Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume11 Chapter7
Chapter 7 - The Seal-Breaking Ritual
After setting off from Ragna Ys, several hours elapsed.
The flying ship Winged Raptor arrived above the abandoned city.
"It feels quite different, looking at the city from above."
Looking out the window in the control room, Kamito muttered to himself.
The ruins were covered by dense forest. Relying on just moonlight, nothing could be seen at all.
But mere hours earlier, Kamito's group was still blade dancing in this place.
"I remember that the entrance to the underground ruins is located in the abandoned city's central zone."
"It's quite hard to locate from above."
Controlling the stone tablet, Fianna sighed.
"I think it's roughly there. Look, where the flames are burning intensely."
Claire pointed diagonally forward.
Kamito turned his gaze to find flames burning in a radial pattern over there.
"Right. That's where Muir's demon flame spirit, Valaraukar, was rampaging."
The flames shot out in the abandoned city's central zone were still burning intensely even now.
"I can't find any signs of the Theocracy's combat craft. Maybe we passed it along the way?"
"With such poor visibility, it's too difficult to find them. Fianna, could you land over there where it's relatively wide open?"
Fianna nodded and traced her finger on the stone tablet's surface.
The flying ship then changed direction and slowly landed in the abandoned city's central zone.
The entrance to the underground ruins was inside a shrine where debris was scattered everywhere.
During the battle against Muir's Valaraukar, that was where Rinslet had emerged.
"Ghosts of the abandoned city, rest in peace—Hell Blast!"
The large swarms of Forsaken Spirits that seemed to be guarding the place were wiped out by Restia's wide-area annihilation magic.
The shadow-like Forsaken Spirits instantly vanished into space.
Hearing Kamito's muttering...
"Those used to be heroes in the past Spirit War. Rather than let them live forever in resentment like that, viciously burying them in this manner would be proper mercy."
Restia lightly closed her dusk-colored eyes.
"If I were to turn into that, please likewise—"
"...Restia, please spare me the unfunny jokes."
Saying that, Kamito wielding the shining sacred sword and started down the stairs that led underground.
"We better hurry. The releasing ritual takes time."
"Also, I'm worried about those two who are staying on the ship."
"Yeah, that's right."
With Kamito in the lead, Fianna and Rinslet followed.
Claire and Ellis had stayed above ground because the flying ship was at risk of being taken away once the Theocracy discovered it. On the other hand, Fianna was needed for the seal-breaking ritual while Rinslet was needed to summon the girl spirit, so they went on the expedition.
Kamito was their bodyguard.
Assuming Sjora Kahn had discovered Iseria's existence through Fenrir's memories, she had likely invaded the underground ruins already.
"This set of ruins is a tomb for spirits."
Fianna touched the surface of the stone wall as she whispered.
"Carved here are the true names of the spirits who fought in the Spirit War."
Restia halted in her steps and nodded in agreement.
The Spirit War.
Far in the distant past, during times immemorial, the Darkness Elemental Lord, Ren Ashdoll, had rebelled against the Five Great Elemental Lords, thus causing a war—That was what everyone said.
"Restia, were you in Ren Ashdoll's army?"
Kamito looked back and asked.
"Yes. In the past, I held the position of leading the army. I also fought that Scarlet Valkyrie many times on the battlefield in the past."
In a rare moment, Restia was murmuring with a pained expression.
...She apparently did not quite want to recall those memories.
"Speaking of which, Restia, you were the one who told Claire about Scarlet's true name."
"Despite my reluctance, it was the only solution at the time. Claire Rouge is not supposed to be able to use that hell cat yet."
Kamito starting walking again.
"I remember that Est was also a spirit weapon—"
In the mean time, he used the sacred sword's glow for illuminating the depths of the road ahead.
"Have you two ever met before?"
"In direct battle, not even once."
Surprisingly, Restia shook her head.
"By her own arbitrary decision, she did not belong to any faction. Both factions of the Elemental Lords and Ren Ashdoll feared the strongest sword spirit. Since the current Miss Sacred Sword did not inherit her memories and power from that time, I could still joke around with her, but to be honest, I would not want to enter a conflict with her original form."
