Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume20 FinalChapter
Final Chapter - Return to the Academy
After experiencing the final battle in Astral Zero—
Kamito and company stayed at the Divine Ritual Institute's shrine for a week and a bit. Only after borrowing the sanctuary's hot spring to completely recover from fatigue did they return to the human realm.
The entire student body of the Academy mobilized to welcome the return of Team Scarlet.
Compared to the reception half a year ago when they qualified to enter the Blade Dance, attitudes were completely different.
Claire and Rinslet, formerly the problem children of Raven Class.
Ellis, always compared to her foster sister as captain of the Sylphid Knights.
Fianna, who was ridiculed as the Lost Queen after losing her power of the spirit contract.
No one was going to regard these girls with prejudiced eyes of the past anymore.
Even Kamito, who was shunned as the only male elementalist—
"Oh, it's Kazehaya Kamito!" "How unbelievable. The Demon King of the Night actually saved the world..." "Wait, that's too rude, you should call him Lord King of Lust!" "Yes, that's right, Lord King of Lust..." "Awesome, Lord King of Lust." "In that case, Lord King of Lust, I—"
(...W-Why is my reputation the only one that's unchanged!?)
While walking down the flying ship's gangway, Kamito rolled his eyes and retorted in his thoughts.
...It seemed like things were even worse than before.
"Come on, Kamito, chest out and head up high."
Seeing Kamito like that, Claire gave him a push from behind.
"After all, you have much to be proud of."
"Tonight, comrades from the Sylphid Knights are apparently holding a big party to celebrate."
"Now that is something to look forward to."
"But I have to be a downer first. They're apparently going to resume classes tomorrow."
Claire spoke seriously.
"Eh, really... We haven't kept up with classes at all..."
"H-Hmm, we must hurry and make up for lost progress..."
"I will have you know that I have been studying seriously. I shall teach the rest of you later."
"Yes, that would be helpful..."
As soon as Kamito and company got off the flying ship, a huge number of students crowded around them.
Amid the tide of people, Kamito looked up at the clear blue sky.
(Back to student life again, huh...?)
Through Greyworth's designs, he had come to the Academy, and entered the Blade Dance only because he wanted to find Restia. Now he had no more reasons to stay at the Academy.
(...Graduating here wouldn't be half bad, I guess.)
Standing under the blue sky was the school building under reconstruction. The dorm of Raven Class.
This was the place where he and his companions belonged, the place he had protected.
—That night, during the celebration party and gathering of spirits, Kamito got drunk for the first time in his life.
"...Mmm... Ughhh... Ooh..."
The next day, under sunlight, Kamito opened his eyes.
...What a headache. It looked like he had fallen asleep in his uniform last night.
Due to insistent pleading from Ellis with Rakka and Reishia joining in, Kamito had borrowed a princess maiden outfit from Fianna to perform a blade dance. That was the last thing he remembered.
Although the spirits at the party looked quite happy—
...Kamito was sure he would not have done it if he were not drunk.
Raised by the Instructional School, Kamito had never been drunk before. By circulating divine power through channels in his entire body, he was able to eliminate alcohol.
But this move did not work against the Dragon Wine brought by Leonora. This was wine prepared for spirits.
The party even welcomed the grand arrival of the Dragon King, who urged Kamito to drink Dragon Wine by the barrel. Unable to refuse the king of Dracunia, Kamito drank to his heart's content, and that was how he ended up like this.
Without any recollection after the fact, he had managed to return to his room in the Raven Class dorm and collapsed asleep.
(What the hell was I doing...)
Just as Kamito clutched his head in bed, plunged into self-loathing...
He felt something soft against his stomach, like a water bag.
Kamito hastily lifted his blanket. Just as he suspected, inside was—
The naked kneesocks sword spirit had secretly made her way into his bed.
"Est, didn't I say you can't get into bed...?"
Kamito placed his hand on her silver-white hair and reminded her again.
He knew he was always indulging Est, but he ought to be more strict during times that demanded it.
However, Est expressionlessly shook her head.
"Last night, Kamito was the one who carried me into bed."
"...Is that for real...?"
Kamito's face twitched.
...He had no idea at all. Although his memories were very hazy, after performing a blade dance in a princess maiden outfit, he had apparently gone to bed while holding Est in sword form without letting go.
Back during his days at the Instructional School, Kamito had frequently gone to bed hugging Restia in sword form. Perhaps that childhood habit had reappeared without him knowing.
Kamito brought his palms together and apologized to Est.
"Not only that."
Hearing Est grumble softly without any expression on her face, Kamito could not help but ask.
"While you were asleep, Kamito, you kept tugging at my kneesocks when I turned into human form."
"...I-I did that!?"
...Crap. He had no memory of it at all.
(...No, I think I had a dream playing tug-of-war with Est.)
Her clear violet eyes stared unerringly at Kamito.
