Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume12 Chapter6
Chapter 6 - Numbers
Meanwhile, in an empty classroom in the secondary block separate from the school building...
Having eaten breakfast, Claire and the others were preparing for the Great Festival of the Spirits.
"Jeez, Kamito is clearly my contracted spirit..."
"The captain is so sly!"
Dressed in their cafe uniforms, Claire and Rinslet were pouting.
They were dressed similar to maids while wearing decorated headbands. The decorations came with cute animal ears and were very popular with the spirits, known for their love of beautiful girls.
As a side note, Claire had cat ears while Rinslet's were those of a fox.
"Aha, you two are jealous."
Carol wiped the table while smiling.
"N-No way!" "Of course not!"
Hearing that, the two girls blushed intensely and frantically denied.
"Putting that aside, who knows if we'll be able to handle the customers properly tomorrow. Due to participating in the Blade Dance, we didn't even have time to practice much. I'm a bit worried."
"Don't offend the visiting nobles and spirits."
"I know that..."
Tomorrow, not only nobles but also many aristocratic spirits from Astral Zero were going to be visiting. Since high-ranking spirits wielded massive influence over the human realm, they definitely could not be treated lightly.
"Oh well, it would be bad to be overly self-aware and cause stiff expressions. I am cute enough as things stand already, so all I need to do next is practice smiling a little—Ouch."
Suddenly, Rinslet frowned.
"What's the matter?"
The rose seal branded on her left hand was flashing intensely.
"It must be that esteemed one."
"That esteemed one, could it be...!"
Claire instantly became nervous and looked at the surrounding students.
"Uh, Rinslet is feeling a little unwell, I'm going to accompany her to the infirmary to get some rest."
Then, grabbing Rinslet's left hand to hide it, she exited the classroom.
"Claire-sama, just allow me to accompany her instead."
Carol tried to help but Rinslet stopped her.
"I have important matters to discuss with Claire. Stay here, Carol."
Carol bowed reverently. Useless as a maid usually, it was a great help that she instantly understood Rinslet's intentions during times like these.
Claire and Rinslet walked through the corridor to reach a first-floor classroom that was being used for storage.
"...There's no one listening here."
Confirming no presences around, not even spirits, Claire whispered.
The dim classroom was illuminated by the seal's dazzling light.
Rinslet called out the name of the demon ice spirit.
Instantly, a large magic circle appeared in midair, summoning the white direwolf.
Fenrir sat down on the dusty floor, supporting itself on its front limbs and opened it giant jaws—
"—Excuse the suddenness of this communication, princess maiden Ice Demon."
A calm voice came out.
"Y-Your dog can speak!?"
"A direwolf not a dog, okay!?"
Rinslet corrected rigorously.
"Ahhh, the Elstein princess maiden is present too. Perfect."
The person on the other side spoke using Fenrir.
Claire took a deep and sudden breath—
"Could it be... Iseria-sama?"
"Yes. Only through this demon ice spirit, I am able to make an appearance."
The wolf's head nodded once.
Claire and Rinslet frantically knelt down on the spot. Even when appearing in the form of an adorable wolf, she was still an Elemental Lord's avatar. The highest level of respect must be expressed.
Still in Fenrir's form, the Elemental Lord coughed lightly.
"My apologies. I originally intended to enter in a dialogue earlier but stabilizing my main body has already consumed all of my strength. Simply opening the Gate took a great deal of effort."
Listening to the elemental lord, Claire and Rinslet looked at each other.
"...Speaking of which, are the Elemental Lords still in a state of insanity?"
Claire asked gingerly.
They had undertaken the Elemental Lord liberation plan during the audience.
Was the darkness spirit girl's sacrifice in vain—?
"I remember it was mentioned that the Fire Elemental Lord's madness was supposed to subside somewhat."
Rinslet also spoke up.
"Volcanicus has stabilized now. The Demon King's sacred sword did indeed succeed in liberating the Elemental Lord's consciousness from being swallowed by the darkness. Vanishing from the True Sanctuary, it was most likely reborn in an amnesiac state somewhere, presumably in the same manner as I was sealed underground in the abandoned city—"
"Successfully liberated, I see."
"Yes. But the Otherworldly Darkness's corruption continues. This is temporary respite at best. In the near and foreseeable future, it will most likely exceed the level where I can suppress it on my own."
