh, a tail!?"
Kamito's eyes stared wide open.
Caught in his hand—a tail seemed as if it were made of fire.
(...W-Wait a minute? This tail, could it be...)
Kamito suddenly reacted and gazed intently at the cat-eared girl's scarlet eyes.
"...Are you Scarlet... eh?"
The drenched scarlet-haired girl nodded with embarrassment.
Finally recovering from the initial shock—
"I am the Scarlet Valkyrie in service of the Elsteins—my true name is Ortlinde."
Transformed into a girl's form, Scarlet announced her name.
...It looked like she really was Scarlet, no mistake about it.
"...Uh, sorry. I'm a little confused here."
Kamito averted his gaze as he scratched his face.
Although they were both submerged to their necks and there was no worry that he would view Scarlet's naked body directly, Kamito still felt that the erotic lines of her neck was drawing his gaze involuntarily.
However, Scarlet did not seem like she minded.
"Yes. Well then, let me explain."
She revealed why she had changed from a hell cat to a girl.
"...I see, so your true name was released huh."
After hearing her explanation, Kamito accepted it despite his surprise.
In order for a contracted spirit to fully release its power, not only did the contractor need to be well-matched in power but the spirits had to be summoned by its true name—namely, a release of the true name.
When he first met Claire, Kamito felt a certain dissonance regarding the name Scarlet. No matter how he looked at it, the name seemed like an alias for the hell cat spirit.
Scarlet's true name had been lost throughout the generations of the Elstein family, but for some reason, Restia who was accompanying Claire knew the name.
Then having exhibited sufficient power in the current Blade Dance, Claire successfully released the true name. Obtaining her original power, Scarlet changed from her beast form as a high ranking spirit to recover her girl form as a spirit of the highest class—Basically something like that.
Having lost her power during the battle against Rubia and returned to her hell cat form, Scarlet had apparently retrieved enough power to regain human form temporarily as a result of pouncing into the ancient burning flames.
"By the way, umm Scarlet..."
"P-Please don't stare like that, Master."
Blushing slightly, Scarlet began to blow bubbles in the water surface.
"S-Sorry... By the way, why are you calling me Master?"
Kamito posed a simple question.
Scarlet's master was supposed to be either Claire, the original contractor, or Fianna, the current one.
Scarlet responded by gazing at Kamito with serious eyes—
"Because Master's master is also my master."
"...? But I'm always being ordered around by Claire as her slave spirit."
Kamito tilted his head in puzzlement. Thinking back upon the relationship between Kamito and Claire all this time, no matter how one viewed it, Kamito could not be described as Claire's master in any way.
But this time, it was Scarlet who turned her head incredulously.
"But then there's a contradiction."
"As you may know, Master, contractors and contracted spirits will share their dreams on rare occasions."
"...? Yeah, that's right."
Still displaying surprise on his face, Kamito nodded.
When Kamito slept, he occasionally shared Est's dreams.
However, perhaps because Est has lost the majority of her memories, the contents of her dreams always involved things that happened to her after meeting Kamito.
The only exception was during the time when Est disappeared, Kamito had witnessed the memories of her past contractor, the Sacred Queen—Areishia Idriss.
"Uh... In her dreams, Master always becomes your slave."
"How can that be possible!?"
Kamito instantly rejected it.
"I-I surely won't do anything like that!"
"...Really? You won't tie Master up and bully her or thrash her with a whip? N-Neither will you force her into unspeakable postures?"
"O-Of course I won't!"
...This hell cat spirit, what on earth is she talking about?
"Then in her usual dreams, are those Master's repressed desires..."
Scarlet began to murmur to herself.
"I-In any case, I am not Claire's master."
Kamito coughed and spoke.
"When calling me, using Kamito is fine."
"...I understand. Well then, let's go with this, 'Kamito.' "
Scarlet spoke with a serious expression.
...Despite such a dangerous-sounding nickname of the Scarlet Valkyrie, this cat girl was unexpectedly polite.
"So does this mean you don't have any memories from your hell cat form?"
"That's right. Because when the hell cat form manifests, only animal-level intellect is present."
—In other words, it would be more appropriate to consider Scarlet the hell cat and this Ortlinde here as separate entities.
"However, I do remember..."
"That you make tasty dishes for me and gently caress my head, Kamito."
She smiled shyly but adorably.
Kamito scratched his face and turned his gaze away in response.
...Feeling embarrassed, he changed the subject.
"B-By the way, is it really okay for a flame spirit to be dipping into hot springs?"
When in hell cat form, Scarlet was supposed to hate getting water on her.
"Yes. After all, this place is filled with the power of flames. Besides, having released my true name, mere water merits no fear at all."
Scarlet puffed her chest slightly in pride.
However, Kamito did not fail to miss the subtle sweating on her brow.
"...Surely, you're just putting up a front and desperately enduring."
Finding the truth pointed out, Scarlet instantly looked to the side.
Then she slumped her shoulders dejectedly.
"Originally, I really was not afraid of water or the like. But unfortunately I don't have enough power right now. I can only maintain this state for a little while longer."
"After your true name is released, you don't stay in this form?"
"I am just barely able to manifest this form right now because of the power of the ancient flames here. The current contractor, Ordesia's princess, is probably unable to summon or use me."
Scarlet shook her head from side to side.
