Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume16 Chapter11
Chapter 11 - Ghosts of the Demon Capital
Across the dusty desert, intense lightning erupted. The city walls of Zohar, the demon city that had merged with Leviathan, made contact with Mordis' barrier.
Incinerated by holy lightning, terrifying tentacles were struggling in pain.
"...It is working. This looks like it could buy a bit of time, Rubia-sama."
Standing on the city wall, Fianna turned her head back to look at Rubia.
Looking past Fianna grimly, Rubia shook her head.
Fianna turned to face Zohar again.
—Within the blink of an eye, the tentacles that should have been destroyed regenerated again.
"...H-How could this be possible!?"
"Leviathan possesses extremely potent self-repair functionality. So a strategic barrier of this scale will not even manage to stall for time...?"
Fianna could sense a hint of anxiety in Rubia's tone of voice.
—The barrier only endured for several minutes.
"Fianna-sama, the barrier has been breached!"
A princess maiden keeping watch on the wall reported in almost a scream.
The regenerating tentacle clusters kept attacking the barrier relentlessly in spite of the holy light incinerating them, finally creating a large opening in the barrier. Once breached, the barrier would become brittle and quickly collapse in a chain reaction.
Fianna bit her lip. Although she never expected to hold off the strategic-class militarized spirit with just a barrier alone—
(I never thought it would be breached in such short time—)
The gigantic dome-shaped barrier covering Mordis' surroundings vanished. The city's last defense line remaining were its walls of stone.
Covered with huge numbers of tentacles, Zohar's walls were approaching with a cloud of dust and sand in its wake.
"...! Collision incoming! Brace yourselves for the impact, everyone!"
Fianna shouted to the surrounding princess maidens.
Just as everyone on the wall crouched down—
Zohar's outer edge made contact with Mordis' city wall.
At the impact zone, entire pieces of the stone wall was gouged out. A watchtower was instantly smashed.
Blown away by the impact, Fianna fell into the city from the wall.
The painful fall made her entire body hurt, preventing her from breathing for a moment.
(...How is everyone!?)
Pulling her hazy consciousness together, Fianna looked around her.
Like her, the princess maidens on the wall in charge of maintaining the barrier had been sent flying by the impact. Even standing was a challenge for them. Some of them were bleeding from the forehead, unconscious, while others were groaning in pain, the legs twisted in unnatural directions.
"...Ah, guh, ooh..."
"...Calm down. I shall heal you immediately!"
Intending to cast healing on them, Fianna began to recite spirit magic of the holy element.
—But at that moment...
A disgusting sound ripped through the air.
In the next instant, terrifying tentacles crawled over Mordis' city walls and attacked the immobilized princess maidens one after another.
"Kyahhhhhhh!" "Eeek—!" "N-Noooooo!"
Screams of princess maidens sounded then disappeared immediately. Each tentacle tip opened its jaws wide, instantly swallowing a princess maiden whole.
"—O holy king, I implore thee to punish evildoers—Holy Edge!"
Against the incoming swarm of tentacles, Fianna used blades of spirit magic to rip them apart.
—However, this sort of resistance amounted to nothing more than a drop in the ocean against the flood of tentacles surging over the walls. The tentacles did not seem to moving under human control. It looked like they only attacked in response to the divine power in the princess maidens.
Escaping the blades of spirit magic, a few tentacles approached Fianna.
Fianna could not help but close her eyes.
But in that instant—
"Not even time can escape a frozen fate, conflagrating flames of absolute zero—Frost Blaze!"
Howling blue flames of Elstein immediately destroyed the tentacles in one fell swoop.
"Do not give up, Fianna Ray Ordesia—"
With Frost Blaze enveloping her left hand, she stood on the city wall.
That figure of hers, with long crimson hair fluttering in the wind—
Was the image of the ideal princess whom Fianna had idolized in the past.
"—Believe in your Demon King."
Underfoot were vibrations that felt like the earth rumbling—
What they could hear were noises of battle behind them—
Kamito and Claire ran singlemindedly towards Scorpia.