"At least, if Alexandros and the liberated Volcanicus return, taking back the initiative should be possible, maybe."
Still in Fenrir's form, the elemental lord shook her head powerlessly.
"...The Holy Lord?"
Claire and Rinslet frowned at the same time.
Back then, Kamito was only supposed to have freed the Fire Elemental Lord.
"...The empty seat."
"Three years ago, even before I was liberated, the Holy Lord's seat was already empty. As for when the absence started and where the Holy Lord had vanished to, I have no idea at all."
(...Liberated by someone else apart from Kamito?)
Claire tilted her head and wondered in her mind.
—The Holy Lord's unexplained disappearance.
There was an inexplicable sense of foreboding. As much as it was merely instinct, it was Claire's instinct after all, and Claire's potential as a princess maiden even exceeded her elder sister's. It could not be ignored.
(That said, it's useless no matter how much I tried to ponder this...)
Claire shook her head and asked the first question she should have raised.
"Excuse me, Iseria-sama, do you know anything about the situation of Kamito's darkness spirit?"
"Darkness spirit—You are referring to Restia Ashdoll, aren't you?"
The elemental lord whispered through the direwolf. As though choosing her words, the wolf cautiously spoke:
"The disappearance of that youth's spirit seal implies what has happened. Originally nothing more than the tool for realizing Darkness Elemental Lord Ren Ashdoll's will, she must have obtained a humanized heart through her interactions with that youth. In exchange for her own life, she saved the world. Rather, whom she saved was the youth, but in doing so, the world was saved as a bonus."
The elemental lord's message was positive but merciless at the same time.
The darkness spirit was gone from this world. So long as reality was not rewritten—
Then even if Kamito recovered his memory, he would plunge into despair once more.
(...When the time comes, his mind and soul will surely collapse.)
Perhaps in consideration for Kamito, staying in his amnesiac state might be better—
"The Knights of the Holy Kingdom of Lugia are also searching for the whereabouts of the missing darkness spirit."
During the final round of the Blade Dance, the Sacred Spirit Knights intended to exterminate the darkness spirit for some unknown reason. Their actions were almost as though they regarded the team's victory as irrelevant—
(...After the Blade Dance ended, they were still looking for the darkness spirit?)
—What on earth for?
"Ignoring the Divine Ritual Institute's warnings, they persisted in staying on Ragna Ys. Only after repeated warnings did they finally give up on the search and made their return."
"Why do they know that Kamito lost his darkness spirit?"
"The Holy Kingdom of Lugia seems to be suspicious too..."
Claire spoke with her chin resting against her hand. At this moment—
"Speaking of which, how is the youth's condition now?"
Claire explained about Kamito's amnesia due to losing the darkness spirit as well as Est being sealed underground at the Academy at the same time.
Hearing this, Iseria—
"So this caused him to endure something harsh..."
The wolf's face distorted in suffering and murmured:
"The sacred sword being sealed, in other words, the Burial Chamber has manifested in the human realm."
Hearing the unfamiliar term, Claire and Rinslet cocked their heads in puzzlement.
"The Demon King's Burial Chamber—A special dimension conferred to those eligible Demon King candidates. In it are the seventy-two spirits under the Demon King's command and all his possessions."
"...Why would that kind of thing be at the Academy?"
"The Burial Chamber manifests itself at the Demon King's base of operations. In other words, that youth subconsciously regards the Areishia Spirit Academy, where you are present, as his place of shelter that he is supposed to protect."
"...So it's like that."
The corners of Claire's lips relaxed somewhat. But in the next instant, she reacted strongly.
"The headmistress said that an investigation team assembled from the Knights will be arranged soon!"
The seventy-two spirits serving the Demon King. If that were to be discovered, the fact of Kamito being the Demon King's successor would be revealed to the world.
If that came to pass, even the headmistress would no longer be able to protect Kamito.
Things were still fine as a male elementalist.
But being the Demon King's successor was an entirely different matter.
"Don't worry. The only one capable of discovering the Burial Chamber is none other than the Demon King himself. Other humans definitely cannot open it nor find it. However—"
At this moment, the elemental lord seemed a bit lost.
"Retrieving the Demon Slayer once more would imply that the lid over his memories must be lifted—"
Saying that, the direwolf suddenly stared off into space.
