Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume19 Chapter1
Chapter 1 - Darkness Awakens
It was an hour and a half after the localized Astral Shift had imploded.
At the school building of Areishia Spirit Academy where the Imperial Knights were stationed, the Sacred Maiden flag symbolizing the Academy was flying, a declaration from the students that they had recaptured the school.
Since the majority of their soldiers had lost the will to fight and surrendered, the Imperial Knights offered virtually no resistance.
The supreme commander, Alendora of the Numbers had gone missing. The airspace was occupied by Dracunia's Knights of the Dragon Emperor. Meanwhile, getting the Academy town caught up in the Astral Shift and the large-scale summoning of demon spirits had generated intense distrust of the Holy Kingdom.
Moreover, what changed the knights' minds was the Dusk Witch's speech.
Suddenly making an appearance at the auditorium, Greyworth had revealed the Holy Kingdom's plot hanging over Ordesia's imperial court and the terrifying research they were conducting in the imperial capital, thus persuading them to take up Legitimate Ordesia's cause.
No one questioned why Greyworth seemed to have reverted prime condition. They probably thought that since she was the legendary witch anyway, altering her appearance would be a piece of cake.
Like the students of Areishia Spirit Academy, there was a large proportion among them who had become spirit knights because they idolized the Greyworth legend. And now, that hero had made her appearance like the legend.
Thus, the princess maidens' school building returned to the students once again.
"...Still, the destruction is quite severe."
"What a tragic sight."
In front of Raven Class' dorm whose outer walls were collapsing, partially incinerated and demolished—
Claire and Rinslet stood there a long time, stunned.
Such brutal devastation did not result from the great quantity of demon spirits summoned from the gate, the angels, or the Imperial Knights.
Rather, they were caused by Demon King's spirits rampaging after Kamito released them using the Ring of Solomon's power.
Out of control, the spirits scattered in the Academy's premises, crashing this way and that, finally using the gate that had appeared during the Astral Shift to return to Astral Zero.
"Our rooms must be a mess too."
"It would have been terrible had Carol not taken our belongings out."
Sighing, Rinslet murmured softly.
Carol had brought out her master's and the others' valuables before the Raven Class dorm was seized by the Imperial Knights.
"Repair costs have risen again."
Ellis pressed her temple and groaned.
"Isn't it great that Ordesia will foot the repair bill?"
"Yes, that is assuming the princess reclaims the throne successfully."
"Fianna and Nee-sama will be fine, I hope..."
"The alliance between the nobles and Dracunia are apparently attacking the imperial capital. After news of the Academy's recapture, the neutral nobles have taken our side apparently."
Ellis was able to listen to the voices of wind spirits. Her intel was probably correct.
"...I'm so glad we made it in time."
Claire exhaled deeply.
"So the Holy Kingdom isn't going to send their army?"
"Apparently. They must have decided that open intervention would be inappropriate, or are biding their time."
Ellis tidied up debris while stepping into the Raven Class dorm.
Though the common kitchen on the ground floor was a mess, its interior seemed intact.
"Despite the destruction of the exterior walls, the damage inside is quite minor—"
She walked around the inside of the dorm, noting down damage in her notebook.
"Wonderful, it looks like the spirit mechanisms sort of work."
Rinslet touched the stove's spirit crystal with her fingertip and a tiny fire was produced.
"Now with this I can cook."
"Look, the canned peaches I hid are still here."
Claire returned from the basement, carrying cans in her arms.
"Claire, hogging them is not the way to go."
"I-Ik know! I'm taking them to Kamito, okay!?"
Two moons. A sky so red that it seemed like it was burning.
Over a forest more vast than any that Kamito had seen before, countless spirits were flying, weaving between one another.
(...What is this?)
Kamito's gaze was in the sky.
He could not move his body. All he could do was watch the scene before him.
A gigantic flame spirit was burning the forest. In the shape of a dragon, the spirit was turning its surroundings into scorched earth.
Valkyries clad in red armor were fighting courageously against the dragon spirit.
Among the valkyries, Kamito could recognize one of them.
Ortlinde the Scarlet Valkyrie—The true form of Claire's contracted spirit.
