Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume16 Chapter4

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Chapter 4 - Desert Voyage[edit]

Part 1[edit]

The military ship carrying Kamito and company, the Revenant, set off from Dracunia's military port.

Since Ordesia's airspace was off limits, the ship had to take a massive detour around the Kelbreth Mountain Range, flying on a route over the great forest of Ezos that did not belong to any country.

Mordis was a desert city near the border of the Quina Empire and had apparently been a military stronghold of the Theocracy during the Ranbal War. The fortress built on top of a mountain mine was also known as the Demon's Fist, and currently, the anti-Sjora factions were gradually gathering there.

Kamito and company boarded the ship and were first taken to the conference room.

Sitting on Kamito's right was Muir, who refused to let go of his arm, while Claire took the seat on his left.

"So Nee-sama isn't here..."

Claire murmured with a look of mixed feelings. Sitting at the head of the table, Velsaria nodded.

"Indeed, the Cardinal had disembarked at Mordis first. She is going to rally the believers of the Demon King cult to assemble."

"...The Demon King cult?"

Kamito and company stared at one another in surprise.

"Of the rebel forces gathered at Mordis, the majority consists of heretical Demon King cultists oppressed by Sjora Kahn. Securing their cooperation is necessary to succeed in rescuing Saladia Kahn."

"Heretical Demon King cultists? My esteemed sister, isn't the Demon King cult heretical to begin with—"

At that moment, Ellis timidly raised her hand and asked.

"There are apparently all kinds of sects and factions within the Demon King cult itself. The Kahn dynasty presides over the traditional dogma that holds the hierarch as supreme while relegating all other sects as heretics. During the late king's reign, leniency could apparently be obtained by paying taxes, but Sjora has rejected all heretical dogma and even pushed forward atrocities such as massacring believers. Because of this, heretical cultists have organized rebellions all over the country, forming a temporary united front with the goal of taking down the Sjora administration."

"—I see now."

Kamito nodded. It looked like Sjora had many enemies within the cult too. Rubia was probably planning to make use of them.

"However, how will she go about uniting the believers of the Demon King cult?"

"The Cardinal previously spent time in the Theocracy and apparently had frequent contact with one of the factions within the Demon King cult. From what I heard, she secured a position only second to the hierarch in rank. Simply by relying on her connections from that time and her own personal charisma, winning over the believer's hearts should not be anything difficult."

"As expected of Rubia-sama..."

"Indeed. Such inborn leadership charisma, a magnetic personality."

Rinslet and Ellis remarked poignantly.

"...Indeed. She is different from I who used fear and discipline to dominate my subordinates and ended up banished from the Sylphid Knights."

"E-Esteemed sister!? You did nothing wrong... You know?"

Seeing Velsaria poke fun at herself in self-deprecation with a chuckle, Ellis hastily offered support.

"...Well, let us put the past aside for now."

Coughing to clear to her throat, Velsaria continued.

"As for the rescue of Princess Saladia Kahn, we shall cooperate with the rebel forces at Mordis. No objections, right?"

Kamito's group exchanged looks and nodded together.

"The enemy's enemy is our friend. We have nothing against gaining more allies."

"Right. Besides, we're currently traitors of Ordesia too. In a way, we're the same as them."

Claire shrugged and commented.

"In that case, this discussion is over. Please enjoy your free time until we arrive at Mordis."

Part 2[edit]

Thus the meeting concluded. When leaving the conference room—

Claire suddenly halted.

"What's wrong, Claire?"

"I'm going to Nee-sama's study to research about the Theocracy. If she spent time in the Demon King cult, then I'm sure she'll have collected plenty of material."

Despite her looks, Claire was quite analytical in nature. Back when taking part in the Blade Dance, she had also researched about the other teams. This time, it looked like she was enthusiastic about gathering information about the enemy camp too.

"Then let's go together. I'd like to know more about the Demon King too."

Hearing Kamito say that...

"R-Really? I-I don't mind..."

Claire looked away a little shyly.

"Onii-sama, who cares about that? Come to my room and play."

Muir tugged Kamito's arm with both hands, refusing to release him.

"...Uh, how about after dinner?"

"Awwww..."

Muir pouted unhappily.

