Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume14 Chapter6
Chapter 6 - Revenant
Once the gangway ladder was lowered from the side of the ship, Kamito and company boarded the flying vessel.
As soon as all of them had boarded, the ship began to shake greatly.
Thrust was provided by the spirit engine, allowing the ship to float up again.
"...So amazing... A ship that can fly."
Looking down from the railing, Restia exclaimed in amazement.
From her current perspective, it must feel like the first time whether seeing a flying ship or traveling on one.
"This is a military flying vessel, right? Its layout is completely different from a royal sightseeing ship."
"You've been on a royal ship before, Claire?"
"...In the past, once. Back when we still had the Elstein territory."
"The ship is very similar to the Gigas-class mid-sized combat craft."
Ellis murmured with her chin resting on her hand.
As expected of the one and only noble family authorized to own flying ships, she was very knowledgeable.
"Yes, it is a relic from the Ranbal War. The Ordesian army used to be equipped with them, but I heard that later on, the ships ended up either scrapped or sold to the Theocracy."
"Look, a flying militarized spirit is coming out of the Academy Town!"
Claire looked down and shouted.
Kamito took a look and saw a two-headed stone monster with gigantic wings—a Gargoyle-model militarized spirit was rising from the base.
"It looks like Claudia sent it."
"Wait, if we fly so slowly, it will soon catch up to us!"
"Please rest assured. Given this ship's specs, it cannot shake off a Gargoyle no matter what."
"That doesn't reassure me at all—Kyah!?"
Suddenly, the ship rocked violently, subjecting them to intense g-forces. Kamito could withstand it, but the other three girls lost their balance and fell over all at once.
Thus, he got entangled and fell along with them.
"Huahhh, Kamito, where do you think you're touching!?"
Holding three girls in his arms, Kamito's face and arms were making intimate contact with various soft parts of their feminine bodies. Kamito hastily stood up and grabbed a nearby railing.
"...S-Sheesh, w-what a jerk..."
While straightening her skirt, Claire grumbled with her face all red.
"It couldn't be helped... But what was up with that acceleration just now—"
The wind whizzed past as clouds were left behind one after another. Whether the Gargoyle chasing after their flying ship or the night scenery of the Academy Town, everything had been left in the dust within the blink of an eye, gradually receding out of sight.
"No way... This is an ancient craft dating back to the Ranbal War. How could it possibly fly this fast?"
Ellis murmured. At that moment...
"—Thank you for your patience, everyone."
The sudden voice caused Kamito's group to exchange looks with one another.
Kamito looked behind him to see a girl standing on a staircase leading to the ship's interior, gazing down in their direction.
She looked fourteen or fifteen in age. Her black hair was cropped at shoulder length. She was wearing a military-style jacket and short culottes. Her attire emphasized practicality and was devoid of useless decorations.
"...Who is it?"
Warily, Ellis asked in a forceful tone.
However, the girl remained unfazed and bowed her head.
"—I have come to lead the way at my master's behest. This way please."
In a cold voice, lacking in emotion, she answered.
Kamito and company followed the girl through a narrow passage inside the ship. Probably having shaken off the militarized spirit from their trail and entered a stable course, the ship did not feel like it was shaking as much as earlier. However, the sound of spirit mechanisms in operation grew louder the deeper they went.
After a while—
"...Say, can I ask a question?"
Kamito asked the girl who was walking in the lead.
"Please go ahead, as long as it is answerable."
"Uh, who is that master you speak of? Why were we brought on this ship?"
"Please ask the master directly."
The girl answered coldly without looking back.
"...Fine. A different question... Who are you?"
"I am master's subordinate. Just a tool, pure and simple, nothing more and nothing less."
(...A tool huh.)
Hearing that answer, Kamito became certain of the girl's origin.
The cold expression, lacking in emotion. A special gait with no sound of footfall. Movements resembling a wild beast's that he could catch faint glimpses everywhere.
In addition, she had completely erased her presence when showing up just now.
(...More than likely, she's from that facility.)
