Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume17 Chapter8
Chapter 8 - The Queen of the Demon King City
"—Say, this place is crazy huge."
This was the first thing Kamito said.
Looking up from the base, he realized the pyramid was much bigger than he had imagined. Its size with put it on the same scale as Nefescal Palace in the Ordesia Empire.
The pyramid was surrounded by a large garden, which served as evidence to support what Restia had said—This used to be the location of a palace.
This raised the question, who was in charge of maintaining the garden? Keeping such a huge garden in good condition should require substantial manpower. Or perhaps the plants in this Demon King's Capital did not grow?
"The material... Metal?"
Touching the wall of pure white, Kamito felt a cold texture.
It did not feel like stone or tiles, at least.
(...That Zohar merchant said there was no entrance.)
Kamito walked around in the surroundings, but let alone an entrance, he could not even find a single crack in the wall.
Although he could not be certain unless he went a full revolution around the perimeter, but the lack of an entrance was probably true.
"Okay, what should I do then...?"
Confronted with this excessively huge building, Kamito did not know how to approach the problem at all. The last time he felt this lost was when Greyworth sent him to tidy and clean a massive mansion.
However, there should be no mistake that this pyramid was the Demon King's Tomb.
"Is there a password...? Or certain conditions need to be met in order to enter?"
Kamito had wondered if the Sphinx might reappear to test him for worthiness to enter the Tomb. However, this guess evidently was off the mark.
(...It'd save so much work if the Sphinx came.)
Thinking that, Kamito turned to Est.
"Est, can you take care of this?"
"Yes, I am your beloved sword, Kamito. As such, there is nothing in the world that I cannot cut open."
"What's with this reasoning that I can't understand... Anyway, might as well give it a try."
"Leave it to me."
Est puffed her chest out slightly and nodded.
Hence, Kamito held Est's hand and poured divine power into her.
"Dispassionate Queen of Steel, the sacred sword that destroys evil—
Now form a sword of steel and be the power in my hand!"
Est's body immediately vanished into thin air. At the same time, the Demon Slayer appeared in Kamito's hand.
'—Kamito, allow me to demonstrate my power of demon slaying to you right now.'
Even though he had not poured much divine power into the sword, the silver-white blade was glowing brilliantly.
...Est seemed to be in a good mood today.
"Then let's go—"
Kamito took a step towards the wall.
He mustered his strength and swung the Demon Slayer forcefully.
With an ear-splitting sound—
Est's blade, glowing silver-white, sliced into the pyramid's wall.
The attack worked. At least this was not indestructible.
'How is that, Kamito?'
Est's voice sounded a little proud.
"Yeah, that's my Est... Hmm, eh?"
At this moment, Kamito noticed something.
"E-Est... Y-You're stuck!"
With half its blade embedded in the wall, the sacred sword could not budge the slightest.
"I-I hope we're not in trouble..."
'...Kamito, save me.'
In a rare moment, Est's voice sounded a little anxious for once.
"H-Hold on, I'll pull you out right away... Here, heave ho!"
Kamito placed one foot on the wall and pushed hard, mustering his entire body's strength to pull the sacred sword out.
At that moment, his foot on the wall suddenly lost its footing.
Before he could savor this sense of dissonance...
Suddenly, the wall cracked open to reveal a hole. Kamito fell as though being sucked in.
Swallowed by the pitch-black vertical hole, too deep to fathom, Kamito kept falling.
The wind rushed past his ears. The air pressure was making Kamito breathless.
(...! I'm in big trouble now!)
Unlike last time when falling down an ice valley in Laurenfrost...
Even if he wanted to use his sword to slow down, there were no walls around him to stab at the moment.
(Releasing divine power is possible to slow my descent—)
But doing that would only delay the inevitable.
(...Tsk, what should I do!?)
'Kamito, please summon the darkness spirit—'
Kamito raised his left hand and poured divine power into it.
The spirit seal on his left hand, featuring a moon crest, glowed brilliantly in the darkness.
...However, there were no signs that the gate of summoning would open.
(...Gah, th-that selfish spirit!)
Kamito shouted in his heart.
