Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume15 Chapter4
Chapter 4 - The Dragon King of Dracunia
The sacred peak of the Kelbreth Mountain Range—the tallest mountains on the continent—was also the place where more than half of all dragon species made their habitat.
Apart from red dragons and black dragons, there were also flying dragon types such as wyverns, ground dragons such as geodragons, and subspecies such as drakes. And at the pinnacle were the Demon King Dragon and the Lightning King Dragon, renowned as the strongest extant dragon species.
Weaving between the those precipitous peaks, the Revenant continued its flight.
One could look down at countless dragons gliding between the clouds—
(...In the end, we still had to rely on Kamito.)
Leaning against a railing on the deck alone, Claire sighed.
Seeing Kamito fight amazingly as always, Claire was totally stunned. After all, he had gone up against one of the Numbers, known as the strongest knights of the Empire, and was able to defeat her in short time.
Her sister's words reappeared in her mind.
—You still have not fully brought out your contracted spirit's true power.
(...I guess she's right. At this rate, I'll just end up being a burden.)
Claire had her pride as Kamito's companion. However, that was ultimately limited to the Blade Dance, a competition requiring team effort.
At this rate, she was never going to catch up to Kamito's strength—that of the Ren Ashbell, the Strongest Blade Dancer.
(...I wish to be able to fight alongside Kamito.)
Then once she had acquired enough power so that he could entrust his back to her—
Perhaps she might be able to find the courage to convey the words and feelings she had failed to deliver last night.
(...Now isn't the time to be depressed. I've got to become even stronger.)
Nodding, Claire clenched her fists.
The Revenant landed in a military port at the Grand Dracunia, the capital of the Dragon Duchy of Dracunia, located in the mid-levels of the Kelbreth Mountain Range.
Leaving behind Velsaria who was in convalescence, Vivian Melosa and the Instructional School girls, Kamito and company exited the ship.
Compared to the Ordesia Empire's imperial capital, Ostdakia, the climate here was much colder. Walking down the gangway in her maid outfit, Restia instantly shivered.
"Are you okay, Restia?"
Kamito took off his uniform jacket and draped it over her shoulders, prompting Restia to thank him.
At that moment, a gigantic shadow appeared overhead.
He looked up to see the Dracunian knights, riding flying dragons.
Kamito had recollections of their appearances.
They were members of the Knights of the Dragon Emperor whom he had fought during the Blade Dance. And riding the especially gigantic black dragon was precisely—
"I did not expect for us to meet again so soon, Kamito."
Kamito could not help but exclaim.
Indeed, this was precisely the one who had assisted Kamito at the imperial capital, Leonora Lancaster.
Leonora jumped down gallantly from the black dragon's back—
"Guests from Legitimate Ordesia, welcome to the Dragon Duchy of Dracunia."
She bowed her head solemnly towards Kamito's group.
"I, Leonora Lancaster, captain of the Knights of the Dragon Emperor, am tasked with guiding Her Highness Princess Fianna and all of you to the castle in accordance with the Dragon King's orders."
"How polite. Thank you for your hospitality..."
Fianna lifted her hem and curtsied with court etiquette in return.
"...By the way, I never thought you'd come out to receive us. Oh well, but I did expect to meet you here in Dracunia."
Kamito scratched the back of his head as he spoke.
"I was the one who volunteered to serve as a guide. Speaking of which, you are so bad. Since you were planning on escaping to the Dragon Nation, why didn't you tell me earlier...?"
Leonora grumbled with a sulk.
Seeing the two of them interacting like that—
"Hmm, what the heck, they seem so close." "There is an air of intimacy!" "Kamito, when did you and Leonora-dono..." "Kamito-kun is an international Demon King of the Night, I see..."
The young ladies behind him started to whisper between themselves.
What the hell, international Demon King of the Night...
"We have prepared a dragon carriage to transport you to the castle."
"Well, it is like a horse-drawn carriage, except pulled by a dragon."
The dragon carriage presented before Kamito's group was a form of transportation much bigger than a horse-drawn carriage, sufficient for everyone to ride. It was pulled by a wingless dragon subspecies—a gigantic kin of the ground dragon.
