Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume13 Chapter4

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Chapter 4 - Frost Town[edit]

Part 1[edit]

After setting off from the Academy this morning, a number of hours had passed. Riding galloping horses all the way along the roads, Kamito and Rinslet finally arrived at a place called Frost Town. From here, the Kyria Mountain Range could be seen in the distance.

Reaching Rinslet's homeland required crossing the precipitous Kyria Mountain Range, towering before their eyes. Although its altitude was lower than Dracunia's Kelbresse Mountain Range, the Kyria Mountain Range was actually the most dangerous in the continent. In the vast coniferous forests growing on the mountains, there lived many ferocious magic beasts.

Although there were mountain paths prepared, they were impossible to use under the current snowing conditions. Most of the merchants traveling back and forth between Laurenfrost and the imperial capital would take the long route around the mountain by going south.

(...Well, for us, that'd take too long.)

Riding on horseback, Kamito sighed, exhaling white mist.

If they took the long route around the mountain, it was anyone's guess when they were going to arrive at the Forest of Ice Blossoms. In an attempt to get there as quickly as possible, crossing the Kyria Mountain Range directly was the only choice.

Besides, the sun was gradually setting in the west right now. After racing for a day, the horses were almost at their limits. Had he not received the Wind's Protection from Ellis before setting off, they probably would not have made it to this town today.

"But speaking of which, the change in scenery here is really quite dramatic—"

Reaching the town gates, Kamito could not help but exclaim with heartfelt emotion. The streets and town walls were all snow-white.

"After passing through these town gates, you have basically entered Laurenfrost territory."

Rinslet gracefully dismounted and showed the Laurenfrost family's crest to the guard—The emblem of a dire wolf. The guard instantly panicked and hastily ushered the two of them into town.

Leaving the horses at the stables at the town entrance, Kamito and Rinslet entered the town. The instant they stepped inside, the Wind's Protection applied on travelers was dispelled, causing the domain of wind surrounding the two of them to disappear. Once protected by a town, they were no longer considered travelers.

"Cold, it's so cold... I guess we'd better hurry and find a place to stay."

"Then how about we head over there to have some hot food first?"

Rinslet's finger was pointing at a tavern where the sign "The Sunny Fox Inn" was hanging.

Part 2[edit]

Ignoring the other customers in the tavern, Rinslet walked straight up to the bar.

Her long, dazzling platinum blonde hair was attracting every pair of eyes in the tavern.

(...Oh well, it's an expected sight.)

Kamito felt slightly helpless inside. Although that was not to say that the tavern customers were ill-behaved, in terms of common sense, this was really not an establishment that highborn ladies would ordinarily visit.

But Rinslet did not mind at all, walking directly to the counter.

"A glass of hot wine please, the best you have."

"N-Noble lady... The best we have is only a ten-year-old vintage from Arber..."

"No problem. Also, bring some simple food."

"Umm, I'll have the same—"

Kamito sat down next to Rinslet.

"Say, Rinslet, you actually drink?"

Alcoholic beverages were essentially banned at Areishia Spirit Academy, with only exceptions for when princess maidens made offerings of kagura dance.

"Inhabitants of Laurenfrost frequently drink hot wine to stay warm. A small sip is enough to warm your entire body... So, how about you, Kamito-san?"

"In my case, I can only drink a little."

Kamito answered ambiguously. He was actually not that bad at holding his alcohol, but it was just that during his former days working under Greyworth, being forced to be her drinking partner every night had left him with substantial mental trauma, thus preventing him from enjoying drinking in an active sense anymore. That was the actual truth.

Two glasses were placed on the counter, filled with hot wine. A sweet fragrance of raw ginger and citrous fruit wafted over. Taking a light sip, Kamito instantly felt a scorching sensation down his throat.

"...This wine really works a great effect."

He could feel a warm flow spreading gradually in his body.

"Yes, this is an indispensable drink for Laurenfrost winters."

Elegantly savoring the fine wine, Rinslet went slightly red in the cheeks. Under the dim lighting, this sight was almost making Kamito lose control.