"...Hold on. From what I know, the current Est is already a spirit of the strongest class."
"I have no objections to that statement."
"But don't forget that the sacred sword in your hand is the existence that even the Elemental Lords feared. And that same power is cursing and eating away at you."
Kamito suddenly gasped—
His gaze landed on the shining Demon Slayer.
(...Come to think of it, I haven't considered that.)
The legendary sacred sword had vanquished Demon King Solomon in the past.
However, its true form was the cursed demon sword that had taken the Sacred Queen's life.
Although Kamito had considered using the Elemental Lords' miraculous power, which was granted to Blade Dance winners, to lift that curse, however—
(...I can't possibly let that darkness touch Est.)
Lifting Est's curse required coming up with another solution.
While pondering this, Kamito continued advancing through the passage. Shortly after.
The group reached a giant cavern where many passageways branched off.
"I think this place is fine."
"True. With this much space, performing the seal-breaking ritual won't be a problem."
Hearing Rinslet's whispers, Fianna agreed.
Kamito stabbed the sacred sword's blade into the ground and the dazzling light illuminated the surroundings.
"Respond to the summons of your lord, come forth—Georgios!"
Fianna chanted the words for summoning and called forth the knight spirit.
The knight spirit opened up its breastplate. Accompanied by rattling metallic noises, Fianna took out all kinds of cooking equipment.
"This is okay?"
"Yes. With this, I can make a hundred or two without any problem."
Rinslet held a frying pan in one hand with a fire spirit crystal and went to work with great enthusiasm.
Soon, she added butter to the heated pan.
An appetizing sound of sizzling could be heard in the cavern.
"Say, Kamito, what is she doing?"
Restia asked, rather intrigued.
"Yeah, it's for summoning the spirit from last time."
She was instantly taken aback.
This expression was quite rare for her.
"How exactly did you come up with this? How could that actually be possible?"
"Well, I also thought the same originally."
The summoning of high ranking spirits required grand rituals taking place over multiple days. This was common sense.
Using pancakes to successfully summon a high ranking spirit was completely unprecedented.
"I also received quite a shock the first time I witnessed it. I felt as though all the basic knowledge and values I learned at the Divine Ritual Institute were uprooted outright."
"Oh well, I'm thinking it's just this spirit that's a bit special..."
Hearing Fianna's astounded murmurings, Kamito smiled wryly.
"...Impossible to believe."
Restia was not wholly convinced.
Soon, the aroma of melted butter wafted out.
"Fufu, cooked to perfection."
Rinslet placed the fried pancake onto a plate.
Steaming hot. With honey dripped on top, it looked very delicious.
"Can I try some?"
"Of course. I will be making many more of them. Please, you too, Miss Darkness Spirit."
"...Given this rare chance, I thank you for your hospitality."
Restia adjusted her skirt hem and sat down beside Kamito.
Gracefully, she sliced the pancake into small pieces and placed one in her mouth.
Instantly, her eyes opened wide.
...Bite. Munch munch.
Very quickly, she began to eat without saying a word.
"That's the same reaction as when Est ate beancurd for the first time."
Restia coughed and turned her gaze away.
Suddenly, her gaze settled on a spot in the darkness.
"Restia, what's the matter?"
Kamito frowned and followed her gaze—
At the fork ahead, a few trembling strands of hair could be seen.
"C-Could that be..."
"It's Miss Spirit!"
Rinslet stood up and hastily rushed over.
"An Elemental Lord really was summoned using pancakes..."
Restia trembled as she remarked.
...Nom nom nom.
Dressed in a priestess outfit, the girl spirit was happily enjoying the pancakes.
"Rinslet's cakes, so tasty."
"Fufu, eat to your heart's content."
By her side, Rinslet proceeded to make more pancakes for refills.
Looking at the two of them—
(...Indeed, this child is the one.)
Kamito muttered in his mind.
Hair the color of shimmering water with flat bangs. Eyes as clear as lake water.
This appearance was undoubtedly that of the girl whom Kamito had liberated in his past memories.
The Water Elemental Lord—Iseria Seaward.
That face in his memory was exactly the same as the appearance of this girl right here.
