Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume19 Chapter7
Chapter 7 - The Flame Sisters
According to Fianna, teleporting to Astral Zero required some time for preparations. Before the transfer, the historical site in the shrine had to be activated with correct coordinates set for the Divine Ritual Institute's main worship hall.
During this preparation period, Claire returned to her room to check the luggage she was going to bring.
"...I never thought I'd return to Astral Zero again."
She stuffed ritual instruments and spirit crystals with all kinds of effects into her backpack.
As the leader of Team Scarlet, it was her duty to prepare for contingencies.
Finally, she stuffed an utterly worn out notebook in the chest pocket of her uniform.
It contained the notes about formation tactics developed for the Blade Dance.
(...We won again and again throughout that Blade Dance.)
Blade dancing against many strong teams and formidable foes, the memories were still vivid in her mind.
If the Holy Lord obtained the power of angels, then the victory won by Kamito and Team Scarlet would no longer exist.
(...That is something I will absolutely not accept!)
She clenched her fist tightly and stood up.
Just then, Scarlet, who was lying on the bed, looked at the door and miaowed.
"What's up, Scarlet?"
Did Rinslet visit?
Just as Claire wondered...
"—Claire, it is I."
Claire hastily stood up and opened the door.
Rubia was standing in front of the doorway.
This was the first time Claire's sister had come alone to find her.
"I need to speak with you."
"U-Uh, hold on, I-I'll prepare some tea..."
In a fluster, Claire went to get a teapot.
"Let me sit down first."
Saying there, Rubia sat down on the bedside.
"O-Okay, please go ahead..."
Claire nodded stiffly.
She placed the clay teapot on top of the curled up Scarlet.
Whoosh—Steam instantly gushed out. The hot water all evaporated within the blink of an eye.
"Are you still unused to controlling fire?"
"...! N-No, it's because you suddenly came, so I'm nervous..."
Claire seemed lost.
Rubia suddenly looked at the books piled on the bed.
"You always loved reading since childhood."
"You were the one who taught me to read, Nee-sama."
"...Is that so?"
"Yes, you always read to me before bedtime."
Claire kept a little distance and sat on the bed.
"U-Uh, you wanted to speak to me about?"
"—About Kazehaya Kamito."
Rubia nodded calmly.
"The Darkness Elemental Lord is gradually taking over his soul. At this rate, eventually—"
"...I knew it."
Claire bit the nail of her thumb.
Of course she had noticed something strange about Kamito.
During the ship ride to the imperial capital, he had seemed inexplicably worried.
"With the awakening of Sacred Maiden Areishia, I fear that the Demon King's power has started to awaken again. Although the darkness spirit is suppressing it the time being, he will soon reach his limit."
"What will happen to Kamito once the Darkness Elemental Lord's power consumes him?"
"An reenactment of Demon King Solomon. No, considering Kazehaya Kamito's latent power, perhaps a calamity far greater than that."
Claire clenched her fist tightly which was resting on her skirt.
(If Kamito turned into that...)
He would probably forget his memories with Claire and everyone else—
"What should we do?"
"Although imperfect, there are methods to suppress the Darkness Elemental Lord's awakening."
Rubia reached out and summoned an ancient scroll from out of thin air.
"...What is this?"
"A scroll from a thousand years ago that I discovered in Sjora Kahn's secret library."
"What's written in it?"
"Writings about the ritual magic used by Demon King Solomon to control the power of darkness—"
With a snap of Rubia's fingers, the scroll was laid open.
"I can't read High Ancient."
"I Know. I will now transmit the images directly into your mind."
Staring into Claire's eyes, Rubia placed a hand on her forehead.
Her slender fingers glowed faintly with the light of divine power.
Instantly, information rushed into Claire's mind all at once.
"N-Nee-sama, what is... this... Hwah!"
"Close your eyes and concentrate."
"B-But this is... almost like a blade dance of the night..."
Seeing what the ritual magic involved, Claire's face turned bright red.
"Do not lose composure over something of this extent. Do you not wish to save Kazehaya Kamito?"
"Y-Yes, Nee-sama... Ehhh, no way, I-I even have to do that!?"
"Do not overreact. This, f-for me too..."
Confronted with the images of ancient ritual magic swirling in their heads—
The pure and innocent sisters on the bed began to heat up in body temperature.
"Packed lunch boxes can eaten any time. Good idea."
"Yes. After all, sandwiches alone would be too monotonous."
Meanwhile, Ellis and Rinslet were borrowing the palace kitchen to make packed meals.
Although they had no idea what had happened in Astral Zero, regardless, hunger was an eventuality that had to be taken care of.