Just as Kamito was caught in a dilemma—

"Muir-san, if it is alright with you, how about I play with you?"

Rinslet smiled tenderly and offered with a smile.

"No, I wanna play with Onii-sama."

"Muir, I'll play with you later. Why don't you play with Rinslet first?"

"...~!"

After Kamito placed his hand on her head, Muir very reluctantly said:

"...F-Fine. If you say so, Onii-sama, I'll play with this lady for a bit."

She released her grip on Kamito's arm at last.

"Then Rinslet, I'm entrusting Muir to you."

"Leave it to me. Very well, Muir-san, shall we head to the hall there?"

Rinslet bent down lightly and took Muir's hand.

"I-I am not a child—"

"Oh dear, then excuse me."

Smiling with a "fufu," Rinslet left with Muir.

Witnessing this scene, Kamito was a little surprised.

(...I can't believe Muir could behave so obediently towards someone other than Lily. I've never seen it before.)

Perhaps because Muir and Mireille were of similar age, Rinslet was particularly skilled at dealing with her.

"Th-Then let us be on our way too—"

"Hmm? Oh, right."

Rubia's study was located on the second floor of the ship.

Kamito went down the stairs while watching the twintails in front of him, dancing up and down.

...Somehow, it felt like Claire had matured a bit.

Was this an outcome from her training on Dragon's Peak too?

Just as he was thinking that, he suddenly lost his footing a little.

While Rubia was away from the ship, the Revenant was apparently controlled by Velka and Delia, the twins from the Instructional School, who took turns. The two of them did not seem quite familiar with the ship's controls.

"By the way, are you sure it's okay to enter Rubia's study without permission?"

Suddenly, he asked Claire who was leading the way.

"Isn't the answer obviously okay? I'm her younger sister, you know?"

"No wait, that logic is a bit..."

Kamito narrowed his eyes and remarked.

In front of the study...

"By the way, do you have a key?"

"No."

"Then what are we going to do?"

"This—Melt."

Claire chanted an incantation, instantly melting the keyhole.

"Come on, you..."

Seeing the usual charcoal ideology, Kamito smiled wryly in exasperation.

(...I guess that's one side of her that hasn't changed one bit.)

With the keyhole destroyed, the door slowly opened with a creaking sound.

First to come into view was a set of bookshelves occupying an entire wall, containing a large collection of books.

The only furniture was the desk in the back of the room. This study, focused on practicality, was truly an authentic reflection of Rubia's personality.

"...What an amazing collection. It's full of rare books you won't find in the Academy library."

As a bibliophile, Claire exclaimed in wonder as soon as she stepped inside.

...Although Kamito had not the slightest idea about rareness, he could see that the shelves were definitely packed densely and neatly with ancient texts. There were history books on various countries, spiritology dictionaries, books about dragon species with covers bound using dragon scales, even books written in High Ancient whose titles Kamito could not read.

(...Wait a sec, aren't books in High Ancient impossible for ordinary people to get their hands on in the first place?!)

According to the stipulations of international treaties, personal possession of books in High Ancient left behind by the Elfim race was forbidden. They were items that one would not even be able to see unless visiting the Sealed Library under the Divine Ritual Institute's jurisdiction.

"Say, Claire..."

"What is it?"

"Don't tell me these books were stolen from the Divine Ritual Institute's library?"

"N-Nee-sama couldn't have done something like that, right!?"

Claire frowned and said:

"However, the sealing talisman on this book seems quite thoroughly destroyed..."

"..."

"..."

"I-I'm sure she fully intends to return them eventually. Yeah, definitely."

Breaking out in cold sweat, Claire turned her gaze away.

Kamito looked at the bookshelves again, only to see research books about the Elemental Lords and the Holy Kingdom's history and geography. Rubia's book collection really seemed to extend to all fields.

More surprisingly, it also included novels popular in the imperial capital. However, these were a little different from the romance novels that Claire read—

"Your sister is such an amazing reader..."

Kamito was stunned by the book collection's quality and quantity.

"Yes, Nee-sama started reading many difficult books since childhood. During her time at the Divine Ritual Institute, she even received an imperial medal for publishing a paper on spiritology. I remember she was twelve years old at the time."

