Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume10 Chapter7
Chapter 7 - Blade Dance of the Dragon Princess
Jumping down from the demon dragon's head was a female knight dressed in the military uniform of the country of dragons.
Black hair neatly trimmed to shoulder length. A white beret on her head.
The Knights of the Dragon Emperor's strongest ace—Leonora Lancaster.
Gazing down at Lily collapsed on the ground, Leonora shrugged slightly.
"Amazing of you to fight me to this extent. Commendable."
Despite receiving praise, Lily could only bite her lip in chagrin.
"...A thousand apologies... Cardinal..."
Leonora offered a knight's salute before taking away Lily's magic stone.
Having lost her magic stone, Lily's body disappeared as particles of light.
An imposed transfer to Ragna Ys through teleportation magic.
Without saying a word, Kamito could only watch silently.
Because tainting another elementalist's blade dance through interference was contrary to etiquette.
Then Leonora turned towards Kamito.
Naturally, she noticed Kamito's group.
"Kamito, did you come here aiming for the same prey?"
Despite the familiarity in Leonora's opening remark—
Kamito understood very well.
Leonora Lancaster's true nature was like a ferocious dragon.
Noble-minded and elegant, fully of chivalry—and above all, loyal to her combat instincts.
Leonora's black eyes gleamed with delight.
She was like a dragon that had found its ideal prey.
(...However, she doesn't look like she's currently being controlled by Dragon Blood.)
Kamito groaned to himself.
—Very likely, she was going to be even tougher to handle than during their last battle.
An elementalist's intuition told him.
"You have come here to defeat Ren Ashbell as well?"
"Yes, because she is the most powerful prey in the current Blade Dance festival."
"Then I have a suggestion—"
Kamito decided to try his luck and request they work together, however:
"However, that prey is slightly less attractive than having a blade dance with you."
Leonora released a battle aura that instantly caused shudders down Kamito's spine.
The demon dragon Nidhogg proceeded to moan softly, its ferocious eyes flashing brightly.
"—Divine soul of the jet black evil dragon, turn into the power in my hand!"
Heeding Leonora's call, the dragon spirit Nidhogg transformed into a massive sword whose length equaled her height—the Dragon Slayer elemental waffe.
(...Negotiations won't work, apparently.)
Left without a choice, Kamito readied the Demon Slayer.
As much as he wanted to save Claire as quickly as possible—
Perhaps due to the battle against Lily, Leonora's fighting spirit was roused to a maximum.
This wild dragon probably could not be brought under control without a fight.
(...Besides, I already promised her.)
—The next time we speak, we will have a blade dance together.
Back then, Kamito had indeed agreed to her proposal.
The Blade Dance stage was where blade dances were performed as offerings by elementalists with their respective Wishes on the line. One was not supposed to evade battle when faced with direct challenges.
Worried, Fianna grabbed Kamito's sleeve.
"Don't worry. It'll be over quickly."
Kamito stared at Leonora before him as he spoke.
Naturally, this did not imply that Leonora was easy to defeat. What Kamito meant was that this blade dance was a clash of strength rather than a contest of skill, hence it was going to be a quick decisive match—That was what he was trying to say.
(...In that sense, I must thank Leonora.)
If Kamito had to face Lily who was skilled in taking advantages of openings, surely he would be dragged into a rather lengthy and protracted battle.
Fianna swiftly moved towards the wall.
Scarlet simply sat obediently in front of the door.
"—This is it, Leonora."
Facing Leonora, Kamito infused divine power into the Demon Slayer.
"I have no intention of engaging in a graceful blade—Let's attack with full strength on the get go."
"—As you wish, Kamito."
The strongest ace of the Knights of the Dragon Emperor smiled happily.
"Captain, are you still able to continue?"
"Of course. Do not underestimate a Fahrengart knight."
Rinslet's magic bow produced a rain of hailstones while Ellis' gales blew intensely. The blade dance performed at the entrance of the Lost Cathedral was intensifying.
"Dragon king of ice who sleeps in a prison of frost, release your breath—Breath of Ice!"
Yelling loudly, Rinslet released an arrow.
The magical ice arrow's payload of wide area spirit magic exploded in midair. All the demon spirits appearing in the air were frozen.
At the same time, Ellis swung Ray Hawk as she flew in the air using wind magic.
The massive ice block shattered along with the demon spirits trapped within.
"Fahrengart style of the spear—Flash Blossom!"
As Ellis landed on the ground, only shattered fragments of ice remained fluttering in the air.
