Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume15 Chapter7
Chapter 7 - The Dragon King's True Form
Under the setting sun, the Kelbreth Mountain Range was shrouded by the dusk glow.
Noticing the alarming reaction on his left hand, Kamito immediately stopped the Dragondola aerial tour and rode Leonora's dragon spirit back to the Stronghold.
"Restia has gone missing?"
Back to the castle, hearing the court ladies report, Kamito was dumbfounded.
"W-We are terribly sorry! We never thought this would happen—"
The court ladies hung their heads in trepidation. Reportedly, one of them had found the room empty when going in to check on Restia.
Right now, they had mobilized everyone to search the castle, but no signs of her had turned up yet.
Kamito looked at his leather-gloved left hand. As expected, the burning pain was a message that something had happened to her.
The pain was already gone, but that was no guarantee that Restia was safe and sound. Rather, there was the opposite interpretation.
(...What the hell happened? What happened to Restia?)
"It is possible she got lost in the castle. After all, this Stronghold is extremely huge."
Leonora said in a nervous voice. In contrast to when they were alone together, she had switched back to a serious soldier's countenance.
"The Knights of the Dragon Emperor and I shall search outside the castle from the air."
After Kamito nodded, Leonora took her subordinates and went outside.
"W-We will continue searching inside the castle!
The court ladies bowed again and left the room.
Kamito examined the inside of the room again.
The room was not particularly messy.
Naturally, it would be best if she was simply lost in the castle, but—
(...Could someone have abducted her?)
Then a worrying thought surfaced in his mind.
The Holy Kingdom's Sacred Spirit Knights had secretly tried to capture Restia on Ragna Ys and in the Laurenfrost forest.
Although this place was under the control of the Dragon King who was hostile against the Holy Kingdom, considering the precedents in Ordesia, it would not be surprising even if one or two spies had infiltrated. Also, the current Restia was an ordinary girl unable to even protect herself, not a powerful darkness spirit.
(But even so, there's something weird...)
Feeling a sense of dissonance since just now, Kamito tilted his head to think.
According to the court ladies, no one in the castle had seen signs of Restia.
Whether going out on her own accord or abducted by someone, to disappear from inside a castle where there were so many eyes—Was that even possible?
The court ladies said they had mobilized everyone to search for her.
Most likely, every room in the castle had been checked.
(If this isn't enough to find her, that means—)
At that moment, Kamito suddenly realized something.
There was one place inside the castle that the court ladies absolutely would not search.
It was a sacred and inviolable place that no one was allowed to step foot into—
Why had he not noticed immediately?
He should have realized that possibility from the start.
Holding the Demon Slayer, Kamito rushed out of Restia's room.
In front of the corridor leading to the throne room, Kamito was stopped by the castle guards.
"Please let me pass—"
"No, even guests may not pass through here without permission."
An armed guard was glaring at Kamito with eyes of skepticism.
Yes, there were guards here. Normally speaking, Restia could not have walked inside on her own.
"May I ask if you've seen a girl in a maid outfit coming here? She's with me—"
"No, we never saw anyone like that."
He could see nothing suspicious in the guard's attitude.
...He truly had not seen anything.
(...Right, this was just my own speculation after all. I might be wrong.)
Suppose he had guessed wrong, this would probably cause Dracunia to withdraw their assistance.
However, back at the Instructional School, Kamito had witnessed Restia do the same thing to ordinary people many times. And considering the case of a mythical-class spirit far more powerful than Restia, wielding legendary power only second to the Elemental Lords—
It would not be impossible to summon Restia remotely in her sleep then manipulate the memories of witnesses—
He should discuss this with Claire and the girls first, but time was of the essence in the current situation. After all, he did not know what would be done to Restia.
"Sorry, please take a nap first—"
The guard before him frowned in surprise.
In that instant, Kamito punched the guard's armor with a fist enveloped in divine power. Caught unprepared, the struck guard fainted on the spot.
This was an assassination skill from the Instructional School. It was enough unless the opponent was an elementalist.