After Kamito and company boarded the carriage, it slowly made its way forward.
It looked like a dragon with a massive body and strength but conversely low speed.
The dragon carriage left the military port and advanced along a main road towards the dragon capital, Grand Dracunia. Apart from dragons circling in the sky, the scenery was not too different from that of the imperial capital. However, compared to Ostdakia, the architectural designs seemed more sturdy.
Probably curious about what the streets looked like, sitting next to Kamito, Restia kept looking out the window, asking Kamito about this and that. Kamito was suddenly reminded of how things were like between him and Restia when walking in the streets, except with their roles reversed.
"After reaching the castle, we will first pay respects to the Dragon King."
Sitting opposite to Kamito, Leonora said.
"That makes me feel nervous..."
"Please do not breach etiquette in His Majesty's presence. Otherwise, I cannot guarantee the safety of your life."
Hearing Leonora's warning, Kamito and company exchanged looks.
...On further thought, Kamito realized he knew virtually nothing about the Dragon King.
"Uh, how long ago did the Dragon King begin his reign here?"
"Several hundred years ago."
"That's relatively recent. What was he doing a thousand years ago, during the Demon King War?"
Interested, Claire began to ask questions.
"During the Demon King War, because His Majesty had yet to rule directly, hence he did not intervene in human conflicts. By the way, do any of you know why this nation is called a 'duchy'?"
"...? Oh, now that you mention it—"
Prompted by Leonora's question, Kamito realized it was a bit unusual for a country ruled by the Dragon King to be called a duchy. Normally, one would probably call it a kingdom.
"Far back in history, this used to be a duchy. The current name is a relic from those times."
In the past, the rulers of this Kelbreth Mountain Range was Duke Marfelion, the Dragon Duke, and his descendants. Although the Dragon King was already present in these lands, His Majesty did not actively make contact with humans. Like other high-ranked spirits, the Dragon King was enshrined in a temple as an object of worship.
However, as time went by, the Dragon Dukedom's rule began to enter a gradual state of decline. Foolish rulers who treated the populace as disposable property appeared one after another. Thus, the people gradually came to petition the Dragon King frequently for divine intervention. Finally, in accordance with the people's wishes, Bahamut began to rule these lands.
This happened 475 years ago—Leonora concluded.
"It was said that initially, the idea of a spirit ruling the human realm did elicit opposition. But now that Dracunia's prosperity can be witnessed by all today, I suppose no one will raise any objections again."
While they chatted, the dragon carriage passed through the city and entered a narrow and treacherous mountain path.
A place with sheer cliffs. Worried that the dragon carriage might fall down, Kamito remained apprehensive the whole time.
"How unusual for the main castle to be outside the city."
Rinslet remarked. Indeed, Nefescal Palace was situated in the town center of the imperial capital. Most palaces in other countries were the same.
"Because it was originally not a castle but a temple for worshiping His Majesty the Dragon King. If you think of it as a palace like in Ordesia, perhaps there is a sense of dissonance."
Saying that, Leonora pointed to the pinnacle of the mountain range, visible outside the window.
"Over there is the famous Dragon's Peak."
Kamito asked and looked out the window. The summit was shrouded by thick mist, obstructing a clear view. However, he could see many dragons circling there.
"I've heard that it's home to the only Demon King Dragon on the continent."
"It used to be the lair inhabited by the great dark dragon, Vritra. According to legend, Vritra engaged in widespread destruction and plunder after descending upon the human realm, but a thousand years ago, he was defeated by Sacred Maiden Areishia who had come here, and was thus sealed in a temple on the peak."
"Eh... Hey Est, do you still remember about that time?"
Kamito asked the sword beside him.
"No, it is not in my memories."
Est replied indifferently.
After moving along the meandering mountain path for a while, the dragon carriage reached a great canyon.
A stone bridge had been built across the valley, whose depths were too deep to see. A gigantic structure could be seen on the opposite side, carved out from a cliff.