—Speaking of which, then that was a clue to her master's true identity.
"Where did this military ship come from?"
Kamito continued to ask. He wanted to gather as much information as possible before meeting the master.
"This ship, the Revenant, was purchased by master from Murders' top echelons."
"So Revenant is its name huh."
"But it appears to have gone through a lot of modifications—"
This time, Claire entered the conversation.
"Master hired an Elfim technician to remodel the ship. Although the exterior is of an old design, the spirit mechanisms providing thrust are based on applications of cutting-edge spirit engineering."
"Spirit engineering... Don't tell me that Velsaria's 'fortress' is the same?"
Ellis was suddenly reminded by Claire's comment.
"O-Oh right, where did my esteemed sister go? I have not seen any signs of her—"
"The one who was taken into a container under the ship earlier—"
Only then did the girl nod in comprehension and reply:
"Lady Velsaria should be undergoing maintenance in the medical bay. You will not be able to meet her yet."
"Maintenance? ...What is that about?"
"Operating an elemental panzer will cause a great deal of strain on the user's body. Activity duration is meant to be restricted to one minute only—The sortie just now had already exceeded the time limit."
"W-What!? What on earth is my esteemed sister doing here!?"
Hearing that, Ellis questioned the girl.
However, the girl ignored Ellis' question and stopped in front of a certain room along the passage.
"Please wait here for a moment. I shall report to the master."
After opening the door and inviting Kamito and company to enter, she returned to the passage.
Kamito and the others examined the interior of the room.
It was a relatively large hall for a room in a military vessel. Inside was a long oval table and six leather chairs. There was nothing else apart from this furniture.
It looked like a military conference room, completely tilted towards practicality.
"...It feels like it's impossible to relax in this room."
Kamito leaned the Demon Slayer against the wall and found a chair to sit down without bothering with manners.
"Kamito, you should probably act less casual. There might be a trap."
"They wouldn't have brought us all the way here if a trap was intended."
"...I suppose you have a point."
Kamito's gaze fell upon the table at this time.
Spread on it was a map of the continent with the Ordesia Empire at the center. The blank parts of the map were crammed full of writing resembling notes, but Kamito could not understand all the military jargon.
...However, there was one thing that bothered him.
One point on the map was marked with a red pin.
The place indicated by the pin was the sacred city of Alexandria, the capital of the Holy Kingdom of Lugia, Ordesia's neighbor.
What did that mean? Just as Kamito was thinking about it...
"But who on earth could it be, this master?"
Ellis murmured to herself.
"...I have a pretty good guess."
"Yes, me too—"
Hearing Kamito's comment, Claire nodded with a face of mixed feelings.
"The one who'd do this—"
At that very moment, the door handle was heard turning and the door opened.
Clack—The hard sound of military boots striking the floor—
That person appeared.
"—I knew it. You huh?"
Kamito muttered and glared at her, standing at the door.
Eyes of ruby, inhabited by strong determination. Long crimson hair that resembled blazing flames. Wearing a white overcoat on top of her military uniform, she looked like a general in command of an army.
(...Nothing less expected of her. Despite losing her contracted spirit, she remains just as intimidating and ambitious.)
Kamito secretly gasped.
Ellis' eyes widened.
Claire bit her lip hard.
Claire probably guessed it would come to this. However, she still reacted with speechlessness, frozen in shock when this person appeared before her for real.
"—Everyone, welcome to my ship."
Finally, she spoke.
It was the Calamity Queen who had disappeared during the final round of the Blade Dance—Rubia Elstein.
Kamito and company were seated in a row across the table from Rubia.
The girl who had led the way earlier prepared bread and tea on the table.
Although Kamito and company were hungry, they had no intention of touching the refreshments. Only Restia thanked the girl, took some bread and started to eat.
From the corner of his eye, Kamito observed the girls sitting by his side.
Confronted with the Calamity Queen, Ellis seemed especially nervous.
...Speaking of which, this was probably Ellis' first time meeting her directly.
