Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume18 Chapter2
Chapter 2 - Sacred Maiden
"...Sacred Maiden, you say?"
Kamito's voice echoed within the dimensional gap.
Kamito could not understand what Solomon was saying at all.
"...By Sacred Maiden, are you referring to Sacred Maiden Areishia?"
Solomon nodded and replied to confirm Kamito.
"The true identity of what lies asleep in the Demon King's Coffin is the Sacred Maiden's soul that had been lost a thousand years ago."
"...What do you mean by that?"
Kamito had heard that it was the Demon King's remains that were sealed in the Coffin.
But no, Kamito himself did not believe in the existence of such a thing in the first place.
He thought it more likely to be a legend made up by the Demon King Cult to reinforce their faith.
However, this man was saying that the Sacred Queen was sealed inside there.
"This joke is not funny at all."
Kamito shook his head.
"After vanquishing the Demon King, Sacred Maiden Areishia should have turned to stone because of the Demon Slayer's curse."
Kamito had shared Est's dream before.
Inside that dream, Kamito had witnessed the final moments of Areishia Idriss.
He had seen her entire body turned into stone by the sacred sword's curse, finally shattering into fragments—
"Yes, the Sacred Maiden's physical body turned into stone and shattered."
Solomon nodded and admitted it readily.
However, he continued.
"That stone, imbued with the Sacred Maiden's divine power, turned into the world's purest spirit crystal. Even now, it continues to seal the Sacred Maiden's soul within it."
"...! Don't tell me—"
Kamito widened his eyes forcefully.
"Indeed, that crystal was precisely the result of Sacred Maiden Areishia turning into a crystal."
Solomon declared in a calm tone of voice.
The gigantic spirit crystal had held the projection of the spirit Iris.
(...I can't believe that crystal is what the Sacred Maiden turned into.)
Facing the speechless Kamito—
Solomon made an even more shocking announcement.
"She is still alive, simply sealed in the crystal, in a state of deep sleep."
"Say that again...?"
Kamito was at a loss for words.
...This revelation was truly unbelievable.
Under normal circumstances, one would simply laugh off such absurdity.
However, the person telling Kamito this was—
None other than Solomon himself, the Demon King of legend, even though he was just a memory fragment.
And that gigantic spirit crystal definitely existed.
"Suppose what you say is true—"
Kamito sighed deeply and started to speak.
"Why are you guarding something like that?"
"—In that case, allow me to ask you a question. First of all, what is the Sacred Maiden?"
The Demon King answered with a question of his own.
"What the heck is that, out of the blue?"
Solomon stared intently into Kamito's eyes.
"The Sacred Maiden is the Demon King's natural enemy. A being created by the Five Great Elemental Lords for the sake of vanquishing the Demon King."
Kamito shrugged in response and answered.
During the Blade Dance's final round when they clashed blades, Rubia had told him this.
The Sacred Maiden was the counter born in response to the Demon King's awakening.
"Correct. I expected no less from my successor."
"Are you making fun of me?"
Kamito narrowed his eyes at the Demon King.
"Indeed, the Elemental Lords had granted her immense power as an elementalist. However, Alexandros—the Lord who stands as the leader of the Five—also poured a portion of himself, what you could call a soul, into Areishia Idriss."
"...What did you say?"
Alexandros. The true culprit who had created Demon King Solomon—
He had poured a part of himself into her?
"...What is going on? What exactly does this mean?"
"I suspect it was to prevent the Sacred Maiden from disintegrating as a vessel."
"A human's body of flesh cannot withstand the power granted by the Elemental Lords. Hence, the Holy Lord made her into a suitable vessel by merging part of his being with hers."
It made plausible sense.
Like how the majority of people who inherited the Darkness Elemental Lord's power turned into Nepenthes Lore, the excessive power granted by the Elemental Lords would exceed a human body's ability to withstand.
"So that is the reason why we sealed the Sacred Maiden."
Solomon spoke calmly.
"Originally, after the Sacred Maiden completed her mission of destroying the Demon King, the soul poured into her body was supposed to return to the Holy Lord. However—"
"I get it now—"
Kamito finally understood.
Turned into stone by the curse of Terminus Est—
Taking the Holy Lord's soul with her, she was sealed inside the spirit crystal...?