"Hmph, Laurenfrost snow never stops!"
Rinslet declared proudly as she tossed her platinum-blonde hair.
"Pay attention. Carelessness is your bad habit."
Ignoring Rinslet's raised eyebrows, Ellis turned to face Sjora.
Although the demon spirit swarm was not completely wiped out, its numbers had thinned greatly.
However, the witch continued to smile with composure.
"Do not look down on us, Sjora Kahn."
Ellis readied Ray Hawk and gathered wind around the spear tip.
Rinslet also nocked a new arrow of ice and aimed at the witch.
"We lost in the past, but given our current selves, keeping you occupied here is within our ability."
Sjora placed a fingertip on her lip and jeered.
The repulsive smile sent chills down one's back.
"—Just so you know, it was intentional."
"What are you talking about?"
"I am saying that I intentionally allowed Kazehaya Kamito to go first."
Snickering—the vivid red lips twisted into a crescent.
Her sheer silken garment fluttering lightly, Sjora walked amidst the demon spirit swarm.
"As for me, I'm completely uninterested in that woman's plan. A completely ignorant and tragic princess—At the very most, she is going to simply die while cursing the world."
"...What are you talking about?"
"Me, I simply want Kazehaya Kamito—the Demon King's body. That's all."
Sjora raised her arm in the air and began to chant to summon a contracted spirit.
"...Tsk, are you intending to transform into Ren Ashbell again?"
Ellis clicked her tongue disapprovingly. Sjora Kahn's contracted spirit, Baldanders, possessed the power to copy a target's appearance and abilities. Once summoned, things would get quite challenging.
"You're not going to have your way!"
Rinslet instantly released a shower of ice arrows—
However, the descending ice arrows were successively blocked by the swarm of demon spirits.
In that case—Thinking that, Ellis held Ray Hawk and charged.
—However, it was a step too late.
A massive magic circle appeared above Sjora's head.
A plain white hand appeared out from the air.
Ellis' eyes of sienna were staring wide.
At the same time, her instincts could feel it. —This was a dangerous spirit.
"Fufu, once in the Demon King's service in the past, one of the seventy-two spirits—"
Sjora's mouth lightly whispered its true name.
"The one who takes everything by force—Bandersnatch."
The sound of ceiling fragments falling down signaled the beginning of the blade dance.
(—Decide the match in the first stroke.)
Holding the shining Demon Slayer in one hand, Kamito took half a step sideways.
The fastest flash. Absolute Blade Arts, First Form—Purple Lightning's posture.
The wind from Leonora's sword swept up debris as she charged. Raising the Dragon Slayer overhead in preparation for a downward chop, she intended to decide the victor with a one-hit-kill just as she declared.
Leonora's elemental waffe was a massive sword, unsuited for turning back for defense.
Using it preemptively in a charging assault was the logical thing to do.
(If I get hit directly I'll probably get blown away in one hit.)
The pressure bursting from the sword made Leonora seem like a completely different person compared to before. Even back when she was rampaging from the Dragon Blood's effects, Kamito did not feel such an intimidating presence from her.
Probably because she was no longer confused? Something had changed her sword.
Kamito could not be sure what the actual reason was.
(...However, I can't lose either!)
Just as the wind from the sword swept across the top of his hair, in that very instant—
Kamito took a step with explosive power from his legs.
"Absolute Blade Arts, First Form—Purple Lightning."
A flash of the blade akin to lightning.
Its true essence—nothing but a simple straight thrust.
Even so, it was a technique that reached an entirely different dimension when taken to the limit.
In a battle against an elementalist, it could be described as a one-hit kill. In the first match during the Blade Dance three years ago, this was precisely the move that struck down Velsaria and the Silent Fortress with one strike of the sword.
Evading the front tip of the massive sword by the slimmest of margins, Kamito followed his momentum to crash towards Leonora's chest.
As sparks flew from the friction between steel, then—
An acute metallic noise rang out.
The trajectory of Kamito's sword was deflected slightly by an invisible obstacle.
(—Protective spirit magic!?)
Kamito clicked his tongue mentally.
Very likely, she had cast it when charging.
(...She swept up the debris cunningly to avoid her chanting from being detected?)
Although spirit magic with the dragon attribute was hard to control and not very versatile, it was the strongest class in terms of physical enhancement of the body. Also, rather than covering the entire body, it achieved its effects by shrinking the defensive area or raising its strength to the maximum limit.
For example, had Kamito aimed for her throat instead of her chest, the match would be over already. However, Leonora saw through his target most splendidly.