As for Claire, she kept her face down the whole time and did not sit face to face from her sister. According to Rinslet, Claire was originally a timid and shy girl, apparently. During the Blade Dance tournament, she could still maintain her forceful attitude due to pressure from circumstances, but once she encountered her sister sitting down in this kind of quiet setting, she seemed to return to her old self.
Under the tense atmosphere hanging in this room, Rubia drank tea nonchalantly. Her graceful airs made Kamito think that she truly lived up to her name as a former duke's daughter.
The girl bowed after bringing the tea, then left the room.
"Is that girl just now an orphan from the Instructional School like me?"
Finally, Kamito started the conversation with this question.
Rubia slowly lowered her cup of tea back to the table.
"—Indeed. She is one of the orphans I had taken in to join my forces."
"...So it's just as I thought."
The girl was giving off vibes like those who had been raised in the Instructional School. This attitude of eschewing all unnecessary emotions, regarding oneself as a tool, was very similar to Kamito's before he encountered Restia.
"Is she the only one on this ship?"
"Yes. I originally had as many as thirty of them as my subordinates, but the vast majority were taken by Sjora Kahn. They have currently become dogs of the Theocracy."
While she whispered, subtle turbulence in emotions seemed to be visible in her eyes.
"What about Muir and Lily? They're not here together?"
"I have sent them to a certain location to carry out an important mission."
"A certain location?"
"We are severely lacking in combat strength, in both the number of militarized spirits and elementalists to use them. Those are precisely what they are procuring."
At this point, Rubia paused.
"—For the sake of the imminent war."
Kamito asked in return.
"What the heck are you planning? You even acquired this kind of ship!"
His tone of voice got worked up as he questioned Rubia before him.
Previously, Rubia had awakened the power of the Darkness Elemental Lord dormant inside Kamito, intending to use him to destroy the Elemental Lords.
She had collected militarized spirits in the past in preparation for chaos in the human realm after the elimination of the Elemental Lords.
However, the plan to assassinate the Elemental Lords had failed.
Had her solitary fight not ended yet?
"...Nee-sama, don't tell me you still plan on killing the Elemental Lords?"
Silent until now, Claire finally mustered the courage to speak for the first time.
Rubia glanced at her and shook her head slowly.
"I am unable to exterminate the Elemental Lords. It is not possible no matter how powerful an army you raise. The only one capable of eliminating them is the Demon Lord wielding the powers of the Darkness Elemental Lord—"
Saying that, she looked at Kamito. Enduring her gaze, Kamito glared back at her without backing down.
"War... So what exactly are you going to be at war against, Nee-sama?"
Claire continued without faltering.
Hearing that, Rubia raised a finger and pointed at a location on the map.
It was precisely where the red pin's spot.
"At present, my opponent is the Holy Kingdom of Lugia—"
"...The Holy Kingdom for real?"
Kamito frowned at the unexpected answer.
The Holy Kingdom of Lugia was a land-locked country that worshiped one of the five Elemental Lords, Alexandros the Holy Lord. Despite its name as a kingdom, actual administrative power was held by neither the king nor the parliament but Des Esseintes, whose members were all cardinals.
Despite being a major nation that rivaled Ordesia and Quina, little was known about the Holy Kingdom, much like the Alphas Theocracy.
(...Quite a suspicious country indeed.)
What surfaced in Kamito's mind was the appearance of the Sacred Spirit Knights in the Laurenfrost forest. The captain of the knights, Luminaris, had somehow found out about Restia's rebirth and intended to capture her.
However, why did Rubia suddenly mention the Holy Kingdom's name?
"—I suppose I ought to start in sequence."
Presumably realizing Kamito's queries, Rubia withdrew the red pin from the map.
"First of all, where do you think the Elemental Lord, which you had liberated, vanished off to?"
The sudden question confused Kamito.
No, the literal meaning was easy enough to understand.
On that day, after gaining the privilege to have an audience with the Elemental Lords through their victory in the Blade Dance, Kamito and company had liberated the Fire Elemental Lord from the Otherworldly Darkness—This was probably what Rubia was referring to.
