Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume18 Chapter3
Chapter 3 - Return of the Queen
"Sh-Sheesh, what on earth is going on...?"
Suddenly swallowed by the giant bird, Claire cried out in the darkness.
She lit a small fire in her palm to illuminate her surroundings.
She had expected to find herself inside the giant bird's stomach—
But in front of her was a luxurious room laid with velvet carpet.
"...W-What is this place?"
"This is the Roc's dimension."
Just then, Restia's voice was heard from above—
A spirit crystal lamp installed on a wall in the room instantly lit up.
"If I remember right, I think a bird with a terrifying appearance swallowed us."
Rinslet and Ellis were also checking out their surroundings, unsure what to do.
"Darkness spirit, I demand a clear explanation!"
Claire pointed at the ceiling and said.
"Hmph, you girls are currently inside a spirit under Kamito's command."
"Kamito's spirit? That giant bird?"
"Yes, Kamito had just tamed it."
"Nothing less expected from Kamito-kun..."
Fianna sighed poignantly.
"...I have no idea what is going on, but is this safe?"
"Yes, so long as no accident occurs."
"What kind of accident..."
"For example, if this spirit is erased, you lot will end up erased together."
"Isn't that serious!? Set us down right this instant!"
"I don't mind doing that, but do know that we are currently flying over Ghul-a-val."
Hearing that, Claire became speechless.
"...What happened over there? What was that pillar of light?"
"What happened to the Pyramid?"
"None of that is urgent at the moment. For explanations, wait until we get back to Zohar. See you later—"
Saying that, Restia ended the conversation on her own.
"Wait, darkness spirit! Sheesh..."
Claire glared at the ceiling in displeasure.
"No helping it. Our only choice is to wait here quietly."
"Fortunately, this place is quite comfortable."
"Since there is a sofa and a kitchen. We can easily live here for a week or more."
"There are snacks on the shelves too."
"How uncommon. A spirit with a living space inside..."
"Your Georgios can be entered too, and with climate control to boot."
"My goodness, Georgios is only for personal use—"
At this time, a voice came from a corner of the room. It was Saladia Kahn, who had been swallowed without a clue what was going on as soon as she had been rescued.
"Princess Saladia, does your injury still hurt?"
Fianna asked her with care.
"No, it doesn't, all thanks to you. I will be fine after taking some rest."
Maintaining a calm attitude, Saladia shook her head.
Remaining composed in such a situation, nothing less expected from her as a member of a royal family.
"This spirit is headed to Zohar, is that right?"
"Yes, apparently. Please rest assured, Your Highness, we will make sure you get there safely."
Hearing Claire say that, Saladia exhaled and looked relieved.
"The few of you are from Ordesia...?"
"More precisely, it would be Legitimate Ordesia."
"A government in exile, wanted by the Emperor."
Fianna smiled wryly and shrugged.
"Why are you searching for me?"
"There are complicated reasons—"
Saying that, Fianna told her about what had happened so far.
Their alliance with Dracunia. The mission assigned by the Dragon King.
Then there was Saladia's older sister Sjora Kahn dying together with Leviathan, the strategic-class militarized spirit.
"...I see. My elder sister sacrificed her life for Leviathan..."
"Yes. By the time Kamito stormed into there, it was already too late to save her..."
"My elder sister's foolish acts has caused great loss of life to the populace. Thank you all for stopping her. Surely, more victims would have lost their lives had you not intervened."
With a pained expression, Saladia clasped her hands together as though to pray.
"By the way, Your Highness, why did you go to the Demon King's Capital?"
Saladia was momentarily stumped by the question.
"Because of the legend of the Demon King's Coffin, right?"
"So you already know somewhat—"
Hearing Claire's comment, the princess gave up and nodded.
"Precisely. I followed the legend of the Demon King's Coffin and reached that place. With the majority of my retainers eliminated by my sister, I was alone without any support. Hence, it was necessary for me to obtain proof of my authority as the Theocracy's ruler."
"Suffering from civil war, the Theocracy's people are wishing for your return. I don't think there's any current necessity to rely on that kind of legend to display your authority—"
"Yes, you have a point. Now that I think back, why did such a thought occur to me, I wonder..."