"What kind of training did all of you go through in just a few days?"
Running, Kamito asked Claire beside him. Although he could tell from a glance that the girls were much stronger than before, he never expected the change to be this dramatic—
"Rather than training, I feel like I've conquered obstacles in my heart—"
"What do you mean?"
"Umm, it's hard to explain clearly... But, anyway, that's the gist of it."
"What do you mean, anyway...?"
Just as Kamito was puzzled, he heard Restia's voice in his mind.
'These girls had very powerful potential inside them in the first place. However, they each had a minor mental hangup, which obstructed them from communing with their spirit—'
"In other words, they released their hidden potential, huh?"
—Just then, a large gate appeared before the two of them as they ran along a main road.
This point onwards would be Scorpia territory.
"Kamito, I sense something repulsive."
"Yeah, I get what you mean..."
The two of them halted and swept their gazes around them.
At that moment, something unexpected happened.
The palace gate opened from inside with a heavy noise.
What came into view was a large garden on the other side of the gate.
In the center of the garden, something resembling dark miasma was prowling.
"What is that?"
As though answering the question posed by the frowning Claire—
The dark miasma shook violently and changed shape.
Then seven knights clad in pitch-black armor appeared.
They each drew their sword and prepared a stance. A single crimson eye glowed with eerie light under each helmet.
This image, like the incarnation of darkness, was something Kamito had seen before.
"...Could that be Nepenthes Lore!?"
He groaned from the back of his throat.
Nepenthes Lore was a monster wielding the Demon King's power during the Blade Dance, awakened by Restia. It had singlehandedly destroyed several national representative teams, even crushing the Knights of the Dragon Emperor led by Leonora.
Nepenthes Lore was a far more terrifying and powerful existence than the tactical-class militarized spirits earlier.
—And here were seven of such things.
"What the hell... Why is that dark monster...?"
'Nepenthes Lore is the result when a human ends up devoured by the Demon King's power. The Demon King cult preserved these dead bodies. Sjora must have used the power of the Demon's Circuit to awaken these corpses...'
Enveloped in dark miasma, the seven Nepenthes Lores moved silently to surround Kamito and Claire.
Readying their respective elemental waffen, Kamito and Claire stood back to back.
"Claire, watch my back—"
Hearing what Kamito said, Claire exclaimed in surprise.
In the past, Kamito would usually say stuff like "please cover me" instead of "watch my back." Despite acknowledging Claire's power, he did not go so far as to entrust his back to others unconditionally. However—
"On my own, I'd get a bit overwhelmed. Didn't you train to become stronger?"
Right now, his comrades in Team Scarlet had progressed immensely. It was enough for Kamito, who had always fought alone, to entrust his back to them without worry.
"...V-Very well, leave it to me!"
Claire nodded happily then cracked her whip, Flametongue.
"...I'm going to use a special move I learned during my training. It'll take some time, but you'll be okay, right?"
"That move will work on Nepenthes Lore?"
"Got it, then until that move is ready, I'll guard your back—"
Kamito readied his two swords and faced off against the seven Nepenthes Lores.
Behind him, Claire began to recite words sounding like an incantation—
—In that instant, the dark miasma expanded all at once.
The miasma surging out from all over the Nepenthes Lores' bodies turned into whips, swinging all at once.
At the same time, Kamito and Claire jumped left and right respectively.
Stone tiles in the plaza were blown away, turning into a swamp of miasma.
With a terrifying roar, the seven Nepenthes Lores charged.
(...Tsk, they move so fast despite being so big!)
Kamito caused the divine power concentrated under his feet to explode, then swung the Demon Slayer at the Nepenthes Lore in front of him.
The pitch-black armor shattered, spurting dark miasma violently upwards. Although any contact with the dangerous miasma would result in divine power being stolen away, the ultimate sword spirit Est possessed anti-magic properties that could neutralize even that.
(First one down—)
Without even looking at the fallen enemy, Kamito immediately switched to his next action. Pouring divine power into the Vorpal Sword in reverse grip, he charged and aimed at another Nepenthes Lore's throat. Then—
"—Pierce, Vorpal Blast!"
