Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume16 Chapter12

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Chapter 12 - Absolute Blade Asura[edit]

Part 1[edit]

The slash, executed with divine speed, flashed by.

Had he dodged slightly slower, Kamito's neck would have been severed from his body.

A shallow scratch left a trail of blood on his cheek.

Kamito was able to react in time only because he knew that move, not because he read the enemy's sword.

Despite minor differences from what Kamito understood, that move was undoubtedly—

"...I can't believe it's Purple Lightning of the Absolute Blade Arts!?"

Kamito was speechless.

Why did this kind of monster know how to use the Absolute Blade Arts, which had supposedly been passed down a single line of masters and disciples—

No wait, Restia had already hinted at the answer.

Avril Ciel Mais, the Sword Saint.

That was what Restia had called the monster.

"Ciel Mais"—In spirit language, this was a term meaning "one who has devoted their life to the sword." Although not to the point of ubiquitous, it was not a rare family name among nobles. However, it was probably not mere coincidence that this thing shared the same family name as her .

"...Tell me, Restia, who exactly was that guy?"

Brushing away the blood on his cheek, Kamito finally spoke.

'Avril Ciel Mais was the Sword Saint born in the Holy Kingdom of Lugia. A legendary figure who had attained the pinnacle of swordsmanship. He was the founder of the Absolute Blade Arts used by the Dusk Witch, and like you, he was also a Demon King candidate who had inherited Ren Ashdoll's power—'

"The founder of the Absolute Blade Arts...!?"

Kamito widened his eyes.

He had heard Greyworth mention having a mentor before. This included the fact that the Absolute Blade Arts were always passed on to a single pupil, inherited generation after generation throughout history...

If the founder was this dark monster in front of him right now—

"Then Greyworth is the descendant of a Demon King candidate?"

'It is unknown whether she is a direct descendant or not. After all, the name of Ciel Mais is equivalent to a title of supreme swordsmanship. It is also possible that the witch took on that title on her own. However—'

At this point, Restia paused.

'Regardless, it would be best if you treated him as being on an entirely different level compared to the Nepenthes Lore that Rubia Elstein awakened on Ragna Ys. Demon King Solomon aside, he is the man closest to the Demon King—'

"..."

Kamito readied his two swords to face off against the pitch-black shadow.

The ancient Sword Saint's sword pressure was extraordinary even as a Demon King candidate among the Nepenthes Lores.

Unlike the other Nepenthes Lores, one could sense there was a clear mind behind that pair of crimson eyes.

(How ironic. I can't believe I ran into the founder of my master's swordsmanship—)

The dark Sword Saint—Avril Ciel Mais—quietly readied his sword.

While directing his gaze at the enemy before him, Kamito said to Claire:

"Claire, leave this guy to me."

"Will you be alright?"

Claire asked worriedly. Her excellent intuition had noticed that this Nepenthes Lore was on a completely different dimension compared to the others.

"Yeah. A user of the Absolute Blade Arts can only be defeated by another user of the Absolute Blade Arts. Also—"

Saying that, Kamito glared at the enemy before him.

"That's an opponent I need to settle things with—"

—Yes, despite an appearance that changed into that of a monster, this was the founder of the Absolute Blade Arts.

Unless he defeated him, there was no way he could prevail against Greyworth who had recovered her prime.

Kamito did not know if Claire sensed his resolve, but she nodded obediently.

"Understood. Then I'll leave it to you. Scarlet and I will take care of the other Nepenthes Lores."

"Yeah, counting on you—"

"Leave it to me, master's master."

Ortlinde skillfully spun the great flaming scythe in her hand.

"Wait, Scarlet, what is 'master's master' supposed to mean?"

When Claire asked in curiosity, Scarlet meowed and avoided eye contact.

ROOOOOAAAAAR!

The dark Sword Saint's roar was filled with resentment.

