Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume15 Chapter8
Chapter 8 - Mountains of Corpses, Rivers of Blood
The footsteps of numerous soldiers running echoed in the Stronghold's canyon.
Rushing out of the throne room, Kamito went through the corridor with the Demon Slayer in hand.
(I can't believe she's storming in through the front door by force...)
The sweat of anxiety appeared on Kamito's forehead. If the invader was really her, then no matter how many soldiers this place had, they might seriously all become wiped out.
—The Dusk Witch.
There was even a legend dating back to the great war about her destroying a small nation singlehandedly.
He really hoped it was just a legend—
(I have to make it in time—)
Kamito ruminated over what the Dragon King had said to him before he left the throne room.
Save Leonora—That was her request to him.
He needed no one to tell him to do that—
The castle gate was already opened. Wielding elemental waffen, waves of dragon knights sortied successively to intercept the invader.
They were the knights of Dracunia the military state. Every one of them should be quite accomplished in their own right.
However, the noise of weapons clashing showed no signs of subsiding. The Dragon Nation's knights, renowned as the strongest, were unable to stop one mere person—
'—Kamito, I sense that demon sword.'
Est's voice sounded in his mind.
—Sure enough, it was her for sure.
'—Please be careful. That demon sword has grown stronger than before.'
(Even stronger than last time huh—)
While groaning in his heart, Kamito rushed out of the castle.
The sun had set completely. The sky was dominated by the color of night.
Crossing the canyon was a great bridge.
Standing in the center was that figure of hers.
The gray-haired maiden swung her sword like fierce god of war, spreading blossoms of blood everywhere.
At her feet, the corpses of beheaded dragons were piled high.
Dyed bright red by the blood splattered all over her body, the girl cut down attacking dragons one after another.
Whenever the flash of her sword tore through the night sky, a dragon's head would fly off into the depths of the bottomless abyss—
Seeing such a scene of cruel slaughter, Kamito even forgot to breathe for a moment.
Flying in the air, none of the dragon knights of Dracunia could approach her. They were frozen stiff in their weapon wielding poses.
"Still not enough. As expected, the girl earlier was the tastiest—"
She mercilessly crushed the head of a roaring dragon underfoot—
The girl licked her bloodstained demon sword.
At that moment, Kamito felt an ominous premonition.
The girl earlier—She had said these words.
No way, did she mean—
In the next instant, what entered Kamito's view was the worst-case scenario.
Next to the pile of dragon corpses was Leonora collapsed in blood.
With a great shout, Kamito rushed over reflexively. Standing on the pile of corpses, Greyworth caught sight of Kamito and muttered "oh?" without making a move.
Kamito ignored Greyworth and rushed over to Leonora's side.
"Leonora! Hang in there, Leonora!"
Her bloody lips moved faintly.
(...She's still alive!)
Kamito cradled her limp body in his arms and poured divine power into her. Although the only effect was to promote natural healing, at least it would be better than nothing.
From her right shoulder to her left waist was a deep slash.
This was a serious debilitating wound. The reason why she was still conscious was surely due to the protective effects of dragon spirits, which reinforced their contractors' bodies.
"...How, unsightly... Right...? As a, dragon knight of... Dracunia..."
"Enough, don't speak—"
Kamito hugged her head gently.
However, Leonora desperately moved her lips, speaking intermittently.
"...Kamito... at the imperial capital, you promised, right... you will do anything."
"...Then, I am begging you... Protect the Dragon King, protect Dracunia—"
After listening to these words that took Leonora's full effort to speak—
"—Understood. It's a promise."
Kamito answered clearly and concisely.
Leonora smiled radiantly before closing her eyes in serenity.
Carrying Leonora in his arms, Kamito lowered her onto the ground behind him.
"That girl still hasn't died? What amazing vitality—"
Standing on the dragon corpses, Greyworth looked down at Kamito and said.
Gripping the Demon Slayer tightly, Kamito glared angrily at her figure, all red from splattered blood.
"Did you come to kill the Dragon King?"
Making no effort to conceal her purpose, she nodded in confirmation.
