Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume17 Chapter7
Chapter 7 - The Demon King's Tomb
Feeling like he had been pranked by spirit...
Kamito finished checking in at the front desk and entered his hotel room.
It was simple and tidy room with a bed by the window and a small shelf for keeping valuables. The room area was not large, but for a commoner's accommodations, at least the bedsheets were clean and the floor had been perfectly swept. Even pampered daughters of nobility like Claire and the girls would not have complaints, probably.
(...What the heck is up with that man?)
Obviously, he was no ordinary merchant. However, Kamito found it hard to imagine him as a spirit either. The man was probably not a high-level spirit manifesting in human form.
—No way. Even more impossible.
In theory, Kamito was the only male elementalist. Oh well, it was possible there were imitation Demon Kings like Jio Inzagi whom he had fought before—
There was so much more to think about.
Who was it, and with what intention, that made this Demon King's Capital, which had been destroyed a thousand years ago, appear?
Princess Saladia's whereabouts. The purpose with which the Holy Kingdom had sent knights to the desert border.
Kamito looked out the window.
In his field of vision, the gigantic pyramid loomed no matter where he looked out in the streets.
(...I knew it, my only choice is to try barging it, I guess?)
Putting his luggage on the ground, Kamito called to the sacred sword in his hand.
"Est, are you awake?"
Est made her blade glow in response. Kamito then said to her:
"Let's go on a date next."
Having said that, Kamito left the hotel with Est.
Normally, Est would remain in sword form when Kamito took her out to the Academy town to do shopping and other things, but today, Kamito asked her to stay in human form. Compared to wandering the streets with a sword, walking with a girl would be less likely to arouse suspicions, probably.
Also, there were the dreams Est was having lately.
Kamito wanted to take her for a walk in the streets for a change of pace.
"Kamito is truly the Demon King of the Night... Demon King indeed."
"Wait a sec, I was just exaggerating when I called it a date."
To avoid getting separated in the heavy crowds, Kamito was holding Est's hand tightly.
...From an observer's point of view, the two of them probably looked more like lovers on a date than a contracted spirit with her elementalist.
Or perhaps, a pair of siblings who were close. No, or maybe—
(...A pedophile with a young girl in tow, I hope not?)
Girls around firesides looked at Kamito while whispering in lowered voices. Surely they must be praising how cute Est was... He prayed that was the case.
"But it has been such a long time since I went out with you like this."
"Yeah, that's right..."
Back at the Academy, Kamito would take walks with Est in the Academy town on holidays. But ever since the Blade Dance began, the days had gone by so busily. Finding such an opportunity was not easy at all.
As soon as the Blade Dance ended, Kamito had lost his memories and Est had ended up in a sealed state. When returning to the Academy from Laurenfrost, he had Restia on his other arm. It really had been so long since he last took a leisurely stroll with Est, just the two of them, like this.
"Kamito, what is that?"
"It's a snake charmer act. I know how to perform similar acts too."
"Knife throwing. It's a required course at the Instructional School."
Est seemed quite happy to Kamito. He wondered whether it was she enjoyed the rare hustle and bustle in the streets. Although to others' eyes, she might be expressionless as usual, Kamito could tell.
"By the way—"
Looking around the noisy plaza, Kamito muttered quietly.
"...This feels different from the Demon King's Capital I imagined."
Although he did not think it would be one of those sinister demon cities surrounded by bramble forests, as told in ancient fairy tales, never did he expect it to be such a prosperous city. Let alone Mordis or Zohar, this level of prosperity rivalled that of Ordesia's imperial capital.
Also, people's facial expressions were very cheerful. One could not see any fear from living under a Demon King's tyranny at all.
Feeling a tug on his sleeve, Kamito looked back...
Only to see violet eyes gazing intently at him.
"Kamito, I am hungry."
"Oh right, come to think of it, you've been sleeping until now."
The ultimate sword spirit's only weakness was excessive power consumption. Spirits originally had no need to eat like humans, but Est's situation was special. Due to the incompleteness of their contract, she had to rely on eating to some degree in order to replenish divine power.