"...What a genius."

As expected of someone who had been chosen as a Queen, the pinnacle of princess maidens.

"When I was small, I often asked Nee-sama to read books to me..."

Staring at the bookshelves, Claire murmured nostalgically.

"But it's impossible to return to the past..."

"......"

Kamito was about to say something but decided against it.

On the way to Dracunia, Claire had felt troubled by the lack of interaction between herself and Rubia. It looked like they still had not been able to converse normally.

A complicated mess still seemed to stand between the two sisters.

"—Found it. A book on the Theocracy."

Saying that, Claire extracted a book from the shelf.

It was quite an ancient book, bound in animal skin. Although the title was not in High Ancient, it was still written in a lost language no longer in use today.

"Can you decipher it?"

"...Yes, I will try."

Claire took out her glasses, lit a magical flame in the air, then focused her gaze on the book.

As expected of the honors student of Raven Class. Despite running into occasional setbacks, she still managed to slowly decipher the book's contents.

Kamito could not help but stare, mesmerized by the side view of her face in total concentration.

"What's the matter?"

"...Oh, nothing. I should try to find if there are any books I can read."

Kamito frantically looked away and started searching the books within reach.

(Uh, books about the Demon King...)

In reality, what Kamito hoped to research was not the Theocracy's history but information about Solomon, the Demon King from a thousand years ago. As the dormant power of Darkness Elemental Lord Ren Ashdoll inside him gradually awakened, Kamito felt that it would be best to gain a detailed understanding of the man who had held the same power as himself.

Searching the bookshelves, Kamito finally found a book that he should be capable of reading.

...It looked like a book summarizing the Theocracy's history. Kamito opened the table of contents and began browsing the section that contained records related to Demon King Solomon.

—The Alphas Theocracy was founded roughly a thousand years ago. Its current capital, Zohar, was still a small city in the desert back then.

A sixteen-year-old youth had appeared at the time, Solomon. Capable of using spirits as a male, he was obeyed by seventy-two spirits that had been lying dormant across the lands. He sought to realize his ambition and quickly swept across the entire continent. Back then, the concept of deploying spirits into human warfare did not even exist, hence every nation lost badly against the Demon King's army that used spirits.

However, just as everyone thought that the Demon King's army would subjugate the entire continent, a young girl, who tended sheep, surfaced at what would be the border of the current Holy Kingdom of Lugia.

Entering a spirit contract with the legendary sacred sword, the girl assembled the Salvation Army to take down the Demon King. Hence, the three-year-long Demon King War broke out.

After many intense battles all over the continent, the Demon King finally fell to Sacred Maiden Areishia's sword. And in turn, the Sacred Maiden vanished together with the legendary sacred sword to whereabouts unknown—

Kamito closed the book gently.

(...There's nothing interesting here.)

Furthermore, there were some omissions in this book.

Kamito knew Sacred Maiden Areishia's true and final fate. Afflicted by the curse of the sacred sword that had vanquished numerous spirits, her body was turned into a statue.

And the legendary sacred sword in question was currently—

(...In my hand, huh? Destiny feels more and more unbelievable to me.)

Just as Kamito was having these poignant thoughts...

"Kamito, I've managed to decipher this to some extent..."

Claire lifted her face from her book and said to him.

"Really?"

Hearing that, Kamito poked his head over to peer at the book.

"Huahhh, y-your face is too close, idiot!"

"S-Sorry..."

"Sheesh..."

Blushing, Claire coughed and cleared her throat.

"So, what's this book actually about?"

When Kamito asked...

"Yes, this a book about the Demon King's princess maidens—"

"...!?"

Hearing what Claire said, Kamito could not help but hold his breath.

"The Demon King's princess maidens"—Of course he had some idea about that term.

Reportedly, Demon King Solomon had shared his power with nine concubines he had obtained from the conquered nations, placing them in trusted and important positions as generals in the Demon King's army. Rubia had speculated in the past, wondering whether this was the same as Kamito sharing Ren Ashdoll's power with the girls in his team through kissing.

"—Demon King Solomon apparently forced the princesses of conquered nations to serve him in all kinds of ways... W-What a despicable man!"

"Y-Yeah. The Demon King was truly despicable!"