(...W-What's with this crazy pounding in my heart?)

Kamito frantically took his eyes off the girl's profile.

"Oh right, there are a few things I would like to ask about—"

Rinslet put down her wineglass and spoke up.

Not to Kamito but towards the barkeep standing inside the bar.

"Has this great snowstorm persisted all this time?"

(...I see.)

Kamito realized the purpose of Rinslet choosing to sit at the counter. Before entering the Kyria Mountain Range, they should at least gather some useful information from locals.

"Yes, noble lady. Although not every single day, the weather has been like this for the past two weeks. After the Empire's representative team won the Blade Dance, we were originally hoping for the climate here to become milder..."

Hearing the barkeep's laments, Kamito suddenly had a thought occurring to him.

(...Oh well, it should be fine.)

The Blade Dance spectators were mostly nobles from various nations on the continent. Team Scarlet's name aside, ordinary people probably would not know Kamito and his teammate's faces.

"Ever since the snowstorm began, has anyone entered the Kyria Mountain Range?"

This was Kamito's question.

"That's impossible. Trying to cross that mountain range would be suicide. Also—"

The barkeep lowered his voice all of a sudden.

"It's not just because of the snowstorm. Rumor has it that monsters are appearing."

"...Monsters?"

Kamito and Rinslet exchanged glances.

"Recently, people have spotted ice dragons flying in the air near the mountain range. Rumors are all over town by now."

"Ice dragons?"

"The ice dragons of Laurenfrost have already gone extinct. Could there be a mistake?"

Rinslet was skeptical.

The Ordesia Empire was home to powerful dragons, but that was on the eastern side bordering Dracunia. They were not supposed to fly all the way to a place like Laurenfrost.

"Indeed. That's why there are also many townsfolk saying these might be warning signs of Zirnitra's revival. Because the ice dragons are the minions of this guardian spirit."

"I have no interest in such ridiculous rumors."

Rinslet was a bit disappointed.

"These are just rumors after all, noble lady. I don't know what's the actual situation. The only thing I'm sure of is that entering the mountains now would be suicide."

The barkeep shook his head.

(...Monster in the snow mountains, huh.)

Leaving the two to their conversation, Kamito fell into deep thought.

Dragons were indeed a powerful race, but to Kamito right now, they were nothing more than fodder. In fact, Kamito had already defeated monsters and spirits more powerful than dragons on numerous occasions.

(...But on mountains where it's difficult to walk in the snow...)

If they were attacked on a cliff, fighting while protecting Rinslet—

"Anyway, it would be best to rest in this town for now first."

"...Yeah. Let's set off after dawn."

Climbing snow-covered mountains in the night would be quite unwise. Furthermore, their bodies were currently quite exhausted as well.

Dinner provided by the tavern consisted of turnip lentil soup, black bread and salted salmon sauteed with dried fruit.

The taste was not bad despite being simple food. For Kamito's empty stomach, there was no food better than this.

While drinking hot wine, the two of them enjoyed dinner with great satisfaction.

The problem was what came after...

Part 3[edit]

"...No other vacant rooms?"

"Yeah. Because of the great snow, many travelers are unable to proceed and are staying at this Frost Town."

The innkeeper shook his head very apologetically.

...The only room left was a single room.

Also, it was a room used for storage because it was normally unoccupied.

That kind of room was probably beyond what the sheltered Rinslet could tolerate.

"...No helping it, let's go check out other places."

"I think other places should be full too. I've heard that many people are sleeping in stables."

"Stables... Aren't they afraid of getting frozen to death?"

"Still tons better than sleeping in the streets, right? How about it? I'll give you a discount for the room."

Kamito turned to Rinslet.

Blushing red, Rinslet was murmuring something inaudible.

"...~s-squeezed in a room together, th-that kind of thing..."

"...Hey Rinslet—"

"Y-Yes!"

Rinslet made a strange sound.

"The ruler of this town should be a Laurenfrost retainer, right? If you announce your status, Rinslet, you should be able to get us accommodations for a night."

Kamito made a very practical suggestion, but—

"That is possible indeed, however..."