Her testimony about being summoned to this place three years ago in a state of amnesia also matched Kamito's memories.
She was transferred to this abandoned city the day that Kamito had failed to assassinate the elemental lords.
(...It's hard to believe. To think this child is an Elemental Lord.)
Kamito was still half-convinced.
He drew close to Restia's ear beside him and whispered:
"Say, is this child really the Water Elemental Lord?"
"Yeah, absolutely no mistake about it."
Restia nodded readily.
Kamito nodded and went over to Fianna's side.
Fianna had already changed into official ritual attire and was preparing the ritual.
She lit a candlestick and drew a giant magic circle on the floor.
"The ritual can start soon?"
"Just hold on a bit. The leyline here is not very stable."
Fianna carved seals on the ground as she answered.
"...If only Est could be used, that'd be so much easier."
Placing his hand on the Demon Slayer's hilt, Kamito muttered.
Although Terminus Est possessed the highest level of spell-lifting properties, when it came to releasing an entire barrier, it could not be complimented for its ease of use.
In order to release an isolation barrier, the carved seal serving as the core of the magic needed to be located and destroyed.
Very likely, there was a core somewhere in these underground ruins—
However, finding it in these ruins would be virtually impossible.
"...Sorry. Could you please wait a while longer."
"I've been waiting here for three years. I'm already used to waiting."
The girl nodded.
"Also, I never expected you guys to return so soon."
"Yeah. Actually, someone is targeting you."
"Targeting me... Could it be those people just now?"
The girl spirit reacted.
"You know something?"
"There were quite a few armed humans who entered these underground ruins. Some of them seemed to be capable of employing spirits."
"...Those are Sjora Kahn's subordinates. They came for you."
The girl spirit sighed.
"They probably plan to capture me to use as a militarized spirit. But unfortunately, even though I have human form, I do not possess a high ranking spirit's power."
(...Not only her memories but even her power as an Elemental Lord were lost after all?)
Was her power currently being restrained by the barrier or did she lose almost all her power when she was liberated from that horrendous darkness?
"...In any case, we better hurry. This place might be found."
Saying that, Kamito focused his attention on the darkness.
—A few minutes later, Fianna had finished her magic circle in the cavern.
The candlestick's flame burned intensely while the pattern drawn on the ground glowed faintly.
The girl spirit in the priestess garb was standing in the center of the pattern.
"I just need to wait here?"
"Yes. In the next part, you might feel some strain, so please endure it."
Fianna waited on the girl spirit. Dressed in the top-class ritual attire, the imperial princess was exuding a sacred aura that Kamito never would have imagined in the past.
(...She really is a princess maiden who was the Queen candidate.)
"Kamito-kun, you're not thinking something impertinent, are you?"
Fianna glared at Kamito.
"Also, Kamito-kun, is it really true? This spirit is—"
"Yes. I was half-skeptical at first, but there's definitely no mistake."
The one who answered was Restia rather than Kamito.
"That child is the Water Elemental Lord's incarnation that was separated."
—After the ritual's preparations were complete, Kamito had revealed the girl spirit's true identity.
Namely, she was the incarnation of the Water Elemental Lord—Iseria Seaward.
Of course, he did not mention the assassination plan from three years ago.
"...Extremely difficult to believe that this child is really the Water Elemental Lord."
"Yes, the same goes for me..."
Unsettled, the girl held Rinslet's hand.
Upon hearing about her true identity, she seemed to be the one in the most shock.
"Darkness spirit, you're not trying to scheme against us, are you?"
"Oh dear, what purpose would that serve? In any case, everything will become clear once that child is unsealed."
Restia effortlessly deflected Fianna's questioning.
"If the true name turns out to be mistaken, the unsealing will fail."
"Let's believe Restia for now, Fianna. This child's existence might prove to be the key to understanding the mystery of the Elemental Lords' madness that Rubia mentioned."
"...I understand. Seeing as Kamito-kun says so."
Hearing him, Fianna nodded reluctantly.
Holding her palms together, she turned to face the girl spirit.
"Iseria-sama, once the ritual begins, it cannot be stopped midway. May I ask if it is okay?"
"Kamito, all of you should keep your distance until the ritual ends."
"Yeah, got it."