In order to oppose the resulting sword pressure, Kamito covered himself with divine power.

"Let me try and see whether my sword skills are good enough—"

Kicking the ground, he accelerated all at once.

"Absolute Blade Arts, First Form—Purple Lightning!"

A flash of the sword, a shower of sparks.

The dark Sword Saint readied his sword, blocking the Absolute Blade Art executed by Kamito with godlike speed.

"—As expected of the Sword Saint. However, this move was just to pay you back for just now."

Grinning savagely, Kamito immediately swung his sword again.

The Demon Slayer and the Vorpal Sword—Using the strongest elemental waffen, he unleashed a raging tide of consecutive strikes.

—However, the dark Sword Saint was still able to parry them away with flowing motions.

R-ROOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAR...!

Avril howled.

That voice sounded both resentful and delighted. It was joy for finally encountering opponent equally matched opponent in swordsmanship after hundreds of years. Even after turning into this kind of monster, his heart still harbored pride for having dedicated a lifetime to the way of the sword. Kamito could feel it.

However—

"Sorry, I don't have time to enjoy a blade dance with you—"

Kamito advanced in one breath, swinging the Demon Slayer glowing silver white.

It was unknown how long Fianna and the others could last in their defensive battle at Mordis. The longer the battle here dragged on, the greater the damage within the city.

"—Hehehe, gimme my graduation certificate!"

With a flurry of slashes and the howling of slicing wind, the clashing of steel sounded repeatedly.

As expected, his sword style was the same as Greyworth's.

(...Their swordsmanship is virtually on the same level, huh?)

Kamito professed admiration in his heart.

Purely in terms of swordsmanship, Greyworth was the only one so far who could match Kamito. Whether Leonora, Paladin Luminaris or Lurie Lizaldia of the Numbers, all of them were inferior to him—

However, this monster that bears the name of Ciel Mais—

Kamito swung his two swords but was blocked by the sword enveloped in dark miasma.

Avril's crimson eyes seemed to tremble with joy.

In the next instant, a wall of dark miasma appeared, surrounding the two of them who were locked in a duel of swords.

"...! What the heck are you planning?"

While the two of them continued to clash blades, vying for supremacy, Kamito asked the shadow before his eyes. On the other, he never expected to get an answer—

'—This is a wall of miasma. It looks like he hopes for a one-on-one duel with you.'

"...I see."

A two-man arena where no one could interfere.

Whether Claire or Scarlet, or the other Nepenthes Lores—

At the same time, escaping was impossible too.

Kamito gritted his teeth and smiled fearlessly.

"Got it, I'll fight you to the bitter end, just as you wish. However, I'll be settling this quick!"

Part 2[edit]

"...! Kamito!?"

Seeing a dark wall swirl around Kamito, Claire almost screamed.

While dodging the attacking tentacles of Nepenthes Lore, she unleashed the spirit magic of Fireball against the quivering wall of miasma.

Her attack landed but did not explode. The wall of miasma absorbed the Fireball.

"What is with that wall..!?"

"Master, that is a barrier of darkness miasma. Hence, it will devour all spirit magic—"

Scarlet blocked a Nepenthes Lore's sword with her flaming scythe. The point of contact with the pitch-black sword was immediately corrupted.

"Oh no—"

Three Nepenthes Lores released tentacles of darkness together.

Claire and Ortlinde dodged at the same time by jumping left and right respectively.

"Let us believe in Kamito-sama and survive the trial here—"

"Yes!"

Dodging the endless stream of attacks, Claire fired a Fireball.

An attack of three consecutive hits. The flames struck Nepenthes Lore's armor directly, causing a great explosion.

However, attacks of this level achieved nothing more than diversions. Claire understood that too. All Claire could manage as she was now was cover Scarlet, the one with enough firepower to exterminate them.

"Go forth and dance, the crimson flames summoning destruction—Hell Blaze!"