Kamito averted his eyes semi-evasively.

"Incidentally, this truly lives to its name as a forbidden book, designated for sealing by the Divine Ritual Institute. The history books at the Academy library did not make a single mention of the existence of the Demon King's princess maidens."

Claire commented while reading the pages.

"Well, the Divine Ritual Institute would end up in a difficult position if word got out that the princess maidens had assisted the Demon King."

"That's why they covered it up, which is a bit—Kyah"

At that moment, the Revenant suddenly shook violently, causing books to fall down in a clatter.

"...!"

Kamito hastily jumped on top of Claire to shield her using his back.

STnBD V16 085.jpg

"Oww... Are you okay, Claire?"

"Eh? Y-Yes..."

Her ruby-like eyes were widened in surprise. Claire nodded obediently.

"Those twins don't seem too used to steering the ship—"

Just as Kamito was about to get up...

"Hyah♪"

Claire exclaimed quietly.

"...?"

Only then did Kamito finally notice.

Boing. A not very big feeling on his right hand.

Apparently, he had pressed his hand on her chest the moment they hit the floor.

"...S-Sorry!?"

Kamito hastily withdrew his hand and stood up.

"J-Just now, it was an accident!"

"I-I know..."

"Huh?"

"Th-Thank you, for protecting me..."

Blushing bright red, Claire turned her head and avoided eye contact shyly.

(...W-What's going on?)

Kamito was shocked. Normally, Claire would surely go all out in charcoal mode.

"Anyway, let's first tidy up the fallen books—"

Patting her skirt, Claire stood up.

"Y-Yeah, that's right..."

Kamito was just reaching for a fallen book when...

"Kyahhh, w-what the heck is that!?"

"What's wrong?"

Kamito followed Claire's gaze—

Only to see the book designated for sealing, which Claire had been reading, flipped to a certain page.

"What!?"

Kamito was rendered speechless. After all, the content shown —

Unmentionable illustrations of princess maidens in all sorts of unseemly poses.

"...~! I-Idiot, what are you making me see, pervert!"

Hastily closing the book, Claire blushed intensely while hammering her fists on Kamito.

"H-Hold on, this isn't my fault!"

"True, but, oooh~..."

Going teary-eyed, Claire stood up and brusquely stuffed the scattered books back onto the shelves.

"I-I am searching the shelves over there!"

Having done so, she awkwardly averted her eyes and went to the bookshelves on another side.

(Good grief, what kind of books are Rubia keeping here...?)

While muttering, Kamito was just about to return the book in his hand to its original spot...

"...Hmm?"

He suddenly frowned.

He saw several letters between the books.

The handwriting on these especially formal letters was familiar to Kamito.

(Could these be...?)

Part 3[edit]

"Ahh. The pieces are knocked over, so the game just now is voided."

"S-So unfair! I was clearly winning just now!"

When Muir suggested restarting the game, Rinslet protested.

The wooden game pieces, featuring designs such as dragons or lions to simulate spirits, were scattered on the floor. Due to the ship shaking earlier, the entire game board had flipped.

"Let us switch, Rinslet. I shall be her opponent this time."

Saying that, Fianna started to place the pieces on the game board.

In response, Muir frowned with displeasure.

"No way. You seem very strong."

"A-Are you suggesting I am weak!?"

Indignant, Rinslet cried out loudly.

"I am quite confident in the area of board games. After all, I used to play alone with the pieces back when I shut myself in the palace every day."

"I-I see..."

Not knowing how to react, Rinslet replied ambiguously.

At that moment, the door to the room suddenly opened.

"—I think it is time to prepare dinner. Any requests?"

Ellis came to ask after practicing her spear skills on the deck earlier.

"...So it is already that time of the day? Allow me to help, Captain."

"I see. Thanks for the help."

"We will settle the score later."

"Eh—"

Losing a well-matched opponent, Muir sounded unhappy.

"Let me help too. Is that alright, Ellis?"

Saying that, Fianna was about to stand up.

Ellis froze for a moment then immediately shook her head in a panic.

"C-Certainly not, how could the princess of Legitimate Ordesia deign to do such chores—"

"Well said! Your Highness, please serve as Muir-san's opponent."