Pulling the Demon Slayer out from the ground, Kamito retreated to the walls of the cavern.
Fianna slowly stood up—
"—You, Iseria Seaward, shall be liberated from here."
She declared in a clear and pure voice.
The altars at the four corners gave off intense light.
Sparks burst forth from the giant magic circle, piercing Iseria's entire body.
"...! A-Ah, ahhhhhhhhhhh!"
Screaming as though she were struggling, the girl clutched her head with both hands and knelt down in pain.
"...Did the ritual fail!?"
Rinslet and Kamito could not suppress the urge to rush over—
But Restia reached out to stop them.
"That is the strain from releasing the seal. It is evidence that the seal-breaking ritual is succeeding... That princess over there really lives up to her position as a former Queen candidate."
"...O-Ooh... Head... hurts... so much..."
Confronted with the rushing flow of light piercing her, the girl spirit desperately endured.
Her petite body began to tremble slightly.
"...So scary... darkness... is... swallowing... me..."
Hearing the girl's murmurs, Kamito suddenly reacted.
"Could it be that she's remembering her past memories...?"
"Yes, that seems to be the case."
—Just at this moment.
"—Heh, well isn't this interesting?"
A voice was heard in the darkness.
Kamito turned his head back—
Only to see the Theocracy's witch, her bright red lips twisted in a sneer.
"—An amazing coincidence. To think I would run into you here in a place like this."
The Theocracy's witch giggled and walked out of the darkness.
"But regrettably, my target is that spirit. I don't have time to play with you."
"...Is that so?"
Kamito readied the Demon Slayer.
"What happened to Fenrir?"
Kamito demanded with murderous intent.
"—Fufu, if you're asking about that demon wolf, it's right here."
Sjora sneered and chanted a summoning incantation.
Instantly, a blizzard blew in the cavern and a giant wolf appeared out of thin air.
But despite resembling Fenrir's appearance, there were decisive differences.
The snow-white fur had turned pitch black and its eyes were bright red like blood.
The demon ice spirit's noble bearing was completely lost, exuding an ominous aura from its entire body.
Kamito frantically caught Rinslet by the hand before she could rush over.
(...They have seven or eight elementalists?)
Kamito calmly counted the enemies lurking in the darkness.
Sjora Kahn's combat strength was already known, Although she was feared as a demon caster within the Theocracy, what she specialized in was summoning magic. She did not seem to be used to blade dancing with elemental waffen.
Her prowess was far inferior to top elementalists like Muir or Leonora.
(...The problem lies in her subordinates. There's quite a number of them.)
White masks appeared in the darkness. All of them were dressed in crimson military uniforms.
If they were elementalists belonging to the military, their strength should surpass a certain threshold. He could not act recklessly.
While staying alert of Sjora before him, Kamito turned his gaze towards the back.
The seal-breaking ritual continued. Unperturbed by the change in situation, Fianna was focused on offering prayers with her eyes closed.
(...Nothing less from the imperial princess. Calm and composed despite the crisis.)
Kamito curled his tongue.
She trusted in Kamito's group and focused on her own mission.
Iseria was inside the magic circle, appearing to be in great suffering.
"Rinslet, go over to Iseria's side."
Even though she glared at Sjora, Rinslet obediently followed his directions.
"Kamito-san, please... Fenrir—"
"Yeah, I know."
He called out behind him. The darkness spirit girl proceeded to hold Kamito's hand.
"—I am your sword. Your wish is my command."
Accompanied by the sound of her pure voice, the Vorpal Sword formed itself in Kamito's hand.
—Please don't copy me, darkness spirit.
—Oh dear, Kamito won't like you if you're too petty.
Immediately, the two voices sounded in his mind.
"...I already told you not to argue, right?"
Groaning, Kamito infused his dual swords with divine power.
Holding both swords in a reverse grip, he instantly converted them into small-sized daggers.
Although the power was less per hit, this was more flexible and nimble in a group battle.
"...Using two spirits at once. As expected of the Demon King's successor."
Sjora Kahn smiled with delight.
(...Her tone of voice changed?)
Suddenly, Kamito felt his hair stand on end.