"In other words, Iris and you sealed the soul of the Holy Lord. Is that what you mean?"
If the Holy Lord's soul that was poured into the Sacred Maiden remained sealed—
Then it could not reincarnate era after era like that of the Darkness Elemental Lord's.
"Indeed. As for the reason, since you have seen my past, there is no need for me to elaborate here."
What triggered the hero, the man from the Zoldia Kingdom, to become the Demon King was all thanks to an opportunity offered by Holy Lord Alexandros, leader of the Elemental Lords.
Creating the Demon King by his own hand on one side—
While giving part of his soul to the Sacred Maiden to destroy the Demon King.
Why did the Holy Lord do such things?
"Sealing Holy Lord Alexandros' soul inside the Sacred Maiden was the least I could do for atonement and revenge for bringing devastating calamity to the continent."
Kamito could see a faint flame light up in the eyes of the weakly whispering young man.
"...However, the Sacred Maiden's seal has been broken. By the Holy Kingdom's hand."
The Demon King nodded.
At that moment, what resembled an earthquake's noise was heard from a distance.
Solomon looked up into thin air.
Following his gaze, Kamito saw countless small cracks spreading in the pitch-black space.
"The Demon King's Tomb is collapsing. This dimension will soon vanish."
"What will happen when the dimension vanishes?"
"You will be trapped in the dimensional gap, unable to return to the human realm."
"Rest assured. I shall deliver you out of here safe and sound."
Saying that, Solomon began to recite an incantation of High Ancient.
A crack appeared in space with bright light pouring out from it.
"This Demon King City will disappear. Leave as quickly as possible before the Sacred Maiden completely awakens. Otherwise, she will annihilate you, the Demon King."
"...Yeah, I get it."
Although he was quite curious about Est's contractor from a thousand years ago, now that the Holy Lord was involved, it was a completely different matter.
He must meet up with Claire and the others and leave the city as quickly as possible.
"By the way, allow me to offer this to you, my junior Demon King. A parting gift from me."
Saying that, Solomon took out something from his chest pocket.
"...What is this?"
Kamito cocked his head.
It was an ancient silver ring without any decoration.
"A ring used by the Demon King in the past. It should prove handy to you."
"...There's no weird curse cast on it, right?"
"Rest assured, you will be fine."
"What's that supposed to mean...?"
With suspicious eyes, Kamito accepted the ring.
"Next, I have one more thing—"
"Yes, take this too... The famous Demon's Mask of legend."
Out from thin air, he plucked out—
A skull mask that looked a little familiar.
...It was identical to the impostor Demon King mask that Rubia had personally made.
"No, thank you. I mean it."
Kamito resolutely refused.
"Why? This is a legendary-class magic artifact that Demon King cultists can only dream of acquiring."
"Like hell anyone would want something so tasteless!"
"I cannot believe you called it tasteless..."
The Demon King was taken aback... He looked a little shocked.
Putting the ring in his pocket, Kamito stepped before the crack in space.
He looked back.
"Say, what happens to you after the Demon King City vanishes?"
"My existence is akin to a reflection in the water. I will disappear once the Pyramid disappears."
With a mixed expression, Kamito lowered his head.
Solomon Yelsion, the previous Demon King born a thousand years ago.
Kamito wondered if he was being too sentimental... But upon meeting someone like himself for the first time, he felt some kind of camaraderie.
"Please do not wear such a look, my descendant. It was a great pleasure to meet you."
"...Thanks for looking after me."
"Not at all. Sending lost travelers on their way is precisely my job."
Facing Kamito, who was smiling with his head bowed, Solomon laughed magnanimously.
After shaking hands lightly with the Demon King, Kamito stepped into the crack in space.
"Walk a different path from mine, Kazehaya Kamito."
With these last words—
Kamito's view turned pure white.
"...! This place... is...?"
When he opened his eyes—
Kamito found himself at a plaza in the city, some distance away from the Pyramid.
It was where he had bought the ring as a gift for Est.
Almost all of the surrounding buildings had collapsed. There was a great deal of dust hanging in the air.
He was just about to get up when an earthquake happened. The air shook from a terrifying roar.