"The Fire Elemental Lord should have vanished from the throne. Teleported somewhere in Astral Zero or the human realm like the Water Elemental Lord you liberated in the past—"
Indeed, Water Elemental Lord Iseria Seaward had been transported in an amnesiac state to the abandoned city of Megidoa situated in Astral Zero. In that case, the Fire Elemental Lord must have been teleported somewhere in that instant, but—
"Who knows. All I did was purify that Otherworldly Darkness. As for where the liberated Fire Elemental Lord went, I've no idea."
Kamito shook his head.
"Guess what? That Fire Elemental Lord's location..."
Saying that, Rubia's lips curled in self-mockery.
"...Indeed, this must be so-called karma. The link as a Queen."
She revealed the emblem of a fiery crown, branded on her right hand. Rather than Laevateinn's, this seal belonged to the Fire Elemental Lord whom she used to serve.
"How!? The Fire Elemental Lord's seal should've been inherited by Reicha—"
"Indeed, the Elemental Lord's spirit seal should have been inherited by Reicha Alminas who had succeeded me as Queen. However, the spirit seal bestowed upon me did not disappear in bizarre turn of events, be it a curse or a blessing. This is presumably an abnormal situation stemming from the Otherworldly Darkness eating away at the Elemental Lord."
Responding to Claire's surprise. Rubia continued.
"Ever since becoming the Calamity Queen, I have attempted many times to erase this seal. However, neither cutting with a knife nor burning with fire has worked. Every time, this seal would reappear like a curse, tormenting me. Ironically, this seal, which I have resented overwhelmingly in the past, has now told me the location of the reborn Fire Elemental Lord—"
Rubia's gaze fell upon the map again.
"Where the Fire Elemental Lord was reborn, happens to be—"
"Indeed, the capital of the Holy Kingdom of Lugia—Alexandria."
Kamito fell silent.
The Fire Elemental Lord had been reborn in the human realm, and the Holy Kingdom's capital to boot—
What did that imply? Simply imagining it made one speechless.
Suppose the Fire Elemental Lord had been transported in a state of amnesia just like Iseria and someone, knowing of this fact, attempted to claim that power for their own use—
(...It would be equivalent to obtaining an ultimate weapon far surpassing the power of strategic-class militarized spirits.)
Imagining the worst-case scenario, Kamito broke out with cold sweat on his forehead. Yes, supposing someone malevolent got their hands on the Fire Elemental Lord's power, it would be possible to engineer a destructive calamity even greater than what had befallen Elstein territory four years ago.
"So you tracked down the Fire Elemental Lord—?"
"Of course. Muir Alenstarl and I infiltrated the Holy Kingdom together. However, a few days after we entered Alexandria, the spirit seal's response was suddenly cut off."
"It implies that someone has secured the Fire Elemental Lord—"
Claire spoke quietly in a nervous voice.
"Once locked in an isolation barrier, the contracted spirit's link will be cut off."
"Indeed. And the erection of an isolation barrier is evidence that someone has hidden the Fire Elemental Lord on purpose. Needless to say, the barrier is so strong that it can even seal away the incomplete Fire Elemental Lord. There is no doubt that a state-level agency is involved—"
"In other words, Des Esseintes has obtained the Fire Elemental Lord?"
"I fear so. Regardless, I have lost the trail. My current power is still insufficient to oppose the Holy Kingdom's upper echelon."
"But assuming that's the case, how did the Holy Kingdom know about the Fire Elemental Lord's location?"
Putting aside Rubia, who was the former Queen, other people were not supposed to know, right?
No wait, before talking about location, how would they even know about the liberation of the Elemental Lord in the first place?
The existence of the Otherworldly Darkness corrupting the Elemental Lords should only be known to Rubia and Kamito's party.
"I am not sure of that either. Did they come to know of it by chance, or was the teleportation of the Fire Elemental Lord to the Holy Kingdom something deliberately engineered by someone—?"
"Speaking of which, they also seemed like they knew about Restia..."