"W-What are you doing—Uwah!"
Before the other guards could finish speaking, Kamito moved swiftly and knocked out everyone present.
With that, he raced down the corridor leading to the throne room.
Next, arriving at the gigantic door at the end of the corridor—
Kamito drew the Demon Slayer, intending to break the door.
However, just as he was about to swing his sword...
Rumble... With a sound like an earthquake, the door opened inwards.
As though inviting Kamito inside—
(...My movements are being watched.)
Kamito muttered mentally then stepped inside, carrying the Demon Slayer.
As soon as he entered the throne room, the door slowly closed behind him.
(Okay, let me see if what comes out is a demon or a dragon—)
Using the sacred sword's glow, Kamito went straight into the darkness.
At that moment, he noticed some kind of gigantic entity moving restlessly in front of him.
Kamito raised the sacred sword to illuminate what was before him.
Only to see—
Kamito could not help but exclaim.
What had entered his view was precisely—
Entangled by strange tree vines, the unconscious Restia.
There was peaceful expression on her face as though she was in deep slumber.
"...Dragon King, what have you done to Restia!?"
Kamito shouted. In that instant...
Light shone down from the ceiling, projecting the gigantic Dragon King's shadow on the curtain.
'Perfect timing, O human who hath inherited Ren Ashdoll's power—'
With roar-like growl, the Dragon King's shadow began to move—
The curtain hiding his true appearance was slowly drawn open.
Kamito was instantly rendered speechless, stunned on the spot.
"Even if she left the castle, she should not have gone too far—"
Riding the pitch-black dragon spirit, Leonora murmured while looking down at the ground.
The Stronghold was surrounded by vertical cliffs. Leaving this place would require crossing the stone bridge spanning the deep canyon.
The guards stationed at the bridge could not possibly have failed to notice the sight of a girl.
(...By the way, who exactly is she?)
She did not seem like an ordinary maid—Leonora wondered.
—In fact, the Knights of the Dragon Emperor led by Leonora had been attacked during the Blade Dance by Nepenthes Lore who was accompanied by Restia, but because Restia had hidden herself at the time, Leonora never saw her.
(...S-Sure enough, she must be Kamito's beloved concubine, right...?)
Suddenly, Leonora recalled what had happened in the Dragondola earlier, prompting the face to heat up involuntarily.
(...I-I might have been too forceful there.)
Despite enduring her shame to ride that type of indecent Dragondola—
When she mustered her courage to attack, Kamito looked totally frightened.
Sure enough, demanding seed right off the bat was too unseemly. No wait, before that, it might have been wrong to eat seven steaks in Kamito's presence. That was originally meant to show how little she ate—
...Perhaps Kamito already hated her. No, he should not be that kind of man, perhaps he is simply keeping a bit of distance—
Her mind was filled with regret.
"...Why am I getting so unsettled over him?"
The more she thought about Kamito, the harder it was for her to think straight.
She originally thought that it was the Dragon Blood's instinctive desire for powerful seed that caused her to become consumed by lust—
(But actually, it's a bit different from that, right?)
...Totally confused, her presence of mind was disrupted by uneasy feelings.
(...R-Right now, I must concentrate to find Kamito's maid!)
Shaking her head in an attempt to drive away unnecessary thoughts, Leonora returned her gaze to the ground.
—At that very moment.
The pitch-black dragon carrying her growled in warning.
"...? Nidhogg, what's the matter?"
Leonora narrowed her eyes in surprise.
She noticed a petite figure next to the stone bridge by the cliff.
(...W-What is going on?)
Seeing that appearance that differed so much from his expectations—
Kamito stood there frozen with his mouth gaping.
Revealed by the Dragon King's drawn curtain was—
A beautiful maiden, entangled by countless writhing tree branches.
Crimson eyes with seductive charm. Long, faintly phosphorescent hair the color of lapis lazuli. Skin whiter than pearl. Slender arms and legs as delicate as a doll's.
A maiden with otherworldly beauty—As much as he wanted to use this description, it was clearly evident that she was not human.
