Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume18 Chapter6
Chapter 6 - Retaking the Imperial Capital
Kamito woke up to find a soft feeling against his nose.
Delicate strands of hair were brushing against his cheek. Slender fingers were gently combing Kamito's black hair.
It looked like someone was stroking his head. In a state of shallow slumber, Kamito noticed.
What a nostalgic feeling. He remembered this had taken place often in his childhood.
He heard a beautiful singing voice overhead.
Her singing was also something he had heard frequently when he was young.
Kamito moved slightly under the sheets.
Immediately, Restia's lullaby stopped.
"Did you sleep well, Kamito?"
She was apparently reclined by the pillow, gazing directly at Kamito's sleeping face.
Feeling his heart beat fast, Kamito sat up. Because Est and Restia refused to back down last night, he had no choice but to allow the three of them to sleep together on the same bed.
"Hua... Good morning, Kamito."
Just then, Est rubbed her eyes and woke up.
...She was still in the same state as during last night, naked except for kneesocks.
"Last night was so fun, Miss Sword Spirit. All of us, spinning round and round."
Restia chuckled. Although spirits sharing the same contractor would often bicker, Restia seemed to have a soft side for Est too.
"I do not deny it, darkness spirit."
Est expressionlessly nodded.
...It seemed like she quite enjoyed that rotating bed.
"Wait, it would've been impossible to sleep had it kept spinning nonstop."
Scratching his head, Kamito muttered.
Kamito heard lively footsteps. The door was suddenly flung open.
"K-Kamito, bad news...!"
Claire barged in with panic on her face.
"...Wait a sec, w-what are you doing with your contracted spirits!?"
Seeing the scene on the bed, Claire cried out, blushing to her ears.
"H-Hold on, this is—"
Kamito frantically tried to explain, but was completely unconvincing, given that Restia, dressed in a seductive nightgown, and Est, naked except for kneesocks, were leaning against him.
"Fufu, would you girls like to join in?"
"Eh? ...N-Nonsense, w-what nonsense are you talking about!?"
"H-How improper! Go to hell, turn into kebab!"
Entering together with Claire, Ellis drew the sword at her waist.
"We already were kebab..."
"Say that again, what do you mean?"
Holding her sword, Ellis asked in puzzlement.
"E-Enough already! A-Anyway, come quick!"
In a hall of the imperial villa, the other team members were already seated at the table. Apart from Rubia, Fianna and Rinslet, Muir and Velsaria were also present.
Muir looked quite drowsy, nodding off to sleep.
Spread on the table was a large map.
On further examination, it seemed to be a map of the Ordesia Empire and the surroundings.
"You are late. What on earth were you doing?"
Just as Kamito was looking at the map, Rubia suddenly scolded him.
"Nothing, just sleeping in my room..."
"He was apparently enjoying a spirit rotation until late night."
With a cold tone of voice, Claire told on Kamito to her sister.
"What did you say?"
Hearing that, Rubia glared strictly at Kamito.
"...F-Forget that. What the heck happened?"
Kamito hastily changed the subject and cast his gaze on the map.
There were a number of wooden colored pieces placed on the map. These pieces were also used by the Academy during lessons for tactical training.
"Last night, a student rebellion broke out at Areishia Spirit Academy."
Kamito's groggy mind was jolted fully awake instantly.
Taking a closer look, he saw that there was a piece placed at the Academy's location indeed.
"...And the cause?"
"It started with the Imperial Knights arresting students who were protesting against them. The existing embers of discontent flared up even more as a result."
"So from there it sparked into a full blaze?"
Rubia nodded slowly.
"Reportedly, the students rallied around the Sylphid Knights and erected large scale barriers in the Academy town's Undine district. Their resistance is still ongoing."
"Still ongoing? So the knights haven't deployed militarized spirits yet?"
As Ordersia's proper army, the Imperial Knights should find it a piece of cake to squash a student rebellion if they were serious. Since they had yet to take action, it meant that they were still observing the situation.
"I suppose. If they were to attack students using militarized spirits, they would be criticized not only within the Empire but by all the other nations. I presume they are passing this off to the outside world as just a student protest instead of a rebellion."
...However, it was just a matter of time.
Even without using militarized spirits, the garrison at the Academy were proper spirit knights, after all.
"What about the Academy town residents?"
"They have already been forced to evacuate. The Empire has sealed all town gates, refusing entry to everyone."
"So they are gearing up for a suppression battle."
"What comes next is the real deal."
"Rallying to support the rebellion at the Academy, the nobles in the anti-Emperor faction have mobilized their forces."
Fianna spoke up.
Kamito now understood that the pieces scattered across the Empire represented these nobles.
"The students at Areishia Spirit Academy are all daughters from noble families. Oppressing the Academy has caused resentment against the Emperor to explode."
"My homeland of Laurenfrost seems to be ready to march too."
Rinslet pointed at a wolf-shaped piece.
"House Fahrengart is on the Emperor's side."
Ellis murmured sadly.
The great noble house of Duke Fahrengart's had served the Ordesia's imperial family for generations. Ellis' grandfather was probably planning to remain loyal to the very end even if the Emperor was incompetent.