Instincts built from a solid foundation of experience—Indeed she was an elementalist among the best of the best.
Although the deflected slash swept over her shoulder, Leonora continued to charge and collided using her entire weight.
Crash—the blunt sound of violent impact between bones was heard.
Kamito's body was sent flying, crashing into the ground a distance away.
Leonora should have experienced the same impact but did not seem injured at all. This was because a contract with a dragon spirit conferred physical reinforcement upon her body.
Finding his vision shaking violently, Kamito had apparently suffered a concussion.
Even so, Kamito was still able to discern the approaching danger and swiftly jumped aside.
In that instant, the Dragon Slayer swung down. The instant the floor made of spirit crystal was struck by the tip of the sword, sparks flew and the floor shattered like glass.
Terminus Est was surely capable of enduring a blow from the Dragon Slayer, but the wielder Kamito was a separate matter. He had no wish to engage in a battle of pure strength against a dragon elementalist whose body was physically strengthened.
Fianna's scream was heard.
Following the momentum of his sideways leap, Kamito stepped on the wall, took a somersault and readjusted his stance.
Although Leonora's arm strength was immense, allowing her to swing the massive sword freely, the downside to these highly destructive single strikes was the great range of motion required for the swings.
—Taking advantage of the momentary opening, Kamito instantly charged.
(This will work...!)
His gaze met with Leonora who was about to swing her great sword.
Turning the hilt that was carved with a dragon towards him—
A certain thought flashed through Kamito's mind.
The instant before he stepped into the opening, he shifted his center of gravity slightly.
Immediately, a crimson heat beam was fired from the dragon carving.
The heat beam flew over Kamito's neck, destroying the wall behind him completely.
"...So it's capable of a trick like that!"
Giving no time for a breather, the Dragon Slayer swept horizontally.
The intense wind from the sword caused Kamito to lose balance.
Leonora did not miss the excellent opportunity. Instantly, she shifted her grip on the sword's hilt and swung it up high.
At this distance, even if Kamito could dodge the sword itself, he would still be smashed by the shockwave—
(...Please endure this for a while, Est!)
Kamito infused maximum divine power into the Demon Slayer and blocked the hit.
Light flashed past. The impact sounded as if the noise would rupture eardrums.
Kamito barely managed to block the sword.
"It's not... Over...!"
However, Kamito was pushed down by the momentum.
"...This, monstrous strength...!"
"Hoho, I'll take that as a compliment."
Amidst the crossed swords, Leonora's bright red face pressed near before Kamito's eyes.
It was an expression filled with utter enjoyment of this blade dance.
Watching her pure and innocent expression, Kamito felt as though he would be mesmerized in an instant.
"I have never had such a rousing and exhilarating blade dance before, Kazehaya Kamito."
"I am honored to hear that."
Kamito relaxed the tension in his face and smiled wryly.
"You're rather composed here. But even for you, reversing this unfavorable posture would be—"
Halfway through her sentence, Leonora's face froze.
An intense flash of light was being generated from Kamito's leather-gloved left hand.
A short sword of steel manifested in that hand.
This was the only spirit magic that Kamito knew, Weapon Forging.
With a flash of the short sword's blade, Kamito slashed lightly through Leonora's fingers which she was using to grip her weapon.
There was no bleeding because physical damage was instantly converted into psychological damage. However, the pain caused Leonora to frown and weakened the sword's force slightly.
Instantly, Kamito parried the sword to the side and escaped from his position of being pressed down. Then—
"Because this does not belong to orthodox swordsmanship, Greyworth used to correct me—"
Holding the short sword and the Demon Slayer in his left and right hands respectively, Kamito explained.
"I actually started out as a dual wielder!"
Crashing towards Leonora's chest while she was still off-balance, Kamito made sharp slices with the short sword. As soon as Leonora switched to defense, he immediately attacked using the Demon Slayer.
As sparks flew and scattered from the exchange of offense and defense, it looked like a magnificent dance to an observer—hence that was why duels between elementalists were known as blade dances.
Then the brief dance finally approached its conclusion.
"—O demon dragon Nidhogg, unleash your wrath in my sword!"
Heeding Leonora's call, the Dragon Slayer's blade shone brightly.
"Magical equipment release—Balmung is its name!"
"Unbelievable, magical equipment release...!?"
Kamito's eyes widened.
Magical equipment release—In other words, an elemental waffe's release of its true name. Depending on the type of the spirit being used, a contracted spirit's normally restrained power could be unleashed all at once.
