Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume10 Chapter6
Chapter 6 - Lost Cathedral
"...Huff... Mmm, ooh..."
Numerous candlelit flames flickered in the darkness.
In the center of the Lost Cathedral's spacious great hall, Claire was squirming her body painfully.
The ritual attire felt like it clung to her, heavy as soil. There was probably some burning incense, for she found her consciousness gradually getting hazy.
The chanting of spirit language echoed in this vast space.
Amidst the flickering flames, Rubia was performing a dance in ritual attire.
Her figure reminded Claire of the elder sister she used to admire.
"Nee... -sa,ma... D-Don't...!"
Even though she yelled as hard as she could inside the barrier, the sound was not transmitted.
The magic circle drawn on the floor glowed with eerie light as the flames on the candlesticks all rushed up high.
Holding jewels of darkness, Rubia slowly walked up the stairs to the altar.
"No... Stop it, I don't want this, to become that whatever Darkness Queen...!"
"This is the only mercy—"
Rubia stood before Claire, holding the jewels high as she recited the words of release.
The jewels released darkness which began to cover Claire's body.
"...What... is this...?"
"You shall now forget everything. Sleep in peace."
"No, don't... What are you doing... Nee-sama, Nee-sama!"
Her desperate pleas in vain, Claire's consciousness was instantly shrouded in darkness.
(...No, do not erase them! M-My precious memories...!)
As her consciousness gradually became distant, Claire reached out as if struggling—
Her parents and her older sister—the memories of the happy childhood she spent with them.
Rinslet, Ellis, Fianna—the memories of the comrades she had met at the Academy.
Memories of the precious contracted spirit who always stayed by her side at all times.
And last of all, the young man's face that dissipated like a dream—
But no one could hear those whispers leaking from Claire's lips any further.
"—Oh my, is the princess' taming already complete?"
This was the top level of the Lost Cathedral.
Appearing out from the True Sanctuary before Rubia's eyes was the witch whose eyes were like a snake's.
"She has already been tainted by darkness. Sooner or later, she shall fall, completely devoured."
"For the Darkness Queen to be your real sister, oh what a tear-inducing tragic story."
"Do you wish to be roasted into charcoal?"
Beneath the scarlet mask, Rubia's gaze turned towards the witch, completely filled with murderous intent.
"Fufu, there's no need to make such a scary face. While you and the princess were stuck indoors, interesting things are happening. I came to report them."
Sjora smiled with a chuckle and licked her red lips.
Remaining in complete composure, the witch's attitude suddenly gave Rubia a sense of dissonance.
(This woman, she really does give off a different atmosphere compared to before—)
According to Lily's report, Sjora apparently used primitive magic to revive Valaraukar after it was defeated by Kazehaya Kamito. During that time, Lily had also sensed inexplicable dissonance from the witch.
"—Interesting things being?"
Casting her suspicions aside for now, Rubia asked in return.
...Now was the time for listening to the report first.
"Someone is invading this Lost Cathedral openly."
"If you're talking about the Dragon Princess of Dracunia, Lily has been sent to intercept her."
Considering their difference in power, chances of Lily prevailing over Leonora were microscopic. However, using the complicated terrain of the massive structure, the Lost Cathedral, she should be able to buy some time.
"Not the Dragon Princess, but Kazehaya Kamito."
The expression behind the mask was slightly frozen.
Kazehaya Kamito had fought Muir Alenstarl's militarized spirit late last night in the center of the abandoned city.
By the time he noticed Claire was captured and rushed over this Lost Cathedral, ten-odd hours should have passed.
It would be understandable if he had knowledge of the abandoned city's structure, but there was no way he could have toured all the tree-covered historical sites in such short time.
In theory, it was possible to use the underground maze, but those were ruins even more ancient than the abandoned city above ground—Even Rubia herself did not have complete knowledge of what lay down there. Supposing he had noticed the underground maze, getting here through them should still not be possible.
"To think even you could be surprised at times."
As if ridiculing Rubia's loss of composure, the witch smiled.
"Could this be fake information? Your mouth is untrustworthy."
"Witches do not lie."
"But they never tell the truth either—"
"What a truly untrusting princess. Please have a look, over there."
Saying that, Sjora raised a far sight crystal before Rubia's eyes.
Inside the crystal, Kazehaya Kamito could be seen traversing the forest.
Beside him, the Fahrengart and Laurenfrost girls as well as Fianna Ray Ordesia could be seen.
This was the vast forest on the slopes of the mountain where the spiral tower was located. They were most probably going to arrive very soon.
"To think there existed things that could take you aback."