(...What is that?)
Looking up at the sky, Kamito frowned.
He saw a red dragon, covered in burning-hot scales, fighting in midair with a gigantic bird with outspread wings.
The red dragon breathed blazing flames. At the same time, the giant bird flapped its wings to create a storm.
This was a fight between high-tier spirits, rare to find even in Astral Zero.
"Why would spirits like these...? By the way, what the heck is going on!?"
Kamito grumbled about the Demon King Solomon who was no longer present.
(At least tell me what's going on outside before sending me back...)
In any case, staying under these spirits would be too dangerous.
Kamito stood up and prepared to escape the plaza. At that moment...
His left hand's spirit seal reacted.
"Kamito, where have you disappeared!?"
With a flash of darkness before his eyes, the girl in the night-colored dress appeared.
"Sheesh, I have been calling you all this time!"
With her jet-black wings outspread, the beautiful darkness spirit landed lightly on the ground.
She was carrying the Demon Slayer in her arms.
Est had apparently exhausted her power during the fight against Lurie.
"...Sorry, I was visiting the Demon King for a bit."
Hearing that, Restia frowned in puzzlement.
"Let's talk later. We have to get out of here as quickly as possible."
Another crack opened in the ground, causing buildings at the plaza to collapse.
A shadow resembling a horned giant could be seen behind the billowing cloud of dust.
Apart from the spirits fighting in the sky, there were evidently other spirits running amok in the city.
"...Where did these spirits come from?"
"They are the Demon King's spirits that had been sealed."
"The Demon King's spirits?"
"Yes, some of the seventy-two spirits commanded by the Demon King were sealed here, probably serving as guardians of the Demon King City like the Sphinx. However, due to the Pyramid disappearing, they are starting to rampage."
"...I see. So that's why they're all such troublesome spirits."
Since they had been used by the Demon King, that red dragon and giant bird were surely no less powerful than archdemon-class spirits.
"—Eh, what a sec. Did you just say the Pyramid disappeared?"
At Kamito's question, Restia pointed behind him.
"See. The Pyramid, which even my spirit magic could not damage the slightest, has vanished completely."
Kamito turned his head to look back—
She was right. The Pyramid had disappeared.
Taking its place was a pillar of light, radiant with a holy glow.
However, for some reason, the beautiful beam of light seemed especially ominous to Kamito's eyes.
(Sacred Maiden Areishia—)
While staring at the pillar of sacred light with a strained face, Kamito muttered in his heart.
Est's contractor from a thousand years ago.
The being with Holy Lord Alexandros' soul sealed inside.
(...The one who had vanquished the Demon King, huh?)
Did that pillar of light foretell the Sacred Maiden's imminent revival?
With a serious expression, Kamito turned his gaze to Restia.
"Have Claire and the others escaped from here?"
"Who knows? Given the current situation, escaping is no easy task."
Kamito's voice contained notes of anxiety. Even after meeting up successfully, they were still in the center of Ghul-a-val, the Desert of Red Death. Without a sand ship, they had no way of leaving.
(...That asshole Solomon, telling me to leave. Easier said than done! But how do I escape?)
Kamito grumbled mentally against the previous Demon King again. Just then—
"What's that, Kamito?"
Restia asked him with curiosity.
She was staring intently at the chest pocket of his uniform.
"Oh, this? Someone gave it to me—"
Kamito took out the plain-looking ring and showed it to her.
Instantly, Restia widened her sunset-colored eyes.
"Kamito, isn't that the Demon King's Ring!?"
The darkness spirit with a great fondness for magic artifacts flapped her wings in excitement.
"Kamito, where did you get this from?"
"Nowhere. He gave it to me himself."
"Forget the ring for now. Let's figure out how to leave first—"
"What are you talking about!? Kamito, pour divine power into that ring."
"Pour divine power into it. Come on, hurry—"
At her forceful urging, Kamito poured divine power into the ring with a puzzled look on his face.
Next, words in High Ancient appeared on the ring's surface.
"What's this? Some words appeared."
"Don't fret. Assuming this is the real Demon King's Ring—"
Restia looked up into the air.
At that instant, something astonishing happened.