Towards the howling storm of the explosion, Claire unleashed what could be called the strongest fire-type spirit magic.

Scorching flames, capable of melting even rock, swallowed Nepenthes Lore. Next—

"O flames, may a night of red descend upon the world—Crimson Judgment!"

Swinging a fiery scythe, Scarlet unleashed a powerful move.

Enveloped in a crimson blaze, the Nepenthes Lore instantly vanished without trace.

"...Still, five more... Kuh—"

Clutching her chest, Claire fell on her knees.

As expected, Scarlet's human form was extremely draining of divine power.

"Master!"

Scarlet called out.

Apparently, Claire's contracted spirit had sensed her exhaustion through their spirit seal.

(...I'm not done yet... I made my decision to fight alongside Kamito...)

Claire stood up while panting.

(Also, I am tasked with the mission Nee-sama assigned me...!)

Part 3[edit]

"Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!"

Inside the towering wall of darkness—

Kamito and the ghost of Sword Saint Avril were clashing blades intensely.

"Go forth and pierce, all-annihilating demon lightning of punishment—Vorpal Blast!"

The jet-black lightning released from the Vorpal Sword poured all over Avril.

However, it inflicted almost no damage to Avril. Against Nepenthes Lore's elemental affinity of darkness, Est's anti-magic properties seemed to be more effective.

'—Kamito, I will switch to support. Use Miss Sacred Sword as your main offense.'

"Got it—"

At Restia's suggestion, Kamito redistributed the divine power assigned to the Vorpal Sword over to Est.

'Are you sure, darkness spirit—'

'Yes. In exchange, please yield to me the right to sneak into his bed.'

'Unacceptable—'

Est instantly replied. Kamito really wished that they did not engage in this sort of rights transaction negotiation in the middle of battle.

The Demon Slayer in Kamito's hand glowed with silver-white radiance.

Next—

ROOOOOAAAAAAR——!

Avril roared. In that instant, Kamito smelled an intense stench of death and hastily jumped to the side.

Three flashes of the sword swept by. The tip of the blade brushed against his forehead, instantly messing up his bangs.

Absolute Blade Arts—Most likely the prototype of Shadowmoon Waltz. Kamito managed to dodge this move purely because he knew its motions.

The prototype's movement of the sword was not as refined as Greyworth's swordsmanship, but as a result, it caused Kamito's judgment to be off by a little.

(...! Crap!)

Seizing the opportunity when Kamito lost balance, Avril's sword went straight for the opening.

Kamito hastily blocked using the Vorpal Sword in his left hand, but—

In that instant, a scorching sensation of pain coursed through his body with a sizzling sound.

His back had touched the darkness barrier

"...Guh, ooh...!"

Gritting his teeth to bear the intense pain, Kamito mustered all his strength to hold his ground.

(As expected, he's pretty strong...)

Kamito's forehead broke out in cold sweat.

Despite a body that had turned into a corpse, his superb swordsmanship remained intact.

Before Kamito's eyes was not some random monster but a genuine master of the sword.

—But at the same time, another thought crossed Kamito's mind. Even for a master who had attained such a height, a man crowned with the title of the Sword Saint, he still succumbed to Ren Ashdoll's power, turning into this kind of monster.

Holding his sword in both hands, Avril attacked Kamito fiercely. It was probably the prototype of Crushing Fang, the Absolute Blade Art for destroying weapons—

(Now is the time—)

Instantly, Kamito lowered his stance and released in one go the divine power accumulated at his feet.

"Absolute Blade Arts, Seventh Form—Biting Dragon!"

What he used was an Absolute Blade Art developed from the thrusting move of Purple Lightning, an attack for sending the enemy upwards.

Enveloped in miasma, Sword Saint Avril was launched into the air.

Jumping into the air, Kamito instantly reversed his sword stance.

"Absolute Blade Arts, Second Form—Meteor!"

Pouring all of his divine power into the Demon Slayer, he swung.