The princess tilted her head in puzzlement and began to murmur to herself.
Seeing her like that, Fianna felt a strange sense of dissonance.
"By the way, Your Highness, I presume you had a bodyguard?"
At this moment, Ellis thought of something and asked.
"Speaking of which, that is right."
Rinslet chimed in.
"But there was no one by your side where you collapsed."
Hearing that, Saladia's face twitched.
"Th-That man is no bodyguard! A mere rogue civilian!"
"He abandoned me and went off who knows where! I was a fool for starting to trust him!"
Facing the princess who had suddenly gotten worked up, Claire and the girls exchanged looks, unable to say anything.
The giant bird spirit flew easily across the vast desert of Ghul-a-val, reaching the Theocracy's capital of Zohar in merely half a day's time.
While creating strong wind that knocked down rows of trees, the Roc landed in the garden of the Scorpio palace.
Confronted with a gigantic spirit's sudden appearance, the palace guards immediately started to attack. However, the weapons of ordinary soldiers who were not elementalists could not cause any damage to the Roc at all.
Angered, the Roc moved and the guards immediately fled in fear.
Riding on the giant bird's back and seeing the situation, Kamito called out to them.
"Wait up! I've brought Princess Saladia back!"
Some of the guards probably felt curious and halted instantly.
Kamito got down from the Roc's back. Raising Solomon's ring, he commanded the Roc.
"Uh, release everyone."
Hearing that, the Roc obediently lowered its head and slowly opened its beak.
Claire and the girls instantly fell out from the pitch-black space in the Roc's mouth.
"Sheesh, what was that so suddenly...!"
Claire was so angry that her hair stood on end.
"...Is place is?"
She surveyed her surroundings.
"This is the palace at Zohar."
"We have reached the destination, I see."
After Claire and Rinslet, Ellis and Fianna also arrived outside.
"Girls, the flight wasn't too uncomfortable, I hope?"
"Hmm, it surprised me at first, but it was actually quite comfortable."
Saying that, Fianna stroked the giant bird's beak.
"There was a really soft sofa and daily necessities."
"It was quite nice as long as you tried not to think of yourself as being inside a bird's belly."
...Surprisingly, the girls did not seem too offended.
"I told you so. The Roc is quite a comfortable ride."
In response, Restia commented oddly proudly.
"W-Who on earth are you people...?"
At this moment, the guards with raised spears asked warily.
"Stop this insolence now. Put away your weapons."
A stern voice sounded from the bird's beak—
A blonde girl in a traveler's cloak then emerged.
"Y-Your Highness, Princess Saladia!?"
The captain of the guard widened his eyes.
The guards surrounding Kamito's group immediately put down their weapons and prostrated themselves on the ground.
"I have returned. Henceforth, I shall govern in the place of my deceased royal sister. Make preparations for the coronation ceremony right away."
Hearing the commands of the returned princess, the guards immediately responded and ran to the palace entrance.
Saladia Kahn turned her head back to Kamito's group.
"I am deeply grateful for your help. Please rest in the imperial villa over there for now. I must busy myself with the coronation."
"Thank you for your hospitality, Princess Saladia."
Fianna bowed her head lightly.
Escorted by the guards, Princess Saladia made her way to the palace.
"Are we going to take a break without worrying too much?"
"I suppose, I really want to cleanse my body..."
Saying that, Claire patted off sand that wwas sticking to her hair.
"By the way, Kamito, what are you going to do with this bird?"
Just then, Ellis asked with slight worry.
Even with wings folded, the giant bird took up almost all of the palace's large garden.
...Although the Roc did not look like it would misbehave, Kamito decided against leaving it here unattended.
"Say, Restia, what should I do?"
"There is no should. It has recognized you, Kamito, the one who holds the ring, as its master. That's why it is listening to your orders."
Kamito stroked the beak with his hand. The giant bird started to coo.
"Uh, thank you for flying us all the way here. You're free from now on."
"Kamito, that is such a waste. The Roc is a high-tier spirit, you know?"
"Even so, I can't just leave it here..."
...The palace guards would probably be scared out of their wits if the Roc kept staying here.