Kamito suddenly looked at Restia, who responded by looking back at Kamito with a puzzled expression.
"But what is the Holy Kingdom planning to do after they obtained the Fire Elemental Lord?"
"Monopolizing the power of fire on the continent? Well, that is merely a hypothesis."
Hearing Claire's suggestion, Ellis cocked her head. Indeed, if any single country could control the Fire Elemental Lord to do their bidding, they would surely wield overwhelming influence over the surrounding countries. Needless to say, it would be even more true for the Holy Kingdom of Lugia, a major nation.
"—It would be a relief if that was only as far as they will go."
"What do you mean?"
"You must have seen that Otherworldly Darkness corrupting the Elemental Lords, haven't you?"
She suddenly asked.
Kamito nodded. With complicated looks on their faces, probably from recalling what they had witnessed at the Elemental Lords' shrine that day, Claire and Ellis nodded.
True darkness that even devoured the mortal realm's darkness. Also—
(That army of countless angels, restless in the depths of the darkness...)
However, the Fire Elemental Lord should have been freed from that darkness.
However, what Rubia said next was even more unbelievable.
"—The Holy Kingdom has obtained that Otherworldly Darkness."
Kamito and company were rendered speechless.
"What did you say? ...What the hell is going on?"
"You know about the coup d'etat at the Theocracy several days prior, don't you?"
Kamito nodded vaguely.
Reportedly, the Theocracy's witch, Sjora Kahn, had taken over the palace of Scorpia using merely two hundred troops, beheading Hierarch Rajihal Kahn to institute a regime change. That news had shaken all the surrounding countries, thus leading to an All Nations Conference being held at the imperial capital.
"The heart of the Theocracy, Scorpia, should be garrisoned with a large number of spirits. Do you not find it odd why it had been taken over so quickly?"
Indeed, Sjora Kahn was a terrifying elementalist but it was hard to imagine her single-handedly defeating all the elites at the palace. Even if all of her subordinates were elementalists, it would be no easy task.
Seeing Kamito silent, Rubia continued.
"According to my spies at Scorpia, the palace's spirits all went insane when possessed by horrifying darkness."
"...! No way—"
Kamito's team recalled something and instantly exchanged looks with one another.
"—Indeed. The same existence likely caused the spirits at Areishia Spirit Academy to go berserk as well."
The militarized spirits attacking the Academy were definitely corrupted by the Otherworldly Darkness.
"Des Esseintes was controlling the Theocracy's coup d'etat from the shadows. Do you have any recollection of the name Millennia Sanctus?"
"That girl with the eyepatch... Riding a berserk militarized spirit..."
It was the girl with Otherworldly Darkness residing in her left eye.
That was the name of the mysterious girl who had conspired with Lurie Lizaldia to attack the Academy.
"She is a cardinal of Des Esseintes, right?"
"Indeed, she is a member of Des Esseintes who leads underground diplomacy without ever working out in the open. She has obtained that Otherworldly Darkness—"
Rubia's eyes of ruby burned with crimson flames.
To her, that Otherworldly Darkness was a mortal enemy that must be obliterated.
"Supposing the Fire Elemental Lord falls into her hands—"
"—Indeed, it will be hell on earth."
Rubia's voice was filled with intense determination.
The image in her mind was probably her homeland, devastated by the insane Elemental Lord in the past.
(—So is this what she meant by preparations for war?)
She seemed to be seriously planning for war against the Holy Kingdom.
"...In other words, you rescued us to recruit us as part of your forces?"
"Precisely. Work under me, Kazehaya Kamito."
"What if I refuse?"
"That option is not open to you."
Saying that, Rubia placed a pin on the map.
The pinned location was Ostdakia, the capital of the Ordesia Empire.
"What do you mean?"
"The Holy Kingdom masterminded the attempted assassination on the emperor on this occasion."
Kamito, Claire and Ellis all yelled in surprise.
"The main conspirator in the assassination incident was most likely Fianna's elder brother, Arneus Ray Ordesia. A puny man driven by ambition. However, it is undoubtedly the Holy Kingdom backing him. They presumably intend to make Arneus their puppet."