"Over there is Dracunia's main castle, the Dragon Rock Fortress—commonly known as the Stronghold."
"—Greetings, dear guests from Ordesia. Welcome to the Dragon Rock Fortress."
After they got off the dragon carriage at the plaza in front of the castle, female attendants serving at the castle immediately came forth to greet them.
Passing through the massive iron gate, Kamito and company followed Leonora to enter the castle.
"Indeed, the layout is completely different from Nefescal Palace..."
Fianna examined the walls and ceilings and remarked.
Rather than built from stone, it seemed to make use of the original gigantic cavern. The ceiling was designed to resemble stalactites, with numerous spirit crystals embedded to give off light like dazzling stars. Many dragon reliefs were carved on the walls.
"Claire, do not touch without permission."
"I-I know, okay..."
Intending to touch a dragon relief, Claire was warned by Ellis.
(Somehow feels kind of nostalgic...)
Recalling the Instructional School's Cave Castle, Kamito had that thought. That being said, it was not a memory he liked to recall.
Claire sighed in admiration.
"People unfamiliar with this place can get lost. Please take care."
"What a dangerous place... Restia, please be careful not to get separated."
Kamito held her hand, causing Restia to immediately bow her head with a shy expression.
Suddenly, Leonora stopped in her tracks with a surprised look.
"Kamito, don't tell me that you intend to bring your maid along to pay respects to His Majesty?"
"...Huh? Oh, right—"
Indeed, from Leonora's perspective, the current Restia was just a mere maid. Bringing her along for an official meeting would be far too rude.
"Uh, Restia isn't a maid, she's—"
—At that moment, Rubia, who had remained silent the whole time, pulled Kamito over by the arm and whispered in a voice too quiet for Leonora to hear.
"It would be best not to take the darkness spirit along."
"The Dragon King was a trusted subordinate under the Darkness Elemental Lord's command. Once her identity is exposed, it might pique the other side's interest."
She had a very good point. It might be best to conceal Restia's presence from the Dragon King. Otherwise, in the event that the Dragon King demanded to keep her by his side in memory of the Darkness Elemental Lord, then Kamito would be forced to fight the Dragon King.
"I'm sorry, Restia... Can you wait for me a while?"
"Very well, I understand."
Kamito patted her on the head and Restia agreed obediently.
"The room has been prepared already. Please follow me."
As soon as Leonora gestured, a female attendant immediately hurried over to take Restia away.
They continued to move forward in the cavern. Soon, the group reached a wide open space with a domed ceiling.
The princess maidens in formal attire serving the Dragon King were lined up against the wall in a row to greet Kamito and company.
"This is the throne room?"
"No, the throne room is up ahead."
Leonora shook her head.
"Please make preparations here to have an audience with His Majesty, everyone."
Saying that, the princess maidens walked over while carrying baskets in their arms.
"Since you will be entering the presence of His Majesty the Dragon King, you cannot remain dressed like this."
"Do we still need to change into ritual attire?"
Claire made a surprised expression.
The uniform of Areishia Spirit Academy was formal ritual attire that was authorized for high-level ceremonies including the Blade Dance festival. Logically speaking, going in like this to have an audience should not be problem—
"No, it is fine to keep wearing these uniforms. However—"
"You must remove your underwear."
Hearing Leonora's instruction, Claire and the girls all cried out in shock.
"R-Remove our underwear, w-what is the meaning of this!?"
"Princess maidens serving the dragons do not wear unclean underwear."
Leonora answered seriously.
(...Oh right, I think I remember something like that.)
Indeed, during the Blade Dance, Leonora had not worn underwear either.
Since walking out in the streets without underwear was dangerous in all kinds of ways, Kamito had picked some out for her.
...It looked like Claire and the others did not know about this.
"L-Lies... Lies, impossible...!"
"H-How can such indecent attire be permissible!?"
"Hmm, as the captain of the Sylphid Knights in charge of public morals, I-I absolute cannot agree to this."
Claire and the girls protested with red faces.
"You must adhere to this rule if you are paying respects to the Dragon King. Once the fact that you are wearing underwear is exposed, His Majesty's wrath would be incurred."