"Do the nobles of the rebellion have a chance of winning?"
Rubia shook her head at the question.
"The rebels are all minor lords. Given their present numbers, it is futile."
She spoke in a merciless voice.
"However, if a leader were to make an appearance in this rebellion, perhaps the neutral nobles who are observing the situation might be swayed to join us."
"You mean Fianna?"
"Indeed. The Empire's many citizens are hoping for the second princess' return."
Kamito looked at Fianna, only to see her nod as well.
(...So she's committed her resolve already, huh?)
"If I do not return now, it would be tantamount to forsaking the rebels who had stood up to resist Arneus."
...She was right. However, everyone present apart from Muir must be thinking the same question right now.
Even if Fianna returned to her country, facing the powerful Empire, was there really a chance for victory?
Presumably guessing what everyone was thinking, Rubia spoke up.
"The situation will develop very differently as soon as we secure a stronghold to serve as a symbol for the resistance."
"You mean the Academy, right?"
Indeed, Areishia Spirit Academy was a symbolic location in Ordesia.
If the rebel army took control of this place, the map of allegiance could change completely.
"Are the rebel nobles marching on the Academy?"
Velsaria, who had been silent until now, asked. If they were rallying to support the students, they ought to be sending reinforcements—
"No, the Academy is surrounded by territory under the Empire's direct control. It would turn into full scale war if they sent troops there. Currently, they are probably at the stage of mustering their forces and observing the situation."
The lords in the anti-Emperor faction were probably waiting to see Fianna and Dracunia's next move.
Arneus was probably doing the same.
"So what do we do? From the position of Legitimate Ordesia."
Towards Kamito's question, Rubia picked up a piece on the map.
"We will split up into two parties. Fianna and I will march on the imperial capital to draw the Empire's attention."
Saying that, she placed a piece on Laurenfrost territory.
"The rest of you will head to the Academy."
Then she placed another piece at Areishia Spirit Academy.
"To the Academy—"
"Just us, is that correct?"
Seeing Claire and Rinslet surprised, Rubia nodded in confirmation.
"Hasn't the Academy turned into a stronghold held by the Imperial Knights?"
Spirit knights were elite elementalists. In addition, they were equipped with militarized spirits.
Rushing into that kind of place would be totally reckless.
"There is no need to seize the Academy. All you need to do is fight alongside the resisting students and defeat the Imperial Knights attacking them. Once the resistance has gone on for some time, the neutral nobles will be swayed to our side."
"That sounds simple."
"First of all, how do we enter the Academy town?"
Ellis asked. According to what had just been said, Areishia Spirit Academy and the surrounding territory were under the Emperor's direct control. In the current situation, passing through there to reach the Academy was probably difficult.
However, Kamito guessed what Rubia would say next.
"Through the Spirit Forest."
Ellis and the others looked at each other.
The vast Spirit Forest was part of the Academy's lands. Powerful spirits inhabited the forest, preventing trespassers.
"Indeed, no one would expect that route."
A large invading army was definitely impossible. However, pushing through the forest with a few elementalists might be doable.
"No matter what, the rebellion of mere students will be easily crushed as this rate. Let's do it."
Hearing what Claire said, everyone resolved themselves and nodded.
"—So it is settled. Make preparations immediately. Time is of the essence."
Port Areishia, the town affiliated with Areishia Spirit Academy, was commonly called the Academy town.
It was a planned city built with the Academy's school buildings as the center and designed to serve both spirits and elementalists.
In one part of the town, Undine district, students and some of the teachers had erected sturdy road barricades to keep up resistance against the Imperial Knights.
The conflict started from the Imperial Knights, that had effectively occupied the Academy, arresting student organizations that were protesting in front of the school building. With this as the trigger, all the resentment against the Imperial Knights' injustice exploded in one go, turning into a riot that even roped in teachers.
The fires of conflict instantly spread. Right now, the situation had turned into something the entire Empire was watching.
Unable to use militarized spirits against students, who hailed from noble families, the Imperial Knights had to catch rebels one by one. At the same time, the students had home field advantage because they were deeply familiar with the Academy town's complicated layout.
However, the Empire could not possibly allow this to continue for long.
Now that news had spread throughout the Empire, within twenty-four hours, the Empire would probably steel itself to mobilize militarized spirits to solve the problem.
Late at night, in the Academy town that was filled with false peace, a traveler was on the road.
She was petite, wearing a gray hooded cloak.
She also had a silver mask on her face.
Given the current situation, no would be going out alone. The Imperial Knights usually took action in squads of three or more, whereas the students would not leave their barriers to go outside the barricades.
The gates of the Academy town were all sealed. In theory, no travelers could get in or out.
The traveler walked in darkness. Carried at her waist was a crimson long sword with ominous decoration. Compared to her petite figure, it looked quite mismatched.
Just then, three knights in military uniform appeared in front of the girl.
A squad of Imperial Knights. They were patrolling the streets.
"Who are you?"
The leader questioned.
Without saying a word, the masked figure lightly drew the crimson long sword at her waist.