Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume18 Chapter5
Chapter 5 - Celebration
A roaring bonfire was lit in the middle of Scorpia's grand plaza to start the princess' coronation celebration.
The plaza's floor was covered with carpet embroidered with exquisite patterns, a local specialty of the Alphas Theocracy. Served in utensils of silver and gold, cooked dishes and fruit were brought to the venue one after another together with pitchers of wine.
Having bathed, Claire and company were sitting on the carpet, looking at the luxurious feast set before their eyes.
"Having a meal sitting on the ground is quite a new experience."
Claire, her skin smooth and tender after soaking in the bath, tossed her hair while she spoke.
"I heard that this is a traditional banquet custom in the Theocracy."
"I'm actually more used to this."
Thinking back to his Instructional School days, Kamito remarked.
Because the Instructional School originated from the Theocracy's Demon King Cult, Kamito was more familiar with desert culture than the noble young ladies of Ordesia were.
"This carpet is amazing. I wonder how they embroidered it?"
Very interested, Ellis murmured.
Kamito could smell floral fragrance from her neck, probably because she used specially made rose soap.
"This is the work of princess maidens specializing in weaving, guided by spirits. As a result, authentic Alphas textiles contain blessings from spirits."
The knowledgeable Claire raised an index finger and explained.
"...I see. No wonder it feels so comfortable to sit on."
Hearing that, Kamito commented with admiration while sitting between Claire and Ellis.
Apart from Kamito's team, invited guests included the general of the royal guard, leaders of local militias and the courtiers imprisoned by Sjora Kahn.
Practically all of the retainers who had greedily accepted the privileges and authority granted by Sjora were now thrown into prison. They were not executed because Princess Saladia wanted to show she had no intent to continue her sister's reign of terror.
As for Saladia herself, she was currently sitting on the new throne, listening to her retainers' reports.
Her sitting there, dignified and awe-inspiring, it was hard to imagine her as a girl the same age as Kamito and his companions.
"Princess Saladia has a tough job ahead of her."
"Yes, there are still quite a few local warlords coveting succession to the Kahn dynasty."
When Claire stared at the princess and made a comment, Ellis concurred.
"Apologies for my tardiness."
Kamito and company heard Fianna's voice from behind.
"Seriously, where did you go?"
"Hmm, something came up, yes..."
Replying quietly, Fianna then sat down gracefully next to Ellis.
"Ellis, I have personally written a letter to Dracunia, could you deliver it to the Lord Dragon King?"
"Affirmative. I will command the fastest wind spirit to send it."
Ellis recited an incantation and summon a wind spirit in the form of a falcon.
At first glance, the spirit looked quite similar to Simorgh except smaller. The falcon took the letter in its beak then flew out of the palace like a gust of wind.
Due to their status as the second princess and a duke's daughter, Fianna and Ellis used to be a bit too formal with each other, but ever since Ellis started working as Fianna's secretary, they had gotten much closer.
"If Dracunia enters a formal alliance with us, I expect Arneus to balk at reckless action."
"Yes, with uncertainty in the Empire's internal situation, he would think twice before angering one of the top military powers in the continent—"
While Claire and the girls were conversing, the palace's sumptuous food was brought out dish by dish.
There was oven-baked barley bread, flat wheat bread, whole-roasted pig, a dish where a whole chicken was stuffed with stuffing, sandfish fried with herbs, deep-fried red scorpions flavored with salt, lamb stewed with fragrant vegetables, meat paired with fruit sauce, grapes on a vine served on silverware, dessert made from roasted apple topped with honey...
"Wow... Everything looks so delicious!"
"There are dishes I have never seen before!"
Claire's gaze was firmly fixated upon a dessert filled with peaches.
After the food was served, a musical ensemble composed of princess maidens made their debut at the center of the plaza and started to play exotic sounding music.
Attracted by the music and the luxurious feast, spirits kept drifting over. This area seemed to be particularly amenable to earth spirits. Many lizard spirits with hard scales and scorpion spirits with hammer-like tails could be found in the surroundings.
Team Scarlet's contracted spirits were freely roaming the plaza.
This was a scene quite rare to see during the gatherings of Ordesian nobles.
The retainers began to chat happily with wine glasses in their hands. Some of them even poked skewers of meat into Scarlet's tail to roast while she was strolling in the plaza.