The witch whispered as she giggled.
Ignoring these offensive words, Rubia contemplated behind her mask.
Time was still needed for Claire to fall completely and become the Darkness Queen.
In the instant Kazehaya Kamito awakened as the Demon King, unless the Darkness Queen to serve him was present, he would only lead the world towards destruction without achieving the original goal of exterminating the Five Great Elemental Lords—That was not what Rubia wished to see.
(The ritual cannot be interrupted now—)
Rubia glared at Sjora as if about to commit murder.
"Sjora Kahn. Now is the time for you to fulfill your duties as my ally."
"—Yes, you need not mention it."
Touching her moistened lips with a finger, the witch jeered.
"After all, I also wish to try out that which my country delivered. Why don't you concentrate on taming the princess of darkness."
Turning around lightly, she descended the tower's spiral staircase.
Watching the witch's back receding into the distance—
(Although the witch cannot be trusted, she is currently a useful tool.)
Rubia coldly remarked to herself.
(Once everything is complete, even the Theocracy's Snake must be destroyed along with everything else.)
Reaching the ground surface, Kamito and his group hacked and slashed their way through the forest.
It was supposed to be before dusk, but the surroundings were as dark as night. Heavy clouds were swirling in the sky directly above the majestic sight of the Lost Cathedral standing there.
"...This is the castle of the Darkness Elemental Lord."
Kamito looked up and held his breath.
Looking up at the building from the ground, he could feel the intimidating presence of the historic site that stood out from the ruins of the abandoned city.
In terms of appearance, the castle had numerous levels piled up into a spiral tower. Although the outer walls had steps along them, they were sealed off by numerous roots of trees.
"The leylines are activating... No doubt about it."
Fianna's sharp gaze turned towards the top of the tower.
"Very likely, Claire is imprisoned on the topmost floor. This is because this historic site's structure focuses the power of the leylines to the top of the spiral."
"It doesn't seem feasible to climb it from outside."
"There's a door over there."
Rinslet pointed out to a huge entrance that was still visible behind the gaps in a thicket.
"Okay, let's go!"
Just as Kamito's group reached the entrance—
Once again, they were intimidated by the gigantic size.
This door was far too big for human access. When the place was still used as a castle, giants undoubtedly lived inside there.
Using the front end of Ray Hawk, Ellis knocked on the door. Blue-white sparks immediately scattered from the spear tip.
"The material is mithril. Furthermore, troublesome magic seems to have been cast."
"The carvings on the door seems to carry ancient magic."
Fianna murmured as she examined the great door intently.
"It deflects the power of spirits."
"Using Est's strength, I should be able to destroy it?"
Kamito placed his hand on the sword's hilt and stepped forward. Terminus Est's anti-magic properties were topnotch amongst elemental waffen. It was possible that it could even break ancient magic.
"...It's probably better not to do that."
Fianna shook her head from side to side.
"Indeed, Est's power may be able to break the door. However, now is not a suitable time to use your divine power, Kamito-kun."
"Hmm, always trying to solve everything with force is not good."
"...I don't really want to hear that from you, Ellis."
Kamito retorted with half-narrowed eyes.
That said, Fianna had a point. Kamito obediently released his grip on his sword.
"I will analyze the magic. Kamito-kun, you should keep watch over the surroundings with everyone else."
Fianna raised both hands before the door and slowly recited an incantation.
"—O ancient song. Play music in response to my voice."
Fluent spirit language flowed from her lips. Instantly, the carvings on the door gave off dazzling light.
—Just in that very moment.
"...! Something is coming!"
Rinslet instantly released her elemental waffe. As Kamito and the rest looked up, a Freezing Arrow was shot into the air.
With a sound like glass being crushed, something shattered in the air.
"Is that a spirit!?"
Kamito narrowed his eyes and stared into the air.
Ghosts from the Spirit War—Forsaken Spirits, that was what Kamito expected, but he was wrong.
Appearing like a burst bubble in the air was—
Eyeballs with tentacles, monsters with only lower jaws, etc... A group of spirits with shocking appearances.
Demon spirits—an umbrella term for spirits who were impossible to command due to their anomalous psychological structure.
The only people capable of commanding them were elementalists with special abilities, known as Witches.
At this time, the space where the demon spirits appeared from, its center distorted—
"Fufu... We meet for the first time, Kazehaya Kamito."
Accompanied by a seductive voice, the witch appeared, dressed in a foreign exotic outfit.
"—We meet for the first time, that is simply a meaningless greeting. Snake woman."
Holding his hand against this sword, Kamito glared coldly at the witch above.