The howling winds of the sword instantly vaporized the short sword created by Weapon Forging and even pushed Terminus Est back.
Leonora was surrounded by a golden-colored tornado.
—No, that was not wind. Rather, the burgeoning divine power was being released from all over her body to an extent that was visible to the naked eye.
(She's gambling everything on this move to decide the battle huh—!)
The initial exchanges were all undertaken in preparation for this move, because activating the magical equipment release required rousing the elemental waffe through a blade dance.
(...However, magical equipment releases are extremely dangerous.)
Releasing restraints was synonymous to letting a spirit go into a berserk state temporarily.
Expanding divine power gushed from Leonora's surroundings. This was proof that her demon spirit was forcibly releasing divine power.
In this kind of situation, even someone of Leonora's caliber could not sustain this for long.
"You said you hoped for a swift duel, Kazehaya Kamito!"
Leonora lifted the Dragon Slayer above her head. Its rumbling howls became even louder.
"This is my strongest sword—"
"Fianna, protect yourself well!"
Kamito shouted out hastily.
Even though Leonora had no such intentions, it was currently very easy for Fianna to get caught up into things.
(If possible, I want to save that move for the last, but...)
Kamito knew he would be defeated unless he went all out. In that case—
(Est, I'm relying on you!)
—Yes, Kamito. I am your sword, your wish is my command!
Kamito heard Est's voice in his mind.
At the same time, the Demon Slayer's blade gave off light several times brighter than usual.
Kamito took half a step to the side and quietly stayed still as he waited for Leonora's next move.
The posture he took was that of a counterattack, the strongest anti-elementalist form.
In her current state, Leonora was fully adequate as an opponent. This was an excellent opportunity for Kamito to test if he had truly mastered his understanding of Greyworth's secret technique.
To take on the strongest sword head on.
Were he to lose here, it implied that Kamito could not hope to defeat Rubia Elstein.
"—O dragon, devour my body and unleash your wrath!"
Balmung shone with golden splendor as it chopped right down at Kamito—
In that instant, Kamito took action.
The Absolute Blade's secret technique was no ordinary sword counter. One needed to sense the flow of divine power in the incoming attack and synchronize with the flow while engaging in the blade dance—Its true essence could be described as closer to a princess maiden's ritual dance performance in comparison to a blade dance.
(In the instant the blades clash, cut the root of the flow—)
Rather than relying on vision, one had to see through by feeling.
A failed activation of the technique would lead to nothing but defeat.
The Demon Slayer and the Dragon Slayer. The two swords collided with each other.
A flash of light erupted—Kamito was able to see within it.
The root where the flow of divine power was concentrated.
"Absolute Blade Arts, Final Form—Last Strike!"
An instantaneous flash of the sword shattered the Dragon Slayer and skewered Leonora.
A blade dance between elementalists of the highest class.
In terms of time, it was so brief that it did not even last a minute.
However, Leonora's face displayed satisfaction as she lay collapsed on the floor.
"Kamito, thank you..."
Panting, her chest heaving up and down, Leonora still smiled.
"...For a most splendid blade dance performed together with you."
Caught unaware by her sincere smile, Kamito felt his heart racing.
Apparently, Leonora no longer had the strength to stand up. Nevertheless, for her to maintain her consciousness after being struck by the Absolute Blade's secret technique, she truly lived up to her reputation.
(...Oh well, it can't really be considered complete.)
While his gaze was drawn to his numb right hand, he breathed a sigh of relief for her safety.
Indeed, the very instant before he unleashed the secret technique, Kamito had slightly loosened the strength of his fingers' grip.
As a result, the secret technique was not performed in a complete manner.
He did not inflict a critical wound on Leonora because—
Leonora spoke up at this time.
"My magic stone is kept in my bosom. As the winner, please take it."
"In your bosom!?"
Kamito could not help but find his gaze drawn to Leonora's two massive bulges.
At the same time, he recalled something else.
During the Water Elemental Festival before the finals, Kamito had stared directly at her naked chest due to unavoidable circumstances.
"D-Don't be an idiot, how could I take it out like that!?"
Frantically, Kamito shifted his gaze away.
"Last time, weren't you searching my chest once?"
Leonora pouted angrily.
"Ah, that time, yeah, uh..."
Just as Kamito stammered...
"Hey Kamito-kun, what is the meaning of this chest searching?"
Rumble rumble rumble rumble rumble rumble rumble rumble...!