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!

With the sound of an explosion, the ground was gouged up, producing a cloud of dust.

"...H-Huff, huff, huff—"

Consecutive usage of the Absolute Blade Arts, twice in a row, was too great a burden for the body.

'—Kamito, it will be dangerous if you recklessly strained yourself any further. My power will not be enough to keep things suppressed.'

Hearing Restia's warning...

"Yeah, I know..."

Kamito answered urgently.

The divine power inside him was in disarray. His control over divine control was gradually getting more difficult.

At this rate—

Just then, the dust settled and a shadow enveloped in miasma slowly stood up.

"So even that didn't work..."

Kamito's throat twitched.

In terms of swordsmanship, the two of them were virtually equal. However, the opponent possessed an immortal body after being transformed into Nepenthes Lore. Furthermore, the enemy also had a massive advantage in the quantity of overall divine power.

At the current rate of divine power consumption, he could very well end up devoured by the power of darkness.

However, this was not an opponent that he could defeat while holding back.

(I've got to decide the match in the next attack—)

Kamito gripped the Demon Slayer tightly.

Part 4[edit]

"—The third barrier has been breached!"

"It's no good. We can't sustain this any longer—Kyahhh!"

Screams of princess maidens came through the spirit crystal communicator then disappeared, accompanied by the sound of static. Similar reports were coming from everywhere above the city wall.

(It is only a matter of time for my current location too...)

Fianna bit her lip tightly.

Positioned at the zone in contact with Zohar, she was responsible for the place that was being invaded the most violently. Although the barrier was still holding up, just barely, if any more barriers at other checkpoints were to be destroyed, the entire defense line would probably collapse like an avalanche.

"...Kamito-kun...!"

Fianna clasped her hands together like praying, thinking about Kamito who was in enemy territory.

She had faith in him. But even with faith, she still could not change the fact that she worried.

Behind Fianna, Rubia spoke:

"Fianna, this place is not going to hold. Retreat to the Demon's Fist and re-establish the defense line—"

"But if we do that, Mordis' town area will—"

"Cannot be helped. Giving up the outskirts is the only recourse. At least it is better than getting wiped out here—"

Rubia spoke with a calm expression. However, there was heavy fatigue on her countenance.

Indeed, she was correct. At this rate, the defense line was going to collapse.

"...U-Understood, I will direct the princess maidens maintaining the barrier to retreat—"

Just as Fianna was going to give orders using the spirit crystal for communications...

"—no good—The fourth barrier..."

"...!?"

The voice was suddenly cut off.

In that instant, the weakened barrier was destroyed. A swarm of tentacles surged in all at once.

"Kyahhhhhhhhh!" "Noooooooooooo!"

Entangled by the tentacles, the princess maidens were swallowed into massive cocoons one after another.

(...No way!?)

The surge of Leviathan's tentacles resembled a tide. Just as Georgios, in the middle of guarding the princess maidens, was about to be devoured all at once—

"Georgios...!

A second before the tentacles were about to devour Fianna...

A light flashed past, sweeping across Zohar with city wall and the tentacles in its path.

(...Huh?)

With the sound of a deafening explosion, a gigantic pillar of fire rose up, instantly vaporizing the tentacles.

The atmosphere was shaking. Fragments and debris that had been tossed up began to fall in succession.

"What on earth happened—"

No sooner had she spoken, having fallen on the ground due to the impact, Fianna noticed a gigantic shadow overhead on top of her.

She looked up forcefully, only to see—

A fortress ruling the sky.

Layers upon layers of defensive armor. A spirit crystal reactor glowing with red. In addition, there were countless gunports fitted all over the body—

Velsaria Eva, clad in a fortress spirit's Elemental Panzer.

"Velsaria, you made it in time, huh—"

Rubia spoke.

"I apologize for the delay. Modifications took a substantial amount of time—"

The visor covering her head opened to reveal Velsaria's face.

