Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume16 Chapter5
Chapter 5 - Demon's Fist
Before dawn. The flying ship carrying Kamito and company, the Revenant, landed in the massive cave of the Demon's Fist which was like a giant hole in the side of the mountain.
Even after entering the Theocracy's airspace, no military ships came to intercept them. This was quite a surprise for Kamito and company. Reports that the border military could not function normally due to civil unrest were evidently true.
Leaving behind Lily, the mechanic Vivian Melosa and the Instructional School twins to stay on the ship, Kamito and the others disembarked.
"After eating that bean curd dish, I feel like I'm breathing fire..."
Sticking out her bright red tongue, Claire commented.
"I never expected it would become this spicy."
"However, the odd thing is how that spiciness compels you to eat nonstop."
"Yes, by the time I realized, everything was finished."
"I, Muir, can't handle too spicy..."
What Claire and the girls were chatting about was Rinslet's specially made spicy dish. Of course, Kamito had a taste too, and indeed, it was so spicy that he felt like spitting fire, but it was incredibly delicious.
Currently back to sword form, Est looked like she had equally enjoyed the bean curd dish cooked in foreign style.
(...That being said, in the end, I still couldn't dig up anything about the Demon King.)
While walking down the gangway ladder, Kamito muttered mentally to himself.
After what happened earlier, Kamito and Claire had browsed through the books on Rubia's shelves, but the information they found were mostly stories with a mythical flavor. As for the forbidden books recorded in High Ancient, even Claire could not fully decipher them.
(Sigh, I guess I'll have to ask Rubia for the details later...)
That was the conclusion he reached.
"—I have been waiting, everyone."
As the group got off the ship, a young girl dressed in a leather combat uniform went up to greet them.
She was named Siska and was one of the Instructional School orphans adopted by Rubia. On their first time boarding the Revenant, she had been the one to lead them to Rubia too.
"I will guide to Master's location. Please follow me—"
After saying that expressionlessly, the girl began to walk inside the massive cave.
Led by Siska, Kamito and company advanced through the vast interior of the Demon's Fist.
"Th-This time they won't ask us to take off our underwear or stuff like that, right...?"
"No, I don't think we need to worry about that."
Seeing Claire rub her legs together in worry, Kamito reassured her.
...Or rather, he hoped that Dracunia was one too many countries to have that kind of custom.
"Just so you know, Onii-sama, my panties are striped♪"
Holding Kamito's hand, Muir leaned herself against him.
"W-Wait, what are you doing! Get away from him!"
"No, Onii-sama is mine."
Muir stuck her tongue out at Claire.
"—Please remain silent, you two."
Walking in the lead, Siska turned her head back and expressionlessly warned the two girls.
Inside the base, there was virtually no one. Though both were military strongholds built inside a mountain, this place was completely different from Dracunia's dragon rock fortress that made full use of a natural cavern. Whether the floor or the ceiling, this place was covered with flat and plain rockfaces, giving a claustrophobic feeling.
At that moment, walking beside Kamito, Ellis murmured softly:
"The atmosphere here inexplicably reminds me of the mine at Gado."
The abandoned mine city of Gado in Ordesia was where a strategic-class militarized spirit, Jormungandr, had been sealed and scrapped. For Ellis, this was also a place of painful memories where she had lost to Jio Inzagi, thus leading to her comrades Rakka and Reishia getting injured.
"Jio Inzagi huh? That guy was rambling something about the Demon King too—"
"Just an impostor."
Hearing that, Claire shrugged.
"Speaking of which, esteemed sister, you were incarcerated with that man at Balsas Prison, right?"
Hearing Ellis' question, Velsaria nodded simply while walking ahead.
"Indeed. In the prison, that man kept insisting he was the Demon King's successor. Naturally, no one paid attention to him—"
Then she murmured as though only remembering now.
"I recall that he escaped when the Cardinal assaulted the prison."
"What!?" "Are you serious, esteemed sister!?"
Claire and Ellis both cried out in surprise.
"Yes. The Cardinal originally planned to recruit him, but he quickly reneged on his promise and fled."
"That woman is unexpectedly naive..."