Enveloped in flames, the valkyries all stabbed their weapons at the gigantic dragon spirit.
The dragon spirit roared, loud enough to shake the earth, then collapsed in flames.
Next, in front of the valkyries who had slaughtered their prey, a darkness spirit with jet-black wings appeared.
This was her appearance without a doubt. Kamito's contracted spirit who resided in his left hand.
Smiling mercilessly, Restia unleashed lightning of darkness that completely covered the sky.
Several of the Scarlet Valkyries were struck by lightning and crashed.
"What the heck...?"
...Kamito decided this was a dream.
(But it's not purely a dream. This scene is—)
'The Spirit War. The great war that took place six thousand years ago to split Astral Zero in two.'
Suddenly, a voice echoed in his mind.
This was a familiar voice to Kamito.
A voice of darkness, enticing Kamito.
The voice of Ren Ashdoll, the Darkness Elemental Lord.
Kamito subconsciously clenched his hands to grip his two swords.
However, no swords manifested in his hands.
This was only natural. Because he was in a dream. A dream she had allowed him to see.
'My nemesis has awakened. Consequently, you have no choice but to awaken.'
A writhing black mist gently enveloped Kamito like an embracing arm.
"Nemesis? Are you talking about the Sacred Maiden?"
'Indeed. The Sacred Maiden is the Demon King's opposing existence.'
"I don't plan on becoming your possession!"
'Now that simply wouldn't do. Because you are mine, beloved child—'
Laughing in mockery, her voice echoed repeatedly in his mind.
"Guh, ooh... Ah...!"
Shouting as hard as he could from the depths of his throat, Kamito jumped from the bed.
The bedsprings creaked intensely.
"Huff... Huff... Huff... Huff..."
He looked at the sweat on his hand then surveyed his surroundings.
Walls of pure white. Shelves of spirit crystals and medications, neatly arranged.
...A familiar place.
As part of his job at the the Sylphid Knights, Kamito often transported students who had been knocked out in training. This was the medical facility at the school building.
(...Right. After fighting the angel, I fainted—)
Instantly figuring out his situation, Kamito sighed in relief.
Was the Greyworth the one who brought me here?
Sitting up, Kamito touched his aching ribs.
The bones fractured by the angel's attacks had healed. It was all thanks to this astounding recovery ability—, or rather, regeneration—though it still hurt a bit. It was also thanks to protection from Est, a steel spirit, that his body was fine. Come to think of it, his body's recovery speed was way too fast.
Covering his left eye, Kamito groaned.
Wave after wave, the depths of his eyeball was struck by searing pain.
"Don't worry, Kamito—"
A sweet voice vibrated against Kamito's eardrum.
Pale and soft fingertips gently took Kamito's hand.
He looked back to see her sunset-colored eyes smiling at him.
Clad in a dress the color of night, the beautiful darkness spirit.
The version of her he had seen in the dream just now, with the calm and piercing eyes of a dispassionate and merciless queen, contrasted with the expression of the adorable girl looking at him right now.
"You saw her in your dream just now, didn't you?"
Kamito nodded mildly to Restia's calmly spoken question.
Due to the contract between them, elementalists and their contracted spirits were capable of sharing some of their memories from dreams.
This was especially true for vivid dreams such as just now.
Ultimately, was that a dream dreamt by Kamito, or Restia?
(...Hell, it's the same thing no matter which side it is.)
He felt really repulsed. No matter what, the fact that Darkness Elemental Lord Ren Ashdoll wanted to control his soul remained unchanged.
"What happened in the dream... Was it real?"
"It was a scene from the Spirit War six thousand years ago."
Restia nodded and answered.
"At the center of Astral Zero, the final battle took place between Ren Ashdoll and the five Elemental Lords. The Elemental Lords' faction suffered heavy casualties whereas the Darkness Elemental Lord was taken down. In the end, she was sealed in the gap between the human realm and Astral Zero—"
"But the seal was imperfect...?"
"Yes. Without the Elemental Lords noticing, she used her own power and succeeded in reincarnating into the weakest race, the humans—"
A glowing fire-red emblem appeared in the depths of Restia's eyes.
