Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume14 Chapter7
Chapter 7 - Princess Maidens of the Demon King
Parting ways with Kamito and Claire at the nap room, Ellis was taken to the medical bay where Velsaria was at.
The instant the girl opened the door, Ellis was greeted with a shocking sight.
"...! E-Esteemed sister!"
Ellis was rooted to the spot in shock.
A gigantic coffin-like device was sitting in the center of the medical bay, giving off strange and grating noises. Glowing faintly, the coffin was connected to a number of cables.
—And inside was Velsaria.
Of course, she had not donned that elemental waffe that resembled a "fortress." Covering her naked body, beautiful as a sculpture, was a sheer gown.
Faintly illuminated by spirit crystals, she was in deep slumber.
"What... on earth is this..."
Ellis murmured in shock.
"This is restorative equipment custom made for her using healing spirit crystals. Due to operating beyond the activity duration limit, an according price needs to be paid."
The girl who originated from the Instructional School replied expressionlessly.
While saying that, Ellis approached the healing machine where Velsaria was sleeping within.
"What on earth is up with that elemental waffe!? Besides, my esteemed sister should have lost the power of the spirit contract due to the side effects of her cursed seal armament going berserk—"
"—That was no elemental waffe. Instead, it is an experimental 'elemental panzer.'"
Hearing a familiar voice, Ellis instantly raised her guard.
She looked back to see a tall woman standing by the door, exhaling smoke from a pipe.
Red eyes, almost bewitching, paired with beautiful emerald hair.
Her long and pointy ears were precisely the trait of the Elfim race, the Forest Dwellers.
"...! Vivian Melosa!"
Ellis' body took action in reflex.
She accelerated and closed in instantly, grabbing the woman by her lab coat's collar.
"What is a Murders merchant doing here—!?"
The woman was the perpetrator who had carved a cursed armament seal on Velsaria's heart.
She was an unforgivable enemy from Ellis' perspective.
"You should have been thrown into the Balsas Prison—"
"Indeed, together with your sister."
Ellis applied more force.
"Good to see you too. I am the one performing maintenance for her."
"...What did you say?"
"After all, this elemental panzer is something I remodeled. I am in charge of your sister's treatment and the only one deeply knowledgeable about her condition."
"What kind of joke is this—"
"...Ellis, she is speaking... the truth..."
—At this moment, Ellis heard a pained voice from behind.
The healing machine's glass cover opened slowly and Velsaria came out.
Stumbling to stand up, she glanced sharply at Vivian.
"Leave me, witch—"
"...Very well. However, I need to analyze the combat data later on."
Vivian shrugged. After glancing at Ellis who was still glaring at her, she left the room.
The Instructional School girl who had led the way also bowed to take her leave and disappeared silently.
Velsaria turned to face Ellis.
"...It has been a while, Ellis."
She began to speak while coughing.
"Why...? Why are you on this ship—"
Ellis frantically rushed forward to support her foster sister whose unsteady body looked like it would fall any moment.
"Also, what is this device? Why is a Murders merchant here?"
"I was sought out by Rubia Elstein to join her League of Inferno. The same goes for the Murders witch. Ideology and conviction are irrelevant here. Those with ability were simply recruited to join under her banner, that is all—"
"...League of Inferno."
Ellis repeated the name.
"In that case, you know of that darkness—"
"Yes, I have heard everything from the Calamity Queen. Stemming from such grounds, I have decided to return to the battlefield, devoting myself to combat in order to exterminate the Otherworldly Darkness invading the human realm."
Ellis felt intimidated by her strong gaze. Those eyes looked the same as when Velsaria was leading the Sylphid Knights, crushing everything with absolute power.
"B-But you should have lost the power of the spirit contract—"
"...Indeed. Just as the witch said, strictly speaking, what you witnessed was not an elemental waffe."