One of the two spirits that had just been fighting in the sky above, the giant bird, left the red dragon spirit behind and rushed towards Kamito, gliding straight to the plaza.
"Restia, that giant bird is coming!?"
However, Restia remained unfazed, using her hand to hold down her hair that was blowing in the storm.
The giant bird spirit flapped its wings in the air and landed in the center of the plaza.
With a bird of prey's eyes, glowing golden, it stared straight at Kamito.
...Kamito felt that he was going to be eaten if he moved.
Just as Kamito was frozen in shock—
Restia gently caressed the giant bird's beak and turned to Kamito.
"Kamito, this giant bird spirit, the Roc, is your loyal servant."
"What are you talking about?"
"This ring has the power to control the seventy-two spirits under the Demon King's command. Together with the Garb of the Lord and the Demon's Mask, they are known as legendary artifacts."
Kamito carefully examined the faintly glowing ring.
In fact, the giant bird spirit, which had been acting out a giant monster battle in the sky just earlier, was obediently standing there as though waiting for Kamito's command.
"So that guy gave away something so precious, huh?"
"If we use this spirit, it should be easy to find little Miss Hell Cat and the others, and cross the desert too."
Restia stroked the Roc's beak. The giant bird spirit cooed in response, sounding surprisingly adorable.
"I'm not completely reassured, but there's no time to hesitate..."
Once this Demon King City collapsed, Kamito and his friends would very likely remain trapped in the dimensional gap, outside both the human realm and Astral Zero.
Clutching the ring tightly, Kamito gallantly leaped onto the giant bird.
"...Uh, all I have to do is give out orders?"
"Here goes... Fly, giant bird spirit Roc!"
At Kamito's command—
The Roc flapped its wings powerfully, rising into the sky over the Demon King City that was shrouded in dust and smoke.
"...! Turn into charcoal!"
Claire's Flametongue delivered a mighty blow to the one-eyed giant crawling out from a crevasse in the ground.
However, the giant spirit did not seem damaged at all.
With a grin, it raised its arm, trying to catch Claire.
At that moment, Ellis struck the giant's back with the spear tip of Ray Hawk.
Clang! This strike produced a violent scattering of sparks as though she had struck steel with her spear.
Seizing the chance when the giant was distracted, Claire swiftly distanced herself...
Only to see the one-eyed giant scratch its back nonchalantly, completely unfazed.
"Damn it, I cannot inflict any damage, huh..."
Ellis showed anxiety on her face. After clashing with the Sacred Spirit Knights repeatedly, she and Claire had expended a great deal of divine power. Simply sustaining their elemental waffen was already quite a stretch.
The powerful spirits that had emerged from underground one after another were blocking the path of Claire and Ellis. An elementalist's power seemed to attract these spirits.
"...Kuh, there's no end to this!"
Panting, Claire spoke.
"Yes, this is too difficult..."
Ellis stabbed Ray Hawk into the ground and complained in a rare moment. After fighting one-on-one against Luminaris and using spirit magic to fly continuously, she was at her limit.
"Take a break first. Scarlet and I will open up a path."
The giant spirit caused earthquakes while approaching them.
"Let's go, Ortlinde—"
Just as Claire was about to unleash her ultimate move, a True Name Release...
"Freezing fangs of ice, go forth and pierce—Freezing Arrow!"
Countless projectiles of ice rained down on the giant's head.
With his prided eye shot with pinpoint accuracy, the giant gave a terrifying roar and rolled on the ground in pain.
Claire jumped in surprise and looked to where the rain of arrows came from—
"That was close, Claire."
On a mountain of collapsed debris, Rinslet had puffed out her chest, wielding her bow.
"Rinslet, you're safe...!"
"Hmph, of course. Who do you take me for?"
"Rinslet, where is Her Highness?"
"Yes, she is with me."
After a moment's delay, the sound of clanging armor could be heard.
Appearing from the billowing cloud of dust and sand—
Georgios, carrying Fianna and an unknown girl in his arms.
"...Your Highness, I am so glad."
Seeing that, Ellis could stop worrying
"Fianna, it's good you're okay... Uh, who is this girl?"
"Allow me to introduce Princess Saladia Kahn."
Getting down from Georgios' arm, Fianna announced.
"What did you say!?"