Hearing that, Muir commented with resignation.
"Hopefully, it won't lead to trouble..."
Jio Inzagi, who styled himself as the Demon King's successor, was particularly obsessed with Kamito, the holder of the Demon King's power. Left alone, there was no telling what Jio would do.
—At that moment...
"Don't worry. I have sealed away all of his memories about Kamito."
Descending lightly along with black feathers, a girl in a dress of darkness appeared out of thin air.
It was Restia, who had remained in her demon sword form until now.
"It would be a problem if he told Ordesia's knights about you and me, right?"
"...Well, that's a relief."
"By the way, Muir Alenstarl—"
Suddenly, Restia's dusk-colored eyes stared at Muir.
"What is it, darkness spirit?"
"Who permitted you to hold Kamito's hand? His right hand is on loan to Miss Sacred Sword, but I do not recall yielding any rights to his left hand to you."
"Shut up. Watch out or I'll use the Jester's Vise to crush you, okay?"
Muir glared back at Restia defiantly.
"H-Hey, you two..."
Seeing a fight about to erupt between the two, Kamito hastily tried to stop them.
For some reason, these two had been on poor terms even during their days at the Instructional School. It even led to frequent fights that damaged the School's stronghold, Cave Castle.
"My oh my, your mouth sure has toughened up, Muir Alenstarl. Yet in the past, you used to be a frequent bedwetter, too scared to venture out to the toilet at night."
Hearing Restia's accusation—
Muir's face gradually turned pale.
"...W-What, d-darkness spirit... w-w-why do you know, that kind of..."
"Fufu, I know everything. Including many other secrets..."
Restia smiled with confidence.
"...Ah, ooh.. N-No, don't believe her, Onii-sama, wetting my bed, no way—"
Tearfully, Muir desperately denied it.
"Uh, yeah, sure..."
Kamito turned his gaze away in response.
In fact, Kamito had washed Muir's soiled sheets and underwear many times in the past, but she had remained blissfully unaware.
"You were a child then, right? I do not think it is anything to be ashamed about."
Did she pity Muir? Ellis comforted her.
"Indeed. Claire was still wetting her bed at the age of nine."
"H-Hold on, Rinslet!?"
Never expecting her own secret to be exposed, Claire hastily covered Rinslet's mouth.
"Please be quiet, everyone—"
Siska looked back and said coldly.
Kamito and company continued deeper, then got on an elevator device driven by a wind-element spirit crystal.
With a loud noise, the floor underfoot descended. This application of spirit engineering was so cutting-edge that even Areishia Spirit Academy had no such device.
"Where are we going?"
"The assembly venue underground."
Siska answered expressionlessly.
After a while, the strange floating feeling vanished and the elevator's door opened.
In that instant, what entered their view was—
Gathered in a space that resembled a gigantic amphitheater was a crowd, estimated to be thousands in number.
Most of them were old people and children dressed in gray cloaks.
"These people are..."
Just as Kamito was speechless—
"These are the refugees who have been persecuted by Sjora Kahn and have fled to Mordis."
Velsaria spoke while looking at the members of the crowd beneath them, one after another.
"Disorganized rabble, nowhere living up to the name of the 'rebel army'."
"Here, what on earth is Rubia-sama..."
Just as Fianna frowned and expressed her puzzlement...
'—The usurper Sjora Kahn has taken control of the Demon King's capital of Zohar to commit all manner of atrocities. However, her illegitimate reign shall soon crumble and fall!'
A familiar and dignified voice resounded throughout the massive underground cavern.
Claire cried out in surprise.
Claire's gaze was directed at her figure, standing in the center of the gathered crowd.
A princess maiden wearing a demon's mask, her long crimson hair fluttering behind her, looking as though it were burning.
Dressed in ritual attire of pure white, it was none other than Rubia Elstein.
'—The long-anticipated moment has arrived! Tonight, at this Demon's Fist, let us welcome the resurrection of the true Demon King whom we have waited for a thousand years!'
Like raging waves, the crowd's deafening cheering shook the giant underground cavern.
'—Now is the time to pray for the Demon King's return, oppressed believers of the Demon King cult!'