Kamito had heard from Ellis and Rinslet about Sjora Kahn's subtle change.
Back when the battle was in full swing, she suddenly seemed as though she were a different person—
(Indeed, there's something different about the witch compared to before...)
"Although this might be overkill for the sake of targeting one spirit—"
Sjora extended her hand.
"Bringing these girls here turned out to be the right decision."
Instantly, the masked girls advanced with perfect discipline.
"—Master, please issue your orders."
The military uniformed girls spoke in unison.
"Capture the spirit. It's fine to kill the rest. However, do not damage Kazehaya Kamito's body. It belongs to me."
The girls drew their weapons. The blades glowed faintly. They were mithril daggers.
(Those weapons... Are not used by knights. They're assassins!?)
Instantly, the air shook. Kamito could sense it through his skin.
The girls attacked, their breathing in unison—no, there were slight discrepancies in timing.
(...These movements, could they be—!?)
Kamito instantly noticed.
The attack trajectories were unpredictable for ordinary people. These three-dimensional movement skills, treating the walls of the cavern as no different from flat ground, belonged to assassins originating from the Instructional School.
Within the blink of an eye, some of them had circled behind him to surround him from all sides. The naked blades shone in the darkness. Bound to the mithril daggers, steel wires were entangling Kamito's arms and legs.
(...The formation of absolute death!)
This was part of the Instructional School's group tactics. This was a technique developed to allow assassins who were not elementalists to defeat powerful spirit knights. Once tightened completely, Kamito's four limbs were going to be sliced to pieces before he could resist—
(...Don't underestimate me!)
Kamito poured divine power into the Vorpal Sword.
The pitch-black lightning exploded and traveled to the masked girls along the steel wires.
This was an application of the Vorpal Blast—his prided technique as the Strongest Blade Dancer, Ren Ashbell.
(...Only two of them were taken out. Unexpectedly few.)
Kamito counted the number of disappeared presences.
The others had apparently released the steel wires at the last instant. They looked quite highly trained.
With both of his arms free now, Kamito readied his dual swords—
"...Who could have thought that the Theocracy's princess would be rearing assassins from the Instructional School."
Kamito yelled out at Sjora in the passage.
"This group was Rubia Elstein's private army."
The witch shrugged and said:
"That woman took in the Instructional School's orphans to serve as her subordinates. I simply interfered and reeducated them to become the cult's elite troops."
"...So Rubia was being used by the Theocracy as well."
Muttering, Kamito took a step forward.
(...Six of them remain.)
These assassins' average ability was roughly the same as the nobles studying at the Academy.
However, they were experts in killing elementalists.
They were highly proficient in ways to neutralize elementalists.
Possibly, they might even include Cursed Armament Seal test subjects like Jio Inzagi or people with inborn special powers like Muir Alenstarl... They could not be underestimated.
"...I'm not gonna let you harm a single hair of my companions."
"Now that's the Demon King I hoped for."
Sjora snapped her fingers
The pitch-black demon wolf blew an astounding blizzard.
The howling blizzard blew inside the cavern.
Staying by Iseria's side as she endured the pain inside the magic circle, Rinslet clenched her fist tight.
On the other side of the blizzard, she could hear the noise of a beast's roars and weapons clashing.
As much as she wanted to rush over, her footsteps faltered.
With her contracted spirit currently lost, Rinslet was nothing more than a powerless girl.
(...I must act stronger. I am the eldest Laurenfrost daughter after all!)
Iseria was trying her best beside Rinslet.
Rinslet could not allow herself to display worry.
In spite of that—
(Fenrir... I beg you... please listen to me!)
The gentle demon ice spirit was baring its fangs and claws at Kamito.
This reality was making Rinslet suffer with heart wrenching pain.
Just at this moment...
She felt someone tug her sleeve.
She suddenly looked back.
...Only to find Iseria reaching out from the center of the magic circle.
"...Rinslet, please. Hold... my... hand..."
While enduring the pain, she squeezed out her words in a moaning voice.
Rinslet swiftly held Iseria's hand.
"Umm, are you okay?"
"Yes... I've begun to recall... memories about myself, a little..."
She spoke while holding Rinslet's hand as hard as she could.