Even if they were enemies, if an elementalist challenged him with pride, Kamito would offer respect in return. But to this witch who had used a despicable trap to capture Fianna and harmed his companions, Kamito had no need to offer any respect.
"Disappear from my sight. Or would you like to be cut down again?"
Kamito declared with an icy-cold voice, giving off merciless killing intent.
The undisguised killing intent of one who was raised by the Instructional School caused Ellis and Rinslet to shudder.
However, the witch endured the killing intent with composure.
"Ah yes. Right. This is not the first time for you to meet this appearance."
"What do you mean?"
"Pay it no heed. Fufu, before the princess' investigation is complete, please play with me for a while—"
Sjora snapped her fingers, summoning new swarms of demon spirits from the magic circle in the air.
As the numbers increased dramatically, the swarms of demon spirits even blotted the sky.
Most likely similar to the time when Fianna was imprisoned, a summoning device belonging to the Lost Cathedral ruins was being used.
"...These numbers are bad news!"
Rinslet drew her bow and released arrows, piercing multiple demon spirits, but this amounted to nothing but a drop in the ocean.
Kamito glanced over at Fianna on the side. Fianna seemed like she was still concentrating on releasing the door. Who knew how much more time she would need—
"I'll clear them out in one go."
Kamito drew out the Demon Slayer and held it in a reverse grip.
Absolute Blade Arts, Third Form—Shadowmoon Waltz. This was a wild form of sword skill that could kill large numbers of enemies at once.
However, a hand reached out from the side and held down Kamito's arm.
"Kamito, leave this to us."
"We are a team. Members in a team have their individual missions. Your mission is to rescue Claire."
Ellis' ponytail swayed as she stepped forward.
With a swing of Ray Hawk—the incoming demon spirit swarm was completely sliced into halves.
"—Kamito-san, you must succeed in saving Claire."
Rinslet also stood by Ellis' side, pulling the magical bow of ice taut.
The two girls' eyes showed strong resolve.
"...I understand. I'll leave you two to handle Sjora."
Nodding lightly, Kamito released his hand from the sword.
"However, don't force yourself too much, both of you."
"Yes." "No need to worry."
Ellis and Rinslet nodded together.
"—The door's seal has been released!"
Fianna cried out at the door.
Rumble... Rumble rumble rumble... Rumble rumble rumble rumble rumble rumble rumble rumble...!
As the carvings on the door gave off intense light, it opened slowly with a great rumbling.
"Ellis, Rinslet, we're depending on you to handle this location!"
Kamito took Fianna's hand and rushed into the doorway at once.
"—Oh my, don't go escaping."
Sjora Kahn jeered as she prepared to direct the demon spirit swarms.
In that instant—
"Sjora Kahn, your opponent is—"
Ellis produced a tempest from her spear while Rinslet's ice arrows descended like a storm.
A technique of combination magic using elemental waffen—Ice Storm.
The howling tornado of icy wind devoured both the witch and her minions the demon spirits—
Hearing the great door slam shut behind him, Kamito rushed up the stairs of the historic site.
After the door shut behind them, the howling sounds of the ice storm stopped. Instantly, there was silence.
Appearing before Kamito and Fianna was a massive spiral staircase extending upwards. However, the spiral was distorted in several places in the air, producing a structure that resembled an infinite loop.
"Claire should be imprisoned on the top floor, right?"
"Yeah. In order to carry out the ritual, it can only be there."
(...Right now, I can only keep going, trusting Ellis and Rinslet.)
Even though he still worried about what was happening outside the door, Kamito started to climb the spiral staircase.
Because the staircase made sharp turns in the air in several places, it muddled the sense of gravity. However, there was no confusion as to which way was up. In any case, they should not get lost.
As Kamito worried about Fianna's lack of stamina, he rushed ahead in front.
After running like this for a while—
"Huff, huff... Kamito-kun, say, is your body okay?"
"Yeah. I still have plenty of strength."
Kamito nodded as he ran. In actual fact, all the fatigue from his battle against Valaraukar had already been swept away. The underground lake where ancient fires burned was a purification site of extremely high spiritual quality.
"You really do have extraordinary recovery powers as usual. However, that wasn't what I meant."
Kamito reduced his running speed.
Looking back, he found Fianna gazing at him with worried eyes.
(...Looks like I can't dodge the issue.)
"...That voice, can you still hear it?"
"Yeah, right now... There's no problem."
"Kamito-kun, perhaps it would be better if you handed the demon sword over for me to safekeep for now."
Fianna glared coldly at the Vorpal Sword hanging at Kamito's waist.