Rinslet hesitated and shook her head.

"Although I am a noble, I have never relied on my status to do anything."

"...Oh, I see."

...True. As a noble young lady more sheltered than the average person, her pride was definitely not going to let her ask others for favors by relying on her family's status.

As though prepared with resolve, Rinslet stared straight at the innkeeper.

"No problem. Take us to that room."

"...Rinslet?"

"N-No problem. Even if it means sharing a room with you, Kamito-san, I don't mind at all. Haven't you been sleeping in Claire's room all this time, Kamito-san?"

"That's true but still..."

"O-Or you mean... you dislike sharing a room with me?"

Rinslet pouted her cherry lips, slightly sulking.

Her clear eyes of emerald were staring up at Kamito.

"...F-Fine, I get it."

Kamito surrendered. Since she already said she did not mind, if he still refused, he would be the one who was being boorish.

"Then let's book the room. Please take us there."

"Okay, please come to the second floor."

Led by The Sunny Fox Inn's innkeeper, the two of them mounted the creaking staircase.

The only remaining room was definitely an utter mess of stored objects.

The innkeeper lit a lamp. Looking around, Kamito and Rinslet were shocked speechless.

"This is... even more... than expected..."

"More cramped..."

Indeed, even as a single room this was way too cramped. Just as they could see, there was only one bed while the table and chairs all had random articles piled on top of them. The bed was also covered in gray dust. Clearly the place had not been cleaned for many days.

"Sorry that all we have is a room of this standard. Please use it as you wish."

Rinslet stepped into the room in trepidation.

Creaking sounds, dust flying all over the air—

"A place to bathe... Looks like there's none."

"Only the school's dorms would have bathing facilities installed in every room."

Kamito shrugged. Several months earlier, during his days of searching for Restia, Kamito had frequently lived in rooms like these.

"...Is this place really okay?"

"O-Of course. A Laurenfrost wolf never goes back on her word."

Rinslet nodded with determination then started to swiftly clear away the dust in the room using a broom with a broken shaft.

...In merely moments, the room was already cleaned up to a decent state.

"Wow! Should I say this is surprising or something? I never knew you were this good!"

"Hmph, so long as I'm serious, this is nothing at all."

Hmph hmph~ Rinslet puffed her chest out with pride.

The bed was wiped clean and tidy, the messy trash was all dealt with. Witnessing skills that would even put a professional maid to shame, Kamito could not help but stare in amazement.

"Okay, let us get some rest early for tomorrow. P-Please hurry over."

Readying the sheets, Rinslet looked back at Kamito.

"Uh, umm..."

Kamito frantically shook his head. Although the room was already cleaned, the fact of one bed had not changed. Hence, Kamito had no intention of sleeping there, but—

"You can't guarantee sufficient restoration of energy unless you sleep properly on a bed."

"But two people sleeping in one bed is really a bit..."

"In that case, I shall sleep using Fenrir as a mattress."

"...Okay okay, I get it! I'll sleep on the bed, so please don't do that!"

Since she said it already, Kamito had no choice but to obey. But if the fact of his sleeping with Rinslet ever got out, he would certainly be exterminated by the Laurenfrost retainers, right?

(...Or perhaps, I'm just overthinking things?)

Shrugging helplessly, Kamito walked over to the bed.

However, Rinslet gripped the sheets without moving.

"Excuse me, Kamito-san?"

"Huh?"

"I can't change while you're here, Kamito-san!"

"Oh, sorry!"

Kamito frantically left the room.

Then after waiting at the door for a while—

"Kyah! What's with this nightgown!?"

A small scream was heard from inside the room.

"Rinslet?"

"No, nothing. Umm... You may come in now."

"Oh, okay..."

She had apparently finished changing. Kamito took a deep breath and opened the door.

(...!)

But he gasped, his brain going blank.

Rinslet's pajamas were—

An extremely sheer nightgown of lace, exquisitely embroidered.

(H-Her panties are totally visible...)

Through the nightgown's thin fabric, the style of her panties was completely clear to see.