Claire and the girls looked at one another with troubled looks.
...As expected, pure maidens like them would feel repulsed by such a requirement.
—At that very moment.
"Obey the Dragon Princess' instructions. That is the formal attire in these lands."
Rubia spoke calmly.
Claire widened her eyes and asked:
"N-Nee-sama will... remove your underwear too?"
"I have already done so on the ship."
Rubia declared openly. ...Holy crap.
"...~Oooh... Sigh, fine..."
Claire sighed in resignation.
"Hmm, since it is this country's etiquette, it cannot be helped, right?"
Ellis and Rinslet also agreed reluctantly.
"I go without them sometimes, so it doesn't bother me."
...Finally the princess apparently murmured something strange to herself. Kamito really hoped he had heard wrong.
At that moment, he suddenly remembered and asked Leonora.
"Say, do I need to take mine off too?"
"What... What do you intend to do after taking them off, you pervert!?"
"What the heck!?"
"Y-You are not some kind of pure maiden in the first place! To think you intend to... e-expose that you-know-what in front of the Dragon King, what sacrilege!"
Leonora shouted with her face red. ...What you-know-what?
(Well, that's actually a relief for me...)
"Kamito, turn around. If you dare look back, I'll roast you into charcoal."
"Yeah, got it..."
Glared at by the girls, Kamito turned to face the wall.
After a while—
Rustle rustle. Rustle.
With eyes closed, Kamito could hear the sound of clothing friction behind him.
Say, why do they all have to strip here?
...Even just the sound was enough to make his heart start pounding.
"...Ooh, s-so embarrassing..."
"Hmm, th-there is a strange feeling."
"Oh my, a cat embroidery. That is really cute. Where did you buy it?"
"I-I think you can find it anywhere..."
"I guess it must be the underwear store at the Academy town. Their underwear is famous for being adorable."
"Hwahh, Rinslet, w-why did you say it out!?"
"Hmm, I want to check it out too."
"...A-And you, what's with that underwear? I-Isn't it too sheer?"
"Fufu, I bought it when I returned to the capital."
"Uh, isn't that kind of fabric see-through? Too indecent."
"Is that so? But Ellis, aren't you wearing adorable panties too?"
"Ah, w-what are you doing!?"
"Oh my, isn't this...?"
"Y-Yes, this is the same style as what Ren Ashbell-sama wears."
Kamito turned his back involuntarily.
In that instant, all the girls froze.
"Hyah!" "K-Kamito-san!?" "K-Kamito!" "Oh my♪"
Kamito hastily turned his head back.
However, the scene had already been imprinted clearly on Kamito's retinas.
Claire was wearing white panties with a cat embroidery.
Rinslet's was a pair of clear blue panties.
Fianna's was a pair of black lace panties with an adult flavor.
And Ellis was wearing... a pair of panties with cute frills.
...Of course, Kamito had no recollection of ever wearing such underwear.
Presumably, it was one of those knock-offs taking advantage of Ren Ashbell's popularity. Although there were many products in the market that used Ren Ashbell's name without permission, he never expected them to go so far as to sell underwear.
"...J-Jeez, you jerk, what the heck!? Turn into charcoal, charcoal!"
"Kamito-san is dirty!"
The girls' piercing gazes stabbed into Kamito's back.
"Oooh... As expected, I cannot calm down at all..."
"Hmm, there is a breezy feeling on my legs..."
Leaving the great space, Claire and the girls murmured while walking along the corridor leading to the audience hall.
"After you get used to it, you will find underwear uncomfortable instead."
"This isn't something I want to get used to..."
Claire groaned in suffering.
After walking for a while, they reached a massive iron door at the end of the corridor.
For human use, that door would be unnecessarily big.
"...This is the Dragon King's throne room."
Leonora touched the center of the door with her hand and chanted some kind of incantation in spirit language.
Next, the gigantic door slowly opened inward—
The throne room was a dark hall without any lighting.
There seemed be a large set of steps inside. In terms of structure, it was quite similar to the Elemental Lords' audience hall they had seen at the Blade Dance.