On further thought, she had been absent from his side at every critical moment. For example, three years ago, during Greyworth's training when an archdemon-class spirit was chasing him, she was in Astral Zero, enjoying snacks while taking a leisurely break.
However, there was no time for complaining right now. Although Kamito had no idea where this hole led, if he fell to the bottom like this, surely what awaited him was...
(...Crap, this might be the end of me.)
Just as he thought that—
Suddenly, his body floated up lightly.
"...W-What's going on?"
His weight seemed to vanish all of a sudden.
Floating in the darkness, Kamito slowly descended.
Slowly descending in the bottomless darkness—
After a while, Kamito's feet finally touched the ground.
Silence all around. Apart from his own noise, he could not hear any other sound.
Kamito took a breath then had Est's blade glow.
The brilliant light from the silver-white blade instantly lit up the surroundings.
Kamito had expected to be surrounded by inorganic metal—
"...! What is this place!?"
But illuminated by the sacred sword's light, what entered his view was—
A scene completely different from Kamito's imagination.
Before him was a ceiling with countless spirit crystals embedded and a huge temple hall. Heavy stone columns lined the center while intricate relief sculptures were carved on the walls.
It did not look like a "tomb" from a thousand years ago at all.
The impression was like a king's palace.
'—Kamito, I know this place.'
Est's blade flashed.
"...Est, don't tell me you regained your memory?"
'No, I did not. But this place is—'
"—The Great Temple of the Celestial Demon. A thousand years ago, this was where the Demon King and the Sacred Maiden had their final battle."
Hearing the voice coming from above...
Kamito jerked his head up.
With jet-black feathers floating down, a girl in a night-colored dress appeared out of thin air.
Kamito exclaimed in surprise as the darkness spirit girl slowly descended in front of him.
"Kamito, did you enjoy sightseeing outside?"
"...Come on, I called you so many times."
Kamito glared at her.
"In that case, my apologies. Inside this Tomb, connections to the outside world are not very smooth. However, I did hear your calls just now."
"If that's the case, you should've come as soon as possible."
"After all, I knew you wouldn't fall to the very bottom. Was it exciting?"
Seeing Restia's adorable smile, Kamito sighed.
"...So, what is this place? The extravagant decoration doesn't look like a tomb—"
"This is the Demon King's palace. Or more precisely, this is a place reconstructed with the palace as the model."
Looking up at the Great Temple's ceiling, she explained.
"Are there any differences?"
"The real palace is long gone. This is only a place she created inside the Demon King's Tomb, modeled on the original palace."
"Yes, the master of this Demon King's Tomb."
Restia chuckled then looked towards a door that led to the depths of the hall.
"Follow me, Kamito. The Queen of the Demon King City wishes to meet you."
"...Say, are we there yet, Restia?"
While using the sacred sword's blade for illumination—
Kamito walked along what seemed to be an endless corridor.
The master who had invited Kamito into the Tomb was apparently located in the deepest part of this pyramid.
What kind of being was the ruler of this city?
Restia had used "she" to refer to the ruler—
After walking for another ten minutes or so, a stone gate appeared before them.
Embedded in the center of the gate was a large spirit crystal. Restia placed her hand on top and the gate slowly opened, its two doors opening to the sides.
Inside the gate was darkness.
"Is it safe to go in?"
Kamito asked a little nervously. Restia nodded silently.
Lowering the faintly glowing sacred sword's blade, Kamito slowly stepped in.
"—I have waited a long time for you, Demon King's successor."
He heard a voice, as clear as glass. A blinding light then appeared.
Kamito could not help but block the light with his hand.
What appeared overhead of Kamito was—
A transparent crystal pillar was hovering amid darkness in the air above.
The pillar shone with iridescence, spinning slowly.
"Is this actually a spirit crystal?"
Kamito widened his eyes, exclaiming in surprise.
The iridescent glowing crystal was undoubtedly a single spirit crystal.
However, the largest spirit crystal ever unearthed on the entire continent was small enough to hold in two hands. This kind of pillar could not possibly exist.
Kamito was stunned, his entire body frozen—
Soon, there was a change in the iridescence.
In the center of the transparent crystal, a figure appeared.
