Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume15 Chapter1
Chapter 1 - Dusk at the Imperial Capital
The falling rain was like mist at the imperial capital. At this location, buried under a great deal of debris from the destruction wrought by the gravity spirit belonging to Leschkir Hirschkilt of the Numbers—
She stood there like a shadow.
Fianna's voice sounded like it was coming from far away.
Ouch, what happened? For a moment, Kamito's thoughts could not keep up.
No, it would be better to say that he already understood, yet his brain refused to admit the truth before his eyes.
While his hand was pressed against the laceration on his abdomen, blood seeped out between his fingers and dripped. Ren Ashdoll's power that previously filled his entire body had vanished completely. His body temperature was also falling.
(I totally failed to see it...)
Let alone the flash of the sword, he had not even been able to see the motion at all.
However, Kamito knew that sword technique, a sword strike as swift as lightning.
Absolute Blade Arts, First Form—Purple Lightning.
Apart from Kamito, there should be no one else who had inherited her sword skills.
However, that flash, that accuracy, everything was superior to Kamito's.
While pondering the question of her identity, he had already noticed this fact.
Precisely because he noticed it, he refused to admit it.
"Well well, even though I held back, dodging this skill is still beyond you—"
Amid the mist-like rain, that calm voice pulled Kamito's thoughts back to reality definitively.
The young maiden shook off the blood on the blade and mercilessly looked down at Kamito who was kneeling on the ground.
Kamito groaned and forced that name out from his lips.
Greyworth Ciel Mais—The Dusk Witch.
"Why... Why are you here!?"
Kamito cried out hoarsely.
According to intel from the special operative knight, Virrey, who had served as a guide for Kamito and the others, Greyworth was imprisoned at the notorious torture tower of Guas Gibai after falling into Arneus' hands.
If that were true, she could not possibly be here.
No, before considering that, this appearance of hers was—
Fianna frantically caught Kamito's unsteady body.
"What is going on? About that girl being the Academy's headmistress..."
Fianna must have recalled the whisper she had overheard earlier.
Her question was not illogical, because the girl currently standing before their eyes—
Her appearance was that of a lovely maiden, the same age as Fianna.
The moniker of the Dusk Witch was widely known across the continent. No matter what, the time when she had been active on the battlefield was already decades ago.
Fianna could not possibly have known what she looked like back then.
On the other hand, Kamito had previously witnessed the witch in her prime on two occasions.
The first time was in the beginning when she took him into her house. The second time was out in the wilderness of the imperial capital's outskirts when learning Purple Lightning, the first move of the Absolute Blade Arts.
Greyworth had mentioned before that divine power would increase to extreme heights when the power of the Elemental Lords influenced the human realm.
During such occasions, her body would regain its youth, allowing her to recover her peak power for a short duration—
The lovely maiden's gorgeous body was getting wet from the drizzle.
That young face could easily be mistaken for a little girl's.
However, held in her hand was a bloodstained demon sword. One could also sense chilling beauty from her figure, standing there quietly.
"—That's right, she's Greyworth."
Kamito told Fianna.
Of course, it was possible to alter one's appearance by using a mimicry spirit's power. However, given her flash of the sword earlier with godlike speed, it was undoubtedly Absolute Blade Arts. Compared to a fake like Sjora Kahn, it was on a completely different level.
Feeling despair, Kamito called out that name again.
The blood flowing out of his flank went all over his fingers.
Something must have happened at the tower of Guas Gibai where she had been imprisoned, Kamito surmised. Mind control through magic, brainwashing by using drugs, or perhaps something even more creepy—What should he do? It did not seem like he could make her normal again just by calling her name.
However, even so—
Given she was that witch, Kamito called out, clinging to a shred of hope.
"Have you forgotten about me, your student? Don't tell me that the a woman of your level, the fearsome Dusk Witch, has been brainwashed?"
Kamito shouted. However, the young girl's gray eyes simply looked down on him emotionlessly.
Kamito stabbed the Demon Slayer into the ground and slowly stood up. The blood spilling from his wound formed a puddle at his feet.
"Kamito-kun, your wound is still—!"
"Don't worry... about it."
If words could not reach her, then there was only one language to communicate.
Readying the Demon Slayer, Kamito stared intently at the witch before him.
"Oh? You're standing up just like that—"
The witch who looked like a young girl whispered as though impressed, then raised her crimson demon sword.
Compared to the pitch-black demon sword that was her personal weapon of choice, it was different in both shape and color. However, the terrifying and ominous feeling left no doubt that it belonged to a demon spirit.
—Compared to that time...
"Fufu, you are heavily injured, Onii-chan."
A young girl's voice, as adorable as the sound of bells, resounded in the imperial capital's dimming sky.
Kamito looked up.
Amid the hazy curtain of rain—
A girl was hovering midair, smiling innocently.
Her appearance was that of a young girl age twelve or thirteen.