Thud—The door closed behind them with the sound of great weight.
In the next instant—
A bizarre voice was heard as though it were coming from deep underground.
Kamito and company held their breaths.
A blinding light appeared at the top of the steps. What then appeared was the silhouette of a gigantic "entity" sitting on the throne behind a large curtain draping down from the ceiling.
That silhouette was like a "monster."
Two gigantic curving horns. Six arms ending in hooked claws. Massive wings with vicious shapes.
The silhouette of a monster like a powerful archdemon was sitting on the throne.
(...That's Dracunia's Dragon King—Bahamut!)
Simply by sitting there, he was already exuding an aura of overwhelming power.
This was an archdemon-class spirit—no, this pressure even surpassed that of mythical-class spirits that only resided in Astral Zero.
"K-Kamito, what are you doing? Hurry and kneel down—"
With Claire tugging on his sleeve, Kamito hastily knelt down.
In front of the Dragon King's terrifying presence, it seemed like almost everyone knelt down involuntarily.
After that moment, which felt like an eternity, passed—
'—Thou art the princess from the Ordesia Empire?'
The shadow behind the curtain looked down at Fianna, who was bowing at in the front row, and spoke to her.
"Yes, I am the Second Princess—Fianna Ray Ordesia."
Fianna looked up at the Dragon King's shadow and replied.
'—I see. Such excellent spirit in thy eyes. Indeed, thou art of royal blood.'
The Dragon King apparently saw Fianna's aptitude with a single glance.
'—The recent political troubles must have been quite an ordeal for thee.'
"Thank you for your concern. Regarding the assistance extended by Dragon Duchy of Dracunia and Your Majesty, I express my deepest gratitude as the monarch of Legitimate Ordesia—"
Fianna bowed solemnly again. Her elegant and dignified behavior exuded regal airs that one would not expect from her usual upfront and cheerful demeanor.
'Not at all. Supporting Legitimate Ordesia is also in Dracunia's interests. That is all—'
The Dragon King's roaring voice caused the air in the great hall to shake.
'If the current Ordesia Empire were to fall into the Holy Kingdom's hands, my Dragon Nation shall be the next target. Ye existences ought to keep the Holy Kingdom in check.'
—So it was true that the Dragon King regarded the Holy Kingdom as an enemy.
If the Dragon King intended to use Legitimate Ordesia as a card to play against the Holy Kingdom, that would be quite believable.
'Nevertheless, there is one condition before the Dragon Nation pledges to support ye.'
Fianna looked up forcefully.
Kamito glanced at Rubia but did not see any change in expression. She must have expected the Dragon King to propose terms and conditions.
'Exhibit ye power in a test to see if ye are worthy of our support.'
"...Understood. May I ask what the condition is—"
'The Alphas Theocracy was plunged into turmoil when their princess, Sjora Kahn, murdered the Hierarch. Dost thou know of this—'
The Alphas Theocracy's civil war was an issue that concerned all nations on the continent. Kamito had heard that Dracunia had sent a delegation consisting of Leonora and others as representatives at the All Nations Conference at the imperial capital and proposed the military intervention approach. However, due to the attempted assassination incident on the emperor, the conference's progress had stalled—
'Here is the condition I propose to ye—Rescue Saladia Kahn who was imprisoned during the coup d'etat.'
The Dragon King's voice boomed like thunder.
"Saladia Kahn is the Theocracy's second princess, isn't she?"
'Indeed, she is a trump card against Sjora Kahn the usurper. She can serve as a flag-bearer for the resistance army that is currently fighting to the very end. With her in our hand, Dracunia's intervention in the Theocracy would unfold in a positive direction.'
"For us to accomplish that—"
'Indeed. Helping to quell the Theocracy's internal strife would add actual accomplishments to the empty repertoire of Legitimate Ordesia. Once Saladia Kahn taketh back the throne, ye shall receive the Theocracy's support in addition to Dracunia's. 'Tis not an unfavorable condition for ye.'
"...Indeed that is true."
Fianna murmured softly.