Having obtained the Dusk Witch as a pawn, the Holy Kingdom looked like they had no further use for conspiracy and strategy. They could now openly send out the strongest assassin.
"I won't let you kill the Dragon King. Dracunia is allied to my side, Legitimate Ordesia."
In front of the dragon knights, Kamito declared.
However, his reason for saying this was not simply for the sake of appearances.
Dragon King Bahamut loved the people of Dracunia and sincerely loved mankind. Over her millennia-long period of solitude, she had been watching over this country.
Although he had only chatted with her very briefly—
Her feelings, cherishing the wellbeing of her people, had definitely reached Kamito's heart.
He must protect her. Kamito's heart was filled with this pure emotion.
Furthermore, more importantly—
(Leonora asked me to. That's reason enough already—)
Holding the Demon Slayer in both hands, Kamito poured in divine power from his entire body.
The blade of steel shone with silver-white light, illuminating the darkness of the night.
"—A rare treat. Blade dancing with you especially makes my blood boil with excitement."
Her aura changed. It was neither killing intent nor intimidation.
A bizarre aura was given off from her entire body—
Kamito felt as though an ice-cold hand was gripping his heart—
(...Damn it, I can't believe I'm shaking—)
Kamito grimaced mentally. The overcoming of fear was supposed to be the basics of the basics for an Instructional School combatant—
'—Kamito, are you alright?'
Est's voice sounded in his mind.
As expected of the strongest sword spirit, she seemed completely unafraid of the Dusk Witch.
As though responding to Est's voice, Kamito forcefully gripped the sacred sword's hilt.
Greyworth was holding the crimson demon sword casually, jumping down from the pile of dead dragons.
The bloodstained demon sword pulsated like a living creature.
—In the next instant, Greyworth swept the space behind her using that sword.
With a flash of the crimson sword, the stone bridge collapsed instantly.
The mountain of dead dragons fell as a result, tumbling into the bottomless canyon.
She had cut off her own escape route.
"D-Damn it, I can't believe you did this to the dragons that are this nation's protectors!"
"O guest from Ordesia, we will aid you!"
The dragon knights behind Kamito shouted in anger.
"Stay back unless you want to die—"
Kamito turned his head back and glared sharply at them.
His gaze of killing intent made the dragon knights tremble.
"Sorry, you girls will just be a burden."
Kamito said in an icy voice.
"B-But if you go at it alone—"
"Don't get in my way. Please. Take Leonora and leave."
—Be a burden. That was true in a way.
Indeed, perhaps with their support, the battle would go more favorably. However, that was founded on the assumption that he could use them without regard for their lives.
If they were to fight the Dusk Witch, major casualties were certain. These girls were Leonora's precious subordinates and the Dragon King's beloved daughters.
He must not allow them to die, not even a single one of them.
—And more importantly, he did not want Greyworth to kill them.
Probably taking in Kamito's message—
"May you be victorious, Kamito-dono—" "May the blessing of dragons be with you."
The dragon knight girls carried the collapsed Leonora and retreated into the castle.
Kamito said quietly then turned to Greyworth again, who was standing in front of the cliff.
"You're hoping for a one on one, right?"
"A life-risking decision."
Greyworth remarked calmly.
Then suddenly, the wind stopped.
Under the moonlit night upon a bridge, the Dusk Witch and the Strongest Blade Dancer faced off.
"Is there no way to reconcile? Have you really forgotten me and the others?"
Kamito tried persuasion one last time.
However, with a merciless expression, the girl said:
"Talk is cheap. It kills the mood."
Kamito shook his head and infused maximum divine power into the Demon Slayer.
"Est, we're going all-out right from the start. Can you keep up?"
'Yes, I am your sword, your wish is my command.'
Est replied firmly.
The two faced off. However, neither side moved recklessly. Having mastered the same style, it meant that both sides fully understood each other's movements. Every motion of every move would presumably be predicted by the other side, thereby bringing forth a counterattack.
Hence, they needed to simulate countless battles in their minds to search for the most effective way to attack.
The first to begin the battle was Kamito.
