Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume18 Chapter4
Chapter 4 - The Princess Maiden of Water
"I-I knew it, this is too embarrassing. Can I not wear the Academy's uniform instead?"
Facing Rinslet, who was awkwardly rubbing her knees together with a bright-red countenance—
"No. Although the Academy's uniform can serve as crude ritual attire, you must wear ancient traditional garb for summoning an Elemental Lord."
Claire spoke seriously.
They were at a small shrine in the city of Zohar that princess maidens used to commune with spirits.
Inside the Theocracy where worship of the Demon King ran deep, there were very few shrines dedicated to the Five Great Elemental Lords. Even in high-class venues such as the palace, there would only be a shrine for worshiping the Earth Elemental Lord at most.
That being said, the city was not completely devoid of such shrines. Hence, after obtaining permission from Princess Saladia, Kamito's team borrowed a small shrine used for worshiping the Five Great Elemental Lords.
"...Ooh~, the last time I wore Raiment of Water was in my childhood."
Dressed in a sheer garment that provided tantalizing glimpses to her skin, Rinslet helplessly hung her head.
She had conducted the Winter Serenity Ritual in Laurenfrost when she was younger, but ever since her little sister Judia was sealed in ice, she practically never wore this outfit again.
The Raiment of Water was supreme ritual attire worn by princess maidens serving the Water Elemental Lord. Compared to the ritual attire of fire, which Fianna, Rubia and even Ren Ashbell had worn, this outfit stood out as far more revealing, with a design that especially emphasized the body's curves.
A translucent veil covered the noble young lady's snow-white skin. A skirt with a bold high slit, running past her lovely navel, was wrapped around the graceful curves of her hips.
Every time Rinslet twisted her body in embarrassment, her pale thighs came into view, making Kamito unsure where to look.
Even though it was the Divine Ritual Institute's designated formal ritual attire that even the Water Queen would also wear, it proved to be especially seductive when worn by the pure and innocent Rinslet.
"K-Kamito-san! It is far too embarrassing when you keep staring like that..."
Rinslet's slightly teary eyes were glaring at Kamito resentfully.
Involuntarily mesmerized, Kamito hastily turned his gaze away.
"S-Sorry...! I couldn't help it because you're too pretty..."
"...Ooh, my goodness, w-w-what are you talking about!?"
Rinslet huddled into a ball while steam rose from her head.
On the altar for worshiping the Elemental Lord was a large jar of water.
Kamito had heard that it was for the Elemental Lord to bestow her voice upon the human realm, using water as the medium.
"Will the offering dance be fine?"
"Of course. I started presiding over the ritual since I was young."
Saying that, Rinslet walked up to the altar.
The bells attached to her ankles sounded.
"—O flowing water, the source of all life. One who embraces the earth gently, grant thy blessings to the earth—"
The bells kept ringing—
Clad in the Raiment of Water, Rinslet began to dance in front of the jar of water. In the darkness, her platinum blonde long hair glowed with beautiful radiance. Her graceful fingers were mesmerizing.
A flowing dance, no less spectacular than those performed by princes maidens of the Divine Ritual Institute.
"Raindrops of tender affection, wind and snow of wrath, O great lord of water ruling over all—"
The Ice Rose seal on the back of Rinslet's left hand glowed with dazzling light.
This was the seal that Iseria Seaward had bestowed upon her at the abandoned city on Ragna Ys.
Even though it was not a formal spirit contract's seal, Rinslet was able to establish a connection to her through this seal.
"—I implore thee to listen to the voice of your princess maiden!"
The light surging from the ice rose painted the surroundings white—
"—What is the matter, Rinslet?"
Suddenly, a voice was heard from the mouth of Fenrir, who was crouching in a corner of the shrine.
Kamito could not help but exclaim in surprise.
Hearing the voice, Rinslet could not help but cry out in the middle of her dance offering.
Unconcerned with the speechless Kamito and company—
Fenrir slowly stood up and walked unsteadily up to Rinslet.
"Compared to that water mirror, possessing your contracted spirit is easier, right?"
"Yes. I previously used this dog spirit's mouth to speak, right?"
Indeed, last time, Kamito had received a clue to Restia's whereabouts from Iseria speaking through Fenrir. To think that the specially prepared jar of water turned out to be a waste of effort.
"Rinslet, why did you call for me?"
