Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume16 Chapter6
Chapter 6 - The Imposter Demon King
—The Demon King is already here.
Kamito soon understood the meaning behind Rubia's words.
"...So what the heck is that?"
Seeing that carried to the table by Siska—
Kamito narrowed his eyes and asked Rubia.
A crimson cloak in the color of blood with shoulder pads featuring countless spikes.
Pitch-black armor engraved with designs of demonic beasts. A staff shaped like intertwined snakes. Finally, there was an eerie skull mask whose eye sockets were fitted with crimson spirit crystals.
"Do I need to explain?"
"...Yeah, just in case—"
Holding his temples, Kamito groaned.
...However, he could already guess pretty much what this was about without needing to hear her answer.
"Kazehaya Kamito, you will be the Demon King."
Kamito immediately replied.
(...I knew it, isn't this exactly what I predicted!?)
However, Rubia remained unfazed and continued.
"What are you unhappy about? Is it the mask's design?"
"No. Well, that's part of it... But that's not the issue. Wait a sec, don't tell me you created the whole outfit?"
"That is neither here nor there. In that case, what are you unhappy about?"
"...Everything. Why the heck do I have to be the Demon King!?"
Kamito protested strongly.
"Indeed, Kamito-kun is already the Demon King of the Night." "Right, by this point..." "I agree." "Hmm, Kamito is already a Demon King, right?"
Despite hearing these comments behind him, Kamito was determined to ignore them.
"Because it is the most effective method to unite the refugees."
Rubia declared coldly.
"Persecuted by Sjora Kahn, banished by their home country, these believers of the Demon King cult have gathered at this Demon's Fist. Sooner or later, in the near future, they will rise up against Sjora. However, the Demon King cult is not a monolithic entity. Uniting the rabble requires establishing a symbol that everyone approves, the Demon King—"
"...But that means creating an impostor Demon King to deceive them, right?"
Saying that, Kamito glared sharply at Rubia.
"Like Demon King Solomon, you hold the power of the Darkness Elemental Lord within you. This is the genuine truth."
"That's mincing words. I'm not Demon King Solomon. Okay, suppose I concede that it's necessary for a symbol to unite the refugees, then why don't you take on that job? Like how you pretended to be Ren Ashbell at the Blade Dance."
Kamito responded mockingly.
"The cultists will not accept the Demon King unless it is you, a male elementalist."
Just as Kamito was about to launch a rebuttal—
He suddenly noticed something and closed his mouth.
He saw faint wavering in Rubia's eyes that were gazing directly at him.
"Kazehaya Kamito, did you see the astounding number of people in the crowd? Exiled by their home country, persecuted, these people—"
"These people have lost everything. Not just land and wealth but also the hope to live. Right now, what they need is a savior."
"I get the logic, but..."
"I am not asking for you to rule these people as the Demon King. All that is required is to spread news that the Demon King has been resurrected here. Even if it is false, so long as there is a shred of hope, people will be able to live on—"
At this moment, Kamito finally figured out the wavering emotions in Rubia's eyes.
(...I see now. So that is what she honestly feels.)
She was seeing in these refugees a shadow of the Elstein subjects whose homeland had been incinerated by the Fire Elemental Lord's calamity. Back then, even as the Fire Queen, she had failed to save huge numbers of people, which was why she blamed herself deeply even to this present day.
Kamito remained silent, thinking back to that huge crowd.
They believed deeply in what Rubia said about the Demon King resurrecting.
It was not simply because they were believers of the Demon King cult. At the same time, they must have felt the poignant emotion in the words of Rubia's speech.
Sighing deeply, Kamito—
"...All I have to do is play the Demon King in front of the refugees, right?"
He heard Claire exclaim behind him.
"Indeed, nothing more."
Rubia took on Kamito's gaze and nodded.
Hence, Kamito took the Demon King's mask and said:
"—Just this once. This time, I'll be the Demon King."
—Thus it came to be.
Although Kamito had agreed to play the role of the Demon King—
"Kamito-kun, do your best at playing the Demon King."
"Since you act like a real Demon King every now and then, surely it will be fine."
"Hmm, I think all you need to do is behave as usual."
"Just act natural, Kamito."
"...What the heck does that mean?"