"Absolute Blade Arts, First Form—Purple Lightning!"
Raising the sacred sword shining with silver-white light, Kamito kicked the ground in a leap, accelerating explosively using the release of divine power. The thrust was like lightning, surpassing the speed of sound to pierce the enemy.
Clang—A scatter of sparks.
Kamito's deadly strike was parried away by Greyworth's blade.
This was not reaction but prediction.
Kamito immediately withdrew his sword and executed a straight horizontal slash.
—However, Greyworth took half a step back, causing the sword tip to simply fly past her nose.
Kamito took another step forward. Chanting spirit magic rapidly, he manifested a dagger in his other hand. This was Weapon Works, steel-type magic—Holding the dagger between his fingers, he threw it.
The dagger flew with a flash, tearing through the air, but was shattered by a chop from Greyworth's bare hand, enveloped in divine power. Using her residual momentum, she struck at Kamito's neck.
This was within Kamito's prediction too. Thus lowering his stance to evade, he slashed diagonally upwards towards her shoulder. The crossing blades produced a shower of sparks.
This was super high-speed contest that ordinary people could not follow with the naked eye.
At close range, virtually with their faces pressed together, the two of them clashed.
"Your movements are different from that day's—"
"After all, I was wounded all over at the time."
"Is that so? How delightful."
Greyworth's lips fluttered slightly, murmuring something.
(Spirit magic? No—)
He relied purely on instinct. Sensing some kind of ominous presence, Kamito jumped back to create distance.
In that instant, the bloodstained demon sword transformed, turning into a gigantic lupine beast with countless fangs.
The blood-colored beast howled and pounced at Kamito.
Kamito dove to the ground and rolled, evading in the nick of time. His position from half a second ago was crushed by the jaws of the beast's head sprouting from her demon sword's hilt.
(...! What the heck is this—!?)
'Kamito, while turned into an elemental waffe, that demon sword retains its traits as a spirit.'
Est's voice sounded in his mind.
(So it's both an elemental waffe and a spirit at the same time. I see now—)
Kamito figured it out. Instead of dominating the demon spirit, Greyworth was in a cooperative relationship with it.
"One of the seventy-two sealed spirits, Vlad Dracul the demon spirit. Sure enough, it grows very fast when I allow it to absorb the blood of dragons."
Greyworth said contentedly.
"A blood-drinking demon sword huh? That's a bit creepy—"
However, given Greyworth's frightening sword skills combined with the demon sword's independent attacks, it was truly a difficult situation. To Kamito, this meant he had to predict attacks from two completely different styles at the same time.
"The demon sword is thirsting for your blood, Demon King—"
Greyworth swept the demon sword horizontally.
The beast head sprouted from the hilt gave a strange howl and chased Kamito relentlessly.
Jumping randomly all over the place, the beast crushed the remnants of the bridge.
(...Curse this spirit!)
Even with Steel's Protection, Kamito's body would probably be torn apart in an instant if it bit him.
However, it would not be realistic to keep running. Thinking he had to find a chance to strike back, Kamito kicked the ground to jump towards the bridge's railing.
A leap. In midair, Kamito turned around and released his divine power.
"Absolute Blade Arts, Second Form—Meteor!"
Divine power erupted explosively. While descending at extreme speed, Kamito swung his sword downwards.
This was a move derived from Purple Lighting. Its power was also top-notch within the Absolute Blade Arts.
The Demon Slayer pierced the beast's head, pinning its gigantic body to the ground.
Instantly, the blood-colored beast melted away and disappeared.
—However, just at that moment, Greyworth appeared before his eyes.
Inside the throne room at the deepest part of the castle—
Through the eyes of flying dragon familiars, the Dragon King observed the situation outside.
The dragons of Kelbreth Mountain kept attacking the girl one after another and were cut down on the spot.
(That truly is the Dusk Witch huh...)
She had witnessed the girl's image in the past.
During the Ranbal War last time, hundreds of Dracunia's dragons had been slaughtered by merely one young girl. It was recorded in history as the Terrifying Dusk Nightmare.
However, that was decades ago. Supposed to have a limited lifespan, how could she still look as she did back then—?