Kamito focused his eyes on the iridescent glow.
Only to see, emerging from the light—
A beautiful woman, her complexion as white as snow, wearing a dress of thin fabric.
She looked slightly older than Kamito. Her pale and beautiful face was framed by a head of green hair evocative of emerald.
Her eyes were as red as blood. The graceful lines of her ears ended in a pointed shape.
Her beauty, sacred and inviolable, made Kamito hold his breath.
He muttered, but no sooner had he spoken, he realized how stupid his words were.
—A being of this sort could only be a spirit.
This was the sixth completely humanoid spirit that Kamito had encountered.
Est. Restia. Iseria Seaward, the Water Elemental Lord's incarnation whom they had met on Ragna Ys. Scarlet's true form, Ortlinde. Finally, there was Bahamut, Dracunia's Dragon King. Each and every one of them was a top-tier spirit with immense power.
In that case, the spirit in front of him right now too—
Inside the shining crystal, her lips moved gently.
"—Demon King's successor. I have been waiting all along for your arrival."
Her voice was as tender as a mother's, yet as innocent as a young maiden's at the same time.
Hearing this voice, which plucked at one's heartstrings, Kamito involuntarily lowered his guard.
"...Waiting for me?"
He asked honestly.
"Yes, in this Tomb, for a thousand years—"
"A-A thousand years...?"
What on earth was she talking about?
Kamito turned his head back to look at Restia behind him.
"...Uh, could you explain in simpler terms?"
He asked for help.
"...Say, do you two know each other?"
"Know—I suppose it counts, if it's to the extent of knowing."
Restia tilted her head, somewhat perplexed.
"That sounds so vague."
"Yes. In fact, she and I had never exchanged many words."
"—There was no helping it."
Just then, the spirit in the crystal spoke.
"After all, she was the most excellent of weapons employed by him, spending the majority of her time on the battlefield. In contrast, I was the opposite, staying in this palace always—"
"Demon King Solomon."
Hearing Kamito's question, Restia replied.
Hearing that, Kamito widened his eyes. Restia shrugged and drew near to his ear.
"Didn't I mention it at Mordis? The one and only spirit who had formed a contract with Demon King Solomon—"
Before setting off on the ship, he had definitely heard her mention it.
"Yes, indeed. She is the spirit Iris. The Queen of the Demon King City, watching over this Demon King's Tomb for a thousand years all this time."
"The spirit Iris—"
The only spirit trusted by Demon King Solomon, forming a spirit contract with him—
(...So that's her?)
Kamito stared intently at the spirit crystal floating in the air.
The spirit referred to as Iris simply smiled calmly, gazing downwards at Kamito.
"...Wait a sec. I remember you telling me that the spirit disappeared somewhere in Astral Zero after the Demon King's death, right?"
"Yes. That was what I honestly believed."
"However, I was wrong. She neither stayed in the human realm nor went to Astral Zero. Instead, she stayed here, watching over the Demon King's Tomb—"
"In that case..."
Saying that, Kamito took a breath then asked the spirit in the crystal.
"Are you the one who created this Demon King's Capital? Uh, and the residents here..."
If that were true—
Her power would rival that of the Elemental Lords.
"No. The city was not created by my power."
The Queen of the Demon King City shook her head slowly.
"This city is a memory fragment, anchored to a gap between the human realm and Astral Zero by the Demon King's power. I am simply using the Tomb's power to maintain the status quo."
The term used by the queen made Kamito especially curious.
...Coincidence? He remembered the merchant of Zohar saying the same thing.
"The truth of the Demon King's Capital consists of the Demon King's memories from a thousand years ago, anchored in a dimensional gap. And the pyramid is a gigantic magic device for maintaining the city, right?"
"Yes, this city, the people living here, I included... are all akin to illusions, only capable of existing in a dimensional gap."
"...I'll be frank. I don't understand anything about magic."
Kamito spoke while scratching his head.
If Fianna were here, she probably could give him a detailed explanation.
"This city is a legacy of the Demon King who was vanquished a thousand years ago. And you're the one maintaining this city, is that right?"
"Essentially. This understanding is correct."