"Y-Yes, we would like to inquire something of you, Iseria-sama."
Kneeling on the ground, Rinslet bowed her head before Fenrir.
Claire and the others hastily did the same.
...It was quite a ridiculous scene from a bystander's point of view.
"Dispense with the formalities. I am nothing more than the Water Elemental Lord's avatar."
"No, absolutely not."
Rinslet slowly shook her head.
"...Fine. Then what do you wish to inquire of me?"
"About the great Holy Lord Alexandros, leader of the Elemental Lords—"
Rinslet told Iseria, who was in the form of a white wolf, about what had happened in the Demon King City.
"...How unbelievable, never did I expect Alexandros to revive in the human realm."
After listening to the whole story, Iseria entered a pensive pose with Fenrir's jaw propped against his front paw.
Since she looked like Fenrir, it looked quite hilarious—
"Iseria-sama, may I ask what do you know about the Holy Lord?"
Fenrir shook his head at the question.
"...My apologies. I have almost no memories from my time as an Elemental Lord. It was only with your help that I finally recovered a portion of my memories and power."
"H-Hey, mind your manners!"
Hearing Claire's quite murmur, Ellis scolded.
"As the ruler of wisdom and power, Alexandros is the leader of us Elemental Lords. However, at the very end of that Spirit War, he was corrupted by the Otherworldly Darkness summoned by Darkness Elemental Lord Ren Ashdoll. Like us—"
"I heard that the Holy Lord tempted the hero Solomon and created the opportunity for the Demon King's creation. Why exactly did he do that?"
Kamito asked a question at this point.
"This is my first time hearing of the Holy Lord interfering in the human realm. However, it is decidedly odd. We Elemental Lords bestowed power on the Sacred Queen precisely for the sake of quelling the chaos brought by the Demon King."
"I knew it, there must be some kind of secret in the Sacred Maiden..."
Crossing his arms, Kamito muttered.
What was Alexandros going to do do after obtaining Sacred Maiden Areishia's physical body?
Also, Lurie had mentioned resetting the world, what exactly—
"Do you know anything about the Fire Elemental Lord?"
This time, it was Claire's turn to ask.
Probably because Iseria was using Fenrir's appearance, Claire did not muster any respect at all. Kamito could hardly blame her after seeing Fenrir shake while scratching an ear with his hind leg—
"...Well, from what I have heard, although I cannot be certain, it is possible that Volcanicus is bound by some kind of covenant with the Holy Lord."
"Yes. On the brink of the Spirit War, the Elemental Lords entered into an inviolable covenant with one another. For the sake of building a solid alliance to oppose Ren Ashdoll."
"So that's why she couldn't come with us..."
Claire whispered regretfully.
"Has anything strange happened on your end?"
"Hmm, it has been ordinary as ever—Oh."
"...What is the matter?"
"Well, speaking of strange, there is one matter I am slightly concerned about."
Iseria spoke in a serious tone of voice.
"What is it?"
"Gates to Astral Zero have apparently opened in the human realm."
"...? Does that not happen all the time?"
In places like the Spirit Forest, powerful spirits would occasionally pass through naturally occurring gates to invade the human realm. Taking out such spirits was also part of the Syphid Knights' job.
"The quantity is a bit too great. Even though investigations are ongoing, it is certain that some kind of situation has arisen in Astral Zero."
Such a phenomenon was definitely worrying. However, it did not seem related to the problems Kamito and company were currently facing.
"This is the extent of what I know. I apologize for not being of much help."
"You are too humble, Iseria-sama."
Rinslet shook her head frantically.
"Goodbye. I look forward to your pancakes next time you happen to pass through Astral Zero."
The glow in Fenrir's eyes vanished, turning them back into his original round eyes.
"...To be honest, that wasn't very useful."
"C-Claire! You are talking about an Elemental Lord, you know!?"
"I went as far as to wear this outfit!"
Hearing Claire's comment, Ellis got angry and Rinslet grumbled.
"Well, it can't be helped that she lost her memory. Next, we should do more research on the Holy Lord."
Claire stood up.
"Let's return to the palace. Princess Saladia said she had a celebration prepared."
"I-I shall change back into my uniform first."
"You're going to take off this pretty outfit? That's a shame."
"I, Saladia Kahn, daughter of Rajihal Kahn, express my gratitude for your assistance on this occasion. I hereby swear to an alliance with Legitimate Ordesia."