Beneath her glittering blonde hair was an eye of mysterious violet. Dressed in sacred vestments of pure white, she was holding a silver crosier that served as proof of a high-ranked cardinal of the Holy Kingdom.
Also, her left eye was covered by a crude eyepatch.
Millennia Sanctus—The girl with Otherworldly Darkness residing in her left eye.
She was the mastermind who had caused spirits to rampage and brought Areishia Spirit Academy to the brink of destruction.
The young girl chuckled and silently descended onto the rubble.
"...Tsk, I see now. You must the ones abetting Arneus."
Fianna glared at the girl and said.
"Oh my, don't make it sound so bad. It would be better to say it is what your dear brother wished for. We simply provided a bit of help."
The girl shrugged lightly in an adorable manner.
"Be that as it may, he is an incompetent man to begin with, not even able to lock a captured bird inside a cage. In that case, it might be more reliable to have you as a puppet, given how capable you are. Hey, Fianna-chan, it is not too late. Why don't you become our friend?"
"Sorry, I decline. Is there any point in becoming friends?"
"I see, what a shame—"
Millennia turned her head to look at Kamito who was standing in a pool of blood.
"Fufu, the strongest blade dancer, Ren Ashbell—Even for one such as you, in front of the Witch, you are no different from an infant."
"Are you the one who brainwashed Greyworth?"
Kamito growled with incisive killing intent.
However, Millennia snickered without any fear at all.
"We don't do anything as useless as the likes of brainwashing. We simply liberated the Witch that existed within her from the start. Ah, however, I see... Onii-chan, you may not know this. Twenty-four years ago, what kind of wish she had sought from the Elemental Lords—"
—The wish Greyworth had sought.
Kamito did not know what exactly she meant by that.
Was she simply going for obfuscation to confuse them? Or perhaps—
(...No. What I should be thinking about now is how to get out of here.)
Kamito glanced at Fianna beside him.
The effects of Save the Queen had vanished already and Fianna looked very exhausted.
This was only natural—Having been locked away in a prison-like environment, her physical condition was surely very weak. Rather, it was already a miracle that she was able to escape here on her own feet.
(...It's definitely not possible to fight while defending Fianna.)
Kamito calmly pondered strategies for breaking out of the predicament. He was currently facing a monumental challenge that he did not know if he could overcome even by pitting his full strength—
"Fianna, do you know the imperial capital's escape route?"
Kamito spoke up.
Fianna was supposed to know about escape routes exclusive to royals—Rubia had said so as the one who had devised the rescue operation.
Without Virrey's assistance, it was not possible to escape through the underground ruins that they had used to get here. Breaking out by force would be even more impossible with the Imperial Knights as the enemy.
"Yes, I do indeed know about the passage exclusive for royal use."
Since she had considered that route back during the prison escape stage, she could immediately answer.
"What are the chances that it's sealed off?"
Kamito asked. Since Arneus was a member of the royal family like Fianna, it was only natural for him to know of the escape route's existence. It would not be unusual for him to have already sent people there.
However, Fianna shook her head lightly.
"No, I believe it will be fine. That passage is absolutely not available for him. Hence, its existence would likely not occur to him."
Kamito felt puzzled but there was no time to ask.
"Fianna, go back to the earlier place to meet up with Claire and Ellis."
"What about you, Kamito-kun?"
"I will hold them off here."
"Hurry and do me the favor of going. I can't protect you while I'm fighting."
Kamito forcibly pushed her away.
Hearing his words, Fianna—
She bit her lip hard and stood up unsteadily.
Hesitating here would make her Kamito's burden instead, concluded Fianna.
"Then I am going first. I will be waiting for you."
Fianna drew up to Kamito's ear and whispered.
"Underneath the biggest bell tower in the nobles district, the small temple of Michaela."
"Got it. I'll head over soon."
Kamito nodded. Fianna went towards the streets while dragging one leg.
"Fufu, are you done talking?"
Millennia spoke up.
"Sorry, did I make you wait?"
"Yes. You are her one and only opponent who has learned the same sword skills as this woman. Perfect for testing purposes. With that burden gone, you'll be able to fight all-out, right?"
"...Then how about waiting until my wounds are healed?"
Kamito said while pressing on the wound in his flank.
"Nice try, but hasn't it healed already?"
"...So you have been paying attention."
Kamito forced a smile. Leaking out, miasma of darkness had sped up the healing of the puncture wound. No, rather than speeding up the healing—It was more like regeneration.
(...Looks like my body is already a complete monster's...)
He mentally poked fun at himself.
However, now was the time when he must rely on this monstrous power.
Kamito instantly looked behind him and moved.
Fianna had disappeared from view far off into the other end of the road.
Right now, he must buy time for Fianna to escape, even if just a short duration—
While Kamito was thinking that, Millennia chuckled.
"Oh dear, who said the little bird is allowed to escape?"
"If she were to run off, that foolish king would make a big a fuss."