"...I-Is that so?"

Faced with forceful opposition from the two girls, Fianna cocked her head in puzzlement.

Part 4[edit]

Stepping into the galley, Ellis and Rinslet swiftly put on their aprons and started preparing dinner efficiently.

Nothing more needed to be said about Rinslet, whose culinary skills rivaled a professional chef's. Ellis was similarly talented at cooking. Even though the stock of ingredients in the food storage was not very plentiful, the two of them still worked together with tacit coordination to pick out usable ingredients one after another.

"This reminds me of cooking practicals at the Academy."

"Yes, indeed..."

Rinslet murmured nostalgically.

Right now, they had become traitors who had raised the banner of rebellion against Ordesia. They were unlikely to have the chance to return to Areishia Spirit Academy as students again—

"Let me be responsible for the soup and the appetizers, as well as a meat dish. What are you planning to make?"

"I would like to try my hand at a bean curd dish I recently learned."

"...Bean curd huh? I recall that it is food from Kamito's homeland."

"Yes, it is extremely healthy and rich in nutrition."

Rinslet snapped her fingers and summoned Fenrir, her contracted spirit.

When Fenrir opened his jaws wide, many ingredients and cooking utensils stored in Astral Zero appeared.

Bean curd and other ingredients not native to Ordesia were inside too.

"This is handmade bean curd prepared at Laurenfrost."

Rinslet puffed out her chest in pride. However, Ellis looked a bit troubled.

"Bean curd is definitely delicious, but as a main course, would its flavor not be too bland?"

She raised this question.

"Oh, worry not. I will be making a legendary bean curd dish popular in the Quina Empire. Its name is 'mapo doufu'."

"Mapo doufu...?"

"Yes, it is dish where abundant chili peppers and spices are used to make a paste that perfectly blends savoriness and spiciness together. According to ancient literature, the taste is addictive."

"...I see. That is certainly something to look forward to."

Ellis gulped.

"Then I shall make some Quina-style appetizers to go along with your dish."

"Oh my, Captain, when did you start learning Quina cuisine?"

"I-I cannot allow myself to keep losing..."

Blushing, Ellis coughed lightly a few times.

At that moment—

"What are you doing? Snack person and tail person."

Rubbing her sleepy eyes while making an unsteady entrance, it was the sword spirit Est.

Supposed to be sleeping in sword form inside Kamito's room, it looked like she had woken up because dinner time was fast approaching.

"T-Tail person, is that me?"

Ellis touched her ponytail, a little offended.

"Dinner..."

Est murmured blankly then jumped up to peer at the kitchen counter.

"...Bean curd."

Without any facial expression, Est's violet eyes instantly glimmered brightly.

"Yes, Miss Sword Spirit. We will be making a dish with your favorite bean curd today."

"Bean curd, bean curd♪"

Est sang in a transparent voice then...

"In that case, I shall contribute a little too—"

She turned herself into a kitchen knife, manifesting in Rinslet's hand.

"Much appreciated, Miss Sword Spirit."

"What on earth is going on!?"

Ellis exclaimed in shock.

"Fufu, Miss Sword Spirit's kitchen knife is very amazing, you know?"

Saying that, Rinslet took a spring onion and sliced rapidly with the kitchen knife a few times. Tracing out a beautiful parabola, slices of spring onion flew into the bowl one after another.

"...T-Truly amazing, but is it alright to use the legendary sacred sword like this?"

With a complicated expression, Ellis asked in confusion.

"Fufu, as long as I create a new legend."

Making no sense in her words, Rinslet sprayed oil into a round iron pot taken from Fenrir's mouth and lit the stove.

"The fire is a bit lacking..."

"No helping it. This is equipment on a military ship, after all."

Although a small salamander spirit was sealed inside the stove's spirit crystal, it was not a powerful spirit to begin with. Added to the fact that the ground's blessings were absent when high up in the atmosphere, the spirit seemed quite lethargic.

"...Hmm, it would be impossible to recreate authentic mapo doufu using this weak a fire!"

Just as Rinslet fumed with an annoyed expression...

"Meow..."

She saw a hellcat clad in flames, passing through the corridor outside the galley.