"Kamito... You have a lot of pent up frustration, right?"
"...Ohhhhhhhh, Est, I'm the one at fault!"
Kamito immediately prostrated himself on the bed as fast as he could to apologize.
Even if it had happened without conscious intent, he never expected himself to do something like that—
...No wonder Est was angry.
"No, Kamito. I am your sword. If it is your wish... So be it."
Est swept up her draping long silver-white hair and stood up.
Her pale skin, as white as fresh snow, was displayed before Kamito's eyes without reserve.
Her cheeks were so red that one could hardly believe they belonged to a sword spirit with steel affinity.
Kamito could not help but hold his breath.
He watched as Est hooked her kneesocks with her thumbs and began to pull them down.
When she reached the ankles, she paused for a moment, looking up at Kamito.
"...Are you sure you're okay with removing your kneesocks, Est?"
Faced with Kamito's doubt, Est nodded.
"Yes, Kamito. Please witness my all—"
She lightly lifted her feet and removed her kneesocks.
Toes as smooth as pearls.
Her adorable bare feet, white and tender as milk, were completely exposed this moment.
"...How... is it, Kamito?"
Still in a posture with her bare feet raised, Est shyly turned her gaze away.
Probably due to extreme embarrassment, her shoulders kept shaking.
"U-Uh, very cute... So pretty."
Kamito stared intently and replied. Est instantly withdrew her feet into the blanket.
"Uwah, do not stare like that."
"...It is not like you can't."
Timidly, Est brought her bare feet out from the blanket again... So cute.
"I-I do not mind, if you touch a little."
"Special permission. After all, I am your contracted spirit—"
Est turned her head to the side and gently extended her petite legs.
Kamito held his breath and timidly stroked Est's toes.
A soft sensation. Cool to the touch.
"Uwah... That tickles, Kamito."
Est screamed softly.
...Why? Est was normally so adorable already, yet she seemed even more adorable now.
Perhaps there were some lingering effects from the Dragon Wine drank last night.
His head in a haze, Kamito tried to scratch the sole of Est's foot.
"K-Kamito, no... Uwahhhh!"
Est shut her eyes tightly and gripped a corner of the blanket.
"Fufu, you look like you're having a lot of fun."
Suddenly, jet-black feathers blocked Kamito's view.
He looked back, only to see Restia standing there with her jet-black wings outspread.
Est hastily hid behind Kamito's back, concealing her bare feet.
"Oh dear, I'd like to have a look at Miss Sword Spirit's feet too..."
Restia chuckled and controlled her wings deftly, trying to lift the blanket.
"...! Darkness spirit, do you wish to be destroyed?"
"It's just a little look."
With Restia trying to catch her, the completely naked Est hugged Kamito, refusing to let go.
Just as the three of them were wrestling on the bed...
"Sheesh, why is it so noisy this early in the morning... Hold on—Huaah, w-what, w-what are you doing!?"
Arriving to wake up Kamito, Claire froze.
Scattered black feathers. Completely naked Est. Kamito, hugged by her tightly. Even Restia, due to the tussle on the bed, her dress had slid down to her shoulders.
"Y-You, you lot..."
Her voice was shaking.
The twintails instantly burst into flames.
"W-Wait, there's a reason for this—"
...Even if he wanted to explain, he could not come up with anything convincing to explain the current situation.
"Y-You lewd beast, turn into charcoal!"
For the first time in a long while, the sound of Fireball exploding returned to the room.
"...Seriously, making so much noise early in the morning."
Rinslet, dressed in an apron, spoke with exasperation as she looked at the scorched and blackened hole in the wall.
Due to the explosion in the room, Kamito and company had gone next door to eat breakfast at Rinslet's room.
...Oh well, this was somewhat comforting in how it was a return to their everyday life.
That being said, there was something wrong with returning to everyday life through a room explosion experience.
"Yes, seriously. How many times must you turn the dorm room into charcoal until you're satisfied?"
In the same room, Fianna glared at Claire.
"...~! I-It's all Kamito's fault, doing that spirit sandwich!"
"Kamito-san, what is the meaning of this?"
Rinslet pouted after hearing what Claire said and glared at Kamito.
"L-Like I said, she got the wrong idea!"
"Kamito-kun, my, how energetic you are early in the morning. That's nice."
Fianna was cheerful, with a malicious smile on her face.
Est and Restia had turned back into sword form.
Restia aside, Est normally turned into human form at breakfast time in the past. Probably because she was still embarrassed from baring her feet earlier, even the toasty aroma of bread could not bring out any comment from her.
"...Uwah, everybody, good morning~"
Still in her pajamas, Carol rubbed her eyes and got up.
Seeing Rinslet setting plates on the dining table...
"M-Milady, allow me to help!"
She said hastily. However, Rinslet shook her head.