The city's residents, disappearing when they exited the city walls, no different from living humans in appearance, were actually created according to the Demon King's memories.
Also, this place was apparently not the human realm familiar to Kamito.
Demon King Solomon's contracted spirit.
For as long as a thousand years, she had kept watch over the Demon King's coffin and his memories.
Was it out of loyalty to the Demon King, or perhaps—
Thinking that, Kamito noticed he had not asked about the key point.
"So why have you invited you here, my queen?"
Logically speaking, she would not want anyone to know of the existence of this Demon King City.
However, the Sphinx had judged Kamito's worthiness, then led him to this dimensional gap.
For what purpose?
"Because there are matters I must convey to his successor."
The queen spoke.
"You have things to tell me?"
"Yes. I simply wish to convey the truth to you. I hope you will not make the same mistake as he did—"
Kamito wondered in his mind.
What mistake was she talking about as the Demon King's contracted spirit?
"Please touch the crystal, Kazehaya Kamito."
Just then, the queen called out Kamito's name for the first time.
"Don't worry, it's only temporary, to synchronize your minds together."
Kamito looked at Restia.
Restia gave him a light nod.
After some brief hesitation, Kamito slowly reached up above his head.
To be honest, he was still a bit on guard—
But he chose to trust Restia's judgment.
When his fingertips touched the crystal's surface the iridescent light instantly glowed brighter.
At that moment, Kamito's view turned pure white.
At the same time, massive memories rushed into his mind.
"Please understand. What exactly happened a thousand years ago—"
The spirit Iris' voice echoed in his ear—
Kamito's consciousness then flew far away.
A thousand years ago—
Back when Ghul-a-val was still a place of fertile land.
A boy was born in a small village near the Zoldia Kingdom's border.
"The boy's name was Solomon Yelsion. Although male, he was able to use spirits just as princess maidens could—"
Images of of the boy employing all kinds of spirits appeared in Kamito's view.
The images were not clear, but Kamito could see that the boy was similar to him in age. He had long black hair. Quite tall. He seemed more strongly built than Kamito.
(...So this is Demon King Solomon?)
Kamito stared intently at the image.
Possibly because he had seen himself wearing that skull mask at Mordis, Kamito's image of the Demon King did not match this boy at all.
"He was a kind-hearted young man both wise and brave. He never used spirits for personal desires. Instead, he used his power to fight magic beasts and spirits that threatened humans—"
The images projected in Kamito's mind kept changing like flowing water.
The young man saved human villages, vanquished malicious spirits, and protected his country from greedy conquerors.
Finally, he began to be known as a hero, obtaining status only second to the king. Commending him on his achievements, the king even gave his only daughter's hand in marriage to him.
The people of the kingdom praised the hero, hoping for him to become the next king.
So long as the hero Solomon lived, the kingdom's prosperity would continue. That was what everyone believed.
"Some people were jealous of his exploits and felt deeply offended. They were retainers and generals who had served the kingdom since antiquity, as well as elders of the princess maidens who commanded spirits—"
(...All too natural.)
Kamito silently muttered in his thoughts.
Whether a thousand years ago or now, human nature was not much different. The coup d'etats occurring Ordesia and the Theocracy earlier were proof of that.
"They used all kinds of underhanded plots, trying to bring down the hero, hoping to uncover his crimes. However, they did not succeed. Because they could not find a single flaw in the noble and virtuous hero—"
The king's retainers fabricated unfavorable reports about the hero, but their plans were foiled one after another by the hero's own actions and behavior. Someone even tried to send assassins to kill the hero, but they soon realized it was futile. The hero Solomon was protected by the blessing of spirits at all times.
In the end, the villains' nefarious schemes were exposed to the king.
"Enraged with his scheming retainers, the king ordered them to be sent to spirits as live sacrifices. However, Solomon pleaded with the king to be lenient. Thus, the villains' lives were saved by the hero they hated."
The hero generously forgave them. No one never made mistakes. Everyone had times of mental weakness. He hoped they could all work together for the kingdom's prosperity, that was what he said—
"The people who tried to harm him felt deeply ashamed and repented. However, a small minority hated him even more after this incident—"
These retainers acted repentant on the surface but secretly watched the hero eagerly in hopes of finding any misstep. Some people became the hero's loyal subordinates while others maintained friendly ties with him.