"...I knew it. Fianna was framed."
"Indeed, she was exploited to purge the anti-Arneus faction."
Rubia nodded then looked at Kamito squarely.
"You will hurry to the imperial capital and rescue Fianna Ray Ordesia, yes?"
"In other words, we want to rescue Fianna and you want to crush the Holy Kingdom, so our goals are the same?"
"Correct. Our interests are aligned."
Kamito muttered in his mind—
(...This suggestion isn't bad, actually.)
Despite his reluctance to be controlled by Rubia, there was no reason to refuse. Frankly speaking, they had simply escaped from the military base for now. He had absolutely no idea how to rescue Fianna.
He looked at Claire and Ellis, who both nodded.
—Then it was decided.
"Understood. Then I guess we'll work under you for a while, Rubia Elstein."
"—The contract is established."
Rubia declared concisely, stood up and left the room.
"There is still time before we reach the imperial capital. Take a break until then."
—Kamito, Claire and Ellis breathed a sigh of relief after Rubia exited the room.
"...It feels so exhausting."
"Yeah, after all, her presence is so forceful."
Kamito concurred with Ellis' quiet complaint.
"But the Otherworldly Darkness..."
"The Holy Kingdom has acquired the Otherworldly Darkness while the Fire Elemental Lord has gone missing at Alexandria—"
"Honestly, this is totally ominous..."
—At that moment, the earlier girl returned to the room.
"A room for napping has been prepared accordingly. Please get some rest."
"But I would like to see my esteemed sister—"
"In that case, please follow me."
The girl nodded after listening to Ellis.
"Claire, don't you need to have a chat with Rubia?"
Kamito's question brought a complicated expression to Claire's face as she responded ambiguously.
"...I-I suppose... But... what should we talk about, I've no idea."
(...Well, I guess she's right.)
Understanding Claire's feelings vaguely, Kamito chose to remain silent.
After experiencing such a long separation, the huge gulf between them could not be bridged so easily.
—Who knew how much time had passed since then?
She had lost track of time completely. In this room isolated from light and sound, only the fatigue and pain coming from her entire body gave her a concrete sense of being alive.
On the first day, she was suspended from the ceiling the whole time. However, only after a guard noticed Fianna was becoming too weak was she lowered down to the ground.
This was not because the guard pitied Fianna. It was simply because Arneus had given orders not to let her die yet.
With her arms and legs still tightly bound by chains, there was nothing she could do.
—At this moment, she heard faint footsteps outside the door.
The faint light coming from the ajar door made Fianna open her eyes.
Entering timidly was a young princess maiden in training.
Bringing a tray carrying water and bread, she gently placed it on the ground within Fianna's reach.
Previously, she had stubbornly ignored Fianna no matter what was said to her. More than likely, she had been ordered to act this way.
—But this time was different. The young girl spoke for the first time.
"Second Princess, your execution date has been decided—"
The girl reported timidly.
"Three days from now, the ceremony for the ascension of Arneus to the imperial throne will be held. The Second Princess' execution will take place after the ceremony."
"...Is that so? Thank you."
Fianna answered weakly and the girl bowed, leaving the room in a hurry."
"...I... will be executed huh?"
She murmured to herself as though ruminating over something that felt completely surreal.
Her initially defiant willpower had been eroded away entirely by now.
Her consciousness kept growing cloudy. Even thinking was very hard.
(...Kamito-kun, I want to see you one last time. Also Claire and the others too—)
In a daze, dragging the chains on her arms, she tore off a piece of bread. This bread was hard and black unlike what was served in the palace. It was impossible to swallow until one dipped it in water until it softened.
Just as she had soaked the piece of bread, brought it to her mouth and about to bite down...
Her teeth touched something hard.
Frowning, Fianna spat it out.
It fell on the ground with a clatter. A pea-sized piece of stone.
No, upon closer examination, she discovered it was no ordinary stone. Transparent, it was glowing faintly.
(...Could this be a spirit crystal?)