"I remember it being referred to as an 'elemental panzer'—"
"Indeed, an experimental model acquired by the Calamity Queen from the Theocracy, then remodeled by that woman's hand. It would be better described as turning a militarized spirit into an elemental waffe, perhaps? The latest in enchanted equipment, using Bloodstone for the reactor with a fortress spirit's power sealed within—It operates by absorbing divine power limitlessly, along the same principles as that Instructional School girl's Jester's Vise—"
Indeed, Velsaria had lost the power to contract with spirits. However, her abundant divine power remained intact. Using the power of spirit engineering, a simulated elemental waffe could be created, allowing her to regain an elementalist's power.
"...B-But by using that kind of equipment, your body will...!"
"It is a body that was lying at death's door once. Already eroded by a curse armament seal, suppose this body could eliminate the Darkness invading the empire... Cough...!"
"...Worry not... I, cough, am a knight of the Fahrengart."
Hearing those words, Ellis was rendered speechless.
Velsaria's determination could not be stopped by anyone.
As her younger sister, Ellis knew this better than anyone.
She was a knight of Ordesia, more noble and high-minded than anyone.
Just as Ellis fell silent—
"..Ellis, I heard you emerged triumphant at the Blade Dance."
Velsaria changed the subject and spoke calmly.
"Yes. Thanks to Kamito and the comrades who fought alongside me, I have become stronger."
She spoke in self-deprecation.
"I too, if only I had realized that sooner..."
Instantly, Velsaria's gaze began to wander afar—
"Speaking of which, I have a question for you—"
She spoke as though it had suddenly occurred to her.
"What is it?"
"You and Ren—no, Kazehaya Kamito—have you done it already?"
Ellis yelled with her face bright red.
It was almost impossible to imagine such words coming from Velsaria's mouth.
"W-What do you mean... by having 'done it'!?"
Hearing that, Velsaria's face turned just as red and she stammered.
"Uh, h-holding hands?"
Her voice was so quiet that it sounded like she was murmuring to herself.
Ellis looked puzzled.
"R-Right... Yes, we have held hands—"
"...Really? Holding hands... W-What a swift development..."
Hearing her sister's whispers, Ellis broke out in cold sweat.
Subconsciously, she touched her own lips lightly with her finger.
In terms of discipline, Velsaria was even stricter than Ellis.
...Forget about holding hands, more than that had happened. However, there was no way Ellis could bring herself to say that aloud.
Before dawn, on a bed in the nap room, Kamito woke up.
The speed used to shake off the Gargoyle's pursuit was unsustainable after all. Hence, it looked like they were not going to reach the imperial capital until the following afternoon.
Claire and Restia were sleeping in the lower bunks. Probably feeling more reassured by hugging Est, Restia had a blanket wrapped several times around the sword.
...Kamito could not help but feel a smile on his face.
Claire rolled over at this time.
"...Huaahh... Don't, Kamito... How could you... A collar so suddenly... Hyah!"
"...W-What kind of dream is that?"
Muttering, Kamito went outside.
Passing through the narrow passage, he took a gangway ladder on the side of the ship and arrived on deck.
He felt like getting a breeze.
(...I wonder what kind of dream Fianna is having right now?)
She was probably sleeping on a jail cell's cold floor right now.
The blowing wind ruffled his hair. Military ships were supposed to be capable of deploying a wind barrier, but right now, it was apparently not activated, possibly to reduce unnecessary consumption.
After reaching the deck—
...He suddenly heard a cat.
He looked and found Scarlet meowing comfortably.
Rubia Elstein was crouching on the floor, stroking Scarlet's throat.
Noticing Kamito, she instantly stood up.
"What, you're playing with Scarlet?"
"...What are you doing here, Ren Ashbell?"
She slowly looked over to him.
The same ruby eyes as Claire were glaring sharply at Kamito.
Her long, blazing, crimson hair was fluttering in the wind.
Kamito could not help but notice how beautiful she looked.
"I'm just out to get some air."
Kamito leaned his back against the deck's railing.
At this feet, Scarlet began to rub herself affectionately against his leg.
"Uh, is your health okay now?"
"It is none of your concern."
"It's not, but it's really important to your sister Claire."