It froze like that, as though time had stopped.
"...Otherworldly Darkness... Active again... I must go, back..."
"A-Are things okay?"
"I can still... do my best... to suppress..."
Fenrir's eyes gradually lost brightness.
Fenrir remained seated in front of the two girls.
It looked like the elemental lord had stopped possessing it.
"...Iseria-sama was pushing herself in order to communicate."
Fenrir lay down on the floor, looking exhausted.
Rinslet snapped her fingers. The white wolf instantly returned to Astral Zero.
"...The Demon King's Burial Chamber. Something troublesome has arrived as well."
Kamito himself had lost his memory, yet the Demon King's destiny still clung relentlessly to him—
"Hey, you two over there—"
Suddenly, a voice was heard inside the empty classroom.
The two girl frantically looked back.
Outside the window, a person was standing, covered all over by a gray overcoat.
...Evidently not one of the Academy's students. Obviously someone suspicious.
Furthermore, this person's presence was hidden even to first-rate elementalists like these two here. Clearly no ordinary accomplishment.
(No way, our conversation with the Elemental Lord was overheard!?)
Claire released Flametongue and questioned acutely:
"You, who are you!?"
Hearing her, the person simply put down her hood.
Long black hair fell down and scattered. Beneath the overcoat were vestments of the highest rank.
"My companion went off somewhere on her own, so I'm totally lost."
Claire had seen this bespectacled face before.
"Could you please take me to the headmistress' office, little lady of the Elstein family?"
"—Over here, Kamito."
After handing the two injured girls to their companions, the other knights, Kamito and Ellis hurried swiftly to the headmistress' office.
The Sylphid Knights declared a state of emergency. Although the attacker's goal was unknown, Ellis decided that the headmistress' safety came first.
"Quickly. The intruder could very well be aiming for the headmistress' life—"
"Isn't the Empire's Dusk Witch the strongest spirit knight?"
Seeing Ellis in a panic, Kamito raised a question. Indeed, the Artificer earlier was an accomplished expert, but it was hard to imagine the Dusk Witch could be killed by someone like that.
(In actual fact, even the Instructional School did not dare make a move on the Dusk Witch.)
Normally, elementalists would gradually lose the power of the spirit contracts as they aged. However, it was said that the Dusk Witch ignored that absolute rule and still possessed overwhelming power to this day.
However, Ellis displayed a pained expression—
"This is something that only a small number of people know, but currently, the headmistress has already lost the power of the spirit contract."
In front of the office, Ellis stopped.
"Headmistress, are you safe!?"
She opened the door, almost as though kicking it open, only to see—
"...Hmm, you're quite early."
Sitting before her desk, Greyworth spoke calmly.
"...Thank goodness. You are safe—"
Ellis had just breathed a sigh of relief when...
In the next instant, her dark-brown eyes opened wide.
There was already a visitor at the headmistress' office.
A petite young beauty dressed in black leather combat attire.
Boyish short black hair. Eyes of amethyst, glinting like sharp knives.
In the leather holster around her exposed thigh was a black iron gun.
—Unmistakable. This was the attacker whom Kamito and Ellis had just fought.
"Damn it, get away from the headmistress!"
Making a warning, Ellis prepared to summon her spirit but—
The one who stopped her was Greyworth despite her apparent impending crisis.
"H-Headmistress, may I ask why? That person is—"
Ellis asked in puzzlement. However, Greyworth remained composed:
"...Well, calm down. By the way, what's with that shameless getup?"
Eyes half-narrowed, she stared at Ellis's greatly exposed skin.
"How lamentable. In the position of upholding the Academy's morals and discipline, to think you'd dress up in this manner. I understand your wish to seduce the lad, but please do pay more attention."
"...Th-This is... N-No, this is..."
Ellis instantly blushed to her ears and hid behind Kamito's back.
Kamito sighed and looked at the beauty in the combat outfit.
"...What's going on? Why is the intruder here?"
"Oh, you've already fought?"
Hearing that, Greyworth smiled wryly, quite amused.
"She is Virrey Branford. Ninth of the Numbers in the Imperial Knights."
" "—Numbers!?" "
Ellis exclaimed in shock. Kamito could not help but be taken aback as well.
There was probably no one on the continent who did not know this term.