Thus, a few years later, the chance they were waiting for finally arrived.
"Favored son of the spirits, Solomon Yelsion. Pure, virtuous and flawless, he who held the title of hero, committed a great taboo—"
Saying that, the queen sighed deeply.
"He fell in love with a girl of the Elfim race, the kingdom's enemy—"
The scenery before Kamito's eyes changed.
Next to appear was an image of a forest maiden with green hair and crimson eyes.
"Apparently that is the name nowadays."
The spirit Iris smiled.
"They were early humans who migrated from Astral Zero during the ancient past. Their descendants were known as the Elves back then. A thousand years ago, the Elves allied with the spirits to oppose the human kingdom in order to protect the Primordial Forest."
Several battles had taken place between the Zoldia Kingdom and the Elves. Although the Elves lacked numbers, the forest spirits wielded formidable powers, hence they were able to put up a stalwart resistance over many years.
The hero and the forest maiden fought many times on the battlefield—
Over this process, they fell in love.
The girl had betrayed the forest village that had raised her, whereas Solomon had betrayed the kingdom.
Even though he had married the king's daughter, he still fell in love with an Elf and even had a child with her.
Find out this had happened, the villainous retainers were overjoyed and secretly reported to the king.
They claimed the hero was scheming with the Elves and was preparing to sell out the kingdom—
"Hearing that the hero was a traitor, the king flew into a wild rage. Then he ordered his generals to set out on a punitive expedition to the Elven village where the forest maiden lived—"
A scene of the forest, burning in a crimson blaze, was played before Kamito's eyes.
Voices of the Elves, filled with sorrow and hatred, echoed in his ears.
"The village was burned down. The forest maiden and the hero's child... were killed."
That day, the young man formerly known as the hero turned into the incarnation of wrath.
He raised a manner of rebellion against the kingdom, fighting alongside the forest spirits.
Against the former hero who singlehandedly fought across many battlefields, the royal army fought a difficult campaign.
But after months of battle, in the end—
The hero fell into a trap and was arrested at last.
He was subjected to harsh torture. His throat was crushed, his entire body was stripped of the spirit seals, and his power completely taken away—
Then in such a powerless state, he was dragged before the kingdom's people.
The populace, who used to praise him nonstop as a hero, used their same mouths to curse him and throw rocks at him.
At this time, the young man formerly known as the hero despaired for the first time, lamenting his own stupidity.
What was it that he had spent his life protecting?
On the execution platform, he turned to the heavens and cursed mankind.
"—At that moment, a voice responded to him."
Kamito suddenly an alarming thought, about the voice the Demon King had heard. Was it the same voice that had called to Kamito before, the voice of the Darkness Elemental Lord?
But Restia had previously told Kamito at Mordis.
The Demon King I knew had not awakened the Darkness Elemental Lord's power—
"—No, it was not the Darkness Elemental Lord's voice."
The queen refuted the idea.
If the voice heard by the hero Solomon did not come from the Darkness Elemental Lord—
Whose voice was it...?
"It was one of the Elemental Lords, rulers of this world, that made contact with him—"
The spirit Iris spoke the name in a whisper.
Holy Lord Alexandros—Leader of the Five Great Elemental Lords.
Hearing such unexpected words, Kamito gasped.
The Lord of Light, considered the greatest out of all the Elemental Lords.
Also the Elemental Lord who was somehow absent when Kamito won the Blade Dance three years ago.
—That name, why did it come up now?
"The Holy Lord offered some sort of contract to him at the verge of death who had cursed the world—"
The spirit Iris continued.
"The Holy Lord told him that his beloved maiden could rise from the dead if he used the power of miracles beyond the human world. And that power would also bring him strength—"
On the execution platform, the hero Solomon asked the voice.
'One who offers me temptation, what is the price?'
The Holy Lord answered him.
—Thou shalt become the Demon King to bring chaos and destruction to the world.
Kamito felt confused. Countless questions arose in his mind.