Millennia looked down at the rubble underfoot. Discovering Leschkir Hirschkilt who had been struck down by Kamito, she grinned.
"Ah yes, let me send out this useless piece of trash."
"Awaken, my puppet."
Saying that, Millennia stepped on the collapsed Numbers knight's head—
Slowly, she took off the eyepatch over her left eye.
This left eye was inhabited by the Otherworldly Darkness that was capable of corrupting even the Elemental Lords.
From her left eye, the viscous darkness melted and dripped to cover up the Numbers knight's face.
Suddenly, Leschkir Hirschkilt's body twitched violently while strange moans slipped out of her mouth.
"...Ah... Gaga... Ga-ah, gagagaga..."
Bathed in Otherworldly Darkness, Leschkir slowly rose up like a ghost and moved mechanically like a broken puppet.
(...What the hell!?)
Seeing the terrifying phenomenon before his eyes, Kamito held his breath involuntarily.
"Go chase down the Second Princess for me, puppet. It's fine even if you kill her."
Millennia pointed in the direction Fianna had escaped.
In that very instant...
"...Ah... The Second... Princess... Fiannaaaaaaaaa!"
Two black spheres appeared over Leschkir's head.
The gravity spirit that Kamito had bifurcated earlier still had yet to be fully destroyed.
Sword in hand, Kamito rushed over, but it was too late. Reversing the gravity field in its surroundings, the gravity spirit allowed Leschkir to float up into the air while laughing madly. Then her body flew along a ridiculous route in the direction of Fianna's escape.
As much as Kamito wanted to chase her—
"Your opponent is me—"
Standing before him with a crimson demon sword gripped in her hand was Greyworth.
"Huff, huff, huff, huff—"
Fianna ran desperately along the rain splattered stone-paved road.
The intense sound of swords clashing resounded behind her. Fianna could not cast away her concern for Kamito, but she still did everything she could to believe in Kamito and suppress these thoughts. Aiming for the shrine where the escape passage was located, she ran and stumbled.
However, she was about to reach her limit.
Intense pain was circulating around her ankle as though it were burning.
Unable to maintain balance, Fianna fell into a puddle. Ripped in the process, her tattered dress of pure white became tainted by the color of mud.
She tried her best to suppress her moaning voice. If she allowed a scream to escape here, the Imperial Knights nearby would immediately discover her.
Fortunately, no residents of the nobles district were in sight, thanks to the evacuation order.
Her ankle was red and swollen.
She must have sprained it during the gravity spirit's attack. Enduring the pain, she had run here forcibly, but she could not even stand up now.
"O holy light of healing, treat this wound—"
Fianna pressed on her ankle lightly with her fingers and chanted healing spirit magic.
However, the faint light produced at her fingertips rapidly faded.
Due to her extreme depletion of holiness, it was impossible to fully utilize even magic of this level.
(...In that case, the likes of summoning Georgios would definitely be out of the question.)
She sighed lightly. The divine power that had rampaged within her like a storm just earlier was completely gone already.
(What on earth was that divine power I received from Kamito-kun...?)
While recalling Kamito's tight embrace along with the kiss, she touched her lips gently with her fingertips.
The heat from that kiss felt as though it was still lingering faintly there...
Her first kiss with the target of her affections. However, the kiss was wholly forced by circumstance. Surely Kamito himself thought nothing of it...?
(W-What am I thinking about at such a time?)
Fianna blushed and shook her head intensely.
If she listened closely, the acute noise of clashing blades could still be heard from afar.
Her worried feelings were virtually tearing her chest apart.
Naturally, she knew of Kamito's great strength.
However, his opponent was that Dusk Witch.
Furthermore, through unknown means, she had recovered her peak power—
(It's also possible Kamito-kun can't win...)
Currently, it was still possible to return to his side straight away, even if all she could do was help out a little—This temptation surfaced in her thoughts countless times.
However, if she were to turn back now, it would be a betrayal of Kamito's trust.
She understood this principle.
(...Hence, right now, what I am able to do is to open a bloody path for us to escape.)
Supporting herself against a wall, Fianna slowly stood up.
Due to receiving incomplete healing magic, at least the pain could not be felt for the time being.
Dragging one leg, she started moving forward again. At that moment...
She suddenly felt a chill down her spine.
It was a princess maiden's instinct.
She used her good leg to kick the ground hard, jumping forward.
Right behind her, vmmmm—The space at her back distorted with a harsh noise.
A depression appeared on the stone-paved road, caused by an invisible force.
Having escaped death narrowly, Fianna suddenly looked up.
"Ah, hahahaha... Found you... Found you..."
With a broken expression, it was the sneering visage of Leschkir Hirschkilt of the Numbers.
"Dame Leschkir!? Wasn't she supposed to have been defeated by Kamito-kun?"
Fallen on the ground, Fianna groaned. She wanted to get up immediately, but—
In the next second, her entire body was weighted down heavily, pinned against the ground.