"Okay... How about we find a place to eat?"
Wondering if there were any shops selling food nearby, Kamito looked around.
At that moment, Est pointed to the very center of the plaza.
"Kamito, look over there—"
Her two violet eyes were glimmering.
He followed her gaze, only to see a crowd gathered in front of a certain open-air stall.
A brawny man kept rotating a large piece of meat on a skewer, roasting it.
This was the kebab, a famous dish from the desert region. The shopkeeper would serve it by slicing off pieces of meat as necessary to roll up in a flatbread together with plenty of vegetables.
"Looks quite tasty."
The roasted meat's aroma was entering their nostrils, stimulating their appetite.
Est's eyes were glued firmly to the rotating meat.
Kamito smiled wryly then handed some money to the shopkeeper and bought a kebab. He had obtained the money earlier by exchanging with the mysterious merchant.
"This is very delicious, Kamito."
Holding the kebab in both hands, Est took bite after bite, eating expressionlessly.
"Glad you like it."
Seeing Est's contentment in her expressionless face, Kamito felt relieved.
Next, they walked towards the pyramid.
The Demon King's Capital was apparently built centered on the pyramid.
(I remember Restia saying that the location was originally the Demon King's palace—)
Suddenly curious, Kamito turned his attention to the spirit seal on his left hand.
The link was still intact, but starting earlier, there had been no signs that she would heed his summons.
Sigh, in Restia's case, this was quite usual all along—
At this moment, Est gripped his hand tightly.
"Yeah, what's the matter?"
"Right now, you are on a date with me, Kamito."
It looked like she had noticed Kamito turning his attention to Restia.
...I can't believe she declared a monopoly.
Facing Est who kept staring at him unerringly, Kamito could not help but smile wryly.
"Fine, I'll focus only on you right now."
He gently gripped the cold little hand in return.
"Then let's do something a bit more date-like—"
Muttering, Kamito looked through the bazaars on the street and walked to a stall selling accessories.
It was a small shop selling items crafted from jewels and spirit crystals, amulets, etc laid out on a rug.
"...Est, which one do you want?"
"It's a gift for you."
Kamito explained a little bashfully.
"It's so rare for me to buy this kind of thing for Est."
After all, she was capable of recreating any object after seeing it, be it clothing or other stuff. As a result, Kamito normally bought her food or local souvenirs instead of accessories.
Hearing that, Est widened her eyes.
"I am so happy, Kamito."
She said quietly.
"Kamito, please choose one that suits me. I will cherish it."
"You'll be happy if I chose it?"
"Yes, Kamito. Your wish is my command."
"Hmm, one that suits you, huh..."
The first thing that came to mind was ultimately kneesocks.
...But they probably did not sell kneesocks here.
"I will be happy as long you are the one who chose it, Kamito."
"T-Then... How about this?"
Saying that, Kamito picked up a small ring with a sword motif on it. He thought this type of simple design would suit Est better than extravagant jewelry with gemstones.
He handed the ring over to Est who expressionlessly held it, examining it.
Then she placed the ring onto her ring finger, the finger that had symbolized the spirit contract since ancient times.
"...Uh, do you like it?"
Est looked up towards Kamito's face.
"Kamito, I will always be your contracted spirit, forever and ever."
She spoke expressionlessly as always.
"Are you the ones who disturbed my sleep?"
The crimson-haired girl looked down at the paladins kneeling before her.
A frightful heat wave was scorching the air. Confronted with the overwhelming presence exuding from the girl's entire body, not only the Sacred Spirit Knights led by Luminaris but even Lurie too was holding her breath.
(She is a Lord after all, even in a half-awakened state...)
Fifteen years ago, Lurie had been granted an audience with the beings known as the Lords. The extreme terror she had experienced back then was returning vividly to her now.
"Lord, we have awakened you in accordance to the covenant with my master."
Saying that, Millennia Sanctus knelt and bowed to the girl.
The girl addressed as "lord" exhaled with displeasure.
"Covenent, huh? Indeed, I have exchanged a covenant with that lord."