Rinslet frantically held a blanket in front of her chest.

"D-Don't get the wrong idea! This must be Carol's fault... I have never ever worn such a shameless nightgown..."

Rinslet's voice grew smaller and smaller.

...It looked like Carol had made another airheaded blunder again.

"I-I see..."

Kamito gulped and slowly walked into the room under the incomparably tense atmosphere.

The bedside lighting shone on her face that was scorching from embarrassment.

Kamito slowly approached. Rinslet was so embarrassed that she buried her head in the blanket.

"...Umm, is this really okay? Sleeping together..."

"A noble never goes back on her word!"

Rinslet turned away.

While she had turned away, Kamito swiftly took off his uniform and changed into his pajamas. Suppressing the wavering in his heart, he squeezed into the sheets.

The crude bed was cold and hard, nothing like the ones at the Academy at all.

"So, won't just one blanket be cold?"

Lying down with their backs against each other, Kamito extinguished the light at the bedside.

"We can't squander the fire spirit crystals carelessly."

Rinslet whispered lightly by his ear.

"Also, the Kyria Mountain Range is much colder than this."

"You're right..."

Under the blanket, Kamito was shivering from cold.

In the darkness, the rustling sound of friction between clothing could be heard—

Boing~♪

Using both arms, Rinslet hugged Kamito from behind.

"R-Rinslet!? What are you—"

"L-Like this, it'll be slightly warmer."

Rinslet buried her face into Kamito's back and said softly.

"True, this will be better for warmth, but..."

Embraced by her arms, Kamito was unable to move at all.

Fine hair rubbed against the back of his neck... So tickling...

(...This situation is bad!)

Wanting to change his sleeping posture, Kamito turned slightly.

Boing~♪

"Ah... Mmm... ♪"

"...!"

"K-Kamito-san... Please don't move suddenly, mmm..."

"...Hmm?"

Boing, boing♪

"...Ah, mmmmm..."

Kamito moved again, causing weird noises to be heard.

"Mmm... H-Hah... Serious, Kamito-san, you're so bad."

Wanting to shift his sleeping posture, Kamito felt that something had gotten caught on his clothing.

(In that case, I'll have to use that move...)

Kamito closed his eyes—

Relaxing his entire body, making his mind as still as water.

"...Kamito-san?"

"Zzz... Zzz..."

...Poke, poke.

"Zzz..."

No reaction even when poked in the cheek. "The Act of Mental Oblivion"—Trained as part of an assassin's skill set, it was not something anyone could do.

"...Seriously, he's asleep already."

Rinslet remarked a bit disappointed.

"...Then I shall sleep too."

Relaxing her arms slightly, Rinslet gradually drifted off into her dreams.

(...That's falling asleep way too easily!)

Claire was also the type to fall asleep easily. Probably all noble young ladies were like this?

And also due to exhaustion. No matter what, they had to hurry on their journey early the next morning.

In any case, Kamito breathed a sigh of relief. Slightly, he moved his body under the blanket.

They still needed to hasten their expedition tomorrow, aiming to cross the mountain range ravaged by cold winds and heavy snow before sundown.

Closing his eyes, Kamito slept for real this time.

Part 4[edit]

"...Soon, I'll be able to see... Judia."

Probably in the middle of a dream, these words slipped out of her mouth.

(...Judia?)

Kamito was shocked.

Judia Laurenfrost. She was Rinslet's younger sister who had failed in a kagura dance offering to the elemental lords and was sealed into eternal cursed ice several years ago.

Rinslet's reason for entering the Blade Dance was to save her. But in the end, this wish could not be realized. Until Iseria Seaward retrieved her full power, breaking the cursed ice was impossible.

Despite her haughty airs at school, her thoughts were always with her younger sister that was sealed in ice.

"I must... save you..."

"...Rinslet."

Kamito gripped Rinslet's hand tightly.

Part 5[edit]

The next morning, Kamito woke before the sun had completely risen.

"Gah... So cold... This place is freezing!"

Flipping the blanket open, he drew in a breath of the icy air.

While Kamito was stretching, a familiar sound was heard from the bed.