The Dragon King's words were very logical. No, more accurately, it was very correct from the standpoint of benefit analysis.
Despite withdrawing from the All Nations Conference, Dracunia probably did not want to conduct military intervention in the Theocracy by themselves. Hence, they intended to have Legitimate Ordesia, which did not belong to any faction, to serve as their vanguard.
In contrast to that monstrous appearance, the Dragon King's methods were wise and worldly. Kamito could not help but click his tongue.
"...I now understand the situation. May I have a moment for contemplation?"
Saying that, Fianna secretly glanced at Kamito and the others, but—
'—Nay. Fianna Ray Ordesia, know that thou art the one to decide as the monarch.'
The Dragon King's voice was deafening.
Confronted with Fianna's wavering gaze, Kamito nodded lightly in return.
Counting on you—
Fianna closed her eyes then said:
"—We shall proceed as you request, Your Majesty."
After leaving the audience hall, Claire exhaled deeply.
"Sigh... Such frightening pressure, that Dragon King..."
"Yes, it took everything I had to maintain a calm voice."
Fianna also held her hand to her chest and sighed. Although she had conducted herself with dignity, she must have felt very afraid inside.
"Now that's what I call a Dragon King."
"Indeed. Although we only saw the silhouette behind the curtain, I might have collapsed in fear if I saw his true appearance."
"There is hardly anyone in Dracunia's history who has witnessed His Majesty's true form. To be honest, even I have never paid my respects to his true appearance behind the curtain."
Hearing Leonora's admission, Kamito was surprised.
"Yes, it is said that those impudent enough to peek brazenly at His Majesty's true form would never step foot outside the audience hall ever again... However, it is just a rumor."
"...J-Just a rumor, right?"
Kamito's group shuddered intensely.
"By the way, what a difficult condition. I can't believe that we have to intervene in the Theocracy's civil war..."
Supporting her chin on her hand, Fianna said softly.
"There's no need to intervene, right? Don't we just have to rescue the Second Princess and that's it?"
"True, but it's hard to imagine that things would be that easy."
"...You've got a point."
Hearing that, Kamito agreed.
Although the Dragon King had made clear his intention to support Legitimate Ordesia, at the current stage, they still could not trust him unconditionally. After all, there was a possibility that they might get ordered around and used as a guerrilla team unaffiliated with any country, to be exploited for all their value then silenced and disposed of.
It was just that Kamito could not bring himself to say this in front of Leonora, the Dracunia princess—
"By the way, why hasn't Sjora executed Saladia Kahn?"
As a result, Kamito avoided bringing up his thoughts and raised a different topic.
"Indeed, it is quite unbelievable. There is no such thing as mercy for one's kin during power struggles between royals."
Fianna commented sardonically.
In fact, her elder brother Arneus had prepared to execute her on the very day of the Great Festival of the Spirits. To think that cruel Sjora Kahn would keep Saladia alive when she could serve as a flag-bearer for resistance forces, was there any reason behind that...?
"Well, no matter what, we don't have the luxury of choice."
Claire shrugged and shared her view.
"Yes, but if we can't even accomplish this condition that the Dragon King has set for us, recovering Ordesia would be even more of a delusion."
"Conversely, this is an excellent chance to promote our existence to all the other nations."
Ellis made a fist and nodded firmly.
Listening to his comrades, the young ladies, Kamito muttered in his thoughts.
(...The Alphas Theocracy, now that's a country I keep finding ties to.)
It was the country founded by Demon King Solomon. At the same time, it was also the lair of the Demon King Cult that gave rise to the insane facility known as the Instructional School. Restia, while under a seal, had similarly been unearthed from ruins in the Theocracy.
Kamito felt as though destiny was guiding him there.
Something there was waiting for Kamito—
...Inexplicably, he felt this kind of premonition.
Back to the plaza, the princess maidens reverently handed back the girls' underwear. While Kamito was facing the wall, the girls swiftly put their underwear on again.
When everyone was ready, Leonora said:
"I have already prepared rooms for you in the castle. Please use them as you wish during your stay."