"...I am... the one ruling over the element of water... So... I shall slightly, give you, a bit of power..."
Instantly, faint light glowed from Rinslet's right hand.
This was the light of spirit magic, a spirit's strength drawn out by divine power.
"...What on earth happened—"
Rinslet's eyes of greenstone opened wide.
Extraordinary divine power was pouring into her through Iseria's tiny hand.
"Use my power... to... help, him—"
(This is trickier than imagined—)
Kamito used his dual swords to deflect the numerous steel wires released inside the blizzard.
Fenrir's claws attacked while his view was obscured. The howling wind numbed his hearing and the cold air was gradually sapping Kamito's stamina.
(...I'm reaching my limit in dodging through sensing their presences alone.)
Using the demon sword's blade, he parried the shining claws of ice—
Kamito pulled back from the berserk demon ice spirit.
Simply in terms of defeating it, there were quite a number of opportunities.
However, the opponent was Fenrir. If he used the wrong level of strength, he might kill it.
(The spirit seal carved by the demon spirit should be somewhere—)
He just needed to destroy it using the Demon Slayer.
However, he still could not find a remotely plausible target.
As soon as he exited the range of the blizzard, daggers would immediately flit across his face.
The Instructional School's assassins ambushed Kamito as they continually changed their positions.
Fenrir's figure suddenly appeared inside the blizzard.
Its giant jaws opened wide before him, releasing cold breath—
Just at that moment—
(...It's over there!)
At the same time, he sensed presences behind him.
The assassin's magic mithril daggers were nearing his neck.
Just as the icy blades touched his neck, in that instant—
"Imprison my enemies in an eternal curse of ice, until the time of judgment—Ice Forest!"
The stern voice shook the air.
Out from the ground, vines of cursed ice turned the assassins surrounding Kamito into ice sculptures.
This was high-level spirit magic for incapacitating multiple targets.
(...Could it actually be Rinslet?)
In a state with her contracted spirit lost, she could not possibly perform this level of spirit magic.
But the voice he heard was unmistakably hers.
Just as the killing intent disappeared behind him—
"If you want to eat my arm, here you go—"
Kamito inserted his right arm into Fenrir's mouth.
"—I'm relying on you, Est!"
He poured all his divine power into the Demon Slayer.
In the next instant, a flash erupted and the demon ice spirit's entire body was enveloped in light.
Indeed, the cursed spirit seal was carved right on the demon wolf's tongue.
The instant Fenrir opened its huge jaws, Kamito pierced the seal.
The howling blizzard subsided and the cavern's interior returned to silence.
"...Do you still want to continue? Sjora Kahn."
Pulling out the Demon Slayer from the motionlessly standing Fenrir—
Kamito turned his gaze towards the Theocracy's witch.
There were three subordinates of the Instructional School remaining. Although Sjora had not summoned her demon spirit, Bandersnatch, so long as he stayed wary of her power to steal spirits, there was nothing to fear.
"So be it. Using this body, I have no chance of winning."
Sjora was unexpectedly up front.
She made a gesture to her subordinates.
Once they had swiftly taken away their collapsed companions and disappeared into the darkness, the witch turned towards Kamito again.
"—See you next time. The other Demon King."
Then just as Kamito was thinking she was going to chant some kind of spell—
Sjora vanished into thin air.
Rushing over, Rinslet hugged Fenrir's giant body.
"...Thank goodness... Finally, you've returned."
Tears appeared in her eyes of greenstone.
She buried her face into the snow-white fur and cried.
Fenrir licked Rinslet's face with his wide tongue.
"...S-So ticklish, seriously..."
"—This is wonderful, Rinslet."
Kamito called out.
"I-It's all thanks to you, Kamito-san!"
This time, Rinslet hugged Kamito.
A girl's fragrance.
The soft sensation of a bosom was making his heart race.
—At this moment.
"Things have finished on this side as well, Kamito-kun."
Kamito suddenly looked over.
Only to see in the center of the magic circle—
The girl was standing quietly.
"Iseria... Did your memories return?"
The girl nodded politely.
"Yes. I am the Water Elemental Lord—Iseria Seaward."
Solemnly, she announced her name.