"This is simply intuition, but that sword... Somehow I get a dangerous feeling."
The intuition of the princess maiden and former Queen candidate could not be ignored.
Kamito understood that, however—
"...I've said it already. The voice tempting me to awaken is not Restia's."
Wearing the leather glove, his left hand clutched the hilt of the Vorpal Sword.
His past partner still offered no response. The spirit seal remained silent.
—Even so, Kamito still believed in her.
"I never want to let go of Restia ever again."
"I know that darkness spirit is a very important existence to you, Kamito-kun, but—"
Kamito placed his hand on the head of the worried princess.
"Let's make a promise. I won't become that Demon King or whatever."
Fianna bit her lip hard.
"...Understood. I believe in you, Kamito-kun."
Finally, she sighed and nodded.
"Sorry, I said something stubborn."
—Next, they continued running up the stairs without saying a word.
Soon after, the path stopped as they reached a massive floor with a ceiling.
"It's the second floor..."
"From here onwards, it looks like we can't just rush ahead recklessly."
Kamito raised a spirit crystal for illumination and surveyed the depths of the dimly lit floor.
On the far wall were six decorated doors, equally spaced apart.
"Which door leads to the top floor?"
The Lost Cathedral was a historic site dating back to the Spirit War. Based on the wondrous structure of the staircase just now, this place was constructed for spirits to reside rather than in consideration for humans. This was related to the design principles of spirit engineering that Areishia Spirit Academy had imported.
(...In other words, this is a building highly unsuited for humans.)
Kamito sighed in his mind. Trying to seriously tour the entire place would take forever.
"Let's simply break all the walls?"
"I think that would take forever instead."
Fianna shook her head and took out a metal lock from her bosom.
"Let me check each door for the flow of the leylines."
"This would also take some time... But that's all we could do."
Just as Kamito nodded—
Suddenly, intense flames gushed out from Fianna's spirit seal on her right hand.
The flames spun in midair and transformed into a flaming hell cat.
Fianna murmured with a shocked expression.
...Apparently, Scarlet had manifested by her own will rather than being summoned.
Landing on the ground, Scarlet nimbly ran towards the depths of this floor. Kamito expected her to linger and circle in front of the six doors, but Scarlet raised her tail in front of the door carved with patterns of flames.
"Maybe that leads to Claire's location?"
Scarlet raised a front limb lightly.
"How could this be possible? To track down Claire's divine power even when the contract had been nullified."
"As expected of Scarlet."
Exclaiming at the same time, Kamito recalled the red-haired cat girl.
The Scarlet Valkyrie—Ortlinde. Even though she did not retain her memories from her hell cat form, Kamito could feel how she misses her master Claire based on Scarlet's current movements.
"We're relying on you to lead the way, Scarlet."
Kamito and Fianna were making their way across the floor when—
Accompanied by an astounding noise, suddenly, the ceiling collapsed—!
Kamito instantly drew the Demon Slayer and chopped apart the massive falling stones.
Standing upright to protect Fianna, he chopped away at the scattered debris.
Rumble. Massive stones shattered into pieces. Instantly, a dust cloud filled the air.
"Cough, cough cough... Fianna, you okay?"
Exhausted, Fianna sat on the ground, resting against Scarlet.
Kamito looked up—
A huge hole had suddenly opened up on the ceiling.
And down below, a massive object was writhing restlessly.
As the flying dust cleared, Kamito finally saw its figure.
With numerous roots squirming around, a tree monster in pain.
"...Lily Flame's Titania?"
The spirit that had caused Ellis much suffering through the numerous poisons it produced in its body.
However, the demon tree spirit's life was currently like a dying candle in the wind.
(Who could have done this...?)
The answer to the question descended from above.
As if delivering a final blow to the suffering demon tree spirit, a massive black body landed on it.
A massive demon dragon with teeth of steel and jet black scales had appeared.
The demon dragon's sharp claws swiped at the tree, completely preventing it from moving.
With a fearsome roar, the dragon released a heat beam from super close range.
The demon tree spirit instantly caught on fire and dissipated into particles of light.
(What astounding power...)
Just as Kamito trembled in his heart—
"...Hmm, this is the end, is it..."
From the demon tree spirit's massive flower bud, a girl crawled out.
Red eyes and beautiful jade-green hair. She was Team Inferno's Lily Flame.
Having lost her contracted spirit, she collapsed on the floor without seeming to offer any intention to resist.
And towards her—
"...Jeez. How troublesome to handle."
A girl's voice, very familiar to Kamito, reverberated throughout the entire floor.