The fortress spirit fired thrusters while slowly descending, landing on the city wall.

Crash—Under the great weight of the heavy defensive armor, part of the city wall collapsed.

To protect Fianna and the others, collapsed on the ground, she stepped in front of the continuously regenerating tentacles and declared loudly:

"Upon the name of the Fahrengart Knights, and upon the honor of the Sylphid Knights of Areishia Spirit Academy, I shall see to it that none shall pass another step forward. Anyone who wishes to conquer Mordis must defeat this Silent Fortress first!"

In that instant, all the gunports all over her body opened. The fortress spirit's super firepower attacked all at once.

Tentacles were torn apart, shredded in the explosion. One after another, the cocoons that had swallowed princess maidens fell to the ground, containing silhouettes of girls all covered in slime.

"Princess, now is the time to reconstruct the barrier—"

"...! Understood!"

Fianna nodded and shouted to the remaining princess maidens.

"—It is not over yet. Trust in our Demon King and hold our ground here!"

Part 5[edit]

The Demon Slayer held in Kamito's hand glowed with even more intense silver-white light.

'Kamito, your divine power consumption is too intense—!"

Restia's voice was almost a scream.

"...Sorry, hang in there... just a little longer—!"

Feeling his heart pounding violently, Kamito poured in more divine power.

He could already feel Ren Ashdoll's power invading him. Gripped tightly in his left hand, the Vorpal Sword crackled and gave off jet-black lightning.

Restia was doing everything she could to suppress the power of darkness.

...I can't waste any more time here.

For the sake of Ellis and Rinslet, as well as Fianna and the others protecting the town, not to mention Claire and Scarlet who were desperately buying time for him, and—

The refugees of Mordis, trusting in the impostor Demon King—

ROOOOOOAAAAAAR!

The dark Sword Saint—Avril Ciel Mais—roared and charged at him. He released a great deal of dark miasma, probably due to sensing Kamito's divine power expand all at once.

"Come, use your strongest move—"

Kamito closed his eyes for a moment, biding his time for that exact instant.

Then he took a step forward.

Kamito was waiting. Waiting for his opponent to unleash the most powerful Absolute Blade Art.

Accompanied by a whirlwind, flashes of the sword were released.

It was the prototype of the sword skill for taking out large spirits—The Destructive Form, Bursting Blossom Spiral Blade Dance.

In this world, there existed only one move capable of countering this skill.

And the Sword Saint probably did not know of it. The existence of a move for countering the most powerful sword skill—

After all, the Bursting Blossom Spiral Blade Dance was the most powerful move that could be mastered by an ultimate user of the Absolute Blade Arts.

There was no need to create an extra sword skill capable of countering it.

Hence, this was an Absolute Blade Art created not by the founder, but by a successor then inherited—

"—This is my farewell to you, Avril Ciel Mais!"

Absolute Blade Arts, Final Form—Last Strike.

This was the ultimate mystic technique that Greyworth had sacrificed her career as an elementalist in order to pass on.

A blinding silver-white flash sliced the dark Sword Saint cleanly into two.

Kamito did not look back. He knew without having to look back.

"...Magni... ficent..."

From behind, he heard that one word.

Next, immediately, the ultimate Nepenthes Lore—Sword Saint Avril Ciel Mais—turned into pitch-black ash and scattered.

Kamito bowed his head in apparent respect for the Sword Saint—

"Guh—"

Suddenly, he stabbed his swords into the ground and fell on his knees.

"Ah... Guh, ahhhhhhhhhhhhh...!"

As though to replenish his depleted divine power, the power of darkness swallowed Kamito.

Part 6[edit]

A crimson slash tore through the air. A Nepenthes Lore was destroyed as a result.

These were the Scarlet Valkyrie's flames of purgatory that had shaken Astral Zero in the past—

"—Are you alright, Master?"

