Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume11 Chapter5
Chapter 5 - Rinslet's Resolve
"...Phew, it feels so good after a bath."
In the single room prepared at the Divine Ritual Institute's shrine—
Having finished her ritual purification, Claire was changing her uniform.
Holding her favorite ribbon in her mouth, she tied her hair into twintails.
Next, her team was going to make a visit to the castle they had stayed at previously.
Suddenly, Claire looked out the window.
It was already dusk outside.
Just earlier, they were still blade dancing in the abandoned city. It seemed like a dream now.
"...In the end, I didn't get a chance to talk much with Kamito."
Buttoning her shirt, Claire sighed.
She clearly wanted to spend time with Kamito alone and talk more—
(...Seriously, so much happened.)
To be honest, she was still very confused.
The whereabouts of the sister who disappeared. The reason she revealed to explain her betrayal.
The Demon King's power dormant in Kamito—
(...U-Unbelievable. To think that Ren Ashbell-sama's true identity is...)
Her cheeks went hot instantly.
Ren Ashbell was the girl whom Claire admired.
All along, Claire had regarded her as the ideal elementalist and worked hard to that end.
Never did she expect—
(...T-To think she turns out to be Kamito.)
But at that time, Kamito definitely said.
I am the Strongest Blade Dancer, Ren Ashbell—
Instantly, Claire's heart began to race.
(Kamito back then, was so very... cool.)
Lying on the bed, Claire buried her face in the pillow.
She hugged the pillow tightly and rolled from side to side in that manner.
She looked up from her pillow and touched her lips softly.
(We even... k-kissed.)
Her heart pounded nonstop.
As soon as she recalled it, a hot sensation rushed through the inside of her body.
Her mind became filled with Kamito.
"...~! So annoying, what's with this..."
Claire began to pound away at the pillow. At this moment—
Climbing onto the bed was the hell cat spirit, wrapped in flames.
She stared with her round eyes, tilting her head in puzzlement.
"Seriously, don't scare me."
Claire put down the pillow...
And picking up Scarlet, embraced her gently.
"...Thank you, Scarlet."
As she stroked Scarlet's head, the cat purred in comfort.
Her gratitude towards Scarlet could not be contained in a few words. Only thanks to the calls of this hell cat spirit was Claire able to recover her consciousness when she fell to become the Darkness Queen.
"...Speaking of which, your true name was released."
Claire suddenly recalled.
The Scarlet Valkyrie—Ortlinde. The lovely girl who was clad in a dress of flames.
Reportedly, she had fought in the Spirit War several thousand years ago as one of the primeval spirit weapons.
At the time, Claire had quickly lost consciousness and did not have the chance to talk with her more—
Judging from the way she looked, Scarlet did not remember what happened back then.
Claire placed her right hand lightly on Scarlet's head.
As she supplied divine power, the flame seal gave off dazzling light.
"True name release—Awaken, Scarlet Valkyrie Ortlinde!"
With divine power poured into Scarlet's entire body, intense flames surged.
Scarlet's appearance remained unchanged.
She did not transform into that girl.
Claire tilted her head.
Since she had released it once already, with further training, she would surely release it again.
Furthermore, adding more rivals would be troublesome too—She murmured softly.
Looking up, she suddenly spotted a figure outside the window.
"What is she doing?"
The way she looked from behind was rather unenergetic.
"Come to think of it, she didn't say much during the ritual purification either."
Claire stepped onto the window sill and jumped out.
Rinslet was walking towards the Grand Shrine's garden.
Coming before a spring in the center of the garden, she reached out towards the water surface that was reflecting moonlight.
Claire was watching in surprise when—
"—Ray of Frost!"
Rinslet was softly reciting an incantation.
This was basic ice-attribute magic for freezing the target.
Resonating with Rinslet's divine power, the spring's water surface gave off faint light.
In the end, she slumped her shoulders dejectedly.
"...Rinslet, what are you doing?"
Rinslet frantically looked back.
Claire asserted. No matter what, they were longtime childhood friends. It was too easy to see that something was amiss.
"During the ritual purification just now, you were uncharacteristically quiet. What happened?"
"...N-None of your business, Claire."
"W-What, to think I was so worried..."
Rinslet suddenly turned her face away and prepared to leave.
