Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume16 Chapter1
Chapter 1 - Sealed Memories
O exalted Dragon King ruling over the skies—
Please embrace the souls of your warriors so that they may rest in peace—
Inside the grand temple of Dragon Rock Fortress, commonly known as the Stronghold, the prayers of dragon princess maidens echoed.
The princess maidens were mourning the dragons that had died in defense of the fortress, holding funeral rites for their remains.
The ceremony looked like it was going to last the entire night. Kamito got up, took a deep bow towards the altar, then left the grand temple.
He walked silently through the dim corridors that were built from rock.
The fortress currently felt very desolate.
There had been so many female attendants during the daytime but none of them could be found now.
Confronting Greyworth on her own, Leonora had been heavily injured and sent to treatment. Although her life was not in peril at the moment, ordinary healing magic seemed ineffective for the wounds inflicted by Greyworth's demon sword. Apparently, surgery had to be performed by an advanced specialized physician.
Kamito clenched his fist while walking.
In that final instant—
She should have been able to stop herself from falling.
But back then, she had chosen on her own to fall to the bottom of the canyon.
The Knights of the Dragon Emperor were currently searching for the whereabouts of the fallen Greyworth.
On further thought, that Dusk Witch could not possibly have died simply from falling off a cliff—
Just then, a girl suddenly emerged from a dark corner in the corridor, accompanied by a flutter of her dress of darkness and the mild sway of her black hair that seemed to meld with the color of the night.
"What's with the pensive frown, Kamito?"
Saying that, the darkness spirit girl—Restia—smiled faintly.
Saying that, Kamito stopped walking.
Restia approached him.
"Let's go to your room. We can talk at length out of earshot."
Standing on tiptoe, she murmured into Kamito's ear.
"...Yeah, you're right."
Kamito nodded and resumed walking.
After taking Restia back to his room, Kamito placed the Demon Slayer against the wall by the bed. After all, the battle against Greyworth had been considerably draining. Whenever in such a state, Est probably was not going to wake up unless Kamito poured a great deal of divine power into her.
Kamito sat down on the bed. Restia quietly took a seat beside him.
For a while, Kamito remained silent.
...There was a mountain of questions he wanted to ask her. Why had she been teleported to the mortal realm in the form of a human girl? What had happened to her during her memory loss...?
However, Kamito had difficulty finding the right words.
Of course, he was sincerely happy that she had recovered her memory.
That being said, having lived with the timid version of Restia for some time now, he found himself a bit at a loss how to interact with her original self.
Did she read Kamito's mind?
"What's the matter, Kamito?"
Her dusk-colored eyes were gazing at Kamito slightly mischievously.
Kamito felt his heart skip a beat.
"Umm, you saved me back there."
Kamito spoke while averting eye contact.
"Yes, I am glad I made it in time. After all, it would still be too much of a stretch to take on the Dusk Witch in her prime even for you and Miss Sword Spirit."
(...Definitely, without Restia's power, I would've been killed for sure.)
Sighing lightly, Kamito stared straight at his hands.
Defeating Greyworth in her prime relied entirely on the gap in the power level of the spirits. The demon spirit named Vlad Dracul was undoubtedly an extremely powerful spirit, but could not compared to the likes of the legendary Est and Restia, after all. Had Greyworth been using her original spirit, it would be highly uncertain whether Kamito could win even when dual wielding—
"I suppose I have the Dragon King to thank for restoring my memory too."
"Yeah, we owe her a huge favor."
Kamito nodded and concurred.
Dracunia's Bahamut was the Dragon King, whose mighty fame reached far and wide across the continent.
Her true identity was a legendary-class dragon spirit with the appearance of a lovely young girl.
In the past, Bahamut had been the trusted subordinate of Ren Ashdoll, the Darkness Elemental Lord. Feeling an obligation towards her former master's charge, Bahamut had helped Restia recover her memory and lent them her aid.
"Actually, the favor has been repaid already."
"—While you were fighting the witch, a great deal happened here too."
Saying that, Restia told Kamito about what had happened when she had regained her memory.
Inside the Dragon King's throne room, the Holy Kingdom's cardinal, Millennia Sanctus, had shown up.
Then she had released Otherworldly Darkness, almost corrupting the Dragon King—
"...So Greyworth's invasion was just a diversion?"
Kamito commented lightly.
Who could have thought that something like this happened inside the fortress while Kamito was fighting—
If Restia had not woken up in time, the Dragon King would have been tainted by the Otherworldly Darkness like the Elemental Lords, with irrevocably bad consequences.
"Come to think of it, there's more to that Millennia than being just a cardinal. To think that the Otherworldly Darkness resides in her—"
In a rare display, Restia murmured with a solemn expression.