"I shall pass. I am returning to the ship."
Rubia shook her head.
"You're not staying at the castle?"
When Kamito asked, she replied quietly.
"Next, I am going to retrieve Muir Alenstarl and Lily using the Revenant. Those two are needed for operations in the Theocracy."
"Right... Speaking of which, what are they doing right now?"
He remembered that the last time he asked, she said she had assigned an important mission to them—
"Secretly scouting the Holy Kingdom, searching for the missing Fire Elemental Lord's whereabouts."
"They're in charge of such a dangerous mission?"
"I asked them precisely because the mission is dangerous. Those two are the best subordinates I have."
Muir and Lily were respectively ranked second and sixth at the Instructional School. In the past, they frequently teamed up with Kamito for missions. Lily was the infiltration expert, enough said, but even Muir, who looked unsuitable for reconnaissance missions at a glance, had an especially keen nose for sensing danger.
Furthermore, in the event that their cover was blown and they came under enemy pursuit, they also had the power to break out by force using the militarized spirits in their possession.
In any case, it was definitely worth relying on Muir and Lily's return. Especially Muir, who could fight a fireteam of spirit knights singlehandedly.
"You would do well to prepare yourself too. Do not hold back against the Dusk Witch."
With that, Rubia turned around to leave—
Claire called out at that time.
"What is it?"
"I will become stronger. Definitely, I will bring out Scarlet's power."
After listening to Claire's words of determination—
Rubia still did not change her expression, however.
"Is that so? As you are now, you are not eligible to serve as my pawn."
Claire's shoulders shook as she bit her lip in chagrin.
"Hey, putting things that way—"
Kamito could not help but interrupt, but then—
"—Go train on Dragon's Peak. What you need is over there."
Claire reacted with surprise.
However, Rubia left without saying anything more.
"Dragon's Peak—Going there will make me stronger?"
"The harsh environment of Dragon's Peak has made it a place for generations of princess maidens to train. However, few people go there to train nowadays—"
"Back when I was thirteen, I also asked the dragons in the mountain to train with me. After shutting myself in the mountains for a month and some, I established a contract with the dragon spirit Nidhogg in the end."
...Stuck in the mountains at the tender age of thirteen huh. Although Kamito wanted to make a witty comment, he soon remembered that he had fallen for Greyworth's nefarious scheme back when he was thirteen too, and ended up being forced to spend three months in the depths of the Spirit Forest in an outdoor survival experience.
"...I get it now. Until Nee-sama's return, I will train on Dragon's Peak!"
Claire clenched her fist and declared.
"It is seriously a harsh environment. A single misstep could have grave consequences."
Leonora warned with a solemn expression.
"Perfect. Unless I go that far, I won't be able to fight alongside Kami—b-become stronger!"
Claire's determination seemed quite solid.
At that moment—
"Oh my, how unfair of you, intending to become stronger alone."
With a toss of her long hair, Rinslet remarked.
"Hmm, I feel that I have reached a bottleneck in my own style's training. I cannot keep leaving frontline duties to Kamito and my esteemed sister—"
"I am going as well. I've had enough of being the caged princess."
Ellis and Fianna nodded as well.
"Then I'm also in. It's not like I can leave the hellcat girl alone."
Hearing Kamito say that...
"Th-There's no need for you to become stronger, right?"
"Not true... After all, the opponent is different."
His blade dance in the imperial capital had been an overwhelming defeat.
If he was going to fight Greyworth, he would need power surpassing Ren Ashbell's prime.
"What a shame, Kamito, you can't."
Leonora shook her head.
"Men are forbidden from entering Dragon's Peak. If you dare to trespass, I fear you would incur the wrath of the masters of the mountain, either the Demon King Dragon or the Lightning King Dragon."
"However, if you were to cross-dress, perhaps it might work..."
"—Fine, I'm out."
Kamito replied instantly.
Even if they were the Demon King Dragon and the Lightning King Dragon, reputedly the strongest dragons, Kamito honestly did not think they were his match. However, making them go on a rampage would probably hinder the girls' training.