Demon King! Demon King! Demon King! Demon King! Demon King! Demon King! Demon King! Demon King!
Wave after wave, the fervent cheering resounded throughout the rocky mountain of Mordis.
"...W-What is she talking about?"
...Kamito and company could only stand there stunned, watching the scene below.
After Rubia's rousing speech, the gathering of Demon King cultists was dismissed—
Kamito and company were taken to a level below the great cavern, a hall similar to a conference room.
According to Siska, who left immediately after leading Kamito's group to the place, it had been used as a headquarters for army staff during the Ranbal War.
Covered by solid walls of rock, the hall was not only extremely soundproofed but also had isolation magic carved to block infiltration from espionage-type militarized spirits.
Kamito and company sat down at the long table in the center and waited for Rubia to arrive.
Restia turned back into the demon sword to standby, whereas Muir simply took a nap, hunched over the table. The ability to enter sleep swiftly no matter where was a skill shared by everyone trained at the Instructional School.
"What is Nee-sama planning...?"
Claire murmured worriedly to herself.
...Well, one could hardly blame her for worrying. The Rubia delivering the speech earlier was truly quite different from the Rubia they knew.
"...She was apparently talking about the Demon King's resurrection. What on earth did she mean?"
"The refugees gathered here are all Demon King cultists persecuted by Sjora Kahn as heretics. The Cardinal intends to rouse their faith and loyalty, I expect."
Velsaria offered her own interpretation.
"Then talk of the Demon King's resurrection is just misdirection...?"
With her chin resting on her fingers, Fianna spoke ambiguously.
"By using Soul Recall magic, for example, the Demon King really could be revived or some such—"
Hearing her quiet murmurs, Kamito suddenly came to a realization.
(...Speaking of which, Rubia had awakened Nepenthes Lore before.)
Thinking back now, it seemed a long time ago, but it had happened during the preliminary round of the Blade Dance.
At the time, she had used the taboo spell of Soul Recall to revive Nepenthes Lore, a monster that had inherited the Demon King's power. Essentially a failed Demon King specimen, the monster singlehandedly destroyed Milla Bassett's team belonging to the Principality of Rossvale and utterly demolished Team Scarlet's base.
"However, even for Rubia-sama, resurrecting the Demon King himself would be absolutely impossible."
"Indeed, no one even knows where the Demon King's remains vanished to."
"Yes, I know, but this is just speculation—"
Fianna shrugged and shook her head. At that moment...
"—Thank you for waiting."
The door to the hall opened and Rubia appeared.
Everyone present all looked towards Rubia.
She had taken off the princess maiden attire from just now and changed to the Theocracy's military uniform.
The demon mask was also removed to reveal her true face.
Sitting at the head of the table, Rubia swept her gaze over everyone's face in turn, then slowly began to speak.
"First of all, I apologize for being unable to meet up in Dracunia. During the past few days, the situation in the Theocracy has changed dramatically. Consequently, it became essential to take control of this city ahead of schedule—"
"From what we saw earlier, looks like you succeeded."
Kamito remarked at this time.
"Yes, I have already reached an agreement with the Demon King cult cadre leading the refugees. In exchange for rescuing Saladia Kahn, they have pledged to enter an alliance with Legitimate Ordesia."
"...Nothing less expected from you."
While feeling impressed inside, Kamito stared sharply at Rubia.
"—However, fabricating false hope with lies about the Demon King's resurrection, that's a bit much."
He voiced the doubts that had been occupying his heart since earlier.
The numerous refugees were all mesmerized by Rubia's speech.
They believed from the bottom of their hearts that their savior, the Demon King, was going to resurrect.
He was quite displeased with Rubia's methods in exploiting other people's faith, even for the sake of winning over the rebel army.
From what he could tell, Claire and the girls felt similarly.
However, Rubia took on Kamito's gaze directly—
"I had no intention of fabricating false hope."
Then she said that.
Kamito looked at her in surprise.
"Don't tell me you're really gonna revive Demon King Solomon?"
Rubia shook her head and slowly declared:
"—The Demon King is already here."
Everyone present began to doubt what they had heard.