Lying next to Kamito, dressed in a nightgown, Rinslet was still asleep. Her face was showing a vulnerable and unguarded expression that was almost impossible to see normally.

Accidentally recalling what happened last night, Kamito felt his face heat up.

In order not to rouse her, Kamito gently got off the bed and opened a small window in the corner of the room.

Although the storm had stopped blowing, snow continued to fall. The accumulated snow on the roadside was being melted by a flame spirit that someone had summoned. Although summoning spirits on the roadside without permission was forbidden by the Empire, it could not be helped under such conditions.

(...But there still seems to be a storm over on that side.)

Kamito looked out to the mountains in the distance.

The mountain range had thick clouds gathered over it. It was impossible to see peaks from his location.

"...Although the innkeeper guy mentioned the appearance of monsters..."

"Kamito, you already got up?"

"...Hmm?"

Kamito looked back at the voice in the room.

STnBD V13 097.jpg

Standing there was a snow fairy.

"...E-Est, what's with that getup?"

Kamito could not help but widen his eyes.

Est was dressed in a bulky winter jacket with thick gloves on her hands and a fluffy cylindrical fur hat. Extremely cute.

"This is standard winter gear for locals. I conjured it by using pedestrians on the street for reference."

Est answered while spinning expressionlessly.

Her long, shiny, silver-white hair was as dazzling as snow under sunlight.

"Kamito, what do you think?"

"O-Oh. It's very cute."

Kamito expressed his honest feelings.

(...Spirits aren't supposed to feel cold, right?)

Kamito remarked in his heart. Oh well, whatever, it's cute anyway.

As he said that, Est spun again—

"How is it?"

"Yeah! It's very cute!"

"I'm so glad, Kamito."

Est spun on her own again and again.

...Spinning, spinning.

...Spinning, spinning.

"Uwah, Kamito. My eyes are starting to spin—"

"Hey, are you alright!?"

"...You two, what exactly are you doing?"

Waking up, Rinslet tilted her head in puzzlement.

Part 6[edit]

Just as Kamito's group was about to set off towards the Kyria Mountain Range—

Claire had returned to the Academy from Elstein lands.

"...If it's Kamito, he should be fine without me by his side, right?"

Humming a song in a good mood, Claire walked towards the classroom of Raven Class.

She was carrying a box which contained a famous Elstein specialty, hot spring steamed buns.

"If I'm not here, he must be very lonely... He might even be up to playing pranks."

In any case, after spending happy times with her family, Claire was currently in a very delightful mood.

"Next time, I should take Kamito on a trip to the Elstein hot springs. Because Kamito cooks for me all the time—This counts as a reward for all the help he gives me regularly."

Claire stopped in front of Raven Class's window.

Adjusting her twintails with her hands, she then checked her attire.

(...What am I getting high-strung about?)

Suddenly feeling nervous for some reason, Claire's cheeks turned bright red.

(I-It's just been a few days I haven't seen him...)

Clearing her throat, Claire stepped forward again.

(Fianna has gone to the All Nations Conference, so the room is left to j-just the two of us...)

On the way to the student dormitories, Claire felt inexplicably nervous, her heart pounding nonstop.

Finally reaching the dormitory door, she took a deep breath and opened the door.

"Kamito, I'm back... Oh?"

Still holding the door handle, Claire cocked her head in puzzlement.

...There was no one in the room.

"...Hmm? Kamito?"

She searched all over the room once, but did not find anything.

"...Hmph, what's this...? So my nervousness went to waste."

Claire threw her souvenirs onto the table and threw herself onto Kamito's bed, playing with her hair.

"What is the meaning of this, Kamito that jerk..."

...Thump, thump, thump.

Taking her anger out on the pillow, Claire then buried her face into it.

Hugging the pillow in this manner—

Recently, she seemed to have acquired this kind of habit... Just by hugging his pillow like this, her feelings would calm down.

(Going out to shop or whatever's fine, just come back soon, you great big jerk...)

...Burying her face in pillow, she took a deep breath.

"..., ...Kami... to..."