"Claire, is that really okay? To do that to a high-tier spirit?"
Seeing that, Kamito turned to Claire beside him and asked.
"Sure, Scarlet is just going around, asking to be fed anyway..."
"Like candle service huh?"
"Well I suppose."
"I would beg to differ..."
Ellis quipped quietly.
"Hmph, we must not allow ourselves to be outdone, Fenrir!"
With a toss of her long platinum blonde hair, Rinslet stood up.
Accompanied by a blizzard, the summoned Fenrir froze peaches and grapes that were served on platters, producing instant sherbet.
"Hmm, well played..."
"Claire, let us have a contest. See whose spirit will become the most popular at this banquet!"
"Bring it on!"
"Why do you need to have a contest?"
Seeing the two members of Raven Class clash with sparks flying, Kamito sighed.
"Well, this isn't so bad. It's not every day we get to have a banquet."
Fianna shrugged in response.
"Speaking of which, Georgios rarely gets summoned to banquets like this."
"After all, as a royal heirloom spirit, he must not be displayed too casually."
"Does he eat human food like Scarlet and the others?"
Spirits have no need to eat for the most part, but most of them would happily eat food when offered.
"Hmm, he seems to prefer iron to food. Georgios often sucks in objects like useless broken swords and the like."
"I-I see... That's not too surprising."
Saying that, Kamito raised his gaze a little.
He could see a sacred bird with rainbow tail flying overhead.
The princess' retainers put their hands together and paid respects to the bird.
"It feels like they're worshiping Simorgh..."
"Yes, it has struck me as incredible since just now."
Ellis was equally puzzled.
"The Theocracy apparently worships bird-shaped spirits. I think it is because a giant bird carried the Demon King to battle according to legend—"
Just as Fianna started to explain...
A petite figure silently approached and hugged Kamito.
He turned his neck—
Only to see Muir smiling shyly behind him.
Instead of her usual Instructional School combat outfit, she was wearing a desert nation dress. Her ash-gray hair was tied on opposite sides of her head, bouncing energetically.
"Muir, you've recovered."
"Yes, I'm fine now, Onii-sama♪"
Saying that, Muir nodded energetically.
In an earlier reconnaissance mission at Zohar, she and Lily were unfortunately absorbed by the strategic-class spirit Leviathan. Consequently, they had been bedridden while Kamito's team went off to Ghul-a-val.
"Has Lily recovered too?"
"She can walk now, but she didn't want to come here."
"I see. That's quite like her."
Kamito smiled wryly. Lily was a member of the Elfim race and hated human crowds.
"Onii-sama, let me feed you."
Muir jumped and sat down on Kamito's lap.
"W-Wait a sec, what are you doing!?"
Seeing that, Claire glared at her.
"Hmph, Onii-sama is the personal seat of Muir, the little sister."
"Y-You're no little sister!"
"Right, sworn sister. A sworn sister can be married, so status is even higher than a real sister."
Claire's face instantly flushed bright red.
Just then, the Demon Slayer at Kamito's side suddenly glowed.
"Back off for that is my position—"
...For some reason, even Est joined in.
"No, this is Muir's spot."
Est still had no expression on her face, but she defiantly tried to squeeze onto Kamito's lap.
Her silver-white hair was glowing faintly.
...She seemed a little angry.
"H-Hey, you two...!"
"K-Kamito, this is shameful public behavior!"
"Forcing two girls to serve you, you seem to be enjoying this!"
"...~T-Turn into charcoal, charcoal!"
"Woah, hold on, Claire!?"
"—What a ruckus."
Suddenly, the girl with jet-black wings floated down in front of Kamito's group.
Chuckling, Restia smiled mischievously.
"Hmm, you're here, darkness spirit..."
In response, Muir glared at her warily.
"I am not petty enough to say anything like keeping Kamito all to myself."
Restia declared with an expression of full confidence.
"Are you serious?"
"Why don't we all just share Kamito?"
Getting a bad feeling, Kamito asked.
"Yes, we will carve out time when we can monopolize Kamito. I shall take Kamito during the night, while you two can share him for the daytime."
Kamito hastily protested against Restia's suggestion.
"Although manifesting in the daytime is not a problem for a high-tier spirit like me, darkness spirits do find nighttime more comfortable after all♪"
"All at your convenience, huh!?"