Rubia's eyes of ruby wavered subtly.
"Claire has spent her whole time looking for you. Her dream was to return to Elstein and live with her family again."
"Returning to the past is impossible."
"...Yeah, but what's lost can be retrieved."
Rubia looked away.
"I have no intention of dying just like that. I am bound by duty to atone."
With a sorrowful expression, she was probably recalling images of the cities destroyed by the Fire Elemental Lord's wrath.
"To this end, Ren Ashbell, I need your power from the Darkness Elemental Lord."
"Sorry, I can't do as you wish."
"It has nothing to do with my wishes. Sooner or later, the power of darkness will become irrepressible."
"...What do you mean? The power of darkness should have vanished already—"
Kamito could not help but ask but she shook her head.
"Indeed, you have suppressed the Darkness Elemental Lord's power. However, that is ultimately temporary. One day, the power will overflow and destroy you. You must have felt it too."
Kamito came to a sudden realization in alarm.
—He definitely had some idea of what she was talking about.
(Irrepressible power of darkness... Could it be—)
He thought of the kissing matter that Rinslet had mentioned when they were leaving Laurenfrost... Also, Ellis had told him something concerning.
"You evidently do have an idea."
"...Yeah, I guess I'd better tell you."
After all, she was precisely the culprit who had forced the Darkness Elemental Lord to awaken within Kamito.
Kamito briefly summarized what had happened with Ellis and Rinslet.
...After listening to him, Rubia thought deeply for a while.
"Have you heard of the legendary 'Princess Maidens of the Demon King'?"
Finally, she spoke.
"Yeah, just legends."
Kamito nodded. The "Princess Maidens of the Demon King" was one out of hundreds of Demon King legends.
A thousand years ago, Demon King Solomon had forcibly wed the princesses of conquered nations, taking them as his own.
Furthermore, he had selected girls with outstanding talent to become elementalist from among the princesses and bestowed his power upon them.
The princesses who received the Demon King's power were known as the "Princess Maidens of the Demon King." Together with the seventy-two spirits, they had wrought terror upon the Sacred Maiden's army of world salvation.
"Like you, Demon King Solomon was a reincarnation of the Darkness Elemental Lord. Presumably, in the same manner as you, he shared his power to his princess maidens through kisses—"
"...You mean it's the same ability as mine?"
"More than likely. The Darkness Elemental Lord's power enables an explosive increase in divine power. However, there are probably conditions on the princes maiden's side accordingly. Although the Demon King had hundreds of concubines, only a mere nine of them were able to obtain his power—"
"Is it talent as an elementalist?"
"Indeed, but it is possible that there are additional conditions—"
Rubia murmured in deep thought.
Kamito looked at his hand.
(...So I shared the Darkness Elemental Lord's power with them?)
Although it was not by choice, he still felt responsible.
"Uh, will they end up devoured by the power of darkness like me?"
"Records of the Demon King's princess maidens are rather vague. Some say that they were defeated by Sacred Maiden Areishia while others say that the power of darkness was purified by the Demon Slayer. Perhaps among them, there were others who ended up devoured by the power of darkness—"
"...In other words, you don't know."
"Indeed. Perhaps you would like to test it out with me?"
Hearing Rubia's serious-sounding suggestion, Kamito could not help but panic.
However, he soon realized she was joking.
"Do not use divine power recklessly unless you want to be devoured by the power of darkness, Ren Ashbell."
"...Yeah, I know."
Kamito averted eye contact and nodded.
(...I guess it's best to avoid using divine power to solve problems.)
—After daybreak. Inside the flying ship's conference room, a meeting was held to plan Fianna's rescue operation.
Sitting around the oval table was Claire next to Kamito, with Ellis beside her. Restia and Est were presumably still sleeping in the nap room.
Rubia spread a map of the imperial capital over the table.
"Fianna is imprisoned at the Great Shrine of Areishia in the center of the nobles district."
She pointed at a location on the map.
"The Great Shrine of Areishia? Not Balsas Prison?"