Claire and Ellis both exclaimed in surprise.
"What on earth—"
"I shall explain later. We must first escape from here as soon as possible."
"Yes, you're right..."
Taking a closer look, the giant spirit was about to get up.
Presumably, that level of injury should be quick to recover from.
"Fenrir and I shall lead the way to exit the city!"
Allowing her magic bow of ice to return to dire wolf form, Rinslet jumped onto Fenrir's back.
She was just about to start running when in that instant...
Claire felt bone-chilling terror and stood there frozen on the spot.
"Claire, what is the matter?"
"Just now, something—"
She was able to notice that possibly because of her instinct as a princess maiden stemming from her shared lineage with her sister.
Claire slowly turned her head and looked back.
Only to see a blinding pillar of light in front of her gaze.
"What's over there?"
The giant bird spirit was circling in the sky while sparks flew below.
Black smoke was fuming all over the city. Collapsed buildings were falling into crevasses in the ground.
Freed, the Demon King's spirits were apparently having a blast, running amok.
"—Found them. Over there."
From behind Kamito, Restia pointed diagonally downward.
"Look, along the path towards the city gate."
Kamito looked down and focused his eyes.
With smoke rising nonstop, visibility was quite bad.
"They look like they're fighting spirits, locked in a difficult battle."
"Any ideas how to use the Demon King's Ring to help?"
"Unfortunately, the ring can only control one spirit at a time."
Ultimately, this ring only had a fraction of Demon King Solomon's power sealed in it. Thus, its power to control was far inferior to the real Demon King's.
"Roc, land in that vicinity."
Kamito poured his thoughts into the ring, commanding the giant bird spirit.
The Roc cried out and obeyed its master, gliding over while slicing through the air.
Just then, Est, who had been sleeping in her sacred sword form, spoke out.
"Your'e awake, Est!?"
"Kamito, hurry and leave this air space."
In a rare moment, Est was speaking with a nervous tone of voice.
"—She is awakening."
Kamito jumped in surprise and turned his head to look behind.
—Only to see a change in the pillar of light piercing the center of the Demon King City.
(...What the heck?)
The rainbow-colored light contracted into a point in the air, coalescing into a small sphere.
Inside the sphere was a young girl's floating figure.
A girl with blonde hair and holy armor of pure white.
She was holding a sword in her hand.
This was Millennia Sanctus' sacred sword, the one Lurie had used.
The instant he saw the girl—
Kamito's heart began to race violently.
All the divine power in his body seemed to reverse all at once, boiling up.
An uncontrollable torrent of emotion was raging within Kamito.
Instinctively, Kamito felt that this was his fated nemesis.
—Indeed, fated nemesis.
The one and only being capable of annihilating the Demon King who served as a vessel for Darkness Elemental Lord Ren Ashdoll's power—
Areishia Idriss, the Sacred Queen.
Having shared Est's dreams in the past, Kamito recognized her face.
And standing in that sphere of light, that girl's appearance was identical to the Sacred Maiden he had seen in the dreams.
However, the ambiance around her was completely different.
Est's master in the dreams had displayed human expressions on her face.
In contrast, this girl's face did not show any emotion at all.
"—Kamito, that is not Areishia."
"Yeah, I agree."
Suppose what Demon King Solomon had said was true—
What had awakened after a thousand years was not the Sacred Maiden—
But the vessel containing the soul of Holy Lord Alexandros.
The girl's sharp eyes looked at Kamito—At least, that was what he felt.
(...! We're spotted?)
Instinctively, he felt it.
In the next instant—
The Sacred Maiden casually raised the sacred sword in her hand—
Hastily, Kamito shouted.
The Roc instantly obeyed and rapidly descended.
In the next second, a flash of pure white brushed past the Roc's giant wing, firing into the desert area out in the distance.
Kamito's view turned white.
He felt an overwhelming shockwave weighing down on him.
The giant bird spirit spun in the air, dealt a heavy blow by raging winds.
The Roc flapped its wings hard several times before it finally regained stability.
An intense sandstorm blocked their view of the surroundings.
"...! W-What the heck was that just now!?"
Kamito exclaimed, outraged.
"—Annihilation-class spirit magic used during the Spirit War era."