"No way I'm agreeing to that. You get Onii-sama all to yourself at night!"
"Darkness spirit, I knew it, we must settle the question of superiority between us—"
This time, Muir and Est started to join forces.
"All of you are getting along so well."
Watching them, Fianna sighed and murmured.
The musicians played a wonderful melody and the princess maidens began to dance.
Princess maidens in the service of spirits were usually beautiful maidens and this time was no exception. However, since Kamito has been in the company of top beauties from the Empire all along, he was more focused on rare desert delicacies than on dancing.
"Est, what do you want? I'll get it for you."
"Yes. I want that rotating meat."
Hearing his offer, Est pointed to a skewered chunk of meat, rotating while being roasted.
"Miss Sword Spirit, that is the kebab."
"Slices of lamb are roasted against a charcoal flame while it spins."
"Then you roll it up in vegetables and eat it with a sweet and spicy sauce."
"Kamito, I want kebab."
Est was already holding her fork, her violet eyes shining bright.
Kamito sliced some meat off from the skewer. Then he noticed something weird with Claire's behavior.
"...Claire, what are you doing?"
When he called to her, Claire's entire person jumped.
The jump caused several peaches to roll out from under her uniform.
"...This is quite unseemly for a guest at a state banquet. And you used to be a duke's daughter too."
"I-I'm just planning to eat them in my room!"
Claire shook her twintails vigorously and started to pick up the fallen peaches.
"Seriously, what are you doing...?"
Ellis remarked in exasperation.
"Ellis, pardon my late arrival."
"My esteemed sister—"
Just then, Velsaria took a seat next to Ellis, holding a pitcher of wine.
Apparently, she had been finishing a tune-up of her fortress spirit at Vivian Melosa.
"Ellis, would you like a drink?"
"Yes, please, my esteemed sister."
Ellis nodded and raised her cup.
"I heard you fought with that Luminaris inside the Demon King City."
"Yes, she lives up to her reputation as a formidable enemy."
"Nevertheless, you fought on equal terms, did you not?"
"I am honored that I had a chance to meet Luminaris-dono in combat. Even though she is a knight of the Holy Kingdom, her sword is pure and honest."
"Is that so? A valuable experience, I see."
"Yes, my esteemed sister—"
Ellis smiled. Velsaria smiled gently too.
...Their sisterly relationship, which used to be quite stiff, had become much more harmonious.
Seeing that, Claire looked sad for an instant.
"Nee-sama isn't here yet..."
"I guess Rubia doesn't like banquets much."
"Totally wrong. Back in the day, Nee-sama used to be very happy whenever festivals and celebrations came up."
The two twintails were drooping in disappointment.
"Nee-sama was so good at playing Old Maid."
Seeing Claire like that...
"Rubia-sama will be here soon. She is getting ready right now."
"Ready? Ready for what?"
"You shall know soon."
Saying that, Fianna kept her gaze on Princess Saladia on the throne.
Even though it was a banquet situation, Fianna seemed oddly nervous.
The flute stopped and the throne room went silent.
Everyone's gaze gathered at the entrance to the plaza.
Appearing there was&mash;
Sitting next to Kamito, Claire exclaimed softly.
Indeed, it was Rubia Elstein.
However, instead of her usual military uniform, she was dressed in a princess maiden's ritual attire.
Whispering could be heard from the guests.
"Rubia-dono, what is this outfit for?"
Princess Saladia asked in surprise.
Rubia slowly walked up to the throne and bowed magnanimously.
"To celebrate your ascension, Princess Saladia, I would like to offer a ritual dance."
"You will be one to perform the ritual dance?"
Saladia frowned and asked.
Indeed, this was a natural reaction for anyone who did not know that Rubia Elstein used to be the Queen serving the Fire Elemental Lord.
"Princess Saladia, Rubia-dono is a princess maiden of the Divine Ritual Institute. I am certain she would be able to please the spirits here."
Fianna stood up and offered support.
"I see now. In that case, I look forward to your performance."
The princess nodded and raised her hand lightly. The sound of flute music resumed.
They played music for pleasing spirits.
With a flutter of her crimson hair that looked as though it were burning, Rubia began to dance gracefully.