Claire swiftly grabbed Rinslet by the arm.
...I can't leave her alone.
She could see traces of tears on the side of Rinslet's face.
Looking down at the arm she had grabbed, Claire suddenly noticed.
The spirit seal that should have been carved on Rinslet's right hand was nowhere to be found.
Claire remembered that back when she was unable to use her spirit, the seal would be in a state that was almost invisible to the naked eye. But even so, it could still be confirmed by close examination.
However, Rinslet's spirit seal had vanished completely.
"What happened? Where's your Fenrir?"
Rinslet turned her gaze away in embarrassment.
"—The bond is weakened. Even near a spring, I can't produce cold air."
Her voice was trembling. Usually arrogant, she was quite dispirited currently.
Claire looked towards the spring. There was a thin membrane of ice on the water surface.
But that was all. The power of Rinslet's Ray of Frost was not limited to this level, of course.
Originally, she should have been able to freeze the entire spring's water instead.
"Tell me. We're teammates."
Rinslet bit her lip hard.
"...During the battle with the witch, I lost Fenrir."
Rinslet recounted how Fenrir was devoured by the demon spirit during the battle with the witch. That demon spirit apparently had the ability to steal contracted spirits. Even her spirit seal disappeared as well.
Hearing that, Claire—
"...To go so far as stealing spirits, that behavior clearly contravenes the Blade Dance's ethos!"
Anger was causing her hair to stand vertically.
The Blade Dance festival was not a war for mutual violence. Instead, it was a blade dance offering to the elemental lords.
Trying one's best was required but that did not imply unscrupulous means were acceptable.
"Raise objections with the Alphas Theocracy."
"—That's most likely futile."
Suddenly a voice appeared from behind.
Looking back, Claire found Fianna and Ellis at the garden's entrance.
"I heard from Ellis about what happened."
"Sorry, I disclosed it without consulting you, because I was thinking Her Highness the imperial princess might have some solution."
Ellis bowed her head politely.
"No, I don't mind..."
"What do you mean by futile?"
"Sjora Kahn is ostracized even among the Alphas Theocracy's royal family. She is regarded as the taboo child who employs demon spirits. Oh well, it's similar to my situation except through completely different causes. However, she wields authority through her connections with part of the military and the Demon King cultists based inside the Theocracy. Even if objections are raised with the Theocracy, they will surely be ignored."
"So what can be done? Do you know anything about that demon spirit?"
"Regrettably, I don't know much about that spirit-stealing spirit either. It's Bandersnatch—The Theocracy's secret spirit, right?"
Fianna shook her head.
Information regarding demon spirits and their rare users was extremely scarce.
"Is there nothing we can do..."
Ellis hugged her shoulders.
"...No, there must be something."
Claire was murmuring when...
The voices of princess maidens could be heard coming from the Grand Shrine's building.
"—Everyone, the horse-drawn carriage is ready."
Inside the carriage prepared by the Divine Ritual Institute—
"So, Fenrir was..."
Hearing what had happened, Kamito remarked quietly with a grave expression.
(...So that's why she is so disheartened.)
Kamito knew very well the pain of losing a contracted spirit.
That feeling was like having one's body ripped in half.
"So we're now considering if there's any method to retrieve Fenrir—"
"Sjora Kahn still hasn't been located?"
"Apparently, even the Divine Ritual Institute has not been able to ascertain Team Inferno's location."
Fianna shook her head.
Sjora Kahn was a witch who could not be underestimated. Catching her would probably be very difficult.
Besides, it was unknown whether a spirit whose contract was voided could be retrieved in the first place. If Fenrir was already stolen completely—
(Then they could only rely on a miracle...)
"So, I was thinking—"
At this moment, Claire brought up a topic with a serious expression.
"I'll use my Wish to get Fenrir back, how's that?"
"Using your Wish, Claire?"
"Yeah. I've already seen Nee-sama and heard the truth. So I don't have any Wish to realize anymore. If it's the Elemental Lords' power, taking back a spirit whose contract was voided should be possible."
"N-No way. That Wish clearly belongs to you—"
"Don't you already have a Wish you must realize? A-After all, I owe you so much, with this I won't need to go out of my way to pay you back."
Rinslet's eyes of greenstone wavered subtly.
"—About that, let's wait first."