While her master Claire had gone off with Kamito to do research, she was apparently strolling freely inside the ship.

"Miss Hellcat, perfect timing!"

Rinslet waved to Scarlet.

"Meow?"

Cocking her head in puzzlement, Scarlet still walked over.

Normally speaking, contracted spirits were not supposed to pay any attention to anyone except for their master. But because Rinslet frequently provided tasty snacks, Scarlet was quite close with her.

"Please start a strong fire—"

When Rinslet said that, Scarlet nimbly made her way under the iron pot and produced an intense flame from her tail. Compared to the fire from the salamander sealed in the spirit crystal, the difference in power was like heaven and earth.

"Fufu, as expected of Claire's contracted spirit!"

Pouring the bright red paste with bean curd into the iron pot, Rinslet started to stir fry vigorously. The spewing flames looked like they were going to burn all the way to the ceiling any moment.

"A-Are you sure about using such high heat? It could cause a kitchen fire!"

"Ohohoho, no need to worry. Just leave everything to me, the one who bears the name of Hellfire Rinslet!"

"...Wait a sec, is your nickname not Rinslet the Ice Demon?"

...Did some kind of weird switch get turned on? Seeing Rinslet getting more and more fired up, Ellis watched with worried eyes.

Part 5[edit]

At the Theocracy's capital of Zohar, in a small alley where not even a single ray of moonlight shone, two figures rushed past.

"Hey, hurry up, you clumsy fool. Do you want to go back to that prison?"

"W-Watch your mouth, I will have you know that I am this country's second princess."

Saladia Kahn protested against the young man's extremely rude tone.

"Huh? Do you understand your position?"

Jio Inzagi turned his head back, glaring at her with his crimson eyes. Never threatened like this before in all her life, Saladia could not help but feel her shoulders shudder.

"Right now, you are no princess at all. Like me, you're just an escaped prisoner. Shut up and obey me if you want to leave this place alive."

"...W-Well..."

Saladia opened her mouth, trying to object—

"...I suppose, yes. What you say is right..."

But she bit her lip in chagrin.

"Hmph, glad you know what's what. Now cut the useless chatter, great princess."

After saying that sarcastically, Jio Inzagi hid himself in a building's shadow.

This was roughly three districts away from the prison where Saladia had been jailed.

The reason why they had made so little progress was because Saladia's escape was quickly discovered and a large force of soldiers were sent into the city. It would have been easy for Jio Inzagi to escape alone as an Instructional School graduate, but things were not so simple seeing as he had to take Saladia with him.

After several weeks of imprisonment, she was severely weakened. Thus it was necessary to give her time to recover enough energy to walk.

"—Tsk, what a pain. A bunch of military elementalists."

Hiding in the building's shadow with his presence concealed, Jio Inzagi muttered. A group of knights carrying spirit crystals for illumination had appeared, walking along the dark alley. It was Sjora Kahn's royal guard.

"Hold your breath until they pass—"

Saladia nodded silently.

(This man, although I have no idea how strong he is—)

She quietly assessed this self-styled "Demon King's successor" in front of her.

Judging from the fact that he had singlehandedly infiltrated the prison to rescue her, he must be quite skilled. But even so, she did not expect him to be a match for military elementalists. No matter how tough their physical body, there was definitely no way for ordinary people to win against elementalists—This was the absolute truth, impossible to overturn.

Saladia prided herself as her sister's equal as an elementalist, but there was little chance of winning when surrounded by this many spirit knights.

"But with such a tight net, there's no way to move around at all. And I've got this baggage that can't even run—"

Jio Inzagi grumbled quietly.

"Once dawn breaks, escaping will get progressively harder. If my sister's royal guard were to capture us, I will be taken back to that prison, and you will be subjected to avian execution."

"Avian execution?"

"Flayed and de-boned on a rocky mountain, you will remain alive while having your organs devoured by birds. This is the Theocracy's traditional form of execution."

Saladia smiled. She expected to see fear take hold of the face of this man who had shown insolence and arrogance all this time.

However—

"...Oh, that. I got tired of watching that show when I was young."

"Huh?"

"We've already seen true hell as children. By now, none of us fear death."

Jio Inzagi curled his lips in a grin and laughed mockingly.