Fianna felt intense pain throughout her entire body as though all her bones were shattering. Hovering over Leschkir's head was the spherical gravity spirit, producing a strong gravitational field in its surroundings.
Looking down at Fianna who was struggling in pain, Leschkir laughed unpleasantly. Despite losing her rational mind, her control over her contracted spirit was not severed.
—Her eyes were murky from the color of hollow darkness.
(That is what's possessing the Elemental Lords...)
The Otherworldly Darkness. Could it be that she had taken it into her body—?
"Die, die, die, diiiiiiie!"
The berserk gravity spirit was crushing the surrounding space, Fianna included.
Under the twisted gravity field, she emitted a malformed scream. At that moment—
Suddenly, the gravity field vanished.
She looked up. Why had Leschkir's figure disappeared from there—?
"Your Highness, are you alright!?"
Wielding Ray Hawk, Ellis had landed in front of Fianna.
"Thank goodness I found you... What grievous wounds."
Ellis knelt down and picked up Fianna in her arms.
"What about Kamito? Did you come here alone?"
"To enable me to escape, Kamito-kun is fighting currently..."
A pained expression surfaced on Ellis' face. She probably wanted to help Kamito too, but understood that the decision was a correct one. The fact that he had forced Fianna to escape alone implied how difficult an opponent he was facing.
"Your Highness, do you know how to escape from the imperial capital?"
"Yes, at the Michaela temple ahead. There is an escape passage."
"The Michaela temple? That kind of place... Oh well, understood. Let us hurry over."
Ellis nodded, shifted Fianna to a piggyback configuration and chanted wind spirit magic.
She floated up lightly.
To avoid getting discovered by the Imperial Knights, she did not fly too high, but her movement speed would be much faster than running on the ground.
At that moment, the rubble behind them exploded.
Ellis and Fianna suddenly looked back.
"Agaga, gi... Agigigigigi..."
Blown away by Ellis, Leschkir waved her hand in a strange direction while laughing with a voice filled with insanity.
"...Impossible. The Wind Bomb should have been a direct hit."
Immediately after Ellis exclaimed in surprise...
Leschkir Hirschkilt released countless gravity orbs from her hands.
Numerous flashes of swords produced a showering of sparks while the sound of blades clashing continued to ring—
A haphazard dance between the crimson demon sword against the Demon Slayer, slicing through the rain.
A beautiful blade dance, like watching princess maidens dancing.
However, this was not a blade dance offered to spirits.
Purely—A battle to the death.
"...Tsk, wake up, Greyworth!"
While blades clashed intensely, Kamito stared into those gray eyes, calling to her desperately.
However, the young maiden did not answer at all. As though suggesting that raising the sword was the same as speaking, she unleashed a sharp slice at him. This astounding pressure of the sword did not match her petite physique.
(...Tsk, and this is only at 30% output—)
Kamito gritted his teeth hard
A bystander might see this as a balanced battle.
However, Kamito knew better. The witch's true level was beyond this.
Was she suppressing her power intentionally, or had she yet to exert full control over this body? If the latter, then maybe he still had hope.
(...Defeat her before she awakens fully!)
But conversely, once the Dusk Witch fully awakened, he would not even have one ten thousandth of a chance of winning.
"Absolute Blade Arts, First Form—Purple Lightning."
Kamito stepped forward, closing in instantly to unleash a deadly move from the Absolute Blade Arts.
With Greyworth as his opponent, holding back would mean getting killed.
However, Greyworth read his full-powered strike.
The flash of godlike speed was dodged by a paper-thin margin—
"Absolute Blade Arts, Alternate Form—Ice Storm Rakshasa!"
As though trying to dig up the stone-paved ground, she swung the demon sword's blade downwards.
Instantly, the ground was covered by vines of ice with countless sharp thorns to pierce Kamito.
This sword technique was unknown to Kamito.
It was impossible for Kamito to inherit the entirety of the Absolute Blade Arts. The Absolute Blade Arts was a set of techniques combining swordsmanship with divine power. Among them included instances of spirit magic that Kamito had not inherited because of his lack of talent in those areas.
Instantly, Kamito stabbed the Demon Slayer's blade into the ground.
(...I'm counting on you, Est, hang in there.)
He poured his entire body's magical power into the sword.
The vines of ice instantly vanished the instant they came into contact with the bright flash released by the Demon Slayer.
Acting on a hunch that he could rely on the power of Est's unparalleled magic resistance to neutralize spirit magic Absolute Blade Arts, Kamito took a gamble.
Once again, Greyworth closed in instantly.
A downward slash from an upper stance, Kamito blocked using a two-handed grip.
Next, Greyworth released the divine power concentrated in her legs in one go the instant she kicked the ground. This was the most basic skill that Kamito had learned during his first time. However, Kamito's use of it was still far inferior in potency compared to the Dusk Witch's continual use of it, supported by her vast reserves of divine power.