Carrying the Demon King outfit in his arms, Kamito narrowed his eyes and retorted.
...Looking at the creepy skull mask, thoughts of regret were surging in his heart, though a little too late.
To Claire and the girls who were acting like they were uninvolved, Rubia said:
"Do not jump to the conclusion that this has nothing to do with you. I have prepared roles for you all."
Claire and the girls instantly froze, looking at one another.
"Indeed. You four will play the Demon King's concubines."
Hearing Rubia's sudden words—
Claire and the girls cried out.
"Rubia-sama, w-what do you mean by that?"
"According to legends, Demon King Solomon was served by numerous concubines. With the four of you present, the Demon King's resurrection would become more convincing, of course."
Rubia replied to Fianna's question without any change in expression.
...Indeed, Kamito had seen a history book from Rubia's study which recorded how Demon King Solomon was served by a huge number of concubines, even including illustrations of all kinds of unmentionable poses.
Perhaps recalling the book she had seen in the flying ship, Claire's face went red instantly.
"Wait, isn't that clearly unacceptable!?"
Kamito hastily objected. These were noble young ladies with plenty of self-respect. Even if playing a role, asking them to act as the Demon King's concubines would be totally unacceptable—
"N-No helping it..." "No other way." "Hmm, indeed, the Demon King's concubines are necessary roles." "Yes, authenticity is very important."
...Huh? Why does it feel like all of them were fairly motivated...
Rubia nodded briefly then said:
"There are four outfits, already prepared in each of your respective rooms. Go get changed."
Despite Kamito's objections, Claire and the girls were completely compliant.
At this moment, a light cough was heard from a corner of the room.
Kamito looked, only to see Velsaria's ice-blue eyes glaring coldly at Rubia.
"What is the matter, Velsaria Eva?"
Yes, Kamito raised his hopes.
Given Velsaria's straitlaced personality, surely she would object.
However, what she said turned out to be—
"Uh, are my services not required...?"
Kamito could not help but exclaim.
...Indeed, what Rubia had said just now was "you four."
In other words, the Demon King's concubines did not include Muir or Velsaria.
Was there some kind of age restriction—
"Velsaria Eva, do you wish to become the Demon King's concubine too?"
"...O-Of course not!"
Hearing Rubia's question, Velsaria shook her head vigorously.
"I-I merely seek confirmation. As a knight of the Fahrengart family, how could I possibly engage in such shameless behavior, even as an act?"
"Uh, my esteemed sister, I disagree on finding this shameless..."
Ellis protested in a small voice.
"Velsaria, you will undergo adjustments from Vivian Melosa at this Demon's Fist facility. The Revenant is not sufficiently equipped for complete fine-tuning, but since this place is a military facility, that woman ought to succeed in stabilizing Juggernaut's output."
"...I-Is that so? Understood."
Recovering her usual glacier-like expression, Velsaria nodded.
...Kamito wondered if he was imagining the faint disappointment he heard in her voice.
Then Rubia walked over to Muir who was sleeping, hunched over the table.
She grabbed her by the back collar.
Sleeping soundly, Muir suddenly woke up and glared at Rubia.
"Wait, what are you doing?"
"I have a special mission for you and Lily. Go scout out the Theocracy's capital of Zohar and locate Saladia Kahn's whereabouts."
"Ehhh, another scouting mission? I still wanna play with Onii-sama more..."
Hearing that, Muir pouted unhappily.
"Why do you think I brought you two back from the Holy Kingdom? The success of the Saladia rescue mission depends on your results."
"...O-Owwwww, got it, got it. Stop grinding my temple with your fist!"
Muir cried out with tears in her eyes... It looked quite painful.
"That's Nee-sama's killer move. She used it on me once when I was small."
Sitting next to Kamito, Claire explained quietly with cold sweat breaking out on her forehead.
"Heh, so you had sister quarrels?"
"Yes, because my sister was carefully growing a peach tree but I accidentally turned it into charcoal."
"...Then you were the one at fault."
Released by Rubia, Muir walked unsteadily over to Kamito and said:
"Onii-sama, I'll be back soon. Let's play when I'm back."
"Yeah, take care."
Kamito placed his hand on Muir's hand and petted her lightly.