The Ordesia Empire's renowned, elite knights, twelve in number.
The witch seated before them used to be ranked first among them.
"Ninth... Could it be the Umbra's—"
Ellis's throat was shaking.
"It's the Empire's intelligence agency."
"The Numbers being spirit knights who roam the battlefields is already a thing of the past. Right now, their duties are a lot different. Dame Virrey Branford is a special operative knight belonging to the Umbra."
"...Special operative knight. Ellis, you didn't notice?"
"It could not be helped. I have never seen Dame Virrey's face either."
"After all, special operative knights seldom appear before others. Not knowing her is only expected."
Greyworth shrugged. However, Kamito still had a question.
(But as one of the Empire's Numbers—)
"My age is fifteen. You're thinking that I'm too young, right?"
Saying that, the Umbra's special operative knight glared at Kamito with displeasure.
...In actual fact, that made her seem especially childish.
"You're already one of the Numbers at age fifteen?"
"The Numbers don't have age limits. I was only sixteen when I first joined their ranks."
"Like the Blade Dance this time, I am actually qualified to take part. However, I withdrew because group battles do not fit my personality."
Ellis changed the direction of her gaze and glared at Virrey with displeasure.
"Dame Virrey. As a member of the Numbers, why did you attack the Academy's knights?"
Hearing that, Virrey looked at Kamito.
"Think about it. Kazehaya Kamito's abilities."
"Yeah. The male elementalist who defeated that Strongest Blade Dancer Ren Ashbell—I was thinking how powerful he'd be, but ended up so disappointed. To think you can't even control your contracted spirit well."
"Kamito is far from his normal level right now. If he went all out—"
Displeased, Ellis intended to rebutt but Kamito stopped her.
"Then what is the Numbers' Umbra doing here?"
This question caused Virrey to shrug.
"I'm serving as the bodyguard for another member of the Numbers. It looks like she got herself lost somewhere in the Academy. Jeez, where did she go—?"
"I don't think it's quite appropriate for a bodyguard to leave the one you're protecting and go off to play."
"I never thought she'd be so directionally impaired."
"Well, it should be fine inside the Academy. As long as there's protection from the Knights on campus."
"The Knights are currently tracking down the unidentified assailant and are probably too tied up to do so."
Ellis spoke sarcastically.
"By the way, why would a member of the Numbers need a bodyguard?"
Kamito asked in surprise.
"Just as Dame Greyworth said just now, even among the Numbers, not all of them are knights skilled in martial arts. Especially considering her spirit, which is the type which cannot fight at all."
—Just at this moment, there came a knocking at the office's door.
Everyone turned towards the door.
"Headmistress, I've brought you a visitor."
Kamito instantly noticed.
(...This voice, it's Claire's?)
"Excuse me—Oh, Kamito." "Well I never, it's Kamito-san!"
Pushing the door and entering was Claire as expected. Rinslet was with her as well.
"W-What's with that getup—"
Kamito was the first to be surprised by the two girls' appearances.
Claire and Rinslet were dressed in cute maid outfits for some reason.
Proper maid uniforms in black and white. On their heads were decorations of cat ears and fox ears respectively... Frankly speaking, they looked very cute.
Kamito watched in mesmerization for a few seconds—
"Kamito-kun, it's been a while."
Presently, another figure appeared from behind Claire.
A glasses-wearing woman with a calming atmosphere. Aged roughly twenty or so, she was dressed in pure white vestments resembling a robe.
Ellis spoke. However, Kamito did not recognize the name.
"Nice to meet you, although that's not actually accurate. The way you are currently, you probably don't remember."
Kamito apologized to her.
"You're late, Dame Lurie. Lost again?"
Virrey shrugged while speaking.
"Virrey, how are you treating the one you're supposed to be guarding?"
Pressing on her temple, Lurie walked over to stand by Virrey's side.
Claire swiftly leaned against Kamito and whispered in his ear.
"That's the eighth of the Numbers—Lurie Lizaldia."
"The Empire's top healer. She's called 'Lurie the Miraculous'."
This time, it was Rinslet who whispered to add an explanation.
"No need to be nervous, Kamito-kun. I was called here to treat you."
"Yes. I applied to the imperial capital for a healer with outstanding skills, so she came."
Greyworth spoke up.