Suddenly, Kamito interjected.
"About the Elemental Lords' miracle, I think it's better to be more cautious. Rubia's words are quite concerning too."
—The miracle transcending this world's rules and logic.
—Does not actually grant the Wish you hope for.
That was what she definitely said.
He was not trying to advocate complete belief in Rubia's words.
But Kamito had witnessed it.
—In the memories three years ago, the Elemental Lords' miracle devoured Restia.
Transcending this world's rules—Something beyond this world.
If that was the miracle's true form—
(...Relying on that power is far too dangerous.)
"—Indeed, perhaps that's true. But..."
Claire bit her thumb's fingernail.
"I believe we should search for another method."
"I agree with Kamito-kun. Although I was formerly a princess maiden at the Divine Ritual Institute, after hearing Rubia-sama's words, I cannot find any reason not to doubt the Elemental Lords."
Hearing Fianna's words, Rinslet bit her lip hard.
"...I-I know. It's as you say."
But she still nodded.
"...Claire, your kind intentions are enough."
"I will try to investigate that demon spirit."
"Yes, the Fahrengart family will also spare no effort in providing assistance."
"Speaking of demon spirits, Greyworth might know something."
Rinslet covered her eyes with her uniform's sleeves.
Then she looked up.
"S-Staying depressed would be too unseemly!"
She displayed her usual elegant smile.
The carriage stopped before the castle.
Holding Est in sword form, Kamito walked towards the lobby.
He stared into the starry sky as he walked.
(By the way, where did Restia run off to?)
After disappearing from the Grand Shrine, she still had not returned.
Oh well, since I can feel the connection through the spirit seal, there shouldn't be a problem—
(She's always been willful from the very beginning...)
Kamito sighed in his heart.
As soon as Kamito's group approached, the castle's gates opened from inside.
"Welcome back, milady."
The maid Carol had come to welcome them.
Her radiant smile healed everyone's hearts.
"Carol, did anything happen while I was away?"
"Yes. Although there were three instances of fire disasters when making breakfast, luckily, they were all confined to milady's room."
"...Sigh. If that's where it ends, I guess it's alright."
"...Of course it isn't."
Kamito calmly remarked snidely.
...Employing such a maid, was the Laurenfrost home really alright?
"Welcome back, Onee-sama, Onii-sama!"
It was Rinslet's younger sister Mireille. Skipping along, she rushed over and hugged her sister.
"S-Seriously, Mireille, mind your manners!"
Rinslet instantly put on airs like an elder sister and began to lecture.
However, her hand was gently stroking her sister's head... As usual, she liked to indulge her younger sister.
After separating from her sister, Mireille hugged Kamito next.
The young ladies' icy stares stabbed him in the back.
"Also, Onii-sama, congratulations for your victory!"
"L-Like I said already, stop calling me 'Onii-sama'."
Kamito was feeling overwhelmed.
"Mireille-sama, please stop troubling Kamito."
At this moment, someone reached out from the side and pulled Mireille off from Kamito.
"Ah, Milla, what are you doing!?"
Grabbed by the collar, Mireille struggled violently.
The new arrival was the former leader of the Rupture Division, Milla Bassett, dressed as a maid.
She gazed at Kamito with her heterochromatic eyes then said:
"Kamito, welcome back."
"Yeah, I've returned, Milla."
Kamito placed his hand on Milla's head.
Instantly, Milla froze and her face went red.
"...Eh. Kamito-kun, as expected of the Demon King of the Night."
"Th-The title of the Demon King, having one title as the Demon King of the Night is enough... I-Isn't that what you said?"
"H-Hold on, you girls, are you misunderstanding something?"
Kamito frantically tried to explain himself.
—At this moment.
"Good grief. You're still the same, lad."
An exasperated voice came from the staircase inside.
Apart from Kamito, everyone straightened their posture and stood in a line.
"—Members of Team Scarlet, congratulations on your victory."
Applauding as she descended the stairs, Greyworth arrived, dressed in a suit.
"You, umm... Has your body recovered?"
Hearing Kamito's stiff gesture of concern...
"Fufu, to think the first thing you worry about would be the body. Looks like you find my body impossible to forget."
"W-What nonsense are you talking about, how could that be true!?"
"K-Kamito, even towards the headmistress, you..."