A mere step forward.
Yet raised to the realm of divine speed, Purple Lightning was probably impossible to see clearly.
With only a split second remaining, in order to evade this Purple Lightning successfully—
(I can't believe that's really just a greeting...!?)
Without retreating, Kamito counterattacked the incoming sword.
Retreat was absolutely not an option. Without seeing through a thrust of godlike speed, it would be very dangerous if the enemy seized an opening. He had no choice but to engage in melee.
Fortunately, this was also what the other side wanted. Joy surfaced in the girl's eyes
(...Tsk, her sadistic nature hasn't changed at all!)
While Kamito was making a snide mental remark...
He heard a faint explosion from afar.
It was in Fianna's direction.
Although he did not turn his head to look, for an instant, his concentration was broken.
"Don't get distracted during battle—"
The girl before him said coldly. In the next instant—
She kicked him violently in the belly.
Kamito fell on the ground and stopped breathing for an instant.
"Is this all you can do, Demon King—?"
The girl asked coldly.
Her demon sword's blade flashed before his eyes—
(...Tsk, has nothing changed compared to three years ago?)
Just as Kamito prepared himself for death, in that very moment...
A crimson flash flew over.
Greyworth forcefully swung her demon sword horizontally in front of herself, deflecting the flash.
The flash bounced away in another direction, causing a huge explosion when it struck a building.
Debris fell, producing a huge cloud of dirt and dust.
Greyworth jumped away. Crimson flashes of light fell like torrential rain upon her earlier position.
Kamito turned his gaze to where the flash of light had originated.
At that moment—
"—Shall I lend a helping hand, Kazehaya Kamito?"
Sternly, a voice as hard as glass resounded in the air.
In the sky of the drizzling imperial capital, a girl dressed in military uniform—
Kamito widened his eyes.
Indeed, the one who had rescued Kamito was Leonora Lancaster.
She was the princess knight from the Dragon Duchy of Dracunia whom Kamito had fought in deathmatches at the Blade Dance festival.
"What a disgrace, Kazehaya Kamito. To think that the one who had defeated me would fall so low."
Saying that, Leonora jumped down gallantly from her dragon's back to land by Kamito's side.
"...Leonora, what are you doing here?"
Forgetting the situation, the dumbfounded Kamito asked.
Leonora suddenly smiled mischievously.
"Despite how I may look, I am a princess of the Dragon Duchy of Dracunia, you know? As the Dragon Nation's representative, I am participating in Ordesia's All Nations Conference."
"...I see. Now that you mention it, you are a princess of sorts."
Like not wearing underwear on occasion, his brain had unintentionally forgotten this detail, but—
Indeed, Leonora Lancaster was a princess from the Dragon Duchy of Dracunia.
"Hmm, what do you mean by 'of sorts'? How impudent."
"S-Sorry...! Anyway, thanks a lot, Leonora."
Realizing he had been quite rude just now, Kamito apologized frantically.
"But quite an interesting situation seems to have arisen."
Leonora looked at Millennia who was hovering in the air.
"Cardinal of the Holy Kingdom, what are you plotting in secret? If you are involved in the earlier abortive attempt at assassinating the emperor, then on principle, the Dragon Nation cannot overlook the matter."
Millennia laughed derisively and said:
"Oh my, Miss Dragon, the Holy Kingdom is responding to His Highness Arneus' request to capture the Second Princess, the mastermind of the emperor's attempted assassination. Know that if you were to cause trouble, the Holy Kingdom would naturally regard this as an international conflict between Ordesia and Dracunia."
Leonora smiled fearlessly in response.
"It matters not to me. I have already obtained my own nation's consent."
"...What do you mean by that?"
"The Dragon Nation's delegation will be returning home today with the intention of exercising unilateral intervention in the Theocracy's civil war. There is no reason anymore to join forces with Ordesia which has become the Holy Kingdom's puppet."
"In that case, Dracunia's Dragon King intends to make enemies with a certain person of authority..."
Millennia's violet iris flashed with penetrating light.
"Your side will surely come to regret this choice, Miss Dragon—"
Greyworth readied her demon sword in a stance and started facing off against Kamito and Leonora.
"Allow me to aid you. This isn't an opponent you can defeat singlehandedly, right?"
Saying that, Leonora stood at Kamito's side.
"Leonora... No, that's—"
Kamito shook his head.
Although he was very grateful for her offer, given the opponent, he must not get her involved.
"No, I am doing this willfully. You may not refuse."
Leonora raised her hand and recited a spirit language summoning.
At the same time, the pitch-black magic dragon transformed into a gigantic sword held in Leonora's hand.
Balmung the holy sword of dragonslaying—an elemental waffe concealing astounding destructive power.
"It would be troublesome if you were to die here—"
Swinging the gigantic sword with one hand, she stabbed its blade into the ground.
Kamito agonized for a moment then immediately replied.
One simple word.