Claire widened her ruby-like eyes. It was many years ago since she last watched her sister dancing from up close. The last time was the Great Festival of Spirits at the imperial capital.
With unblinking eyes, Claire stared at her older sister's flame-like dancing figure.
Small flames were produced from her fans, spinning back and forth in Rubia's surroundings.
The spirits gathered at the banquet expressed their joy by flashing nonstop.
Frolicking in the flames, Rubia was so beautiful that Kamito was mesmerized.
"I don't know anything about dancing, but it's really pretty..."
"Yes. This is Nee-sama's dance, Kamito."
Claire spoke with pride.
In the past, Kamito had witnessed Rubia offering a ritual dance performance at the imperial capital.
But back then, he was completely focused on the Instructional School's mission had no leisure to pay attention to that beauty of hers.
Rubia's dance heated up like a blazing fire as the music rose in intensity.
At that very moment, Kamito suddenly noticed it.
Sitting on the throne, there seemed to be something wrong with Princess Saladia.
(...What's going on?)
She began to moan as though having a seizure.
"Saladia-sama, is something bothering you?"
The retainers noticed the anomaly and began to clamor.
"Princess, are you alright?"
Rinslet stood up with worry.
However, just as she was about to hurry over, Fianna stopped her.
"Your Highness? What is it—"
"Please be quiet, everyone!"
Fianna stood up and shouted.
Instantly, the throne room became silent.
"Ah, guh, oh, ohhh, ohhhhhhhhhh—"
Clutching her chest in pain, Saladia collapsed on the ground.
That hoarse voice of old men did not belong to Saladia.
Sounding like many ghosts, the sound was quite terrifying.
(This voice is—!)
Kamito jumped in surprise. He remembered that voice.
It was precisely the bizarre noise made by Sjora Kahn just before she died.
"Curses, how dare you conspire against us, damn giiiiiirl—"
Like pitch-black mist, dark miasma surged out from the collapsed princess.
The retainers in the surroundings lost consciousness one after another as soon as the thick miasma touched them.
"How is the pain? Hierarchs of the Demon King Cult—"
Coldly looking at the dark miasma, Rubia spoke.
"I first realized your true identity when I was investigating the grimoire about forbidden spells that Sjora Kahn had left behind. A particular type of magic intrigued me."
"...Guh... Urgh. Damn yooooooou...!"
"Reincarnation magic. Abandoning the physical body then using one's mind to possess another person—"
"Damn you damn you damn you daaaaaaamn...!"
The terrifying dark miasma surged out and crawled along the floor, trying to escape.
However, its surroundings were already surrounded by a barrier of light.
"An isolation barrier. Escaping is impossible."
Holding Save the Queen by the time Kamito noticed, Fianna spoke sternly.
"What Rubia-sama had performed was the first style of ritual dance—Exorcism Dance. The goal was to force out the evil occupying Saladia's body."
"D-Damn girl, unforgivable, unforgivable!"
The dark miasma crashed around inside the isolation barrier, but only got burned by the barrier of light.
"The fearsome grudge of the Hierarchs, you shall be destroyed here and now!"
Countless blue-white flames lit up at the tip of Rubia's raised fan.
"That flame is..."
Surprised, Claire exclaimed.
Indeed, these flames were not from spirit magic.
Instead, it was the special ability passed down generations of the Elstein family. Even capable of freezing flames—
The anomalous flame swallowed the Hierarchs' vengeful souls together with the barrier of light.
Gradually incinerated, the dark miasma screamed, struggling in pain.
Having secretly manipulated the Kahn dynasty from the shadows for hundreds of years, the Hierarchs—
Were easily destroyed here and now.
"Saladia-sama, are you alright!?"
The retainers hurried over to the collapsed Saladia's side.
"Please rest assured. She has only fainted."
After Fianna chanted spirit magic for awakening someone, she soon opened her eyes.
"...mm, ooh... oohhh..."
"Are you feeling alright, Princess Saladia?"
Saladia blinked in puzzlement.
"Uh, what happened? What did, I..."
"The darkness occupying you has been destroyed."
Rubia stepped forward and explained everything to her.
After hearing that, Saladia closed her eyes—
"Evil was lurking inside me just as it had with my sister Sjora, right?"
Surprisingly, she calm accepted it as fact.