Feeling an inexplicable sense of anxiety, she could not help but move. The Earth Elemental Lord's curse instantly reacted. The writhing vines restrained her naked body tightly.
Contemptible curse. Were it not for this curse, she would be able to head outside the castle personally. Turning a mere human girl to ash would be as easy as—
—At that moment...
"Fufu, you actually should have kept Ren Ashbell here as your bodyguard. I cannot believe you fell for it so easily—"
A young girl's voice sounded within the throne room in the Dragon King's presence.
It was accompanied by the sound of a bell. She had suddenly appeared out of the dark.
"Who goes there? I do not recall permitting anyone to have an audience—"
The Dragon King narrowed her crimson eyes and declared.
She never expected an intruder here. Due to sharing her senses with familiars outside, she must have overlooked that presence.
Hearing that, the maiden dressed in pure white vestments bowed politely.
"I am Millennia Sanctus, a cardinal from the Holy Kingdom of Lugia—"
"Is that so? The Holy Kingdom's—"
The Dragon King smiled.
"I thought all they could manage were conspiracies and ploys. Who would have thought that they would grow so brazen day by day... Well then, what is your purpose in sneaking into my bedroom? Depending on the specific reason, no, regardless of the reason, your sin deserves a thousand deaths."
The Dragon King glared haughtily at the girl in vestments. An ordinary person would have fainted from such an intimidating gaze—
However, Millennia remained unfazed.
"I came to take your life, Dragon King of Dracunia."
Hearing that, the Dragon King fell silent for a moment—
Next, she showed a terrifying and magnificent smile.
"Oh? To think that you are targeting the life of I, Bahamut, the ultimate dragon spirit, now that is truly getting carried away."
The wind rumbled. The Dragon King's tranquil fury was shaking the air.
"Although my original power is sealed under a curse, I still possess sufficient power to destroy the likes of you—"
Instantly, balls of lightning appeared in the Dragon King's surroundings to penetrate the girl's body.
The girl did not even have enough time to scream.
All that remained on the ground was the girl's charred outline.
Nothing was left of the cardinal Millennia Sanctus. Vanished from this world without a trace.
"Foolish girl. Acting impudently without considering our difference in power."
The Dragon King sighed.
However, in the next instant—
"Fufu, as expected of the great Dragon King. You even killed one of me."
The Dragon King widened her eyes in surprise.
Only to see the girl who had been eliminated just now—
As though seeping out from the darkness in the air, she reappeared.
"What are you—"
Millennia unfastened the eye patch over her left eye.
From her eye socket, the Otherworldly Darkness seeped out, crawling towards the Dragon King's throne.
"Otherworldly Darkness!? I see, you are neither human nor spirit—!"
Millennia smiled tenderly.
"But you are too late—"
Holding the demon sword, Greyworth appeared right before his eyes.
At the same time, multiple crimson spears appeared out of thin air, shooting at Kamito together.
Fourteen spears created from spirit magic. Kamito immediately read the spears' trajectories. However—
(...I can't dodge them all!?)
Making a split-second decision, he sacrificed his right shoulder which was very unlikely to become a critical wound.
The spiraling spear tip pierced him. Taking the opportunity of Kamito's loss of posture, Greyworth swung the demon sword.
Kamito hastily stabbed the Demon Slayer into the ground. Clang—The demon sword struck the upright sacred sword's flat of the blade.
In that instant, Kamito poured in divine power—
(Est, Mode Shift!)
Instantly, the silver-white blade became dominated by darkness. The Demon Slayer turned into the Demon King's Sword that had inherited Restia's power.
"Go forth and pierce, all-annihilating demon lightning of punishment—Vorpal Blast!"
The black lightning released by the Demon King's Sword hit Greyworth directly while the blades clashed. Her petite body was blown away violently.
Kamito followed up on the attack. Drawing out the Demon King's Sword from the ground, he charged all at once.
He swung with god-like speed, aiming at Greyworth's shoulder just as she did a somersault in the air to land on the ground.
However, he did not feel the strike connecting. She vanished instantly like a mirage.