He yelled. The jet-black demonic lightning instantly erupted from the blade, destroying the monster's head.
(That makes two!)
Kamito immediately turned around to aim at the next target. At that moment—
'—Not over yet, Kamito!'
Kamito hastily ducked down. The tip of a large sword instantly swept past the top of his head.
The sword was swung by the earlier Nepenthes Lore that had lost its head.
Clad in armor, a massive foot stomped at him. Kamito rolled on the ground and narrowly avoided getting his entire body crushed. Using his residual momentum, he stood up and jumped back.
The two Nepenthes Lores, which ought to have suffered fatal wounds, were attacking with their swords as though nothing had happened.
Kamito cursed under his breath.
(...So the only way to defeat them is to break them apart completely?)
To begin with, Kamito's sword skills were unsuited for fighting non-human enemies. The assassination skills he had learned at the Instructional School all aimed at vulnerabilities in the human body. In Greyworth's case, the swords skills she taught him were essentially anti-human moves for seizing victory at the Blade Dance. Of course, he did have moves such as Bursting Blossom Spiral Blade Dance for hunting large targets, but they were too costly in terms of the physical strain and divine power consumption. Spending a great deal of divine power in the current situation could very well awaken Ren Ashdoll's power.
(...That being said, these aren't enemies I can take out while holding back.)
—After all, these things had been Demon King candidates in the past, just like Kamito. It was thanks to the power of the Crusaders spirit sealed in Milla Bassett's eye that Team Scarlet managed to defeat Nepenthes Lore last time.
While resetting his posture, Kamito glanced at Claire behind him. She must be preparing quite a powerful move. While nimbly dodging attacks from the miasma whips, she kept chanting her incantation.
Two Nepenthes Lores charged to attack Kamito.
Pouring divine power into his two swords, Kamito leaped.
"Absolute Blade Arts, Third Form, Alpha Variant—Shadowmoon Waltz, Major Double Turn."
This was a dual-wielding variation on the anti-army Shadowmoon Waltz. This was a new move innovated by Kamito on his own after his fight against Greyworth. Left and right, his two swords slashing all directions, he instantly chopped off all the arms of the Nepenthes Lores.
However, these were not fatal wounds. As conglomerations of dark miasma, Nepenthes Lore could easily repair the damaged parts.
"Absolute Blade Arts, Third Form, Beta Variant—"
He immediately turned his sword around, slicing horizontally through a Nepenthes Lore in one slash.
(—Is it taken out!?)
From the corner of his eye, he could see the Nepenthes Lore's body chopped in two. Although he did not know if it was defeated, at least it should not be as easy to regenerate as arms.
Restia's voice sounded in his mind.
No sooner had she spoken, the top half of the bifurcated Nepenthes Lore exploded.
The instantly expanding dark miasma was about to swallow Kamito.
The dark miasma was troublesome stuff that would steal divine power from a single touch. If splashed by a large amount, Kamito's divine power would be consumed all at once, resulting in depletion. With that, the other source of divine power dormant inside Kamito—Ren Ashdoll's power—would awaken.
Kamito jumped, trying to evade—
However, the other Nepenthes Lore had regenerated its arms and caught Kamito's leg with a miasma whip.
In that instant...
"O flames, let a night of red descend upon the earth—Crimson Judgment."
Kamito's view was dyed all red.
The crimson blaze drowned out the darkness, instantly devouring the Nepenthes Lore's massive body completely.
Kamito was rendered speechless, holding his breath. Could this current flame be—
—The blazing flames flickered intensely then began to take on the form of a petite young girl.
Appearing out from there was—
A beautiful girl with red hair, all her limbs enveloped in flames.
"The Scarlet Valkyrie—Ortlinde. I hereby manifest in this world, heeding the call to my true name."
Saying that, the cat-eared girl bowed her head respectfully with a serious expression on her face.
"—Calm down! Everyone who can move, go repair the barrier!"