Muir closed her eyes partially in bliss then walked out of the conference room.
"Now then, the Resurrection Ceremony will take place this afternoon. Please make sure your are prepared before then."
The meeting concluded with Rubia's solemn declaration.
After going separate ways from Claire and the girls, Kamito was taken to a military officer's suite located one floor above the conference room.
Even though it was an officer's suite, having remained unused for so long, it had become more like a storeroom.
(...Oh man, do I have to change into this outfit?)
Sighing, Kamito hung up his Academy uniform in the closet of this dust-covered room, changing into the pitch-black armor that was engraved with demonic beasts.
He then put on the blood-red cloak and the spike-tipped boots.
Finally, he covered his face with the creepy skull mask.
(I expected my view to be blocked, but visibility is surprisingly good...)
Spirit crystals glowing red had been installed into the skull's eyes and apparently enchanted with Night Vision magic allowing him to see clearly in dark conditions. Furthermore, the armor worn under the cloak also felt lighter than expected, not uncomfortable at all.
(...Next, I guess this is my "script.")
Kamito tossed a bound pile of paper onto the table.
The script was prepared by Rubia. She had apparently collated Demon King Solomon's actual quotes, based on historical sources in the field of Demon King studies.
(I just feel that those historical sources made stuff up...)
With skepticism, Kamito opened the script.
"Uh, I am Solomon the Demon King, awakened after the passage of a millennium—"
Just as he read out the words on the first page, in that instant...
The mouth section of the mask suddenly discharged black smoke.
"...W-What the heck is this!?"
Kamito frantically took off the mask.
The skull mask hit the floor and bounced, spewing smoke while spinning.
"...So it had this kind of design."
Kamito muttered in exasperation. Just then...
"Fufu, it suits you quite well, Kamito... Fu, fufu, fufufu..."
He looked back, only to see that Restia had returned to human form without him noticing, laughing adorably while rolling on the bed, her wings shaking.
"...C-Come on... I'm putting in a serious effort here."
When Kamito protested with displeasure...
"Fufu, I'm sorry. Still, that appearance is to blame for being too weird—"
"...I-Is it that weird? From what I saw in the books in Rubia's study, the Demon King's appearance was pretty much along these lines."
Despite minor differences, the Demon King's image was essentially portrayed like this.
"Indeed, he was frequently clad in that blood-red cloak. However, he neither wore that kind of skull mask nor spewed smoke—"
Restia giggled on the bed.
In that instant...
Kamito finally noticed something important.
(...! Oh right, Restia was the Demon King's—)
Indeed, Restia once held the title of the Demon King's Sword. That was why those old men at the Instructional School assigned her to educate Kamito, the Demon King's successor.
—Why did I fail to notice this until now?
Compared to checking history books, he should have done something first.
Clearly, she was the authority on information about the Demon King—
Kamito took a deep breath and...
He started the conversation.
"What is it, Kamito?"
"Can you tell me about Demon King Solomon?"
Hearing that, sitting on the bed, Restia tilted her head.
"...Why do you want to know about him?"
Her dusk-colored eyes stared straight at Kamito.
Kamito could not help but avoid eye contact.
"...That's, just for reference, because I'm going to play the Demon King next—"
His answer sounded like an excuse.
Yes, it was an excuse. His interest in the Demon King from a thousand years ago was genuine, but not limited to that. To be honest, he was a bit curious about the man who had used her in the past as he had done.
(...Sheesh, what is with this childish competitiveness?)
Kamito mocked himself wryly in his own thoughts. Perhaps, this subconscious jealousy was what prevented him from choosing to ask her directly about the Demon King.
Kamito did not know if Restia read his mind, but—
She chuckled and...
"—Yes. Of course, I might know a few more details than human history books, but actually, I didn't know him extremely well."
Hearing the unexpected answer, Kamito could not help but ask:
"But didn't those people at the Instructional School call you the Demon King's Sword—"
"Yes, I was indeed used by the Demon King. However, that man merely used me as a powerful tool instead of a contracted spirit."
"...Not as a contracted spirit?"
Kamito doubted his ears.