The Holy Lord should know that Solomon was the reincarnation of the enemy, Darkness Elemental Lord.
Why would an Elemental Lord, supposed to maintain order in the world, hope for chaos and the world's destruction?
"He formed a contract with the Holy Lord and accepted the miracle transcending the human world. What transpired afterwards is as recorded in history and passed to the present day—"
Having obtained the power of miracles, he slaughtered all the kingdom's people who were present.
Then he killed the king, killed the retainers, killed the princess who used to be his wife—
Inside the incinerated palace of the Zoldia Kingdom, he gave a mighty roar.
Thus, the young elementalist, formerly known as the hero—
He was reborn as the most terrifying Demon King in history.
—His view turned blank.
Kamito opened his eyes, only to see before him the crystal where the spirit Iris was sealed.
"—This is the truth that I hoped to convey, successor."
Kamito gently drew back his fingers from the crystal's surface and gazed at her face.
Green hair, reminiscent of the fresh verdure of forests. Crimson eyes, as red as blood.
The graceful lines of her ears were characteristic of that race.
"Looks like the Holy Lord kept his promise with the Demon King—"
With mixed feelings on his face, Kamito whispered.
He realized her true identity... In other words, that happened.
"Your guess is correct. The Holy Lord granted him the power of miracles and resurrected me. I lived again, but this time as an imperishable being that would never know death again—a spirit."
Resurrecting the dead—there was only one power in this world, capable of such a miracle.
—The boon awarded by the Elemental Lords, to each winner of the Blade Dance.
"—Having obtained power from the Holy Lord, lost in his hatred for the world, he launched a war that swept across the entire continent. I failed to stop it. His heart was already corrupted by destruction. All I could do was face destiny together with him, to accompany him until the end of his life as the Demon King's one and only contracted spirit."
The Queen of the Demon King City looked squarely into Kamito's eyes and said.
"I only invited you here to tell you the truth. I hope you will not make the same mistake as him—"
Demon King Solomon was the young man formerly known as the hero.
But lost in hatred, he fell to become the one known as the Demon King.
...No one could guarantee that the same would not happen to Kamito.
Putting aside the incomprehensible Holy Lord for now—
Kamito had almost gotten swallowed by the Darkness Elemental Lord's power on several occasions now.
"...I understand things now, but what should I do?"
Kamito asked the queen.
He did not think he would end up like Demon King Solomon, but—
"—I have a suggestion, successor."
The spirit Iris replied calmly.
"Have you ever thought about living here in this Demon King's Capital?"
Kamito involuntarily made a stupid sound.
"...Uh, what do you mean?"
...The leap of logic was too great. His mind could not keep up.
Living in this city?
"This is a dimensional gap isolated from both the human realm and Astral Zero. Neither the Elemental Lords nor your enemies should be able to find you here. In that case, there would be no need for you to fight. The Darkness Elemental Lord's power would not awaken and you shall be able to live in peace, at this eternal city where time repeats for perpetuity—"
After listening to Iris—
Kamito took a breath and looked towards Restia.
"Indeed, this could very well be the safest place on the continent. At the very least, it might be better than being on the run from the Ordesia Empire."
"I am just stating facts, Kamito. No matter where you go, be it to the ends of the world, I shall always stay by your side—"
Restia's dusk-colored eyes were gazing at Kamito.
"If it is your wish, the concubines you have brought could also live here too."
"...They're not my concubines."
Correcting the queen, Kamito looked down at his feet.
A place of serenity, where time was eternal.
Indeed, staying here might be safe. Whether the Darkness Elemental Lord or the Holy Kingdom, he could forget them all and live in peace.
That being said, Kamito had absolutely no wish to become the Demon King—
...But suppose Claire or any of the girls in his company were to be killed in front of him?
To be honest, Kamito could not be sure he would be able to control himself then.
Then there was the fact that he had forsaken everything in the past for the sake of finding Restia—
Just as Kamito clenched his fist hard.
There was a noise from above. The pyramid shook slightly.
"...What the heck?"
"...! Could it be!?"
The spirit Iris exclaimed in shock.
"—Intruders. Someone has destroyed the pyramid's barrier."