...What to do? After mere days of separation, to think she would feel this lonely.

She wanted to hear his voice as quickly as possible. She wanted him to stroke her head gently.

"...Ohh... Hurry—and—come back..."

...Rolling, rolling, rolling.

Hugging the pillow like that, Claire rolled and rolled on the bed.

Suddenly, she fell off the bed with a thud—

STnBD V13 102.jpg

"...Hmm?"

Something seemed to have fallen off the bed... Something like a note.

"...What's this?"

Claire climbed back up and picked up the note on the floor.

"...Hmm... 'Going out on a long journey for now. If you need dinner, just eat outside...'"

Her hands trembled from anger while her crimson hair stood on end like flames.

"What on earth is the meaning of this——!"

The note was incinerated into ash in Claire's hand.

...An hour later.

The oppressive atmosphere was finally conquered by Scarlet's fuzzy tail's tickling attack.

Part 7[edit]

Academy Town. In a sickroom at Saint Seraelle Hospital...

"Miss Ellis Fahrengart, you may leave the hospital today. Congratulations."

The princess maiden healer came to inform Ellis of this news.

"But speaking of which, I was really surprised. Although elementalists have much stronger recovery abilities than ordinary people, I never expected you to be fully healed so soon—"

"...Yes, I surprised myself as well."

Ellis nodded with a solemn expression.

She originally thought she was several days away from being discharged from the hospital.

"Do you have any idea regarding the reason?"

The healer in charge of Ellis asked incredulously.

A contract with a holy spirit or water spirit would be slightly understandable, but Ellis was contracted to a wind spirit, which could not possibly confer such massive recovery ability.

"Hmm, well, even if you ask, I have no idea either..."

Ellis avoided eye contact with the healer.

"...Hmm, really?'

"O-Of course!"

Ellis answered guiltily under the healer's skeptical gaze.

...Of course, she did not have no idea at all.

Ellis had started recovering rapidly during this time yesterday.

(...At the time, I felt some kind of invisible power flowing into my body, that was the feeling.)

Ellis touched her lips lightly with her hand, her face instantly growing hot.

(...I cannot believe I did something so shameless!)

As the Captain of the Knights, Ellis was supposed to serve as the students' role model, upholding public morals by example. However—

The sensation of lips was so concrete. In the depths of her mind, she recalled the feeling that was numbingly sweet.

"Miss Ellis, what's with you?"

"Nothing is wrong!"

Face bright red, Ellis shook her head forcefully.

Already out of the hospital, Ellis made her way to the school building to find out about resuming the Knights' work.

(...Even so, it really is quite unbelievable.)

Along the main street in town, Ellis thought while walking.

(Could it be that Kamito's power flowed in reverse to my body? That kind of thing should not happen—)

For example, when Fianna applied healing magic to Kamito through direct contact, she never said anything about power flowing in reverse.

(...L-Looks like I must test it out again.)

I must test it out again thoroughly—Ellis made the decision on her own accord.

—Just at that moment, there was a commotion on the side of the road.

"...Hmm, what is happening?"

Rapidly switching back to serious knight mode, Ellis looked over there.

In the plaza direction, flames were currently burning intensely.

...No ordinary fire, this was the work of spirits.

"Summoning spirits in the Academy Town is against the rules...!"

Ellis frantically hurried over to the commotion.

But just as she arrived, over there was—

"Wha... Claire!?"

Rumble rumble rumble rumble rumble rumble...!

A girl carrying a large amount of luggage on her back. It was Claire.

Enveloped in flames, her red twintails were billowing in the wind.

Depending on a spirit's attributes, various effects could manifest on the elementalist's body.

Claire was apparently the true source of the flames seen from afar.

"C-Claire, what exactly is going on?"

Hearing Ellis's voice, Claire looked at her.

"Not here, not there, not anywhere!"

Intimidated by her forcefulness, Ellis halted in her tracks.

...She looked extremely angry.

"Kamito, Kamito, he abandoned me all alone... S-Sob sob~..."

Claire burst into tears, her intimidating twintails also fell back down.