Worried about Claire's consumption, Scarlet inquired.

"...Y-Yes, I can still... go on..."

With sweat dripping from her forehead, Claire forced herself to remain calm.

Ellis, Rinslet and Fianna had all made dramatic progress.

(...As the team captain, I can't lose to them!)

—At that moment...

From inside, a flash of light slashed the barrier that ejected all external interference—

It was a blinding flash of light, intense enough to penetrate the barrier. This was the light of released divine power.

(...Kamito!?)

Claire was stunned.

She recalled what she had heard from her sister just prior to setting off on their mission.

The light was so bright. If he were to use this much divine power, Kamito's body would—

"—! Kamito!"

Claire ran towards the darkness barrier.

Before setting off from Mordis, Claire had heard from her sister about the power of darkness invading Kamito's body.

Currently, Darkness Elemental Lord Ren Ashdoll's power was eating away at Kamito. As soon as he used too much divine power, Kamito would be devoured by the power of darkness, turning him into the likes of Nepenthes Lore.

Est alone was massive drain of divine power already. Now in addition to that, there was the darkness spirit's demon sword. Even if Kamito's divine power was extraordinary, using two such spirits simultaneously would swiftly deplete him.

Her sister had said so, if that were to happen—

'You must save that man as the Demon King's princess maiden—'

It was rumored that princess maidens with strong bonds with the Demon King were able to promote the circulation of his power.

Like at the Blade Dance, Claire managed to return Kamito to normal through a kiss—

You should be able to do it—She had said.

In front of the towering barrier of darkness, Claire halted.

Even though the Nepenthes Lore responsible for putting it up was gone, the barrier showed no signs of disappearing.

"Why..."

Claire felt a burning pain as soon as she touched the barrier, stealing her divine power immediately.

"...! What should I do...?"

On the other side of barrier, Kamito was suffering.

At this rate, he might end up devoured by the power of darkness just as her sister had explained—

Claire hesitated for a moment then committed her resolve.

(...My only choice is to use End of Vermilion to crack it open by force.)

—The true flame of Elstein should be capable of destroying this barrier that absorbed spirit magic.

She had no idea whether she would be able to manage it while sustaining Ortlinde, but—

She focused her awareness into her palm to create a tiny fire.

The flames then enveloped her entire body. In this manner, she walked into the barrier of darkness.

"...Ahhhhhhhh...!"

Intense pain and severe fatigue attacked her entire body.

A moan bordering on a scream leaked out from her, Claire advanced.

(...Kamito...)

Her consciousness began to fade. Even so, her feet did not stop.

"Ah, guh, ahhhhhhhh...!"

She could see Kamito's figure on the other side of the barrier.

Kamito was kneeling on the ground, clutching his head in his hands, groaning in pain.

"Wait for me, Kamito... I'll be, right there..."

Passing through the barrier, Claire gently hugged the head of the suffering Kamito.

Her sister had said that there would be no effect unless she connected with the Demon King through her bond with him.

Hence—

(...Kamito, I love you... I love you so much.)

Carrying the feelings she had always kept hidden, she kissed him.

Part 7[edit]

"—to... Kamito...!"

Red hair brushed against his cheek.

As soon as Kamito woke up, the first thing he saw was Claire's face.

"...Clai... re...?"

"Kamito, thank goodness...!"

Claire felt relieved and exhaled deeply, sitting down on the spot.

Kamito slowly sat up. His body felt very light. By the time he realized, Ren Ashdoll's power had vanished. Divine power akin to burning flames began to circulate inside him.

It greatly resembled the divine power that Rubia had poured into him at the purification facility in Mordis.

"Ah, uh... Umm, well, so... Nee-sama said, doing this, could save you—"

Claire murmured with her face bright red.

Finally, Kamito realized what had happened.

It was identical to the time when he rescued Fianna at the imperial capital. Kamito's Ren Ashdoll power was poured into Claire while at the same time, Claire's divine power also flowed into Kamito's body.