Leonora Lancaster—The strongest elementalist of the Knights of the Dragon Emperor.
For Kamito right now, she was the strongest ally.
Supposing Greyworth had yet to enter a fully awakened state—
There was still a chance of winning if the two of them worked together.
"Leonora, go all-out from the start. We'll die unless we decide the match in one go."
"Yes, I already know that this is no ordinary opponent—"
As expected of Greyworth, Kamito could sense her power through his skin even though she had not returned to her normal state.
"—Excellent. I was feeling that a single opponent would be slightly underwhelming."
The Dusk Witch licked her demon sword's blade and said with a smile.
Leschkir Hirschkilt's broken laughter sounded across the ground.
Flying randomly, the gravity orbs destroyed the surrounding buildings indiscriminately.
"...Tsk, how unruly...!"
Carrying Fianna on her back, Ellis skillfully controlled the wind enveloped around her legs to evade the gravity orbs.
The shots were very random, which made it difficult to predict their trajectories.
Furthermore, a direct hit from such firepower would not end well.
"Ellis, over there—"
Fianna whispered lightly in Ellis ear.
At the far end of the road, the target temple could be seen.
Compared to Nefescal Palace or the Great Shrine of Areishia, it was a temple small enough to be overlooked. Without any large scale rites and festivities such as the Great Festival of the Spirits held there, it was essentially a neglected location in the imperial capital.
Was there really a royal escape passage in this kind of place?
Suddenly, a gravity orb released by Leschkir struck the bell tower overhead.
Space was twisted and ripped apart. The collapsing rubble fell down all at once—
"This is bad—!"
Ellis went pale. Her own situation aside, while carrying Fianna currently, it would be very hard to evade the rubble completely.
"Incinerate everything, scorching fireball of conflagration—!"
The incoming fireball exploded in the air.
With a deafening roar, the explosion pulverized the massive debris over Ellis, turning it into ash.
"Over here, Ellis!"
"That was a great help, Claire—"
Landing lightly in front of Ellis was Claire with Flametongue in her hand.
Although they had split up in their search, after hearing the explosion sounds on this side, she had hurried over.
"Fianna, are you okay?"
Catching sight of Fianna, Claire breathed a sigh of relief.
"Oh my, I am terribly sorry... for making you two worry."
"Don't let it bother you. Before the Second Princess, you are a member of Team Scarlet, first and foremost. Helping you is only natural."
"Hmm, precisely—But we currently do not have the leisure to chat!"
Ellis swung Ray Hawk to bounce away an incoming gravity orb.
"Ah, ahahahaha, don't run awaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay."
"Uwah... W-What the heck is that..."
Seeing Leschkir chasing them while laughing madly, Claire's face twitched.
"Leschkir Hirschkilt of the Numbers. Right now, she is insane from the Otherworldly Darkness."
"Otherworldly Darkness? Why is that kind of thing—"
"Save it for later. If we don't escape first..."
At this rate, the commotion was going to bring the Imperial Knights running to the scene.
"I will stop her here. Ellis, take Fianna and run now—"
Ellis kicked the ground. The wind concentrated at her feet erupted, accelerating her instantly.
Seeing them off, Claire readied her flaming whip to face off against the pursuing Leschkir.
Despite the state of insanity, the opponent was one of the Numbers, known as the Empire's strongest knights. Her power level vastly outstripped Claire's.
(Nice one, but it's not impossible!)
She skillfully controlled her whip to deflect an incoming gravity orb that was crashing wildly, sending it flying away—
—Something strange happened then.
Leschkir's hovering body suddenly fell to the ground.
It looked as though she fell due to her gravity control being interrupted rather than intentionally.
Thus, she suddenly lost consciousness, not moving at all.
Claire frowned in surprise.
In the next instant...
The gravity spirit hovering over Leschkir's head began to expand as though it was going to explode.
"Let's go!" "Yeah—"
Kamito and Leonora started running at the same time.
In front, Leonora raised Balmung up high and took a leap.
The stone paved ground shattered from the impact.
"Dracunia Style Blade Arts—Drag Slash!"
Pouring in a huge amount of divine power, she brought the massive sword down at once with an overhead chop.
Impossible to block. Even if one stopped the blade, one would still be crushed by the fierce shockwave. Compared to the exquisite finesse of the Absolute Blade Arts, this was a rowdy skill of extreme violence.
—Consequently, normal swordsmanship was unable to handle it.
Greyworth jumped to the side.
Aiming there, Leonora swung the massive sword down with all her strength.
Boom—It was like a cannon's roar. The impact ripped the ground apart, producing a gigantic crater.
Astounding destructive power as always.
However, Greyworth stabbed her demon sword into the ground to brace against the impact. Twisting her petite body, she immediately drew out the sword and instantly launched a thrust with lightning speed at the stationary Leonora.
(...Tsk, I won't let you!.)
Absolute Blade Arts, First Form—Purple Lightning.