"...Hmm, this came out pretty good."
Ellis packed omelet rolls into the lunch boxes one after another as she finished frying them.
The Sylphid Knights' lunches originally consisted mainly of sandwiches, but ever since Kamito joined the order, the girls started to make cute lunch boxes on their own.
Seeing that, Ellis changed her former view that lunch was merely a meal to fill the stomach, and started preparing lunch boxes for Kamito under the pretext that making an additional portion was no extra effort.
While making her lunch boxes up to standard, Ellis took full care to consider nutritional balance too.
Hers included mini-salad with roast beef, omelet rolls, pasta, grilled cheese, stewed yams, etc, as well as an abundance of hot vegetables.
"I have done my best work too!"
"Oh, I look forward to it... Wait, what is with that lunch box!?"
Drawing closer to glance at Rinslet's lunch box, Ellis' expression froze.
There was a strange and incomprehensible pattern depicted inside Rinslet's lunch box.
...It was almost like abstract art by an avant-garde artist.
"There are elemental lunch boxes for everyone, created with a motif based on each person's contracted spirit."
Rinslet puffed out her chest in pride and explained.
"Did you say... spirit? So this red one is Scarlet, really?"
Ellis asked in trepidation.
She nodded proudly.
Ellis avoided eye contact, pretending she had seen nothing.
"No one can be perfect in everything, yes."
"What was that?"
Hearing that, Rinslet frowned.
"...N-Nothing. By the way, what are those ingredients for?"
Ellis hastily changed the subject, drawing attention to the many sacks of flour in the kitchen.
"Yes, this is flour to make pancakes to be offered to Lady Iseria."
"Oh I see."
Rinslet had made a promise with Water Elemental Lord Iseria Seaward who was in Astral Zero, to dedicate offerings of pancakes to her.
"After that, Lady Iseria has not issued any oracles."
Saying that, Rinslet glanced at the blue rose spirit seal, murmuring with worry. Back when they were recapturing the Academy, she could still hear Iseria's voice, but now there was no response no matter how much she called out.
"Hmm, there might be a situation."
"I hope she is safe and sound..."
Meanwhile, Kamito was in his room polishing Est.
He pressed a steel spirit crystal against the sacred sword's blade and poured in divine power, polishing meticulously. Every time the spirit crystal brushed against the blade, tiny particles of light floated into the air.
(Doing work as usual helps with calming the heart and mind...)
Using a dry cloth, he carefully rubbed the blade he had spent his time polishing.
An observer might think he looked confident.
But Kamito was not polishing his sword because he was confident.
It was the opposite.
Starting from the time at the Instructional School, he would polish his weapons like this before missions. For Kamito, weapon maintenance was akin to a ritual for adjusting his mind.
'...Hua, it feels nice, Kamito.'
The silver-white blade flashed. Originally, there was no need to polish or sharpen the Demon Slayer, an elemental waffe, but Est apparently enjoyed the feeling of her blade being polished.
(Maybe it's kinda like cleaning ears for us humans...)
Thinking that, Kamito smiled wryly.
As a side note, Restia apparently disliked getting her blade polished.
According to her, it was a bit embarrassing.
Reminded of Est's refusal to expose her bare feet, Kamito was truly confused as to what triggers spirits' sense of shame and embarrassment.
'Kamito, I entrust the back of the blade to you too.'
"Yeah, I got it."
Responding to Est's request, Kamito started to polish the back of the blade.
Staring at the phosphorescent flash of divine power, he fell into deep thought.
Protecting Claire in the sealed cave and performing the spirit contract ceremony had been just a few months ago.
After that, Est had been Kamito's sword all this time.
There was once when she exhausted her power to save Kamito and was lost as a result.
And also because Kamito lost his memory one time, it interrupted the spirit contract temporarily.
But no matter what, Est was always Kamito's sword.
Even if she had to oppose Sacred Maiden Areishia, her former contractor, she swore she would remain Kamito's sword forever.
'Kamito, what is wrong?'
Perhaps because his hand stopped for a moment, Est asked.
"...Hmm? Oh, uh, I was just thinking you're super awesome, Est."
When he revealed his true feelings without thinking, Est's blade instantly sparked.
'...! Sorry, Kamito.'
"It's okay, I was just startled a bit."
Kamito dipped his hand in a bucket of water to cool his scorched finger.
The sacred sword turned into particles of light and vanished. A silver-haired maiden dressed in uniform appeared before his eyes.
Her silver-white hair glowed faintly. Skin as pale as snow. There seemed to be faint blush on her expressionless face, dainty as a doll's.
"—I was startled too, Kamito."