The soft sensation continued to linger on his lips.

Looking at Claire, Kamito saw Claire's cheeks turn increasingly bright red.

"...Claire, thanks a lot. I'm okay now."

Wielding his two swords, Kamito slowly stood up. Even though his divine power had recovered to some extent, due to executing Last Strike, his entire body's muscles were groaning in pain.

A swing of the Demon Slayer infused with divine power completely annihilated the miasma barrier.

Outside the barrier, Scarlet was locked in an intense battle against three Nepenthes Lores.

"Leave this to me, you two. Please head over to stop Leviathan first."

Scarlet spoke while swinging her massive scythe.

"Will you be okay, Scarlet?"

Hearing that, Claire asked worriedly.

Even Scarlet looked like she could not avoid getting tired. The flames on her body had grown smaller.

"I am a Spirit Weapon and can operate autonomously to a certain extent. Once the Demon's Circuit providing divine power to these ghosts is destroyed, they will not be able to sustain themselves any longer."

"...Understood."

Claire nodded then ran over to Scorpia, which was exuding an ominous atmosphere.

The Nepenthes Lores intended to chase Kamito and Claire, but Scarlet blocked their path, wielding her massive scythe.

The flames enveloping her limbs began to surge intensely.

This was the power of Ren Ashdoll that had flowed into Claire's body.

"But forget about stalling for time, I might very well defeat them directly—"

Part 8[edit]

Breaking the closed door and charging into Scorpia—

What greeted Kamito and Claire was a scene from hell.

"...!"

Claire widened her eyes and was compelled to cover her mouth with her hands.

Inside the palace, countless tentacles were crawling around like blood vessels, pulsating eerily.

No patrolling soldiers or ladies-in-waiting could be seen inside. There were not a single sign of humans.

None of those things that wrapped up humans into cocoons could be found anywhere.

(...Has everyone evacuated, or—)

The speculation surfacing in Kamito's mind made him nauseous.

Most likely, this palace was the first place to merge with Leviathan.

In other words, all the people inside the palace had already been—

"...Let's go, Claire."

"Yes..."

Kamito and Claire nodded calmly, slicing their way through tentacles while charging into the depths of the palace.

"Restia, can you figure out where that Demon's Circuit device is located?"

While running, Kamito asked the demon sword at his waist.

'Yes, at the very back of the Hierarch's Hall where state-level ceremonies are conducted, there should be a passage leading to underground military facilities—'

"—Got it."

Kamito drew out the Vorpal Sword and incinerated tentacles to oblivion using jet-black demon lightning.

Traversing the palace that had turned into the interior of Leviathan's body, they reached the Hierarch's Hall where a giant magic circle had been drawn on the floor.

As expected—

At the very back was a tightly shut metal door.

"Kamito, what is this!?"

Claire cried out in alarm.

Hearing that, Kamito soon noticed. He had seen it before, something similar to this door.

At the deepest part underground of the mine town Gado, Kamito and team had seen the same kind of door.

However, unlike that door, which had the Darkness Elemental Lord's emblem scratched off, this door had the Five Elemental Lords' emblem erased.

"...!"

Suddenly, Claire clutched her head and collapsed on the spot as though she were dizzy.

"Claire, are you okay?"

"...Kami... to... Inside here, is something extremely powerful..."

Claire responded in a semi-moan.

Hailing from the same lineage, Claire had inherited talent as a princess maiden. Most likely, she had felt the presence of the strategic-class militarized spirit that had stolen divine power from the residents of Zohar, thus stunning her as a result.

"—Est, are you able to destroy that door?"

'—Yes, Kamito.'

Est replied.

Kamito readied the glowing Demon Slayer then swung at the sealed door in one breath.

The door was shattered to reveal a mass of viscous darkness occupying the interior.