An emblem of a sword and a moon. It was identical to Restia Ashdoll's spirit seal.
(...No. What's reflected in her eyes is the light coming from my eye.)
He felt another wave of pain from the depths of his left eyeball.
"...Why is your spirit seal in my eye, Restia?"
"No, that isn't my spirit seal, Kamito."
"That is the spirit seal of Darkness Elemental Lord Ren Ashdoll. Having awakened, she wishes to form a spirit contract with you."
Restia leaned on the bed and brought her hand gently against Kamito's eyelid.
"In response to the awakening of her nemesis, the Sacred Maiden, I suppose she too has started to awaken."
Her body, as light as a feather, was gently pressing down on Kamito, whose eyesight was blocked.
Her gentle arms wrapped around the back of his head, thus hugging him tightly.
Draping down, the tips of her hair brushed against his cheeks. Dark feathers gently enveloped his back.
Back at the Instructional School, she often cuddled Kamito in this manner.
"Don't worry, Kamito. I am your sword. I shan't hand you over to her."
His left hand heated up faintly. The pain in the depths of his eyeball dissipated gradually.
It probably was through their contract's spirit seal that she had suppressed Ren Ashdoll's power.
The hand blocking his eyesight moved away.
Moist black feathers gave off faint phosphorescence of darkness.
With a mischievous smile surfacing on her face, gazing downwards at Kamito, she was extremely beautiful, Kamito thought.
"Fufu, I don't mind if you come in, Miss Hell Cat."
Kamito heard a scream from outside the room.
Then there was the sound of something tumbling to the floor.
"Claire? W-What are you doing?"
Still on the bed, sitting up, Kamito asked in surprise.
With twintails flopping, Claire frantically picked up the cans that had fallen.
"...N-Nothing. I heard you collapsed, Kamito, so I came to have a quick look at you!"
Carrying a pile of cans in her arms, Claire stepped into the room.
Her cheeks were tinged with a bit of red.
(Did she see Restia hugging me tightly...?)
Although there was nothing on his conscience, Kamito felt quite embarrassed.
"Umm, are your injuries okay now?"
Claire coughed to clear her throat and asked.
"Yeah, looks like I'm pretty much okay."
"Really? That's great."
Claire breathed a sigh of relief.
She did not say anything despite making eye contact with Kamito.
The emblem appearing on his left eye had presumably vanished.
Kamito looked at Restia to signal "Don't mention about the left eye."
...He did not want Claire to worry.
Restia nodded with a "I know" look.
"You must be hungry. Anyway, I brought many things from the Raven Class dorm."
Saying that, Claire unloaded the cans in her arms onto the bed.
Venison stew with fish added. Fruit with sweet syrup. These cans were luxury items and had spirit language on the labels because they were used as offering to spirits.
"Ah, perfect. I was just about to wonder what to eat."
Kamito picked a couple cans of fruit and stacked them on a shelf by the bed.
"Umm, darkness spirit..."
"What is it?"
Claire looked to the side while handing cans over.
"U-Umm, thanks for your aid. It was all thanks to the talismans you gave me."
"So, this is a return gift of sorts. I don't think there are spirits who hate canned food, right?"
"Oh my, a return gift—"
Shaking her head, Restia smiled.
"I should thank you instead. Because of you, I was able to hurry over to Kamito's side."
"H-Hey now, accept it!"
"Fufu, very well. Thank you."
Restia accepted the cans, somewhat pleased.
It looked like these two, who had a complicated past, had slightly improved their relationship without Kamito knowing.
"By the way, what is this can?"
"Canned mackerel. It's quite popular with the spirits in the Academy, you know?"
"What, you don't like fish?"
"No, I will eat it. Though it's not very often that I eat fish..."
Claire looked at Kamito again.
"O-Originally, I was thinking I should be bringing something for you."
"That's okay. It's the thought that counts."
Claire's twintails jumped lightly.
"Fine, give me that spoon. I-I'll feed you."
"N-No, I said I'm fine! I can move my own hand..."
"What, you got a problem with me?"
Just as Claire pouted...
"Hey hey, is Kazehaya Kamito here~?"