"Yeah, that girl is full of mysteries."
The Otherworldly Darkness was capable of driving even Elemental Lords insane, yet she was able to store it in her right eye. Greyworth's transformation was probably her handiwork too.
How did she manage to retain her sanity?
(Or perhaps, she had gone mad long ago...)
Tick-tock, tick-tock... Inside the quiet room, only the sound of the clock was heard.
Kamito coughed lightly.
He asked in a grave tone of voice.
"Back then, why weren't you destroyed?"
In front of the Elemental Lord's altar, Restia was definitely supposed to have been destroyed.
By his own very hand, Kamito had pierced her in the chest.
In spite of that, she still survived.
Deep in a Laurenfrost forest, she had turned into a human girl's form—
Restia nodded and gazed into Kamito's eyes.
"Let me tell you. What happened to me on that day—"
Only the victorious team in the Blade Dance tournament were allowed to have an audience with the Elemental Lords at their altar—
Kamito and his team had tried to liberate the Fire Elemental Lord from the Otherworldly Darkness' corruption.
However, standing in front of the throne with complicated feelings, Kamito was just about to swing the Demon Slayer when...
His mind was suddenly controlled by her voice, that belonging to Darkness Elemental Lord Ren Ashdoll.
—O Demon King, go on and release the true darkness upon this world.
Against that sweet voice, which seemed to devour his mind, Kamito struggled desperately but to little effect. He was instantly swallowed by the darkness surging from the throne, rendering him unconscious directly.
Then amid that darkness—
Kamito saw a terrifying scene.
It seemed to be buried in endless darkness—
An army of glowing angels, thousands, tens of thousands strong.
—If those beings showed up at Astral Zero, the world would come to an end.
That was what Kamito had thought instinctively. In the next instant, the darkness occupying his view dissipated. By the time he realized, Kamito saw that the Demon Slayer held in his hand had pierced the throne.
Smiling while holding Kamito in her embrace, Restia had been pierced by the same thrust too.
—Before her will devours me, Kamito, please kill me.
Restia spoke with a peaceful expression on her face.
Once Ren Ashdoll's will, contaminated by the Otherworldly Darkness, swallowed Restia, it would use her as the medium to take control of Kamito's mind. Hence, Restia intended to sacrifice herself so as to protect Kamito from being swallowed by darkness.
Kamito's contracted spirit, Restia Ashdoll, would then disappear while her powers would be inherited by his other contracted spirit, Est, turning her into the Demon King's Sword.
—That was what was supposed to happen.
This was all Kamito could remember. A week had elapsed by the time he woke up again after that, on a bed in Areishia Spirit Academy.
"—Back then, I had resolved in my heart to be destroyed together with Ren Ashdoll's will."
"However, you were not destroyed—"
"I was not."
Restia nodded gently.
Back then, with the Demon Slayer skewering her in the chest, Restia would have been destroyed no matter how one thought about it. Precisely because of that, Kamito took such a heavy blow that he lost all memories about her.
"Just as my existence was about to vanish, a certain spell activated."
"Yes, presumably a spell set up by my creator, the Darkness Elemental Lord. When my life was in danger, my attributes as a spirit were sealed away, then I was reborn in the human realm. This probably belongs to the same type of magic as what she used to transfer her powers to the Demon Kings—"
So Ren Ashdoll had enchanted Restia with a spell, huh?
Even unaware of it herself, Restia had been reborn in the human realm because of this magic.
When Kamito woke up at the Academy, the spirit seal on his left hand had vanished, probably because her powers as a spirit had been sealed temporarily.
"...I see, so that's why."
Darkness Elemental Lord Ren Ashdoll must have foreseen that Restia would encounter a crisis of this sort and planted this rebirth magic in her. But truly ironically, to think that this crisis was caused by Ren Ashdoll herself...
"Anyway, thank goodness."
Kamito remarked poignantly.
Due to Restia being reborn in the human realm, she had been liberated from the crisis of being corrupted by Otherworldly Darkness. Her lost memories had also been restored with Dragon King Bahamut's help.
"I agree, but—"
"Kamito, what came after that is the important part."
Kamito could not help but frown in response to what Restia said.
"What do you mean by that?"
In a rare moment, Restia's eyes seemed to waver—
Then with firm determination, she began to speak.
"...After disappearing from the altar of the Elemental Lords, my consciousness woke up inside darkness that stretched endlessly."
Kamito could not help but react to a start.
"Don't tell me this is—"
"Indeed, it is the same dream as the one we dreamed together—"
For the past few days, Kamito had dreamed several times, seeing Restia curled up in the dark, waiting for him in the hollow darkness.