Saying that, she slowly surveyed the scenery around her.
"Where is this?"
"This is Ghul-a-val. A land formerly known as the Zoldia Kingdom—"
"I do not recall such matters."
"Because you have lost your memory, Lord."
"—Is that so? I see."
The girl spoke with irritation.
"And so, what is it that you petition for?"
"We wish to borrow your power, Lord, to incinerate a barrier—"
"Oh? A barrier—"
Apparently noticing something, the girl turned her gaze to the distance in the desert.
In the depths of her ruby-like eyes, the brilliant flames wavered slightly.
"A dimensional crevice, huh? It is rare to see one so large."
"Can you destroy it?"
"—Foolish question. Do you mean to put me to a test?"
"I wouldn't dare."
Millennia smiled and shook her head calmly.
"A crafty hybrid."
Murmuring, the girl slowly extended her hand towards the far side of the desert.
"Dance, the crimson flames summoning destruction—Hell Blaze."
A brilliant red glow appeared in the middle of her palm.
The contracted ball of conflagration shot out as a flash of light.
A gigantic explosion resulted, rivaling a meteor impact.
The wind from the blast swept through the surroundings, gouging the ground of red sand.
Like an earthquake, the rumbling resounded all around. The paladins all went pale.
"Th-This is what had... turned the land of Elstein into a sea of fire, the Lord's... flames—"
These words leaked out from Luminaris, leader of the knights, who was out of breath.
But she was not completely right. This girl was not a complete Lord.
At most, she was an avatar in the human realm, a manifestation of the Lord separated from the main body.
Volcanicus—The Elemental Lord ruling over the fire element in this world.
For a mere avatar to possess such power—
The blazing flames of spirit magic disappeared into Astral Zero.
Once the flames had subsided—
The Demon King's Capital, shimmering like a mirage, made its appearance.
The interior of Quseir Amra was as complicated as a maze due to continual disorganized expansion.
Led by a female attendant, Claire and the girls finally arrived at a public bath located in a different block.
Areishia Spirit Academy's purification facilities were essentially undecorated, contributing to an atmosphere of serenity. Here, the public bath was decorated with colorful flowers with beautiful natural scenery painted on the walls.
"...What a beautiful place for purification. It reminds me a lot of the Elstein hot springs."
Using a towel to cover her still developing chest, Claire could not help but exclaim in admiration.
The bathing area, filled with steam, featured six gigantic tubs built from stone. Several young princess maidens were enjoying a soak in there. Mainstream purification facilities in the Theocracy tended to be sauna-style, using steam for body cleansing, but here, it looked like bathing was method.
"So they use fire spirit crystals for heating water."
"Just like the hot spring at Laurenfrost."
Rinslet dipped her finger into a tub.
"However, this is odd."
Fianna cocked her head and commented.
"After all, this is Ghul-a-val, the land forsaken by the spirits. But this places can use spirit crystals to heat such a large tub in a stable manner—"
"Now that you mention it, you are right..."
If spirit mechanisms could operate stably in the desert, there would be no need for them to ride that old and battered sand ship here.
"Sure enough, this city is affected by an extraordinary power..."
"Well, putting that aside, let us bathe first."
The young ladies unwrapped their towels and headed to the purification showers.
"...Hwah~ I knew it, hot springs are the best. It's more effective than just a simple bath."
After rinsing themselves at the showers, washing away the sand stuck to their hair, Claire and the girls dipped themselves in the largest tub, filled with cloudy hot water.
Soaked in hot water up to their shoulders, they instantly felt their entire body relax.
"Hmm, it felt like the sand bath did not replenish much divine power. Perhaps because we were in Ghul-a-val..."
Untying her ponytail, Ellis partially closed her eyes in comfort.
"Say, Ellis... Did your boobs grow even larger?"
Saying that, Claire stared at Ellis' chest.
"...! W-What are you talking about!? N-No such thing... I think..."
Ellis went red with embarrassment, stammering. In fact, she recently started to feel that her Sylphid Knights armor was getting a bit tight.