"Since I was coming anyway, I might as well deal with Kamito-kun's matter while I'm here. I only came to visit the Great Festival of the Spirits."
"Hmph, just treat it as something like that. But the lad is mine, Dame Lurie."
"I know. Kamito-kun is quite loved by Greyworth-sama."
Lurie walked up to Kamito and gently put her hand on his forehead.
Kamito was puzzled. Next, she closed her eyes and softly chanted spirit magic.
"—O light of healing. Illuminate this person's darkness."
Instantly, a bright light appeared on her fingertips. A light giving off a warm and gentle impression.
(...This light, what is it...)
Kamito felt his strength escaping from all over his body.
Amidst pleasant, light slumber, his consciousness kept sinking.
"Yes. Just let your strength drain and relax—"
Lurie's whispers were heard by his ear. Kamito did as told, closed his eyes and nodded silently.
"What do you see?"
"No, nothing at all..."
"...I see. Then what do you hear?"
Just as he was about to reply in the negative...
—Kamito, hey, Kamito.
A voice in his mind suddenly called out for his name.
(...This... voice is...?)
Not Lurie's. It was a voice that Kamito did not recognize.
(...No wait. I recognize this voice.)
It felt very soothing. A very very nostalgic voice.
—Kamito, I offer everything to you.
—My heart, my power, my destiny.
Fragmentary images surfaced in his mind.
Beautiful black wings. Gorgeous black hair fluttering in the wind.
Dating back to his childhood, the touch of slender fingers that always caressed his head gently.
(You... who exactly are you...?)
—Therefore, I hope. You can... me.
The lips of the girl, whose face he could not see, touched him gently.
Instantly, the light shattered.
Kamito and Lurie were blown away, each crashing into opposite walls in the office.
"Kamito, are you okay?" "Kamito-san!" "Kamito!"
Claire and the girls hurried over.
"Dame Lurie, are you hurt?"
Virrey helped Lurie up and swiftly pointed her gun at Kamito.
"What did you do to Dame Lurie?"
"N-Nothing at... guh..."
While holding his painfully throbbing head, Kamito groaned.
"Virrey, that was not Kamito-kun's fault just now."
Lurie slowly shook her head.
"Looks like Kamito-kun's heart has been locked up."
"Yes. This is not memory loss simply due to a psychological blow. If that were the case, the hole in his memory would be far too clean."
...This a clue. The hole in his memory was too clean, Kamito felt that personally.
Rather than recalling nothing about himself, it seemed as though memories related to something specific were dug out—
"This is sealing magic cast on Kamito-kun by someone. High-level darkness magic that completely seals away all memories related to the one who cast the spell."
"...Hmm, similar to hypnotic suggestion?"
Greyworth pushed her glasses while asking.
"Yes. In that case, it looks like it will take some time."
"That magic can be lifted given enough time?"
"It's worth a try. However, this magic is rooted deep in Kamito-kun's psyche. Forcibly making a move on it could very well end up destroying Kamito-kun's mind—"
Claire screamed mournfully. Lurie shrugged.
"Oh well, just do our best. After all, this is for the sake of Kamito-kun who has brought honor to Ordesia for the second time."
Next, Greyworth turned her gaze to Ellis.
"Ellis, take Dame Lurie and Dame Virrey to the guest quarters."
Hearing that, Ellis placed her hand on her chest and nodded.
"By the way, Headmistress—"
Finally recovered from the headache, Kamito asked.
"Uh, about my contracted spirit, has authorization still not been issued for searching the underground facility?"
"...Yeah, about that matter."
Greyworth pressed her finger against her temple.
"No matter what, it is an abandoned military installation after all. The formalities are quite time consuming—Besides, even if authorization is issued for investigation, in order to prevent the risk of a rampage, you cannot contact your contracted spirit in your current state."
"But won't that spirit help me recover my memory?"
"...It's true that the possibility exists."
Greyworth nodded candidly.
"But the risk is too high."
Kamito clenched his right fist tightly.
"Kamito, uh, the headmistress is being considerate for you—"
"...Yeah, I know."
"—Then this concludes the conversation. Kamito's matter will be handed over to Dame Lurie. The Demon Slayer's retrieval will wait until progress is made on analyzing your memories."
Greyworth ended the subject, issued orders and dismissed everyone.