Also, he felt sorry for using the Demon King's power to restrain spirits.
Kamito tapped on the beak. The Roc suddenly stood up and spread its giant wings.
Then it cried out, flapped its wings and flew off into the blue sky.
Resting on Ellis' shoulder, Simorgh looked quite lonely, calling out kooroorooroo.
Soon, the palace's female attendants came over and brought Kamito's entourage to the imperial villa some distance away from Scorpio.
The pure-white Serpent Villa was built from marble. It was said that Bahar Kahn, commonly known as the Lecherous King, had built it for four of his concubines.
"Kamito-kun, that is the Lecherous King, the Lecherous King♪ "
"W-What the heck..."
Seeing Fianna especially excited, Kamito did not know how to respond.
"Legend has it that Bahar Kahn imitated the great Demon King Solomon and married many concubines. This Serpent Villa was where they lived."
A female attendant said with a smile.
"The famous King's Bath was also built for King Bahar to bathe with his concubines."
"Fufu, then Kamito-kun should join us later."
"W-What, w-what are you talking about? This pervert, molestor!"
"Th-That is so shameless and immoral!"
Suddenly met with accusations out of the blue, Kamito arrived with his group at a hall with chairs and tables.
"Please wait here, everyone. We will have the rooms prepared immediately."
The female attendants bowed respectfully, then turned around and left.
"...So we are back."
"It felt like a dream."
Rubbing her temples, Rinslet murmured.
...It was only three days earlier when Kamito's team had set off for Ghul-a-val. Inside that Demon King's Capital that had disappeared like a mirage, they had truly experienced way too much.
"Say, Kamito, what happened in the Pyramid?"
"A long story. I'll explain while we're waiting for Rubia to get here."
News of their return had already been sent by Ellis via a wind spirit. All they needed to do was wait here and Rubia would arrive shortly.
"The Theocracy's civil war is finally coming to an end, I suppose."
"That would depend on how the princess handles things."
"Despite her youth, the princess looks quite reliable."
"Yes, completely different from her older sister Sjora Kahn."
Hearing Ellis mutter, Claire agreed.
However, Fianna looked a little perplexed.
"Say, uh, about Princess Saladia—"
"What about her?"
"Did anyone feel anything not quite right?"
Claire and the rest of the girls looked at each other in puzzlement.
"...Forget it. I must be overthinking."
"Princess Saladia is a user of demon spirits, after all. Perhaps her divine power's ambiance is different from ours."
"Yes, possibly. I must have imagined it..."
Saying that, Fianna waved her hands to dismiss the matter as a mistake.
While in the hall waiting for Rubia, Kamito told the girls about what had happened inside the Pyramid.
In the underground space of the Tomb, he had met the Queen of the Demon King City. There, he had witnessed the truth behind the birth of Demon King Solomon a thousand years ago. Then there was Lurie Lizaldia's death, the merchant Safian's true identity, and the revival of Sacred Maiden Areishia within which the Holy Lord's soul dwelled—
After listening to all this, Claire said in exasperation.
"...I take my eyes off you for just a bit and you end up getting into so much trouble."
"It's not like I go out of my way to look for trouble."
Kamito retorted indignantly.
"By the way, I never expected that suspicious merchant to be Demon King Solomon..."
"What a surprise."
Ellis and Rinslet both had a shocked look on their faces, murmuring quietly.
In the Academy's courses, Demon King Solomon was described as a tyrant who met had met his demise. That image was far too different from the real person.
"Well, but it seems like he's a different being from the Demon King himself."
"In comparison, the problem of Sacred Maiden Areishia coming back to life is more serious. Of all things, for Holy Lord Alexandros' soul to be dwelling inside her..."
"...Yeah. Although the Holy Lord's goal is unknown, judging from the Holy Kingdom's current movements, it's clearly nothing good."
The Holy Lord was the true culprit responsible for the Demon King War, having created both the Demon King and the Sacred Maiden. And the Holy Kingdom of Lugia, which served that Elemental Lord, had incited civil war in the Theocracy and secretly controlled Emperor Arneus of Ordesia.
Was his goal to sow chaos throughout the continent?