"Absolute Blade Arts, Mist Form—Water Reflection Mirror."
What Kamito had slashed was an afterimage formed from divine power.
Kamito was confused for an instant. Even though it was an opening for only a few milliseconds, in a contest between those who had reached the pinnacle of swordsmanship, it was enough to be fatal.
Greyworth was directly behind the wavering image. Almost superimposed with the image, she had dodged Kamito's slash by leaning her upper body back for an instant.
Greyworth kicked Kamito's sword. While his posture was severely off-balance—
"Absolute Blade Arts, Flash Form—Death Butterfly Flash Dance!"
She counterattacked with godlike speed.
Kamito barely managed to react, escaping the lethal strike aimed straight at his heart. Rather than reading the attack, this was a subconscious reaction only possible due to his extreme familiarity with that move from the Absolute Blade Arts.
Had he not experienced that move many times in his youth, he would surely be dead now.
His arm, the one wielding the Demon King's Sword, bled.
—At this moment, probably reacting to the fresh blood, the demon sword, Vlad Dracul, instantly twisted its blade, turning into a bloodthirsty beast to bite Kamito's arm.
A tearing bite inflicted to his right arm. The instant before the nerves in his sword arm died, Kamito poured divine power into the Demon Slayer. The Demon King's Sword vanished as particles of light and appeared on the other side, his left hand, as the dagger of pure white out of the twin blades.
He instantly used the dagger to slice off the beast's head. Next, the demon spirit Vlad Dracul returned to its demon sword form.
(...Gah, my right arm is completely dead huh—)
Kicking the ground hard, Kamito jumped back.
While creating as much distance as he could, he assessed the damage to his body.
Although his right arm was still sort of attached after being bitten by the beast, the network of nerves had lost contact. He could not even lift a single finger.
Greyworth jumped up high.
Then from the air, she unleashed an Absolute Blade Art—
"Absolute Blade Arts, Second Form—Meteor!"
"Absolute Blade Arts, Seventh Form—Biting Dragon!"
At the same time, Kamito held the white dagger in a reverse grip to counter the aerial Absolute Blade Art.
The blades clashed violently in the air. The divine power released from the two of them glowed with brightness like the sun.
The Dusk Witch and Ren Ashbell—This blade dance between the two elementalists idolized as ideals by princess maidens across the entire continent was far too destructive to be called a blade dance.
(...Gah, I'm getting overpowered—!)
The anti-air Absolute Blade Art, Biting Dragon, was delivered imperfectly with one hand. Despite reducing the Meteor's power, it failed to counter it. Thus, Kamito was cut down on the ground.
The impact felt like it would shatter his spine, making him spit blood violently. Greyworth withdrew her sword in midair and swung the demon sword, aiming at Kamito's heart—
(—Damn... it, I... can't win...?)
Unable to breathe, he could not even lift a finger—
Under his blurred vision, he quietly waited for the blade to pierce his heart—
Kamito heard Leonora's voice in his mind.
—I am begging you... Protect the Dragon King, protect Dracunia.
(...Right... I, already, promised—!)
Throb—His heart pulsated powerfully.
—It was the warning sign of that coming.
Throb, throb, throb, throb—
The divine power circulating inside him began to flow in reverse while black miasma leaked out of his entire body. Sealed inside Kamito, Ren Ashdoll's power began to provide unlimited divine power—
Kamito blocked the downward slash with his sword in one hand.
Greyworth exclaimed in surprise for the first time.
"A sudden expansion of divine power?"
'Kamito, this is bad, that power—!'
Est's strained voice echoed in his mind.
(Yeah, I know. This power has very bad consequences—)
If this power of Ren Ashdoll's devoured him completely, Kamito's personality would be destroyed, turning him into a monster like Nepenthes Lore. Either that, or a Demon King would be reborn to bring destruction and chaos to the world—
However, Kamito had to defeat the Dusk Witch right now—
(I need this power—)
(Est, I'm sorry—)
Est's voice gradually faded and soon could not be heard.
At the same time, he felt his divine power reverse all at once.