"Much obliged, Princess Saladia—"
At the throne room in Scorpia, Fianna and Princess Saladia shook hands.
Saladia had completed her coronation ceremony, albeit a simple one. The many retainers serving Sjora Kahn had been arrested and imprisoned by the army under her command.
For Legitimate Ordesia, this was yet another powerful ally they had gained after Dracunia.
Although they could not expect much in terms of military support, the fact that they had gained a new allied nation would definitely help in securing support from the Ordesia nobles.
"I have prepared a small celebration banquet to deepen the friendship between our nations. Please honor me with your attendance."
"Thank you for your hospitality, Princess Saladia—"
Fianna bowed gracefully then took her leave with Rubia, leaving the throne room.
When they walked out of the palace, the sun was already setting. A crowd of small spirits had started gathering in the courtyard. They must have noticed that humans were holding a celebration banquet.
"With this, we have recruited two allied nations at least."
"Yes, people in the Empire are sure to make a move after receiving reports of this."
"The nobles will rebel?"
"No, that would be too soon—"
Just then, Rubia suddenly stopped walking and looked around the courtyard.
"Fianna, do you sense it?"
Rubia asked quietly.
"I am referring to Princess Saladia. At close range, did you sense anything?"
Fianna widened her dusk-colored eyes.
"Now that you mention it, you noticed too, Rubia-sama?"
"Indeed. Something ominous evidently lurks within Princess Saladia."
Had it been anyone other than a Queen candidate and a former Queen, they might not have noticed that faint evil presence.
"Something seems to have possessed the princess."
"I fear it is the same entity that had possessed Sjora Kahn."
"During the final round of the Blade Dance, that witch's personality clearly changed. I suspect this time, it has abandoned Sjora Kahn's body and possessed Princess Saladia instead."
"Something like that is possible?"
"Generations of the Demon King Cult have passed down ancient curses unknown to the Divine Ritual Institute. I expect they include magic of this sort."
Rubia turned her head back towards Scorpia and said slowly.
"—Tonight we hunt. Get ready."
The sacred capital Alexandros of the Holy Kingdom of Lugia was situated at the foot of the holy mountain of Londinia, the birthplace of Areishia Idriss, the legendary Sacred Queen.
It was a mountain city surrounded by walls of pure white. As the capital of one of the three great nations of the continent alongside Ordesia and Quina, the city's size was surprisingly small with an extremely small population.
The entire city had evolved into a gigantic shrine dedicated to worshiping the Holy Lord, because the city's core functions of politics and commerce had moved over to the secondary capital of Meriazel roughly two hundred years earlier.
This was a city where scholarly pursuits and worshiping rites were directed by princess maidens.
At the very center of the sacred capital of Alexandria...
In the grand cathedral known as the Ivory Tower—
A girl in pure-white vestments entered.
It was an empty place.
The worshiped king's was clearly no longer present.
The girl stood on a map of the continent carved on the floor.
"—Est, you are here, yes?"
Suddenly, she called out to empty space.
Particles of light appeared, followed by a cardinal dressed in vestments of pure white.
"—How may I serve you, Holy Lord?"
The girl addressed as "Est"—
Was precisely the Holy Kingdom's cardinal, Millennia Sanctus.
Reflected in her clear eyes of violet was the face of Areishia Idriss.
Areishia's expression relaxed a little.
"—Well done, Est. You succeeded in liberating my vessel."
Millennia bowed her head.
"However, your faithful apostle, Lurie Lizaldia, has perished."
"Yes, indeed. A sad fact perhaps."
Areishia shook her head calmly.
"Nevertheless, her long-cherished wish shall come into fruition. Just like yours."
The Sacred Maiden looked up at the cathedral's painted ceiling and spoke in a voice filled with sorrow.
The painting depicted the likeness of the Holy Lord meting out punishment to Darkness Elemental Lord Ren Ashdoll.
It was a primordial fresco named Final Judgment.
"Time is ripe. The Sacred Maiden vessel has awakened. Time to put the plan into action, Est. We must rectify the world that the Darkness Elemental Lord's sins has set on a path towards destruction."
"Everything is ready, my lord. I await your command."
"Has the candidate location been selected?"
"Yes, how about here—?"
Millennia nodded and tapped the tip of her staff against the map on the floor.