Her clear eyes of violet stared intently at Kamito.
"You are truly the Demon King of the Night, Kamito."
"Kamito, were you speaking your true feelings just now?"
Faced with Est asking expressionlessly...
"—Yeah, of course."
Despite feeling a bit embarrassed, Kamito still nodded vigorously.
"Est, you've been my awesome partner this whole time. As long as I'm with you, I'll never lose, not even to angels from another world, the Holy Lord, or Sacred Maiden Areishia."
Est murmured then stood rooted to the spot.
"Kamito, I have made my decision."
Est sat down on the bed in the room.
"E-Est, th-they're showing, you know!?"
"Yes, please have a look. Kamito—"
When Est finished speaking expressionlessly—
She hooked her finger against the hem of her kneesock.
"I want you to see, Kamito. My all as the ultimate sword spirit—"
Kamito could not help but fix his gaze on Est's leg.
Thighs as smooth as porcelain. Her slender little feet, wrapped in dark blue kneesocks.
Maintaining her posture with her hands against the hems of her kneesocks, Est stared at Kamito.
And Kamito was stunned, sitting on the bed.
...Est had always been strongly against exposing her bare feet.
Even Kamito had never had a chance to see what was hidden inside those socks.
For Est to be willing to expose her bare feet, in spite of all that—
"...W-Why so suddenly!?"
"This is to prevent my blade from wavering when crossing swords against Areishia."
Est declared firmly.
"I want you to see my all, Kamito, to engrave upon my heart the fact that you are my true master."
Est, as she was right now, was a separate existence from her principal body. But even so, there was always the possibility she might waver when facing off against her former master Areishia.
Even wavering for the slightest instant could end up deciding the outcome of the battle.
"Kamito, please bear witness to my determination now—"
Est began to slide down her fingers that were hooked against her kneesocks.
Seeing that, Kamito could not help but hold his breath.
The dark blue kneesocks rustled as it slid below the knees—
There, they suddenly stopped.
"...Sure enough, it is still embarrassing."
Est shook her head mildly.
Perhaps due to embarrassment, there was a faint tint of pink on her snow-white complexion of a spirit's.
Kamito was seeing this expression for the first time.
"Hang in there, do your best."
He spoke in a serious tone of voice.
...Indeed, this was Est's determination.
As her contractor, Kamito was obliged to witness to the very end.
"...No good. To go further, even for Kamito..."
Est was speaking so quietly that her voice seemed like it would vanish any moment.
To encourage Est, Kamito spoke in her ear to persuade her.
"Still, I do want to see all of you, Est."
"Kamito... I understand..."
Est nodded mildly.
The kneesocks moved downwards.
As the kneesocks formed coils, the snow-white calves came into view.
"Hwa, so embarrassing, Kamito..."
"Est, just a little more... Hang in there, just a little more..."
"...No, sure enough, this is the limit, no more."
"Just hang in there a bit, Est—"
Kamito's voice naturally grew more and more fervent.
"...! K-Kamito, so perverted."
Just as Est whispered that...
"—Fufu, having a lot of fun here, are we?"
Kamito's view turned pitch black.
Kamito fell back on the bed.
He looked up—
Only to see the darkness spirit before his eyes, her jet-black wings outspread.
"Kamito, what are you doing to Miss Sword Spirit?"
...Despite the smile on her face, there was no smile in her eyes.
At the main shrine of the Elemental Lords, located in the center of Ragna Ys...
This was the place where Greyworth had reached twenty-four years ago, whereas Kamito and Team Scarlet had also arrived after blade dancing against numerous formidable foes.
Those qualified to enter this place were limited to the Queens serving the Elemental Lords and the winners of the Blade Dance tournament. No exceptions.
A girl was slowly walking up the steps leading up to that altar.
The Sacred Queen dressed in vestments of pure white—No, it was a being bearing such an appearance only.
"—Thank you for your patience, my friends and allies."
Holy Lord Alexandros greeted the lords on the thrones with familiarity.
The silhouettes of five thrones behind the curtain were visible.
They were the vacuous lords ruling over this world.
The thrones of the Elemental Lords corrupted by True Darkness.
The souls of the Water Elemental Lord and the Fire Elemental Lord had been liberated, but what could be considered their principal body were still imprisoned on this altar.
The Holy Lord ascended the steps and arrived before the thrones.
Using the insane Elemental Lords as sacrifices, to reopen the gate leading to the Otherworld—
"With this my long-time wish, mine and hers from seven thousand years ago, shall be fulfilled."
The Holy Lord reached into the darkness swirling over the Fire Elemental Lord's throne.
"—Let the gate to paradise open here and now."