The walls were covered by flesh resembling mucous membranes, pulsating nonstop. Kamito used the Demon Slayer's glow for illumination and the walls of flesh trembled as though in fear.

"Is this place the Demon's Circuit...?"

'No, its location is even lower down—'

Restia replied.

"...Hmm, I feel a bit dizzy."

"Yeah, me too."

Stepping into the darkness, Kamito felt a serious sense of fatigue.

A moment's carelessness and one could very well lose consciousness here.

'Your divine power will be stolen simply by staying here—'

"Looks like we need to hurry."

Kamito and Claire quietly descended the staircase leading underground.

—After who knew how many levels...

Having spent a long time in the darkness, almost about to faint, they finally reached the end of the staircase.

Next was a passage leading to yet another door.

"Let's go, Kamito—"

"Yeah..."

Once again, Kamito poured divine power into the Demon Slayer and destroyed the door.

Then—

"...!?"

The first to come into view was the red color covering the floor completely.

Confronted with the most horrific sight, Kamito covered his mouth and Claire was forced to turn her face away.

What had dyed the floor red was a great volume of blood.

Inside the crimson sea of blood were the bodies of princess maidens who had been drained of life energy. No one was breathing, everyone were dead.

"W-What is this..."

Claire's voice trembled. She tightly clutched Kamito's arm in apparent fear.

Most likely, these princess maidens were the ones who had released Leviathan's seal.

At this moment—

"—How splendid, Demon King's successor. To think you even managed to vanquish the Sword Saint of antiquity."

Inside the vast triangular space, an elderly and hoarse voice was heard.

"...!?"

Kamito looked up forcefully and raised the glowing Demon Slayer.

Only to see at the very top of the equilateral triangular room—

The figure of Sjora Kahn, the Theocracy's princess.

"Sjora!?"

Claire cried out in surprise.

Having lost her seductive good looks, Sjora was now all skin and bones, exhibiting none of her former glamor. In addition, her lower half was merged with a beating crimson heart.

"My original plan was to wipe out the rebel army gathered at Mordis and absorb their divine power. Never did I expect you people to be present—"

Sjora Kahn's crimson lips curled up to show a terrifying grin.

"Prepare yourself, Sjora Kahn. For the crimes of using a strategic-class militarized spirit and slaughtering your own countrymen, your atrocities will be tried and punished by the international court!"

Raising her flaming whip, Claire shouted.

"It matters not. We shall concede our defeat on this occasion. This Zohar can be yielded to you lot too. However, a mere city of this sort does not count as any heavy setback. Accept it as a present for celebrating the revival of the true Demon King. K-Kukukuku, kuhahahahahah!"

Sjora's mocking laughter resounded all around. The sound did not resemble her sultry voice known to Kamito and company, instead, it was more akin to the laughter of old men.

In the next instant, together with the gigantic beating heart that she had merged with, Sjora's body slid down lightly, falling at the feet of Kamito and Claire.

"...What!?"

Kamito was speechless.

Sjora Kahn. The girl known as the Theocracy's witch—

With a creepy smile on her face, she breathed her last breath.

"Leviathan stole all her divine power."

Claire murmured quietly.

"To think the Theocracy's princess met this kind of demise..."

"Yeah... But in the end, she said stuff that bothers me..."

The revival of the true Demon King... What on earth did that mean?

"Maybe it's a legend in the Demon King's cult or something. Let's investigate it later."

"..."

Kamito looked up to the ceiling of the equilateral triangular room.

Having lost Sjora, its controller, the heart—Leviathan's core—continued to beat. As long as this thing existed, Leviathan would probably keep absorbing divine power nonstop.

With the Demon Slayer readied, Kamito aimed at the still active heart.

"Est, I'm counting on you. Finish this—"

'Yes, Kamito—'

While Est's voice sounded in his mind, the Demon Slayer's blade gave off silver-white light.

Kamito swung the sacred sword directly, slicing the heart in two.