Spirit crystals were extremely expensive minerals and could not possibly have gotten mixed into bread by coincidence.
(Why is it here...?)
Focusing her hazy consciousness, she came to a sudden realization.
—Undoubtedly, someone had mixed it in deliberately.
The instant she realized that, Fianna recovered full consciousness.
She picked up the spirit crystal from the ground and poured divine power into it through her fingers.
Despite the interrupted link to Astral Zero, a high-level princess maiden like Fianna would still be able to refine a small amount of divine power from her own body.
Immediately, the spirit crystal's light grew stronger—
"...Princess... Your Highness... Can you hear me...?"
An extremely faint voice, accompanied by static, reached Fianna's ear.
A voice of no previous recollection. The sound quality was also poor, plus the fact of the spirit crystal's small size to begin with, it meant that was impossible to identify unless it was a familiar voice.
"...Who is it?"
Fianna asked softly. Of course, this could be a trap laid by Arneus, but she had nothing to lose under the current circumstances.
"...Someone asked me to rescue you... I am your ally."
Fianna repeated in her mind.
It was unclear who the voice belonged to. But if there really was someone like that—
Several faces surfaced in Fianna's mind.
First she thought of her friends in Kamito, Claire and the girls, but the Academy would be too far away from here. It was possible that they might not even know about her current imprisoned status.
The nobles in the anti-Arneus faction were supposed to be all arrested. Duke Fahrengart's family kept political neutrality despite not being part of the Arneus faction, so they probably would not make a move.
Fianna's father, the emperor, had not a shred of familial affection for her. Besides, he was currently suffering from the demon spirit's miasma, confined to bed.
The imperial consort was ruled out too. Adhering strictly to the Divine Ritual Institute's precepts, she kept herself thoroughly uninvolved in politics. And First Princess Linnea had not only severed her ties to the mundane world but also despised Fianna who had formerly lost the power of the spirit contract.
The aforementioned people would most likely not extend a helping hand to Fianna.
In that case, the remaining candidate was—
She was the only one Fianna could think of.
Greyworth had subordinates originating from Umbra. The day the incident happened, she even said she had gained an excellent pawn. Although Greyworth herself was imprisoned too as a result of the incident, it was not impossible for the witch to exert her influence while in jail.
Supposing this person belonged to Umbra, it would be only natural to keep his or her identity hidden.
"...Rescue me, how?"
The temple was under heavy guard. Even a special operative knight of Umbra would face quite a challenge to mount a rescue.
"...Biding my time. When the time comes, you will be saved."
"Time? But I will be executed three days later."
"Yes, before that, Your Highness' companions would've arrived to save you."
Fianna was taken aback.
"What do you mean?"
"It happened yesterday. Kazehaya Kamito and his friends were arrested at the Academy Town."
"Kamito-kun and the others!?"
Fianna widened her eyes.
"They were charged with conspiring with the Second Princess—possibly participating indirectly in the attempted assassination of the emperor. After all, they were your teammates."
"Please rest assured. They have apparently succeeded in breaking out of prison. After that, they flew away on an unregistered ship. Undoubtedly, they will be rescuing you within the next three days."
"...Impossible. They will be captured by the Imperial Knights once they come here!"
Fianna could not help but raise her voice.
Infiltrating the imperial capital to rescue Fianna would be too dangerous.
Also, there were the Numbers here.
"Besides, how do they intend to infiltrate the imperial capital?"
"That is why I will take action. To receive... them..."
Static appeared in the voice.
The spirit crystal's glow gradually weakened. Finally, the voice could no longer be heard.
It was such a small spirit crystal after all. The spirit's power had probably depleted.
To avoid leaving evidence behind, Fianna crushed the spirit crystal and swallowed it.
Kamito-kun is coming to save me—This possibility was giving her a final shred of hope.
—In that case, I mustn't waste time here.
(...Right, I have no wish to become some sort of tragic princess.)
Suddenly recalling something, Fianna bit her lip.
Then she dipped her finger in the resultant bleeding.