Standing on the collapsed city wall, Fianna shouted to encourage the princess maidens.
A back and forth battle was still taking place on the edge in contact with Zohar.
Leviathan's tentacles, swarming over the city wall, were starting to invade like a raging tide. Not satisfied with Zohar alone, it was probably planning to merge with Mordis as well. The rate of invasion was faster than expected.
(...Hmm, at this rate, even the town area will be devoured!)
Despite her summoned knight spirit swinging his great sword to chop down tentacles, her efforts were like droplets in the ocean.
"Fianna, retreat to the back. You are the monarch of Legitimate Ordesia. We cannot lose you here—"
Rubia, standing shoulder to shoulder with her, was showing heavy signs of fatigue in her voice.
Having unleashed Frost Blaze continuously, her divine power was almost depleted.
In her prime, perhaps she could have burned away all the tentacles, but now—
"...Hurry... Leave this place to me—"
"I have no wish to again become a princess protected by others—"
While using spirit magic to suppress the surging tentacles, Fianna replied.
Her sunset-colored eyes gazed straight at Zohar, where Kamito's team had headed.
"I will believe in Kamito-kun—I will believe in my comrades and fight here."
She could not allow herself to retreat at this juncture, to repay her comrades for accepting her into Team Scarlet back when she was completely useless, not even capable of using spirits normally.
"...You have always had a stubborn side to you."
Rubia shrugged helplessly with a wry smile.
"Oh, Rubia-sama? Did you just smile?"
Faced with Fianna who was staring at her in great surprise, Rubia looked away.
...Seeing her react like that, Fianna chuckled. How long ago was the last time she had seen this senior princess maiden smile—?
"We must not allow it to invade the town area. Intercept it here."
Seeing the girl who had appeared before his eyes, Kamito exclaimed in surprise.
The Scarlet Valkyrie—Ortlinde.
According to Restia, she was one of the spirit weapons rampaging during the Spirit War, a survivor of the thirteen-strong Valkyrie Series.
"It has been a while since we last met in this form. Master's master—"
Shapeshifted into human form, Scarlet bowed respectfully again. Although the title of master's master bothered Kamito a bit, sigh, now was not the time to care about it—
Kamito turned to Claire.
"Claire, so you're able to release Scarlet's true name now."
"...Y-Yes... Except it is still very... draining..."
Panting, Claire made a slight thumbs up.
This was the "special move" she had learned during her training at Dracunia—
Indeed, there was nothing more reliable than this.
Before the primordial spirit weapon's aura of overwhelming power, the Nepenthes Lores seemed wary and stopped moving.
With a twitch of her cat ears, the flames all over Ortlinde's body instantly blazed violently.
"—Very well, time to start the extermination, master."
Just as Kamito readied his two swords again...
A roar resounded all around, sounding like it came from deep underground.
Feeling a terrifying and strong presence, Kamito held his breath.
With likewise nervous expressions, Claire and Scarlet observed their surroundings. Then...
In the center of the vast garden, a mass of dark miasma, terrifying and dense, began to slowly take on human form.
"...M-More of them!?"
Kamito stared intently at the solidification of miasma.
The darkness coalesced into the shape of a slender human, smaller than Nepenthes Lore.
Covered by pitch-black darkness, it looked like a shadow that would disappear any moment.
(—This guy is no ordinary monster.)
Kamito knew instinctively. A chill coursed through him, making his entire body tremble.
On the face of that flickering shadow, a pair of crimson eyes lit up, glowing with ominous light.
'—No way, even something like that has been awakened!?'
"...! You know him, Restia?"
'Yes, this was the strongest Demon King candidate, born in the Holy Kingdom seven hundred years ago—'
Black lightning erupted from the Vorpal Sword in his hand as though issuing a warning.
The dark shadow calmly raised its sword.
Judging from that stance, that motion and behavior, Kamito felt a sense of familiarity.
(That movement, could it be—!?)
'—Avril Ciel Mais, the Sword Saint.'
No sooner had she spoken than the shadow vanished.