Looking back, Kamito stared wide-eyed.
Half of Restia's wings had vanished without trace.
That flash of light apparently brushed past her wings.
"Are you okay?"
"Y-Yes... More importantly, we must leave as quickly as possible—"
With a flap of the Roc's wings, the sand and dust was instantly blown away.
Next, from the city gate, Kamito spotted Claire and the others lying prone on the ground.
It looked the earlier shockwave had knocked them down, but they seemed to be fine.
"Roc, pick them up!"
"W-What is this!?"
Lying on the ground, Claire looked up, unsure what was happening.
"All of you, get on now!"
Kamito shouted loudly.
"K-Kamito!? What do you mean, get on? This is so sudden!"
"W-What is with that bird...?"
Claire and Rinslet were baffled with puzzled faces.
However, the Roc glided straight towards them—
Opening its beak, it swallowed Fenrir and Georgios in one mouthful.
"W-What in the world!? Kyah—"
No sooner had Claire and Rinslet screamed than they were interrupted.
"H-Hey, what are you doing!? Hurry and spit them out!"
Seeing the unexpected manner of retrieval, Kamito frantically slapped the Roc's neck, but...
"Don't worry, the inside of the Roc is connected to a safe dimension."
"...Are you serious?"
"Serious. Let us do everything we can to escape first. We might not be so lucky as to dodge the next shot—"
Restia cast her gaze out into the distant desert.
A gigantic crater had formed where the beam of light of Deus Ira had pierced.
...A single attack contained enough firepower to annihilate a city.
"I guess you're right—"
Kamito poured powerful divine power into the ring. The Roc instantly sped up.
A howling sandstorm blocked their view of the Sacred Maiden.
"...So they have left?"
In a corner of the gradually vanishing Demon King City—
Staring at the spirit flying out into the desert, the Demon King muttered to himself.
His body was already on the verge of disappearing. Most likely, before the city vanished completely, he would be gone without a trace like grains of sand in the wind.
He looked down at the tiny glowing stones held in his hands.
They were the final fragments of the spirit Iris.
Likewise, she was going to vanish together with this Demon King City.
For spirits with their enduring lifespans, a thousand years was not long.
However, he had enjoyed his time together with her.
The Demon King's spirits, which had rampaged to their hearts' content, were beginning to return to Astral Zero.
As for the knights of the Holy Kingdom, he had placed them in the desert. Although he had no obligation to help them, it was his job after all. With enough luck, they should end up rescued.
At this time, in this city that was supposed to be empty...
"Hey you, what are you doing here?"
A gruff voice spoke to him.
He looked back to see a young man with a dark complexion standing there.
"And who may you be?"
Hearing that, the young man grinned.
"I am Jio Inzagi, the Demon King's successor."
The young man introduced himself.
The Demon King could not help but make a sound in astonishment.
...A poor child with delusions, I see.
"Hey, who the heck are you?"
"I am Safian, a traveling merchant."
"A merchant? What a weirdo."
I could say the same for you. Suppressing these words, the Demon King spoke.
"This place is about to collapse. You should escape soon."
"And you aren't gonna?"
"No, after all, this is my homeland."
"...Hmph. Suit yourself."
The young man seemed to lose interest and prepared to leave.
Just then, the Demon King suddenly had an idea and called to the young man.
"Oh, please wait a second."
"I suppose our encounter is owed to fate. Let this be my gift to you."
"...What the heck is this?"
Seeing him pull out the Demon's Mask from thin air, the young man frowned in surprise.
"A leftover product from my wares. I have no use for it."
"...Eh, now that I take a closer look, this design isn't half bad."
"Hmm, it seems like your sense of aesthetics matches the Demon King's."
"Okay, I'll take it. Bye—"
The young man took the Demon's Mask and very swiftly departed.
His physical abilities far surpassed that of ordinary people.
...Even though the Demon King had no idea who he was, he found the young man quite amusing.
After seeing the young man disappear into the desert—
"Very well, my time will be up soon—"
His gaze settled on the glow in his hands.
"—My wish is for what that king took, my beloved daughter's soul, to find salvation."
Next, having confirmed that the faint light had vanished—
Like grains of sand blown in the wind, he vanished without trace.