Kamito looked back apprehensively to find the imperial princess bearing a lovely smile.
...For some unknown reason, Scarlet also seemed to be getting angry.
"No, that... A-Anyway, putting that aside, could you get out a healing stone instead?"
Kamito frantically changed the subject.
Fianna continued to glare at Kamito with an icy-cold gaze.
"Geez, you're hopeless."
Nevertheless, she took out a healing stone from her bosom and handed it to Kamito with a sigh.
But rather than using it on himself, Kamito gripped Leonora's hand around it.
"W-Wait a minute, Kamito-kun?"
Fianna jumped in fright.
Given the weight restrictions of the blade dance festival, the healing stone was a precious recovery tool. Handing it over for an enemy team's ace to use was outrageously unwise.
"Kamito, what is the meaning of this?"
The one most confused was Leonora herself.
"Are you pitying me?"
She stared sharply at Kamito.
"No, that's not the idea."
Kamito shook his head and refuted.
"Sorry, Leonora, but I have a request for you."
This was precisely the reason why Kamito had held back the instant when he unleashed the secret technique.
Bending over, Kamito whispered by Leonora's ear.
...After listening, Leonora:
"...Don't worry about it. Consider it my return gift for your blade dancing together with me."
She nodded, still lying on the ground.
Kamito stood up and faced Fianna.
"—Thank you for your patience. Let's go now."
"...Guh... Oooh, ooh..."
Imprisoned, Claire's body was being devoured by darkness as she struggled stubbornly.
Very soon, the cries of the newborn Darkness Queen shall be heard.
"...Amazing. To think you still have the willpower to resist."
Dressed in a pure white ritual outfit, Rubia Elstein exclaimed in admiration.
A specially trained princess maiden might fare differently, but one would expect a rapid fall when corroded by this large amount of darkness.
"—As expected of the Elstein's bloodline."
"...Who are you? Why are you doing this, doing something so cruel!?"
Claire cried out persistently as if in a dream. Apparently, her memories were already mixed up or eliminated. Even when she saw Rubia's face, Claire no longer recognized her elder sister.
Unfazed, Rubia continued chanting a spirit language prayer.
This was a blessing for princess maidens who were chosen as Queens.
However, instead of using one of the Five Great Elemental Lords, the name woven into the blessing was of the Darkness Elemental Lord Ren Ashdoll whose existence had been purged.
"I hate this... No... Don't want..."
"Rest assured. You'll feel a lot better once you fall."
Whispering gently, Rubia stroked her younger sister's red hair.
Back when Claire was young, this was how Rubia lulled her to sleep whenever she was crying.
The darkness continued to devour Claire's memories—whether memories of pain or happiness, all were treated equally.
Rubia did not think this could make up for what she had done to Claire.
Even so, she wished to grant her younger sister some sense of solace.
"—Will come, that person will come."
"—That person, surely... Will come to rescue me."
Claire's soul-less eyes once again lit up with brightness.
Rubia was taken slightly aback.
(...Who is she talking about?)
Her memories related to Kazehaya Kamito should have been erased already.
Claire and Kamito encountered each other at the Academy a mere two months ago.
Let alone his name, even his face should no longer be possible to recall.
"Ren Ashbell-sama will surely..."
Hearing the words escaping from Claire's lips, Rubia sighed lightly.
Claire probably had not realized that the true identity of the past Strongest Blade Dancer, Ren Ashbell, was Kamito. She was simply making dream talk because her memories were confused, probably.
"Claire, the one to receive you will not be the Strongest Blade Dancer but the Demon King."
As she murmured, Rubia felt faint vibrations beneath her feet.
(Dracunia's princess? No—)
—Bathump. Her heart stung with pain.
Rubia's body sensed the presence of the awakening Demon King.
"Apparently, Sjora Kahn's delaying failed."
Or rather, it was the witch's doing. The possibility existed for her to let him through intentionally—
"—Very well. I shall personally give you the final push to awaken."
Rubia lifted up her pure white ritual outfit and stood up lightly.
"...I'm sorry, Claire."
Before walking out the door, she shifted her gaze away from her younger sister and whispered.
"When everything is all finished, I shall be incinerated by the flames of conflagration to atone for my sins."
This was the fate of the Sacred Maiden who brings salvation to the world.
With a snap and rustling—the heavy ritual attire was shed off.
Illuminated by the flickering flames, the graceful curves of a beautiful nude body were revealed.
The pale white skin was covered entirely by black patterns.
Carved on her body were countless Cursed Armament Seals.