"...W-Wait. I totally fail to understand what you are talking about. First tell me the whole story."

"O-Okay... Sob..."

—Claire told everything from the start, leading to the commotion at the plaza.

"...What? Going with Rinslet, just the two of them!?"

Yesterday when visiting Ellis, Kamito had definitely said he was going to Laurenfrost.

However—

"J-Just the two of them going... I never heard about that!"

Ellis yelled angrily. This was a major incident!

Because speaking of two people on a trip—

(...That means spending nights outside together!)

Just imagining it slightly made Ellis's face go bright red.

...No good, I must believe in Kamito. Even though it was just the two of them traveling together, Kamito was surely not going to do something dastardly, right? But trips offered excellent opportunities for improving male-female relationships. In that case, it would not be surprising if anything happened.

Also, Claire looked like she was not going to give up until she chased down Kamito.

"...I-I am going too!"

Ellis declared.

"...Eh?"

Eyes red and swollen from crying, Claire tilted her head in puzzlement after hearing Ellis.

"...It's fine if you don't come along. Also, you have the Knights' work, right?"

"How could I ignore something as shameless as a boy and a girl traveling alone together? Correcting these morally deficient practices is precisely part of the Knights' work!"

"Th-That's just making excuses, right? You don't have to go out of your way to come along."

"Hmm, are you really sure this is fine?"

"...What do you mean?"

Ellis raised an index finger and explained.

"Listen carefully. The two of them set off from the Academy yesterday during the daytime. If you start chasing now, it is quite unrealistic in terms of time."

"True, you have a point, but..."

"However, with the assistance of a demon wind spirit with flying and tracking abilities, chasing them down in one or two days is not impossible."

"Guh..."

Claire could not find any reason to object.

...Just as Ellis pointed out, without a demon wind spirit's assistance, there was no way to catch up to Kamito and Rinslet.

"How now? Have you made your decision?"

"Uh~huh."

—So that was that.

In the end, the situation became Claire and Ellis chasing after Kamito together.

Part 8[edit]

"Luminaris-sama, that tree looks familiar—"

"...We circled back here again? What on earth is going on?"

—In the depths of the Forest of Ice Blossoms. Covered by thick snow, the forest was shrouded in dense fog. The Holy Kingdom's knights had already gone in circles for dozens of hours.

In the forest's center, the surrounding fog was getting denser and denser. Spirits that looked just like trees were using skillful changes of their appearances to deceive the intruders' eyes.

It was like the entire forest was refusing their entry.

(...By the way, why did it become like this?)

Luminaris could not help but show a bitter expression on her dignified face.

Despite being the cream-of-the-crop from the Sacred Spirit Knights with their outstanding martial ability, perhaps they might even get wiped out by the enemy if they kept circling aimlessly in the snow-covered forest like this. But on the other hand, the surrounding fog's increasing density was indicating that they were getting closer and closer to their destination.

This dense fog was definitely no natural phenomena—A magic Barrier.

Not the darkness spirit's doing. Back when the old couple from the village discovered her, she was incapable of walking, not even able to speak. In her current state, making this kind of barrier was impossible.

(...No mistake, this Barrier must belong to the Elfim race.)

A Barrier capable of covering the entire forest was definitely impossible to deploy by one person's efforts alone. Very likely, this was erected using ancient ruins as a foundation.

Also, with great certainty, the darkness spirit was with the Elfim race.

(...So, we shall not falter here.)

Luminaris issued orders to her subordinates.

"Starting now, we will split into two teams to act separately. If you find any ancient stone monuments or old trees in the forest, destroy them directly. They are very likely to be the barrier's foundations."

"...!"

The four subordinates looked at one another.

"But doesn't that go against the treaty—"

Even during war time, destroying ancient ruins was forbidden. This was part of the terms that the nations had already decided between themselves. However, Luminaris was issuing an order to destroy ruins.

"Just act according to my orders, for I will take responsibility. Otherwise, we will die in this land of snow at this rate."

Faced with Luminaris's irrefutable command, the Holy Kingdom's knights nodded with determination.