On the sides of her head were two beautiful horns.
Surrounded by the writhing branches, the completely naked girl looked down leisurely at Kamito.
Seeing the fully nude beauty before him, Kamito would normally look away in haste—
However, he even forgot to breathe, completely mesmerized by the sight.
Such was precisely the extent of the maiden's beauty.
"What's the matter? Spacing out like that—"
A sweet voice came from the girl's lips.
"...W-What are you—"
Kamito finally spoke.
"I am the king of Dracunia. The dragon spirit—Bahamut."
The girl slowly introduced herself.
Kamito was instantly at a loss for words.
Feared by all the nations on the continent, the strongest dragon spirit—Dragon King Bahamut.
To think that Bahamut's true appearance was that of a beautiful maiden, so delicate and frail—
For a moment, Kamito even forgot his anger from Restia's abduction, rendered speechless.
"Fufu, if you keep staring intently, I'm going to blush."
"...Oh, uh, sorry...!"
Realizing he was staring at a nude maiden, Kamito looked away, blushing intensely.
"Feel honored. Areishia is the only human who has seen this appearance of mine. You are the second person in history."
Saying that, the girl used vines to cover up her nakedness while smiling mischievously.
"A-Are... you really the Dragon King...?"
Confounded, Kamito asked.
Indeed, it was relatively common for high-ranked spirits to take human form—
Est, Restia and Iseria, the Water Elemental Lord, all looked like young maidens.
In that case, was the monstrous gigantic shadow that Kamito and company had mistaken for the Dragon King actually a stand-in made using entangled branches—?
(...Wait, why do I care about that right now?)
Only then did Kamito regain his senses.
"What are you planning to do with Restia!?"
He readied the Demon Slayer in both hands.
Depending on her answer, he was prepared to fight, even if he had to take on the Dragon King.
However, the girl sitting on the throne did not show any anger—
"I simply intend to restore her memories as Restia Ashdoll."
That was her answer.
"Restore Restia's memories?"
"Yes. To think you would draw your sword instead of showing gratitude, how unreasonable."
"Why are you doing this? What are your intentions in restoring her memories?"
Kamito continued to question. Although he also hoped for Restia to recover from her memory loss, it was possible that this girl had ulterior motives—
"No particular intentions. It is just that I am obliged to look after her. This is my duty as the trusted subordinate of my liege, a certain lord—"
"...A certain lord?"
Kamito cocked his head slightly—
He recalled what Rubia had said on the ship.
"You mean Ren Ashdoll... Right?"
"Indeed, the creator of the darkness spirit Restia Ashdoll—"
The Dragon King, who looked like a girl, directed a benevolent gaze at Restia who was sleeping among the trees.
The powerful dragon spirit Bahamut had fought as Ren Ashdoll's trusted subordinate against the armies of the Five Great Elemental Lords. Despite the defeat in the war and Ren Ashdoll's demise, did she still intend to express her loyalty to Restia who was left behind?
Kamito did not know if she was speaking from the heart, but—
"You're not going to harm Restia, right?"
Kamito asked just in case.
"That goes without saying. Also, I would have done it long ago had I the intention."
"Now that you understand, I hope you could put away that sword properly. Although she has lost her original power, for spirits who experienced the Spirit War era, she elicits trauma regardless of faction."
"...Oh, sure, I got it."
Kamito slowly lowered the Demon Slayer.
Terminus Est, the strongest sword spirit, was apparently feared by even the Dragon King.
"However, a spirit like you should be able to destroy me within the blink of an eye, right?"
Kamito spoke while in trepidation inside.
After all, the other party was the Dragon King whose power was second only to the Elemental Lords. Being able to wipe out Kamito in an instant would be nothing unusual.
"That is not true, unfortunately."
The Dragon King shook her head slowly.
"I can neither leave this castle nor exert my full power outside its premises. I am truly powerless—"
"You can't leave the castle?"