"Yes, that's right—"
"I was not the Demon King's contracted spirit. No, and not just me either. Legends speak of the seventy-two spirits under his command, but in reality, he did not enter into spirit contracts with them. He simply used Ren Ashdoll's power to dominate them, that's all—"
"...Is that what happened?"
This was definitely a fact that no history book had recorded.
In a way, it might be similar to how Jio Inzagi had used a Bloodstone to control spirits. Of course, the Demon King's case was on a completely different scale—
Kamito's gaze suddenly fell upon the spirit seal on his left hand.
(...I see. She didn't enter a spirit contract, huh?)
While feeling surprised by what she revealed, Kamito also felt strangely reassured.
"Fufu, what's the matter, Kamito?"
Restia chuckled and peered to inspect Kamito's expression.
"...Oh, no, uh—"
Kamito hastily shook his head.
"But Restia, weren't you responsible for the mission of guiding the Demon King's awakening?"
He brought up the question that had surfaced in his mind.
The original mission of Restia Ashdoll the darkness spirit was to promote the awakening of the human incarnation of Ren Ashdoll's reborn power, guiding him to become the assassin to eliminate the insane Elemental Lords.
If Demon King Solomon only used her as a simple tool, then what about her mission—?
"...There was nothing I could do. He did not heed my words at all."
Restia shrugged and shook her head.
"From the moment I was unsealed, he only used me as a weapon and refused any kind of interaction. He wielded my power according to his own will to vanquish countless spirits—"
"...In that case, Demon King Solomon's aggressive conquest of the continent was not because he was controlled by the will of Ren Ashdoll."
"All along, Ren Ashdoll's objective is to destroy the Elemental Lords."
Pausing a little, Restia continued.
"Starting the Demon King War was his own idea. I have no idea what considerations went through his mind to start that war. The Demon King never bared his thoughts and feelings to spirits. If anyone ever understood that man's heart, most likely it would be her—"
Staring off into the distance, Restia whispered.
"The one and only spirit who won his trust and contracted with Demon King Solomon."
"There was a spirit like that?"
"Yes. However, legends say that spirit was laid to rest together with the Demon King. Inside the Pyramid somewhere unknown in the desert—"
With nostalgia in her eyes, Restia murmured.
At a military facility underground, deep beneath Scorpia, a place known as the "sealed territory"—
Sjora Kahn and her trusted follower Valmira had spent the last few days here.
On the wall of this tetrahedral space was a gigantic magic circle written using High Ancient.
As the name "sealed territory" implied, this was a place isolated using a sturdy door and countless barriers. A dangerous being requiring such drastic measures was currently sealed beneath.
—Leviathan, the city spirit.
In compliance with the treaty at the conclusion of the Ranbal War, it was one of the seven strategic-class militarized spirits sealed and scrapped by various countries. According to official records, during the first battle it was deployed in, this spirit had destroyed an entire city in a small nation within merely seventeen hours.
This space was the magic device for controlling Leviathan. At the same time, this was the historical site of the Demon's Circuit, created by the Demon King a thousand years ago.
Wearing a Demon King cultist mask, Sjora's trusted princes maiden Valmira reported:
"Preparations to connect to Leviathan are complete. Operation in and of itself is fine."
But after a brief pause, she continued.
"What is it?"
"There are control issues. If the seal is lifted as-is, Leviathan will most likely go on a rampage."
"...Hmm, now that would be a problem."
Resting her chin on her hand, Sjora seemed to contemplate.
"How long will adjustments take?"
"Half a month or so, by estimates—"
"Is that so? Then there is no helping it—"
Sjora sighed with disappointment then...
"In that case, activate it under imperfect conditions."
Faced with her monarch's nonchalant but terrifying declaration, Valmira was speechless.
"F-Forgive me for being forward, Lady Hierarch, but suppose Leviathan were to be activated in this current state, there will be thousands, no, tens of thousands of casualties in the city of Zohar, the populace will become sacrifices—"
Normal operation of a strategic-class militarized spirit required a team of well-trained elementalists to conduct a large-scale ritual over multiple days. If control was lost, the militarized spirit would indiscriminately steal divine power from around it before finally collapsing itself.
Curling her crimson lips, Sjora sneered.
Valmira's entire body trembled.
Originally, dozens of princess maidens, already prepared to give up their lives, had been arranged as sacrifices—
However, Sjora was planning to sacrifice all of Zohar.