Releasing the divine power concentrated at his feet with a kick against the ground, Kamito accelerated instantly.
The Demon Slayer and the crimson demon sword crossed, scattering intense sparks.
In terms of the strength of the elemental waffe, Est was superior. If he kept pushing down forcefully like this—
—Greyworth's lips parted slightly as though whispering something.
The demon sword, as red as blood, hummed slightly.
Warned by instinct, Kamito instantly pulled back to create distance.
"O greedy and blood-drinking servant—Blood Thorn."
Blood-colored vines flew out of thin air, aiming to pierce the retreating Kamito with sharp thorns.
"Absolute Blade Arts, Third Form—Shadowmoon Waltz!"
Kamito kept slicing all the vines shooting out from thin air nonstop.
Elimination magic was not Greyworth's specialty. It was most likely an attribute of the crimson demon sword spirit.
Without slowing down the pace of her offense, Greyworth attacked again immediately.
So fast. Kamito poured divine power into his sword and transformed Est into the one-handed form of the Demon King's Sword.
"Go forth and pierce, all-annihilating demon lightning of punishment—Vorpal Blast!"
The erupting black lightning shot at Greyworth. However, every strike was dodged by Greyworth using inhuman movements.
However, this was merely a diversion—
From behind, he could sense a massive amount of expanding divine power.
"Let my wrath transform into a roar to pierce the earth—Drag Blast!"
Leonora released spirit magic of extreme proportions, charging while leaving cracks in the ground.
At the same time, Kamito began to sprint too.
(This is the moment to decide the battle—!)
Using the demon sword infused with divine power, Greyworth deflected the massive dragon projectile.
However, the firepower of that magic was of such strength, after all. She lost balance severely.
Kamito charged all at once and swung the Demon King's Sword.
Two strikes, three strikes—He kept launching combo attacks to deprive her of any chance to counterattack.
At that moment, Leonora swung her massive sword. Compared to Kamito who was using attack frequency to overwhelm the enemy, Leonora's strike prioritized a one-hit kill. Confronted with two completely different sword styles, even one such as Greyworth had no choice but to defend to the very end.
"Dracunia Style Blade Arts—Drag Slash!"
Leonora raised her sword high, preparing for a bold move. Naturally, the enemy did not miss this opening. Greyworth immediately went for a counterattack, but that was precisely what Kamito was waiting for.
Kamito had Est go through another Mode Shift—creating twin swords for dual wielding.
"Absolute Blade Arts, Destructive Form—Bursting Blossom Spiral Blade Dance - Sixteen Consecutive Strikes!"
He unleashed the Absolute Blade Arts' secret move.
After reaching the temple's interior, Ellis gently lowered Fianna.
Due to the isolation barrier deployed in their surroundings, no sound could be heard from outside.
At the deepest part of the temple was a small stone tablet used for worshiping spirits.
"Your Highness, then the so-called escape route is—"
"Yes, please wait for a moment—"
Fianna held a small knife in her hand, one used for altar ceremonies—
She used the blade to slice her own thumb.
Drip, the blood flowed onto the stone tablet.
"What on earth is this—"
With puzzlement, Ellis frowned.
After all, the current situation was beyond urgent—
But in the next instant, Ellis widened her eyes.
The script of spirit language carved on the stone tablet suddenly glowed blue.
"A Gate—one that only royal blood can activate."
Saying that, Fianna started to recite a spirit language incantation.
At that moment—
"...E-Ellis, oh no!"
Claire ran over, panting heavily.
"What happened, Claire? Dame Leschkir—"
Mid-sentence, Ellis fell silent.
Outside the entrance, a gigantic sphere kept growing, expanding nonstop!
"Could it be that the spirit is running out of control, devoured by the Otherworldly Darkness?"
"Leschkir can no longer control that gravity spirit. At this rate, the runaway reaction is going to collapse sooner or later."
"If that thing collapses—"
"Yes, this entire area will be blown away!"
The Absolute Blade Arts' secret move, the "Bursting Blossom Spiral Blade Dance" blasted the Dusk Witch—
Greyworth was sent into the air before falling on the ground in a parabolic trajectory.
(...We did... it...?)
Kamito panted while stabbing the Demon Slayer upright into the ground.
He had no more energy left. His entire body's divine power had been poured into the sixteen consecutive strikes just now.
If that still could not defeat the enemy, they would be out of options.
(Please, don't stand up...)
While staring at collapsed Greyworth, Kamito prayed in his heart.
"You really showed me a pretty good move there..."
Holding the demon sword, Greyworth slowly got up.
(That didn't do the job...!)
With a look of despair, Kamito could not help but groan.
The Bursting Blossom Spiral Blade Dance was a sword technique capable of vanquishing an archdemon-class spirit in one go.
He had not held back just now.
Kamito had completely released all the divine power he had been conserving for that moment.
However, among the sixteen strikes he had launched, only two of them could be considered accurate hits—No more than that. The rest were all seen through and dodged.