Rumble rumble rumble rumble rumble rumble...!
The young ladies' stabbing glares were really hurting his neck.
Seeing their reactions, Greyworth smiled with amusement.
"Kamito, come to my room."
Then she ordered in a tone of voice that tolerated no objections.
"I will teach you the final secret technique."
Enduring the girls' icy gazes on his back, Kamito was led to the room.
Greyworth sat down on the sofa and picked up a wine bottle from the table.
"Just sit down there. Want a drink?"
She poured the amber liquid into a glass.
"You're still recuperating, right? Watch what you drink."
"Oh my, how rare. You're worried about me?"
"...Like anyone would worry about you."
Kamito silently took the glass away.
"...Fine, what's this about? That final secret technique you mentioned just now."
The night before the final round, Kamito had inherited the Absolute Blade's secret technique.
Last Strike—A countering sword skill for using against humans. Due to teaching this sword skill, the Dusk Witch had lost her power as an elementalist.
"Don't be so impatient. Once you master this blade dance move, you'll became the true Demon King."
"...True Demon King? What's this about?"
Kamito was shocked.
Greyworth lay down on the sofa and said:
"Let me teach you now—Bursting Blossom Spiral Blade Dance of the Night."
Kamito could not help but grab Greyworth by the collar.
"Fufu, once you learn this secret technique, all the girls in the Academy will quickly fall. However, if you're the one using it, perhaps they'll lose their minds because it's too intense."
"H-How can you still consider yourself the headmistress!?"
Kamito roared angrily.
"In that case, you may test it out on me. After all, I can't commune with spirits anymore. There's no need to stay pure, right?"
Using her fingers to push her neckline open, her black underwear came into view.
"S-Stop toying with me..."
Kamito blushed and turned his gaze away.
"Fufu, the lad is so cute."
Greyworth laughed in her throat then sat properly on the sofa again.
"First of all, allow me to praise you. Well done. As expected, summoning you to the Academy was not a waste of effort."
"Receiving praise from you makes me feel worse."
"...Oh well, in any case, let me thank you. Thanks to you, I was able to meet my comrades at the Academy—"
Kamito took off his glove, revealing the spirit seal on his left hand.
"I've also retrieved what's precious to me."
"It's your own power that allowed you to retrieve the darkness spirit. I didn't do anything."
Kamito sat down on the opposite chair then—
"...Greyworth, let me ask you something."
He posed a question.
"—Twenty-four years ago. What happened on the day you obtained victory in the Blade Dance?"
"Twenty-four years ago on that day, you prayed to the Elemental Lords for a miracle and obtained eternal life and youth."
"...It's not really eternal life and youth, that."
Greyworth's gaze turned sharp.
"Yes, you did say that before. The elemental lords' miracle is not actually omnipotent."
"However, the ability to achieve something like that can only be called a miracle. At the time, I needed to guard the Empire, even if it meant planting the seeds of disease personally into my own body."
The witch pointed to her heart.
"A Cursed Armament Seal. Transplanted on the heart."
"Lurie Lizaldia of the Numbers already told me."
"...That talkative lass."
Greyworth clicked her tongue.
"You, what did you see inside the Elemental Lords' True Sanctuary?"
"You should know about the Geis, right? What is seen and heard in the Elemental Lords' True Sanctuary cannot be disclosed at all. That is the strictest contract."
"You don't need to say it out. Just answer a question."
Kamito shook his head.
"Did you see that darkness inside the True Sanctuary?"
She displayed a surprised expression.
"What is that about?"
(...Greyworth didn't see that?)
Kamito was surprised.
—At this moment, suddenly, the window in the room opened and black wings fluttered and spread.
Kamito stood up from his chair.
Landing on the windowsill—
The darkness spirit whose dress was colored like night.
"It's been a while, Dusk Witch."
"Hmph, the darkness spirit huh."
Greyworth smiled impertinently.
"Restia, what happened? Where did you go just now—"
"Kamito, the Theocracy's flying vessel is secretly heading towards the abandoned city..."
An ominous feeling flashed across his mind.
"The Blade Dance already ended. Why return to the abandoned capital..."
"She is likely targeting—"
Saying that, Restia looked up into the sky—
"The Water Elemental Lord's alter ego, right?"