His terrifying expression filled Saladia with bone-chilling terror.

(This man, what on earth...)

—At that moment...

"Hey, who goes there!?"

A sharp shout came from across the darkness.

"Tsk, we'll have to make a dash for it—"

Jio clicked his tongue, grabbed Saladia's wrist and ran through the alley.

"Found her, it's Saladia Kahn—!"

At the same time, fire arrows descended from above with the sound of spirit magic incantations in the surroundings.

Saladia suddenly halted and hastily chanted words of summoning to call forth her elemental waffe.

"—O spirits sealed within behind the gate to another world, make your appearance here now!"

Particles of light appeared out of thin air and a book manifested in her hand.

This was Alf Laylah Wa-Laylah, the elemental waffe of the demon spirit Scheherazade.

Light surged from the turning pages, summoning Gas Cloud, the spirit in black smoke form.

Gas Cloud expanded within the blink of an eye, swallowing all of the fire arrows.

Alf Laylah Wa-Laylah was an elemental waffe capable of summoning countless spirits residing within the book. Although high-level spirits could not be summoned, they were quite versatile.

"Hey, interesting spirit you've got there—"

Interested, Jio Inzagi muttered.

"However, this will not even achieve the goal of stalling for time against the royal guard."

"No, it's enough. This thing is a perfect match for my powers."

"...Huh?"

Jio Inzagi sneered fearlessly then removed his overcoat.

This revealed his muscular body, covered by lightly tanned skin, as well as the ominous patterns carved all over him.

"What are you planning?"

"Shut up and watch—"

In the next instant, the lines carved all over his body began to glow ominously—

"...N-No way, cursed armament seals!?"

Saladia widened her eyes and cried out. The implantation of cursed armament seals ought to have been banned by an international treaty after the Ranbal War.

No, putting that aside, more surprising was—

"W-Why are you glowing with divine power when you are a man—"

"Hah, isn't it obvious? I am the Demon King's successor."

With a savage grin, Jio replied.

"W-What is with that man—" "Impossible, cursed seal armaments!?" "An elementalist!?"

The royal guard readied their elemental waffen, surrounding Jio and Saladia cautiously.

"...No way to escape now."

Saladia bit her lip hard. There was no absolutely no way to win against this many opponents.

However—

"Say, great princess. Can that book of yours summon spirits without limit?"

The man before him, with glowing crimson eyes, curled his lips in a faint smile.

"Yes, so long as my divine power is not depleted. However—"

Hearing Saladia's answer, Jio Inzagi scoffed.

"Great, have those spirits possess my cursed armament seals."

"Huh?"

Saladia could not believe her own ears.

"H-How is something like that possible—"

"The principle is the same as sealing spirits into amulets. Hurry up and do it, unless you want to be taken back by these people—"

"...F-Fine!"

Indeed, it was no time to be exchanging questions and answers back and forth. Despite her puzzlement, Saladia still summoned eight spirits of different elements.

Using her hand to touch the cursed seal armament that was glowing crimson on his arm, she sealed those spirits within it.

"Yeah, nice... This feeling brings back memories—"

(...What is this man planning to do?)

Just as Saladia watched the man in surprise...

"—Lemme show you, great princess. This is but the tip of the iceberg of the Demon King's power."

With a fearless smile, Jio Inzagi—

In the next instant, he kicked the ground and rushed at the royal guard surrounding them.

(...!?)

With a flash of a blade, blood flew and splattered.

In the beginning, Saladia had no idea what had happened.

After a good many seconds, she finally realized Jio Inzagi had manifested a sword spirit in his hand, instantly cutting down one member of the royal guard.

"Hah, hurry and come at me if you wanna die!"

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He did not stop moving. One after another, he manifested spirits, slicing his way through the royal guard.

The sight of his fighting method, like a vicious demon, caused Saladia to tremble.

(...Unthinkable, I cannot believe he is using spirits as disposable items!)

From the perspective of an elementalist like Saladia, his method of fighting was completely unacceptable. However, the man's terrifying figure in combat, swinging flashing blades while bathed in splattering blood, seemed strangely attractive.

(...Could this man truly be the Demon King's successor?)

The terrifying picture made Saladia tremble again.