A voice was heard.
What suddenly appeared was an adorable girl, roughly ten years old, dressed in a black and white dress.
Her silver hair was reminiscent of steel. Her eyes were red like blood.
Her skin was as pale as wax. Her arms and legs were quite slender.
From head to toe, she was quite a beautiful maiden.
"...W-Who are you!?"
Claire cried out warily, summoning Flametongue to her hand.
She was probably making the right call. Although the girl looked quite cute—
(...I totally did not felt her presence.)
Kamito stared unerringly at the girl. This was no ordinary person.
However, the girl was completely unfazed by Kamito's serious gaze.
"The hag told me to come. She told me to summon Kazehaya Kamito once he's awake."
"Kamito, she's a spirit—"
Restia whispered in Kamito's ear.
Spirits capable of taking fully human form were top-tier beings in Astral Zero.
Even for Kamito, he could count the ones he had met on a single hand.
Why would this kind of spirit be here?
"Kiheeheehee, you are right, darkness spirit. We crossed blades at the country of dragons, right?"
"Country of dragons... Don't tell me—"
Kamito finally remembered.
At the Dragon Duchy of Dracunia, what had crossed blades with Restia was—
"You're Greyworth's contracted spirit?"
The girl giggled, showing her fangs.
"I am Vlad Dracul the demon spirit. Nice to meet you!"
The imperial capital Ostdakia was a hexagonal fortified city surrounded by three layers of walls.
Ever since the founding of the Ordesia Empire, this impregnable city had never been conquered.
Looking down at this city from the sky over the Caldamon Mountain Range—
The forces of Legitimate Ordesia, led by Second Princess Fianna Ray Ordesia, and its ally the Dragon Duchy of Dracunia were in formation.
The flagship Revenant, military ships gathered here to join the resistance, as well as Dracunia's mainstay, the Knights of the Dragon Emperor, were spread out in the air.
Meanwhile, the imperial capital's defense line consisted of many defense teams with militarized spirits lying in ambush on the plains of Sadelka, as well as Duke Fahrengart's airborne knights.
War between the two sides was about to break out as soon as the rays of dawn rose.
"The students have apparently succeeded in recapturing Areishia Spirit Academy."
Standing on the deck of the Revenant, Fianna spoke.
Perched on her shoulder was a demon wind spirit that had brought the good news.
This was Simorgh sent by Ellis. Although using him as as a messenger was a waste of his vast abilities, Ellis had decided to send the fastest wind spirit under her command.
Staring at the Ordesia army's formation, Rubia acknowledged concisely.
"With that, the neutral nobles will take our side."
"Kamito and the others seem to be fine. Of course, so is Claire."
There was no change in tone compared to before. However, Fianna did not miss the emotions of relief hidden somewhere in Rubia's voice.
"The Ordesia army seems to be making a move. It is beginning."
Under a tense atmosphere, Fianna nodded—
And instantly drew the silver sword sheathed at her waist.
Reflecting the sunlight of dawn, the slender blade shone brilliantly.
This was the elemental waffe of the knight spirit Georgios, which had served generations of the Ordesia imperial family.
Raising the silver sword's blade to the sky, Fianna chanted mystic words.
Thou, servant of the king of the child of man, knight and master swordsman—
Thou art my sword, thou art my shield, unleash the light of perpetuity to purify darkness—
"Elemental waffe Zwei Shift—its appellation is Glory of the Queen!"
The instant the words of releasing were unleashed, there was an explosion of silver-white holy light.
The blinding holy light instantly enveloped all the forces on her side. A gigantic holy knight spirit seal, symbolizing the Ordesia imperial family, appeared in the dawn sky.
This was the supreme barrier imbued with spirit blessings and protection, the new power Fianna had gained from her training on Dragon's Peak.
Her spirit seal, shining gloriously in the sky, rendered all arguments inferior.
Fianna Ray Ordesia—The Lost Queen.
She was truly the queen of Legitimate Ordesia—
Holding the shining silver sword up high, Fianna shouted.
"—Lend me your strength, everyone. Let us take back my home country from the Holy Kingdom's puppet!"
The ground shook with thunderous cheering.