"That would be impossible, because Muir wrecked the prison while we were retrieving Velsaria."
"...Reckless as ever."
Kamito could not help but groan.
"The Temple of World Isolation at the Great Shrine of Areishia has the ability to nullify a princess maiden's power. It is the most suitable place for imprisoning Fianna."
Saying that, Rubia took out another map and opened it on the table. Kamito did not know what channels she had used to obtain it, but the map had detailed floor plans of the Great Shrine of Areishia.
"You three will be the ones to carry out the rescue operation. Meanwhile, we will attack a nearby military base as a diversion."
"What about my esteemed sister?"
"She is unsuited to such an operation. She will stay on the Revenant as part of the diversion."
Indeed, Velsaria's "fortress" was not suited for a rescue operation.
"What's the infiltration route into the Great Shrine of Areishia?"
Claire asked a question.
While the All Nations Conference was being held, with the recent assassination incident, security in the imperial capital would have escalated to the highest level. It was probably impossible to approach openly.
"First, a horse-drawn carriage will be prepared in the countryside for you to infiltrate the city. To enter, you will disguise yourselves as a noblewoman with her lady-in-waiting. By showing an imperial access pass, you should be able to bypass the gatekeeper's interrogation."
Saying that, she placed a counterfeit imperial access pass on the table. Carved on the center of the pass was a magic seal for disrupting a guardian spirit.
"To think you even have this kind of thing..."
"An application of cursed armament seals. Vivian Melosa is an outstanding counterfeiter."
The straitlaced Ellis frowned.
"Are you going to object to underhanded means when you are rebelling against the Empire?"
"If anything, I'm more concerned about the 'lady-in-waiting' part."
...Although Kamito brought it up, everyone ignored him.
"Even after infiltrating the imperial capital, there are still spirit knights stationed in the nobles district around the Great Shrine of Areishia. I don't think we can enter openly."
"There is a Murders merchant in the slums who is very familiar with routes into the nobles district. Find that man."
"...Murders? Can you trust them?"
"Murders and the Holy Kingdom have been in opposition for years. They are an organization that acts by weighing risks and benefits rather than ideology. If Arneus is in cahoots with the Holy Kingdom, Murders will have cause to aid us."
Murders had established a robust network across the continent with many branches in many countries. However, there was one exception.
—Namely, the Holy Kingdom of Lugia.
Worshiping one of the Five Great Elemental Lords, Holy Lord Alexandros, while believing in "the harmony of the entire continent" as its missive, the Holy Kingdom had outlawed Murders completely and kept the organization firmly outside its doors.
From Murders' standpoint, they would not want an Ordesia emperor who was intimately in bed with the Holy Kingdom.
"Once you sneak into the nobles district, head to the Great Shrine of Areishia and rescue Fianna. Avoid combat as much as possible, in particular against the Numbers."
"...Easier said than done. What about the escape route?"
"Fianna should know of escape routes exclusive to royalty. Use those. Once you escape out of the city, I shall send militarized spirits and Velsaria. It should be just right to buy time."
"...What a reckless plan."
Kamito sighed helplessly. That being said, the announced date for Fianna's execution was three days later. It would not be realistic unless they prepared themselves to take a risk and take forceful measures.
"Then what about the headmistress?"
Ellis asked at this time, somewhat worried.
The same thing was bothering Kamito too.
"The Dusk Witch's whereabouts are unknown."
"We need to find a way to save—"
Rubia objected on the spot.
"Truth be told, I would like to secure the Dusk Witch too. However, we currently do not have the luxury of resources to spare on that front."
Ellis was instantly silenced. Of course, it was not as though Ellis could not understand. If they were to split their forces now, it would only make it much harder to rescue Fianna.
"Be at ease. Arneus would not dare execute the Empire's hero so lightly."
"I suppose, maybe—"
Kamito muttered. After all, there was already a riot at Areishia Spirit Academy where many noble daughters were studying. The Empire would take utmost caution in dealing with her.
"Rubia is right. Let's give up on rescuing Greyworth this time."