Black miasma gushed out intensely, instantly regenerating all his wounds and the torn right arm.
Probably sensing some kind of danger instinctively, Greyworth jumped back.
Kamito released divine power, changed the Demon Slayer's form and jumped all at once.
A bestial roar was emitted from Kamito's throat.
With all senses tensed to the limit, he felt an illusion as if his entire body had plunged into a kind of time stop.
Greyworth made some kind of sound. Instantly, the demon sword Vlad Dracul turned into a pack of blood-colored wolves to pounce at Kamito.
However, Kamito did not halt.
Allowing them to bite and rip flesh from his entire body, he lunged into the wolf pack.
Then he charged at Greyworth in one breath—
"Absolute Blade Arts, Destructive Form—Bursting Blossom Spiral Blade Dance - Eighteen Consecutive Strikes!"
He unleashed the strongest anti-spirit Absolute Blade Art—
However, the instant the first strike approached the witch's throat—
Indeed, against this sword technique that was capable of slaughtering even an archdemon-class spirit, there was one and only one counterattack.
It was the ultimate secret of the Absolute Blade that could only be performed by someone who had reached the pinnacle of both divine power and swordsmanship.
Having returned to her peak form, right now, she was able to use it!
"Absolute Blade Arts, Final Form—Last Strike!"
In front of Kamito's eyes, the sword flashed faster than godlike speed.
"Is this as far as your flames can go—?"
Every time Rubia Elstein swung Laevateinn, a blazing torrent of fire rushed over the wilderness.
The flames turned into scorching walls, slowly cornering the fleeing Claire.
(Such powerful heat, my flames can't compare at all...!)
Faced with Rubia's sword swings, Claire unleashed Flametongue but all her attacks were easily deflected.
Sweat appeared on Claire's forehead. Burning anxiety and fear was spreading. Although she knew in her heart that this was a hallucination displayed to her by the ancient historical site...
(—If that fire were to burn me, my mind will be destroyed even if my body remains unharmed.)
Claire sensed this instinctively. Most likely, this place was similar to Astral Zero in structure. A single misstep and she might not be able to return to the original world.
"Claire Rouge, why do you pursue power?"
Rubia spoke from behind the mask.
"Th-That's to... meet Nee-sama—"
Mid-sentence, Claire stopped.
Indeed, she was still very weak. Having been protected by her older sister or Rinslet all the time, she definitely hoped to become strong for this purpose. It was for this that she had set the Blade Dance as her goal.
However, now that she had achieved that goal, why was it still necessary for her to pursue power?
Rubia chanted an incantation to release a two-headed flaming hound.
Flame magic did not work on that hound.
(...Humm, in that case, try this!)
"—O true flame carved upon the ancient bloodline, dwell in my hand to devour flames!"
Claire composed spell words with her lips.
What appeared in her hand was fire redder and more intense than burning flames.
Capable of incinerating flames—End of Vermilion.
Faced with the pouncing hound of flame, Claire turned it into ash using the True Flame.
"I am fighting so that I can stay by Kamito's side!"
Yes, she hoped to obtain power sufficient to become Kamito's partner, to fight alongside him.
That was the reason why Claire currently sought power.
Wielding Laevateinn, Rubia suddenly approached before her eyes.
(...When did she!?)
Claire trembled, The flaming hound was a diversion.
While jumping back, Claire released her prided spirit magic at pointblank range.
"Experience my icy wrath—Frost Blaze!"
The blue flame appearing in Rubia's hand froze the fireball spirit magic together with space itself.
Claire was shocked.
"Then answer me. Why do you wish to stay by Kazehaya Kamito's side?"
Claire was confused. Why did she want to stay by Kamito's side—?
"Uh, th-that's because, Kamito has always protected me. I am his master after all, so it's unfair if I can't protect him, uh—"
...No, that was wrong—Claire shook her head.
The true reason was—
"Until the day you admit to your true feelings, the flames of Elstein will never acknowledge you."
"Discard your mindset of self-deception, Claire Rouge. Otherwise, you shall die here—"
Rubia swung down the blazing Laevateinn.