Kamito asked in surprise. Indeed, it was well-known that Dracunia's Dragon King never appeared in state-level conferences or ceremonies—
Hearing that, the Dragon King smiled with fragility—
"Yes, it is thanks to this contemptible curse cast by the Earth Elemental Lord—"
She moved her body slightly within the vines.
Instantly, the writhing vines restrained the girl's arms and legs.
"This is the Earth Elemental Lord's curse. Bound to this land of Dracunia, I can neither leave this place nor return to Astral Zero—"
Unable to find words, Kamito instantly fell silent.
Supposing this curse dated back to the Spirit War, then—
This girl had spent several thousand years all alone in this kind of place.
That loneliness was impossible to imagine for Kamito no matter what, given his limited lifespan—
At that moment, an idea suddenly occurred to Kamito.
"Oh right, maybe I can use Est's power to lift the curse—"
"The sacred maiden who came here a thousand years ago also did the same thing."
The Dragon King shook her head.
"Sacred Maiden Areishia?"
"Yes... However, she failed. The curse was too strong and it corroded her health as the sword spirit's contractor—"
"I-Is that what happened...?"
Kamito bowed his head and gritted his teeth. Sacred Maiden Areishia had taken on the curses accumulated in Est, causing her to turn into stone after defeating the Demon King.
"Fufu, no need to make that kind of face. Even thousands of years are nothing to a spirit. Furthermore, life watching over humans has been rather interesting."
The Dragon King shrugged and looked at Restia.
"Today is truly an excellent day. I am finally able to contact the one my lord left behind—"
Cradled by vines and branches, Restia slept with a peaceful expression.
"Restia is still Restia, right?"
"What do you mean?"
"...Uh, is she currently still a spirit?"
From his perspective, rather than transformed into a human appearance—
Restia felt like she had been reborn completely as a human girl.
Hearing that, the Dragon King contemplated for a moment—
"Indeed, the way she is now, perhaps she might be considered human like the rest of you."
"However, it is a borrowed body after all. She has simply lost her traits as a spirit because she has been separated from her true body in Astral Zero. Once she recovers her memory and reestablishes her link with Astral Zero, she should recover a spirit's power—"
Kamito looked down at his leather-gloved left hand. In that case, even though the spirit seal had vanished, the spirit contract itself that was established with Kamito still had not been annulled?
"Can her memories be retrieved?"
"I will try everything I can. It is the least I can do out of loyalty to my lord."
The Dragon King nodded slowly.
Kamito held Restia's hand gently.
...Currently, that was all Kamito could do.
Watching him like that, the Dragon King chuckled and smiled tenderly.
"—You really love that contracted spirit, don't you?"
"...What!? Cough, cough..."
Kamito choked so much that he kept coughing.
"Dear me, I was only kidding. To think you would go that red, how cute—"
The Dragon King giggled in delight.
"C-Come on, you..."
However, Kamito could not bring himself to get angry at that adorable face, smiling innocently...
Was this really the terrifying Dragon King with the booming voice?
"Then what about Leonora?"
"...W-Why are you bringing this up!?"
Surprised again by another shot out of left field, Kamito was shaken.
After all, something like that had just happened with her. Kamito could not help but recall the sensation of that extremely bountiful bosom, causing his face to instantly heat up.
"Seriously, she already tried so hard and you are Casanova too."
"...Don't tell me, you saw what happened just now!?"
Kamito could not help but shout.
"Yes, I borrowed the eyes of the flying dragons that were carrying the Dragondola."
It was most likely Far Sight magic for sharing a familiar's vision. Even though she was unable to step foot outside of the castle, a mythical-class dragon spirit was still not to be trifled with.
"She is quite awkward, so she can't even distinguish her own feelings clearly."
The Dragon King spoke with a wry smile.
"Why not take Leonora? She comes from a good family, her personality is upfront, a very fine girl indeed. And her breasts are huge too... Ah, or perhaps you like them small?"
A vine had stretched out to him unnoticed and poked Kamito in the side.
...Despite being a curse, it seemed like she could control them to some extent.