Ellis bit her lip regretfully and nodded.
"Just this time, okay? There will be a chance sooner or later. Let's wait patiently."
"So, what do we do after saving Fianna?"
This time, Kamito asked Rubia.
"After circling around the Kelbreth Mountain Range, we will escape into the Dragon Duchy of Dracunia."
Rubia moved the pin on the map again.
"Indeed, that nation has extremely poor relations with the Holy Kingdom."
"Right. Preparations have already been made in advance to escape there."
"...Not bad at all."
Kamito could not help but smack his lips. Despite losing most of her subordinates, Rubia's underground network seemed intact.
"What about after we escape to Dracunia?"
After hearing Claire's question, Rubia slowly looked up from the map.
"I intend to support Fianna to become empress."
She declared in a solemn voice.
"Support Fianna to become empress?"
"Indeed. Then at an opportune timing, 'Legitimate Ordesia' will be announced."
"Indeed. Raising a banner to fight the Holy Kingdom, the true Ordesia Empire."
"A government in exile huh? ...So you're ignoring Fianna's own will completely."
"The League of Inferno requires a righteous cause to declare war on the Holy Kingdom."
"B-But this way—"
Claire mustered her courage and spoke up.
"Fianna clearly wouldn't like this. She already abandoned all of that..."
"Be that as it may, she is ultimately still a member of the imperial family. She will understand her mission and accept this destiny."
"—Thus concludes our battle plan."
Rubia declared coldly and stood up.
Just as she put on her overcoat and was about to leave the conference room—
For an instant, Rubia paused at the door.
"...I leave Fianna in your hands."
Rubia whispered extremely quietly.
Kamito and Claire instantly exchanged glances.
Rubia's words made them realize.
Exterminating the Otherworldly Darkness that was responsible for driving the Elemental Lords insane—That was the motivation for her actions.
But in addition to that.
Hoped to rescue Fianna as her best friend in the past.
"—Yeah, we'll handle it."
As Rubia passed through the doorway, Kamito nodded.
After the strategy meeting, Kamito went on deck alone.
He was hesitating whether to tell Claire and Ellis about what Rubia told him about the Darkness Elemental Lord.
(...But it'll cause them to worry if I tell them.)
Kamito's gaze fell upon his leather gloved left hand.
Do not use divine power recklessly unless you want to be devoured by the power of darkness—Rubia had warned him.
(...Conversely, the power of darkness won't awaken if I don't use divine power?)
If that were the case, then all he needed to do was avoid fighting as much as possible.
Of course, that was impossible to guarantee.
—Detecting a presence behind him at this time, Kamito looked back.
He saw Restia climbing up the gangway ladder while using the railing for support.
Blown by the wind on the deck, she looked like she had trouble maintaining balance.
"Hey, it's dangerous—"
Kamito hurried over and caught her arm.
The darkness spirit girl lowered her head, her cheeks blushing slightly.
"What's the matter? You have trouble sleeping?"
Restia nodded and looked up at Kamito.
"...You are about to leave?"
"Ah, I guess you heard from Claire and the others."
However, Restia shook her head.
"No, I simply had a feeling."
Those dusk-colored eyes, which used to smile fearlessly, conveyed an expression of unease.
...It was unavoidable that she would feel worried.
After all, she had lost her memory and Kamito's party was the only people she could rely on.
However, taking her along to the imperial capital would be too dangerous.
Kamito had heard that people from the Holy Kingdom were lurking in Ordesia. In addition, the Holy Kingdom was clearly targeting Restia.
Currently, the safest place on the entire continent was probably this ship.
"We'll be back as soon as we rescue our friend."
Kamito gently placed his hand on Restia's head.
"I know. You are currently at the center of an extremely monumental destiny. Hence—"
Saying that, Restia held Kamito's hand firmly.
"You must return—"
"Yeah, of course. After all, at your side is where I've always belonged."
In response, Kamito embraced Restia's petite body.
Held in Kamito's arms, she smiled.
"...Why are these tears falling?"