"On further thought, there were warning signs. Sjora's change and how I unbelievably decided to head into Ghul-a-val for the sake of the Demon King's Coffin were both due to that darkness, I suppose."
"Successive Hierarchs of the Demon King Cult have used the forbidden spell of reincarnation to lurk within the royal family's bloodline to rule the Alphas Theocracy. However, that history finally drew to a close today."
"Much appreciated, Rubia-dono. And you too, Princess Fianna—"
Saladia bowed deeply. Immediately, the retainers clapped naturally.
"—Very well, resume the banquet. Music to please the spirits will be performed next."
Saladia clapped her hands.
Joyous melodies once again resounded throughout the palace.
Late at night—
Kamito quietly slipped out of the banquet venue and returned to his room in the imperial villa.
According to the Theocracy's customs, the celebration would continue all the way until morning, but he was too tired to persist.
After all, the Demon King City's collapse was less than a day ago.
Claire and the girls also left the banquet halfway and returned.
After putting Est and Restia, who had turned into sword form after eating to their hearts' content, against the wall, Kamito laid himself down on the bed.
The large round bed featured a decorated canopy. This could very well be a bed that the Lecherous King had used in the past.
(...Now that I think about it, I really get mixed feelings.)
Spreading his arms out, he looked up overhead.
...Although he was far from being drunk, there was a small amount of alcohol from the wine remaining in his body.
"I never thought Velsaria would be so aggressive in forcing others to drink with her..."
...Now that he thought back, she must have been intoxicated back then.
His body still felt hot. It was hard to fall asleep.
Although the mission in the Theocracy was considered done, there was still so much to think about.
(The resurrected Sacred Maiden Areishia... And Alexandros, huh—)
The true culprit who had created Demon King Solomon a thousand years ago.
The most worshiped Elemental Lord on the continent, why did he do something like that?
(Lurie Lizaldia mentioned rebuilding the world...)
Also, the army of angels that Kamito had seen was coming to the human realm—
...What did that mean?
While he was staring at the bed canopy, lost in deep thought—
He felt something squirming under his sheets.
Kamito jumped in surprise and sat up.
He found Est sitting quietly on the bed, naked except for kneesocks.
"...Didn't you change back to sword form?"
"Seeing as you cannot sleep, I shall serve as your pillow, Kamito."
Nodding lightly, Est leaned her naked body against him.
Kamito almost cried out.
...By pillow, she meant a body pillow, huh?
(She's cool to the touch, which feels really great, but...!)
With an elemental affinity of steel, Est's body temperature was quite low.
His body felt boiling hot due to the alcohol, so Est's cool sensation was perfect.
"...Wait, stop, put on your clothes first!"
"Pillows do not wear clothes."
Est tilted her head slightly, staring straight at him with her clear violet eyes. She was usually very obedient but today, she was oddly stubborn.
...Just then, Kamito noticed.
Est's cheeks were mildly flushed.
"Don't tell me you were drinking?"
"Offerings must not be declined."
Est spoke expressionlessly.
...So that was what had happened. Evidently, she had gotten intoxicated from the alcohol in the divine wine prepared for spirits.
"Hua... I am a sword spirit. I do not get drunk."
"Drunk people always say that..."
Shrugging helplessly, Kamito gave up trying to persuade Est.
He went with the flow and lay back down on the bed. Suddenly thinking of something, he asked.
"Say, Est—Did you dream about her again?"
By "her," he was referring to Sacred Maiden Areishia.
On the way to the Demon King City, Est had dreamed about her again.
"No more dreams since last time."
Est shook her head.
"What is the matter, Kamito?"
Kamito quietly dropped the matter. He originally thought that the revival of Sacred Maiden Areishia, Est's original contractor, would have unsettled Est.
(No, I guess I'm the one who's unsettled instead...)
Kamito laughed at himself in his thoughts.
"I will forever be your sword, Kamito."
"Yeah, that's right—"
Kamito gently stroked Est's shining silver-white hair.
"Hold it right there, I will have you know that I am Kamito's first sword—"
Jet-black feathers floated lightly onto the bed.
In the next second, Restia in her dress pounced on Kamito.
Her soft bosom, like bountiful fruit, pressed against the tip of his nose.
"Restia, are you drunk too!?"
"I am upholding my right of possession."