Perhaps even the Ranbal War had started because of the Holy Kingdom's machinations.
Now that the Holy Lord's soul was revived with the Sacred Maiden's body, what was the Holy Kingdom going to do next?
"Did things happen on your end?"
When Kamito asked—
Claire and Ellis exchanged a glance.
With a mixed expression, Claire murmured.
"In a plaza in the city, we encountered the Fire Elemental Lord's avatar."
"What did you say?" "Are you serious!?"
Not only Kamito but even Fianna and Rinslet were shocked.
"Yes, she was together with the Sacred Spirit Knights. She was the one who destroyed the Pyramid."
"Sure enough, the released Fire Elemental Lord ended up in the Holy Kingdom's hands, huh..."
Previously, Rubia had predicted that the Fire Elemental Lord might have teleported to Alexandria, the capital of the Holy Kingdom. Her guess was evidently correct.
"Don't tell me you made contact with the Fire Elemental Lord?"
"That's right, purely by chance. I don't know why, but we even took her sightseeing around the city."
"...What the heck?"
Kamito could not help but exclaim.
"But she didn't seem like a bad person."
Claire spoke with a mixed expression.
"Didn't the Fire Elemental Lord destroy your homeland?"
"...I know, but she seems to have lost that memory."
"I see now, a similar state as Iseria, huh?"
"Indeed, that's very likely."
At the abandoned city of Megidoa on Ragna Ys, they had encountered Iseria Seaward, the Water Elemental Lord's avatar, who had even forgotten her own identity. Only through the Release Ritual conducted by Fianna did she remember who she was.
"She seemed to remember Nee-sama..."
At that moment, boots were heard outside the hall.
"I am late—"
Saying that, Rubia appeared in her military uniform.
She looked like she had hurried over from Mordis as soon as she received news of Kamito's team's return. Uncharacteristically, her collar was tilted and needed to be fixed up.
Claire suddenly shut up.
After glancing over everyone gathered, Rubia spoke.
"You have evidently ensured Princess Saladia's safety. Well done."
"Yeah, it was a lot of work..."
"Any news on the other front?"
"Nothing special. Just that the faction of nobles in Ordesia opposing the emperor seems to be growing with each passing day. At Areishia Spirit Academy, opposition between students and the knights have deepened. I expect news of Princess Saladia's return to affect the Empire greatly too."
"I am quite curious about the nobles' intentions..."
With her chin resting on her hands, Fianna murmured.
"Would you like to hear about what happened at the Demon King City?"
"No, I will listen to the report later."
Rubia shook her head.
"Fianna and I shall pay Princess Saladia a visit first."
"Well, I guess that's definitely more important."
Rubia could be considered the de facto ruler of the rebel army at Mordis. Since the Theocracy's administration was returning to Saladia's rule, naturally, there were matters on that front to discuss.
"I understand. Let us be on our way, Rubia-sama—"
"Yes, the rest of you should take a proper break."
After glancing at Claire, Rubia took Fianna and left the hall.
"Is it really okay for you to not mention the Fire Elemental Lord?"
"Yes, I think it's best not to bring it up yet."
Claire bit her lip hard.
"...I guess you're right."
"I don't know what to do either. In my heart, there's still lingering emotions refusing to forgive the Fire Elemental Lord for destroying my homeland..."
She recalled that very day when the torrential rain of fire had deprived her of her homeland.
In her sister's heart, surely the flames of that day continued to burn still.
"I really want to see her again. And chat with her..."
Claire murmured intermittently.
"...I need to think. What to do from now on."
Kamito crossed his arms and looked up at the ceiling of the hall.
The Holy Lord sealed inside Sacred Maiden Areishia had revived.
The Ordesia Empire was plunged into deeper chaos, sowing seeds of internal strife.
"...Looks like we need to investigate more into the Holy Lord."
"Yeah. Let's check out the Theocracy's library later."
"However, I feel that the Divine Ritual Institute's literature is not going to offer much."
"True, but there might be clues."
At that moment, Claire cried out.
"But we happen to have a source that we can ask about the Elemental Lords!"
Claire pointed to Rinslet and said:
"Iseria Seaward, the Water Elemental Lord."