"After being reborn, I was imprisoned there, in that dark dimension, a manifestation of my consciousness. Then there, I noticed the presence of something—"
Kamito could not help but ask, and Restia nodded.
"Yes, something sealed inside of me, a black box containing a vast quantity of memories—"
"A black box..."
"Indeed, in the abyss of the dark dimension manifested from my consciousness, there exists something dark, even darker than darkness. A vast quantity of memories sealed there without my knowledge. Then when I made contact with it, a portion of the memories flowed into my mind—"
She must be recalling what happened at the time—
Kamito did not miss Restia's mild trembling.
She spoke quietly.
"I was a spirit created using that Otherworldly Darkness."
The meaning of Restia's words—
Kamito was unable to comprehend immediately.
(Restia is a spirit created using the Otherworldly Darkness?)
Kamito gulped and looked at her face. Unlike usual, in a rare display, her dusk-colored eyes were slightly wavering with slight unease.
"...What on earth is up with that?"
Finally, Kamito inquired.
"Exactly what the words imply—No, perhaps saying I was created using the Otherworldly Darkness would not be entirely accurate."
Restia shook her head and spoke.
"Elements from Astral Zero form the majority of my composition, the same as for other darkness spirits. However, the root of my existence, what constitutes my core, is the Otherworldly Darkness that caused those Elemental Lords to go insane. It is buried deep inside of me—"
Restia touched her own chest with her fingertips and smiled with self-deprecation.
"Why would that kind of thing be—"
Stunned, Kamito muttered subconsciously.
"...That, I myself have no idea either."
Restia quietly shook her head.
"I don't know if it is because I was created with Otherworldly Darkness in the first place, but I was not corrupted. I also don't know why, but that darkness definitely exists inside me. When Millennia Sanctus was trying to kill Bahamut, I was able to absorb the darkness she used because the darkness within me awakened—"
Indeed, inside the throne room, when Bahamut was in danger, Restia had absorbed Millennia's Otherworldly Darkness. Kamito had intended to ask her later about why she had been able to do that. If she had been created with Otherworldly Darkness in the first place, then it made sense.
(But, speaking of which...)
A few questions appeared in Kamito's mind.
Although she had already explained—
If that Otherworldly Darkness was buried inside Restia too, why did she not lose her sanity like the Elemental Lords? If her creator, Darkness Elemental Lord Ren Ashdoll, was the one who had buried the darkness into her, what was the reason for doing so? Why did she hide this fact from her loyal subordinate Restia...?
"Did you remember anything else?"
"Umm, when you made contact with the memories from the black box..."
"I was only able to make contact with a small part of the sealed memories. I get deflected as soon as I touch somewhere deeper."
A vast amount of sealed memories that even Restia herself could not access.
What on earth did all this mean—?
(In the end, I still know nothing about Restia...)
Kamito thought silently to himself.
At that moment—
"What exactly am I?"
Restia asked with uncertainty in her voice.
Kamito was at a loss for words.
(...Oh right. Restia herself should be the one most unsettled by this.)
The Otherworldly Darkness was capable of driving spirits into a mad frenzy. To think that something like that was inside her, along with a vast quantity of sealed memories too. Even a spirit, virtually unlimited in lifespan, would be hard pressed not to feel unsettled.
Calling her name, Kamito held her hand straight away.
"It's not important whether the Otherworldly Darkness is inside you or not. I'm really glad you came back to my side. These are the true feelings that I'm able to convey to you now."
Saying that, Kamito embraced Restia forcefully.
Feeling her delicate hair brushing against his cheek, he felt a sense of nostalgia.
Restia moaned softly and silently wrapped her arm around Kamito's back, clutching his uniform tightly with her fingers. This active affection was quite rare to see from her.
Her unexpected response made Kamito flush, flustering him.
"Fufu, I feel a little tired. I kind of need to sleep."
"...I-I see. Makes sense."
Kamito nervously nodded, placed his hand on her head and stroked.
...This was only natural too. Restia had fought all-out against Greyworth's demon sword too.
"To conserve energy, I need to rest for a while—"
"Yeah, I get it... Get some proper rest."
"Thank you, Kamito."
Restia smiled, apparently relieved. Turning into glowing particles, she disappeared into thin air.
Then the familiar demon sword of darkness manifested in Kamito's hand. Cradling it tenderly, Kamito placed the sword next to Est and laid himself down on the bed.
(...The Otherworldly Darkness, and sealed memories too... huh?)
Since a while ago, the Holy Kingdom had been searching for Restia obsessively. Could this be related to the Otherworldly Darkness residing within Restia...?
Many questions surfaced in his mind all at once.
However, one thing was extremely certain.
Kamito stared at the spirit seal on the back of his left hand.
(...She's finally back.)