Restia wrapped her arm around Kamito's waist as though competing with Est.
"Darkness spirit, you are in the way. Leave."
"Oh dear, aren't you the one who ought to leave?"
"H-Hey, you two... Uwah!"
In that instant, there was the sound of something hard getting pushed.
A mechanism hidden by the pillow had apparently been triggered.
Then the was a sound like gears turning—
The great bed started to rotate.
A bizarre tune began to play from a music box while pink spirit lights illuminated the entire room.
...Speaking of which, this imperial villa belonged to the legendary Lecherous King.
It would come as no surprise if this room had been used by royals to keep mistresses.
"W-What is this, it started spinning!!"
"Hua, Kamito, my eyes are dizzy."
Kamito was rotating, hugged on the bed by two spirits.
"I-Is this the spirit kebab?"
With eyes spinning, Kamito this stupid thought crossed his mind.
—While the celebration was taking place in the Theocracy...
A certain incident shook the imperial capital at Ordesia.
"...Did you say rebellion!?"
Woken from his sleep, Emperor Arneus roared angrily at his retainers.
The incident had happened several hours earlier.
After Arneus' ascension to the throne, at the Academy town which was under the Imperial Knights' control, the students and some of the teachers led an uprising.
Even though the principal cause of the rebellion was still under investigation, it was evident that the Imperial Knights' oppressive occupation of the Academy, whose cherished ideals included freedom and independent thinking, had elicited even more resistance.
In isolation, that would not have been too bad. After all, it was nothing rare for students to organize radical protests, and quelling them would be easy just by mobilizing the Imperial Knights' occupation force garrisoned in the Academy town.
However, the timing was terrible this time.
After his ascension, Arneus' policies had incurred dissatisfaction from the noble. Brutal oppression of nobles belonging to the anti-Arneus faction also caused resentment in the populace.
Reportedly, even the neutral nobles with seats in the imperial council had abandoned Arneus, secretly and frequently exchanging correspondence with the exiled second princess Fianna.
Under such circumstances, to think even a rebellion started.
This was like dropping a lighted match into a powder keg.
Left alone, all negative feeling against the Empire would explode all at once.
"Supporting the rebellion at the Academy town, Marquess Boderalume, all the houses of Haldery, and Earl Edelgart have mobilized their forces."
In charge of military matters, Duke Cygnus Fahrengart calmly reported.
"Even though it is not yet confirmed, there are rumors of movements in Margrave Laurenfrost's territories too—"
"Damn it, why!? Why won't they obey my orders, the emperor's orders!?"
Emperor Arneus anxiously threw a cup.
He had gone as far as to take the imperial throne with the Holy Kingdom's aid...
But the only ones who recognized him as emperor were the sycophantic retainers.
"Quell the rebellion at once! I allow the use of militarized spirits—"
"Using militarized spirits against students? The nobles will feel strongly against that."
Duke Fahrengart spoke calmly.
"I don't care. They need to be taught a lesson. I need people to know the consequences of defying me."
"Deployment of militarized spirits against the Academy requires authorization from the imperial council."
"...Shut up! These are emperor's orders!"
Arneus slammed the conference room table, instantly plunging his retainers into silence.
However, Duke Fahrengart remained completely unfazed, not even raising an eyebrow.
"The rebellion at the Academy town can be suppressed using the garrison force. However, nobles engaged in armed rebellion must be punished. A military force will be assembled immediately."
After speaking without any emotion, Duke Fahrengart excused himself.
"Damn it, why... why...!?"
After sending the retainers away, inside the military conference room—
Arneus began to drink sullenly alone.
Eliminating the emperor, framing his younger sister with the crime of attempted assassination, everything had gone so well.
"Why are you sighing, Your Majesty?"
Just then, having arrived without him noticing—
A girl was standing behind Arneus.
Jumping in surprise, Arneus stood up.
This girl was precisely the Holy Kingdom's cardinal who had incited him to ascend to the imperial throne.
"I shall personally pay the Academy town a visit."
"S-Say that again? But if the Holy Kingdom intervenes with military force, inevitably—"
If that were to happen, the imperial council would definitely hold him accountable.
"The Holy Kindom's forces will not be deployed. I intend to perform an experiment at that location."
"—Indeed. To erase the entire Academy town from the face of the earth."