...Furthermore, he somehow felt a sense of camaraderie with the name, "Demon King Dragon."
"Then what should I do...?"
Rubia was heading to the Holy Kingdom, Claire and the girls were going to train on Dragon's Peak, then that left only him and Est in the castle with Restia, the three of them—
"Uh, i-if it is alright with you, I could personally show you around the dragon capital, Grand Dracunia, you know?"
Kamito responded. Claire and the girls froze with their jaws dropped.
"Given this rare chance, uh, how about some sightseeing around town?"
"Well, I wouldn't want to impose, since you're a princess after all..."
Just as Kamito wanted to decline...
"I-I am obliged to monitor you. If I leave you alone, who knows if you might extend your evil claws towards the female attendants in the castle—"
"Like hell anyone is going to extend evil claws!"
"You won't? This is accurate intel gathered by our military's intelligence agency, the Dragon Eye."
"That Dragon Eye is seriously blind!
Kamito could not help but shout in anger, but...
"Kamito, you really have no self-awareness."
"Hmm, but from others' perspective, you are totally the Demon King of the Night!"
"Such scary obliviousness..."
For some reason, the young ladies in his company stared at Kamito and started to whisper secretly among themselves.
"W-What the hell, you girls..."
Kamito narrowed his eyes in suffering.
"F-Fine, anyway, thanks for being my guide. I happen to be a bit interested in the town."
"I-Is that so, then—"
"Uh, if you don't mind, can Restia—the maid—join us?"
"Hmm... W-Well... Sure, I don't mind..."
Hearing Kamito's question, Leonora stammered somewhat in a dilemma.
At that very moment...
"Kamito-sama, your maid is already asleep in her room."
The female attendant who had just led Restia to her room quietly approached and informed him.
"...Hmm? Really? Then I wouldn't want to wake her up."
"I-I agree, waking up someone from their sleep is bad! As an ancient Dracunian proverb says, sleeping dragons must not be roused!"
Leonora kept nodding her head repeatedly. At that moment, Kamito noticed the female attendant giving Leonora the thumbs-up.
...Were they passing some kind of secret signal?
"Th-Then, let us depart. Before the maid wakes up, hurry!"
"L-Leonora, you are pulling too hard..."
Caught by the arm, Kamito was getting dragged away.
"Hmm, Leonora-dono is the carnivorous type huh..."
"This type has never shown up before."
"Kamito-san is going to be eaten!"
"J-Jeez, Kamito is such a jerk..."
Behind Kamito, Claire and the girls glared at him resentfully.
In the sky above the Ordesia Empire—
The Holy Kingdom of Lugia's Crusader-class battleship was flying calmly in the air.
Despite being a battleship, the ship's outer appearance differed from ordinary military vessels. Its unique design resembled a church for worshiping spirits, thus earning it the nickname of the "Cathedral."
Cardinal Millennia Sanctus was sitting on a chair in the commander's cabin, talking to someone behind her.
"Oh my, that incompetent emperor seems to have failed again—"
"—Is that so?"
The shadow on standby behind her replied indifferently.
"You are seriously not a talkative girl. Lurie-oneechan is a much better conversation partner."
Millennia pouted with displeasure.
That cute behavior made her look almost like an ordinary child.
"Is it okay to leave the imperial capital?"
"Don't worry, I left another me there."
Greyworth frowned in surprise but did not pry further.
Millennia chuckled and continued.
"Say, cute little puppet, how was that fight with the boy?"
"What do you mean by how?"
"As your opponent, was he enjoyable?"
"To be honest, still lacking. However—"
Saying that, the witch narrowed her gray eyes.
"I sensed something unknown."
"Hmm, you like him quite a bit."
Millennia got up from the chair and pressed her index finger against Greyworth's lips.
"Do you still want to fight that boy?"
Hearing that, the corners of Greyworth's lips curled up slightly.
"My blood is boiling—"
She replied slowly.
"Fufu, I love an honest child. What a battle maniac."
Millennia turned and looked back.
"—You may. Swing your sword to your heart's content."
"Fufu, looks like it will be a fun party."