"L-Leonora is a very attractive girl, of course, but... Hold on, I have no intention of that at all."
Kamito replied somewhat glumly.
"Then which of the four do you intend to marry?"
The Dragon King smiled mischievously.
"As the king of Dracunia, I'd like to recommend Leonora, but if I had to choose among them, the Ordesia princess is not bad. She looks quite reliable. If necessary, you can become the emperor of Legitimate Ordesia too—"
"C-Cut the nonsense!"
"That ponytail girl has quite a large bust too. I expect her to be the type that is more loyal and devoted than anyone once she falls into love. The hellcat girl is a bit dishonest with her feelings, but she does have a cute side. Oh, and that blonde girl is no good. Despite her prim and proper elegance, she is in cahoots with my mortal enemy the Water Elemental Lord—"
(Th-This fricking dragon spirit...!)
Kamito mentally clutched his head.
No good, at this rate, he was going to get caught in her pace...
"Ahhh, so definitely amusing, you humans—"
After saying a bunch of stuff, she smiled contentedly.
Then she put on a serious expression again—
"Hey, why do think a spirit like me is ruling this country as king?"
Indeed, there were no other known cases of a spirit ruling a country in the human realm. Ordinary spirits would not take much interest in the human realm.
"I hope to understand the race known as humans more deeply. This is in order for me to know why my liege, Ren Ashdoll, took an interest in your kind, to understand her feelings—"
"Ren Ashdoll took an interest in humans?"
Kamito asked. It was his first time to hear about this.
The dragon spirit girl nodded in response.
"Ren Ashdoll sensed some kind of potential in mankind. Hence, on the brink of demise, she entrusted a portion of her power to them. Instead of the powerful races of the dragons and giants, she entrusted it to you humans—"
Kamito looked down at his own chest.
Why had she—the Darkness Elemental Lord—caused what was known as the Demon King's power to reincarnate in humans? Now that it was brought up, he definitely found it unbelievable.
"Initially, I only started observing mankind in order to understand Ren Ashdoll's feelings. But during the process, I gradually came to love the fragile race called humans and fell in love with this country of Dracunia. They are almost like my own children—"
The Dragon King smiled with gentle eyes. However, Kamito sensed a faint smidgen of what seemed to be loneliness in her serene expression.
No matter how much love she poured out, human lifespans were limited after all. How many of her children had this dragon spirit girl witnessed passing away from her vantage point in the castle?
And because she needed to maintain her dignity as the Dragon King, she could only show her true appearance to the sacred maiden a thousand years ago and Kamito, the Darkness Elemental Lord's reincarnation.
Kamito looked up at the Dragon King and said:
"Let me stay here for now until Restia wakes up. I could drink tea with you and chat."
"Fufu, unfortunately there's no tea... Ah, though there is tree sap if you want to drink it."
—Just as Kamito shrugged...
The Dragon King's calm expression suddenly turned serious.
The seductively charming crimson eyes narrowed, gazing into the distance.
"Looks like something ominous has come—"
She said in an icy voice.
"Yes... I sensed the presence of filthy darkness."
The Dragon King closed her eyes as though transferring her consciousness somewhere far away.
Then she said something shocking—
"—That girl... Could she be the Dusk Witch?"
Kamito widened his eyes.
The color of dusk covered the Kelbreth Mountain Range's sky.
At the only bridge across the canyon between the Stronghold and the dragon capital—
A gray-haired maiden was standing there, holding a demon sword the color of blood.
Facing off against the young girl was Leonora with the gigantic Dragon Slayer in her hand.
Her entire body was exuding astounding killing intent.
"State your business. I don't recall ever inviting you to the castle."
Leonora said quietly.
"You are the dragon rider at the imperial capital huh—"
The Dusk Witch murmured expressionlessly and took a step forward.
"My purpose is to behead the Dragon King."
"Is that so? I never knew there existed such upfront assassins."
The killing intent released by Leonora expanded all at once.
"No matter how many come, none shall pass here."
"I intended to push through by force to begin with—"
The witch smiled.