This was not a normal person's mindset. If something like that was done, the Theocracy itself would collapse even if the rebel army gathered at the Demon's Fist could be eliminated.
"...I implore you... Please reconsider, Sjora-sama!"
Valmira, the princess maiden who had served Sjora since childhood knelt on the ground and pleaded.
However, Sjora Kahn laughed mockingly.
"Whether the people or this country, none of that matters to us—"
Valmira looked up forcefully and frowned.
The voice coming from Sjora's lips sounded like multiple old men talking at the same time. Very weird.
"Sjora-sama, you... No, who on earth are you—"
Valmira swiftly leaped backwards and faced off against her monarch.
Her instincts as a princess maiden informed her.
Sjora Kahn had been possessed by something ominous—
Valmira instantly made a hand sign and prepared to chant exorcism magic.
Sjora Kahn drew a circle with her finger—
Instantly, a pattern resembling a coiled snake appeared on the girl's neck.
"...Hu, guh... Guh, o-ooh..."
The pattern gradually took root, constricting Valmira's slender neck tightly.
Groaning in pain, she struggled violently—
Finally, she tragically breathed her last breath.
"—You are the first sacrifice. Feel honored."
Sjora Kahn—or rather, the people possessing her spoke quietly. Despite having just killed the retainer who had followed her since childhood, she was showing a terrifying smile on her face.
—At that very moment.
"What a poor dear. You used to love her so much, right?"
In this space where no one else was supposed to be present except for Sjora Kahn and Valmira's corpse, a girl's adorable voice was suddenly heard.
What method had been used to invade this "sealed territory"?
Sjora looked back to see that standing there without anyone noticing.
Vestments of pure white, symbolizing law and order. Glittering golden hair.
The right eye was beautiful and violet. The left eye was covered by an eye patch.
She was none other than Millennia Sanctus, a cardinal of the Holy Kingdom.
"You sure can appear anywhere—"
"Indeed, the omnipresence of light is precisely my attribute."
Millennia Sanctus chuckled then used her hands to gesture at the deceased Valmira, making the Holy Kingdom's sign to pray for the dead to rest in peace.
"The assassination of the Dragon King apparently failed."
"It has no effect on my lord's plan. On the other hand, losing one of me was a painful price to pay—"
Sjora Kahn whispered, quite interested.
"None of your business, Sjora—no, I suppose I ought to call you Lord Hierarch here?"
"Either is fine. A mere title holds no meaning for us by this juncture."
The witch's crimson eyes glowed faintly.
During the Blade Dance at Ragna Ys, what had possessed Sjora Kahn was—
A being that could be described as the conglomeration of grudge and obsession from unbroken generations of Demon King cult hierarchs since antiquity. Using unorthodox and secret techniques passed down the cult, they repeatedly reincarnated themselves into the princess maidens of royal blood, engaging in clandestine machinations under the shadows of history.
Their ultimate goal was to obtain the Demon King's power—
A thousand years ago, they had failed. However, now that someone inheriting the Demon King's power had appeared, these ghosts were now restless to devour that power and claim it as their own.
"So, Lady Millennia, have you obtained the coffin lying dormant in the Pyramid?"
She spoke in a gloomy voice that sounded like multiple people talking at the same time.
"Lurie is in the process of retrieval. However, it is impossible in the near term."
Millennia shook her head.
"As expected of the Sacred Maiden's seal. Obtaining the Demon Slayer at the Academy would have saved plenty of trouble—"
"Hasten the retrieval. Once the coffin is obtained, our objective would be half complete."
"Yes, I know. Do everything you can to plunge the continent into chaos."
"There is no need to remind me of that."
The people possessing Sjora's body spoke with resentment.
The objectives of Millennia Sanctus and the organization of Des Esseintes behind her were still unknown.
Her assistance to the Theocracy did not seem like she was seeking some kind of benefit. It was as though using this opportunity to create chaos on the continent was in itself her goal—
However, the Holy Kingdom's objectives did not matter to them at all.
So long as their interests were aligned, exploitation was possible—
Sjora Kahn released a droplet of blood on the magic circle written in High Ancient.
"—I expect this Leviathan to bring the result you desire."