"The reason why I've appeared here is to inform you of something, Kamito."
With a sincere gaze, she stared straight into Kamito's eyes.
"I beg you. Please save my Master—Rescue Claire."
"Yeah, I promise you. I will surely bring Claire back."
...There was no need for her to beg expressly. Kamito agreed instantly.
Hearing Kamito's answer, Scarlet relaxed with a relieved expression.
Her figure began to quiver like a mirage. At this moment—
"Kamito-kun is taking so long..."
"Maybe he fainted in the heat!"
"Hmm, mmm, it's worrying..."
The young ladies' voiced could be heard from afar.
Probably worried about Kamito who had not returned for so long, they were coming to check out his situation.
Scarlet's cat ears suddenly twitched.
"W-Well then, I shall take my leave."
"Why are you hurrying all of a sudden?"
"...Hmm, that ponytailed knight is very troublesome."
Scarlet swiftly got up from the water, turning herself into a fiery hell cat and ran away.
"...Ah yes, because Ellis keeps treating her like a fluffy toy, she hates it."
Even without her memories as a hell cat, the troublesome impression still remained.
"Kamito, are you okay?"
Ellis' voice reverberated in the cavern.
"...Ah yeah, no problem here! I'm coming out now!"
Answering loudly, Kamito put the black leather glove on his left hand.
Having finished the purification at the underground lake, Kamito and his entourage continued making their way towards the Lost Cathedral.
Even though they were not able to perform a proper sacred purification, the divine power circulating in their bodies was replenished.
After escaping, Scarlet seemed like she had involuntarily returned to Fianna's spirit seal.
As Kamito passed on the story of how Scarlet released her true name, the girls were quite surprised.
"I originally thought she was just a powerful spirit but never expected her to be a humanoid spirit."
Ellis murmured emphatically.
"I guess I need to find Fenrir in the future whenever I want to enjoy that fluffiness."
"Hmm, what do you mean?"
"—Very soon, we are nearing the Lost Cathedral."
Walking in front, Iseria spoke up slowly.
"We can't invade the ruins from directly below?"
"This underground passage does not extend that far."
Iseria shook her head at Kamito's inquiry.
"Which means we have to do a frontal assault, huh?"
"However, I don't think Team Inferno has constructed a stronghold. If they prioritized the ritual for the Darkness Queen's coming, there should not be any leisure to build a large scale barrier."
"...Let's hope so."
Rubia Elstein was the former Queen once praised as the best. In the past, the isolation barriers she constructed would cover all the castles and residences in Ragna Ys.
But for Kamito, the true source of concern was himself.
—That voice which tempted him to awaken.
The temptation was growing ever stronger.
(If I hear that voice one more time, I'll—)
He would probably be consumed by the impulse to destroy, awakening as the Demon King who leads the world towards destruction.
Rustle. Rustle rustle. —Suddenly, Kamito found someone tugging his sleeve from behind.
Looking back, Kamito found a pair of mysterious violet eyes gazing up at him with worry.
Without him noticing, Est had transformed from sword form at some point in time.
"Kamito, you're showing a scary expression."
In his surprise, Kamito found Est holding his hand gently.
"Don't worry. Kamito. You have me."
The icy hand gripped tightly.
Kamito was rooted there for a moment—
"...Est, you are the Demon Slayer, you know."
Est inclined her head in puzzlement.
"Supposing, if I were to become the world-destroying Demon King, when the time comes—"
"When the time comes, I will simply become the 'Demon's Sword.' "
—Just as he was about to continue talking, Est resolutely refuted him.
"I am your sword. Your wish is my command—That is what I swore."
Kamito felt the strength of her grip tighten.
"...Yeah, you're right. Sorry."
Kamito shrugged. In this manner, he continued walking, holding Est's hand.
A while after that—
"—This is the closest exit to the ground surface."
Iseria stopped and turned around.
Before them was a wall entangled by a tree root.
"This tree root is in the way."
"Leave it to me."
Ellis swung Ray Hawk, instantly severing the root to reveal a door with mysterious designs carved on it.
"This is one of the six doors to the abandoned city's underground—the Door of Persisting Darkness."
Once Iseria chanted rarely heard spirit language, the carvings on the door glowed blue-white as the door opened with a low rumble.
In the darkness, a staircase leading to the ground appeared.
"I can only lead you this far."
Iseria stopped at the door.
Before the door was an isolation barrier that sealed her here.
"...Thank you, Iseria."
"You really helped us a lot."
"Pay it no heed. This is simply thanks for the pancakes."
Iseria turned towards the direction she came from.
Then she walked towards the darkness—
"Please hurry. You need to help your friend, right?"
"Once I find a way to recover your memory, I will surely return to this place!"
Towards the girl who was gradually moving farther away, Rinslet called out—
But Iseria's figure had already vanished in the darkness.
"...What an incredible girl."
The high level spirit who had lost her memory, who was sealed in the abandoned city, and who had reported the Water Elemental Lord's name as her own.
Full of mysteries that one had no idea how to begin solving, she was truly a strange spirit.
Next, Kamito turned towards the group.
"—Let's go, Claire is waiting for us."
"Yes!" "Right!" "Indeed!"
Team Scarlet's young ladies nodded vigorously.
"Your wish—is my command."
Wielding in his hand Est who had transformed into the Demon Slayer, Kamito led the charge and rushed forward.