(—I didn't think that she'd actually be able to dodge the Bursting Blossom Spiral Blade Dance when seeing it for the first time.)
No, more precisely, this did not count as her first time seeing it. Despite losing past memories, her body, deeply familiar with the Absolute Blade Arts, would still retain memories—
Blood flowed down Greyworth's cheek.
She stuck out her tongue and licked the drip of blood.
"Ahh, this—So this is my blood?"
In that instant...
Kamito felt a surging chill.
The awakening of something that absolutely must not be allowed to awaken—
That sort of premonition.
(...What the heck?)
Kamito held his breath.
The girl before him suddenly felt like a different person—
—At that moment.
"—No, the time is not yet ripe."
In the air, Millennia Sanctus slowly began to speak.
Contrasting with her calm expression, there was a hint of impatience in her voice.
Then she rapidly recited some kind of foreign language—neither spirit language nor High Ancient—forming a seal with one hand.
In the next instant, darkness suddenly appeared under Greyworth's feet—
Within the blink of an eye, her petite body was devoured.
...Kamito watched all this in shock—
Seeing his reaction, Millennia shrugged.
"It seems that it was too soon to allow her to meet you. It almost ruined a plan of great importance..."
Millennia smiled faintly then shook her head apologetically.
"This is enough for today. Let us play next time when the chance arises, Onii-chan."
Making the same hand sign as earlier, Millennia was likewise devoured by darkness, disappearing without trace.
Left behind was only the shattered stone-paved ground and marks from the intense battle.
"She fled? ...But it does not fit entirely."
Kamito nodded in agreement.
Greyworth had been pressuring them the whole time.
Kamito's side had already used up every ace in their hand, yet Greyworth still had power to spare.
Kamito and Leonora would have lost if the fight had continued.
Why did they run away? Completely incomprehensible.
Leonora slowly lowered her sword and said:
"What kind of person is she?"
After agonizing momentarily about how to answer, Kamito said:
A simple and concise answer.
"...Really? No wonder."
Leonora shrugged in apparent acceptance.
"Thank you, Leonora. Looks like I owe you another one..."
Kamito scratched his head and said.
"Well, I would hope to receive a reward accordingly."
Leonora teased in a joking manner.
"Yeah, anything you want, as long as it's in my power."
"Anything I want...?"
After pondering deeply for a while, Leonora blushed.
"Th-Then, when we meet again some day, I will think over it carefully..."
Coughing to clear her throat, she tossed her massive sword into the air.
Leonora's Balmung turned into the pitch-black demon dragon spirit, Nidhogg.
After letting Leonora mount its back, Nidhogg flapped its wings forcefully
At that moment, Kamito suddenly remembered something.
(Come to think of it, I remember Rubia talking about seeking refuge in Dracunia...)
"Oh, Leonora, hold on—"
Just as Kamito was about to call out...
However, the black dragon carrying Leonora was already flapping its wings majestically, flown up into the sky.
"—Looks like I'll be returning this favor unexpectedly soon."
Smiling wryly, Kamito muttered to himself.
Kamito turned around.
He remembered that Fianna had gone in the direction of the biggest bell tower, but—
"...Say, what is that?"
Seeing the gigantic sphere that was almost about to envelop the entire street, Kamito frowned.
"Fianna, is it still not ready!?"
"It is almost about to blow—"
While reciting defensive magic behind Fianna, Claire and Ellis cried out desperately.
The temple's isolation barrier had already been destroyed. The stone tiles near the entrance were curling up one after another.
Devouring surrounding buildings, expanding enough to cover the neighborhood, the gravity spirit looked like it was going to collapse any moment.
However, Fianna was focused on praying in front of the stone tablet.
"Will Kamito make it in time?"
Claire bit her lip and murmured with worry.
It was not like they could leave Kamito behind by himself. But if they continued to wait, they might get caught up in the gravity spirit's collapse and turned into dust together with the entire temple.
—At that moment.
A sword flashed above them and a triangular piece of stone fell from the ceiling.
"...Hwahhh, w-what the heck!?"
Amid the rising dust cloud, the one who descended was—
"Sorry for making you wait...!"
Kamito with the Demon Slayer in hand.
"I cannot believe you broke the temple's roof. Karma will catch up to you."
"Sorry, I couldn't go through the entrance... By the way, what's going on there?"
"Leschkir's gravity spirit went out of control—"
The gravity spirit expanded further.
It was almost critical—
"Hurry up, Fianna!"
Seeing that, Claire yelled.
"We shall return, the seal of the ancient covenant, where it was branded—
Successor of royal blood—At this very time and place, open the Gate—"
The Gate, a vortex of light, appeared out of thin air.
"...This is the royal family's escape route?"
"Yes, hurry and enter it!"
While Fianna was shouting, the gravity spirit suddenly contracted rapidly—
"It is going to blow...!"
In the next instant, the gravity sphere exploded.