"Oh my, Claire has gotten bigger too, just a tiny bit."
Fianna pounced on Claire from behind, grabbing her chest, causing Claire to scream adorably.
"...W-W-What, w-what are you doing, you perverted princess!?"
"Dear me, did I guess correctly?"
"Hmph, the bust-upping technique I taught her has finally shown results, I see."
Claire's crimson hair began to ignite, raising the water temperature all at once.
"This is a public bath, remember!"
Rinslet hastily chanted spirit magic, dumping chunks of ice into the bath tub.
Presumably hearing a commotion, maidens in charge of massage services rushed over next, politely speaking in a foreign tongue to remind Claire's group to behave.
...Ignoring their masters' commotion, the contracted spirits were enjoying their break on the side.
Afraid of water, Scarlet was lying on a spirit crystal that had been heated red-hot, licking the spewing flames with her tongue. Simorgh was perched on a deciduous plant with wings outspread. Swimming in a tub, Fenrir was popular with princess maidens of other affiliations.
Georgios' steel affinity meant a particular weakness to steam, so instead of manifesting, he stayed in Astral Zero to rest.
"Mmmm~... This is paradise..."
Claire stretched like a cat while drinking complimentary rose-scented water. For Claire, who grew up as a sheltered daughter of nobility, a harsh desert journey was still quite tiring for her.
"Yes, we must thank that merchant."
When Rinslet replied quietly—
Claire and the others fell awkwardly silent.
"...W-What is the matter?"
"Actually, about that—"
Ellis spoke seriously.
"Was everything the merchant said actually true?"
Next, Claire nodded with a solemn expression.
"Although he doesn't look like a bad guy, I think it's dangerous to take his word completely. He said he's a merchant from Zohar, but I really doubt the truth of that."
Putting aside whether the kind Rinslet believed or not—
Claire and the others found the merchant quite suspicious.
The Sphinx that had appeared in the desert, this guardian spirit should have been tasked with determining whether a visitor was worthy of entering the Demon King's Capital.
Would it really help a mere collapsed merchant?
"I remember he said there were others brought here apart from himself. In any case, we should ask those people first—"
"...Assuming he was speaking the truth about that."
In response to Fianna's suggestion, Claire shrugged and replied.
"B-By the way..."
At this moment, Ellis spoke with hesitation.
"What's the matter, Ellis?"
"Umm, it dawned upon me once again just now... I-I am still afraid of dealing with m-men."
"Y-Yes... I get it too."
"Yes... I can sympathize."
...Hearing Ellis' honest comment, Claire and Rinslet nodded.
Although spending their days with Kamito had helped them adjust somewhat—
They were sheltered young ladies at the core.
"Hmm, yet of all people, you're not afraid of Kamito-kun?"
Fianna pinched Ellis' arm.
"K-Kamito is special... Wait, w-what are you making me say!?"
Ellis turned bright red in the face, steam rising from her head.
"...Good grief, be more honest."
While wringing her wet hair dry, Fianna spoke with exasperation.
"...~Then Your Highness, what do you feel about..."
"...That is, uh... A-About Kamito... What do you feel—"
With Fianna staring straight at her, Ellis stammered ambiguously in contrast to her usual style of stern dignity.
Seeing that, Fianna sighed and shrugged mildly, Then...
"—I love Kamito-kun."
She said it simply.
Ellis widened her brown eyes. Claire and Rinslet also felt their hearts beating hard.
Fianna also turned her gaze to the two of them, blushing while blowing bubbles on the water surface.
"...How exactly do all of you feel?"
"...I-I... uh... feel positive, a-about Kamito..."
"M-Me too... Uh, umm..."
Rinslet seemed particularly concerned and looked at Claire.
Claire was blushing intensely, her mouth opening and shutting.
"I-It's not like I... l...love—"
"...~~~~! O-Oooooh... F-Fine, I'll say it!"
Claire cried out with almost complete resignation.
"I love Kami—"
At that instant, a thunderous explosion was heard and the public bath shook violently.
"W-What the heck!?"
"What is going on!?"