"Do not worry, just sit down there."
Saying that, Rinslet motioned to have Carol sit down on the chair next to hers... Still indulging her as always.
"I made a breakfast that is easy on the stomach due to the drinking last night. As it so happens, I gathered high-quality vegetables from the Spirit Forest."
"Wow, it looks so delicious!"
Seeing the food on the dining table, Claire's eyes were glowing.
Wild mushrooms with vegetable salad. Walnut bread fresh out of the oven. Warm black tea. Fresh milk and homemade butter. Fruit yogurt too.
Although the dishes were a tad simple, every ingredient had been carefully selected.
"Please enjoy, everyone."
"Yes, thanks for the food—"
Kamito politely brought his palms together then tore off a piece of freshly baked bread.
The bread was piping hot, giving off a toasty aroma that filled one's nostrils.
Scarlet was at his feet, giving him a longing look. Right now, she was perfectly capable of awakening as Ortlinde, but the hell cat spirit apparently enjoyed a cat's life of unfettered freedom.
"Scarlet, that's rude. Learn from Fenrir."
Seeing that, Claire scolded her.
Fenrir was sitting properly on the floor, panting and drooling.
"Oh no♪ Butter has dripped onto my chest."
Fianna made a troubled expression and looked at Kamito beside her.
Kamito could not help but glance over, only to see a piece of melting butter in her cleavage.
"Kamito-kun, could you help me take it out?"
"Ah, no, well..."
Facing the princess who was asking him passionately, Kamito stammered and hesitated. Just then...
"Scarlet, lick her clean."
Scarlet pounced on Fianna's chest and licked the butter furiously.
"Wait, that tickles... Ahhh, I hate you, Claire!
While twisting her body, Fianna glared at Claire angrily.
While having breakfast in a lively gathering, Kamito and company began to discuss the future.
"The situation on the continent, ahmm... I think there will be many changes."
Listening to Claire speaking while eating bread, Kamito concurred.
The Elemental Lords, corrupted by Otherworldly Darkness, had all been freed by Kamito.
Due to the complete destruction of the Gate, Astral Zero should not come into contact again with the world origin. Likewise, Angels belonging to Otherworldly Light were probably not going to descend again.
With the Holy Lord and the Darkness Elemental Lord gone, only the four Elemental Lords of fire, water, earth and wind remained.
Although Belphal and Lode Gear were back to normal, freed from the the Holy Lord's control, their power as Elemental Lords was greatly diminished. Currently, they were merely powerful individual spirits.
Perhaps, the job of Elemental Lords as rulers of the world had come to an end too.
In that case, perhaps the relationship between Astral Zero and the human realm would change dramatically.
Teleported to Ragna Ys, the Holy Capital had vanished from the human realm. Having instigated chaos across the continent, the Holy Kingdom of Lugia was going to be monitored by the other countries from now on. Records of violating numerous military agreements, the conspiracy in Ordesia and Des Esseinte's covert operations, etc, were presumably going to be publicized. Incidentally, the leader of the monitoring team was reportedly Virrey Branford, the special operative knight of Numbers.
"...By the way, how is it going with studying the lecture notes?"
Just then, the topic shifted from the continent's situation back to the Academy.
To be honest, matters on this front were far more important for Kamito and his friends.
"We already won the Blade Dance, I can't believe it doesn't count for academic credit, that's so mean."
"That goes without saying."
Claire remarked helplessly.
"We have to find a way to make up."
"Yes, Mireille and Milla will be enrolling in elementary school next year. I have no wish of being held back a year and humiliating myself in front of my sisters."
Mireille and Milla Bassett were apparently entering the Eluor Elementary Academy at the imperial capital this year.
A prestigious school for nobles, it was also where Claire and Rinslet studied during their childhood.
Like Carol, Milla was apparently entering as an accompanying maid. Unlike Carol, Milla was very reliable, so with her there, there was probably nothing to worry about.
“Come to think of it, Mireille will become our underclassmen.”
“Yes. Once Judia’s eyes are healed, I expect she will study at the academy too.”
Rinslet nodded happily.
“I’m so glad Judia will recover.”
“It is all thanks you, Kamito-san.”
Judia’s blinded eyes were reportedly recovering rapidly. Most likely, it was because the principal body of the Water Elemental Lord, who had struck her with a curse of ice, was gone.
“Speaking of which, what will happen to Laurenfrost territory?”
“I shall inherit it after graduating from the Academy.”
Rinslet shrugged and replied in response.
“To be honest, my wish is to open a restaurant in the imperial capital, leaving the territory to Judia or Mireille to govern. Yes, I already came up with a name, the White Wolf Pavilion.”
Under the dining table, Fenrir barked.
“A restaurant opened by you, Rinslet, will surely be very popular.”
“Yes, all of us will go and eat there.”
Saying that, Claire nodded vigorously.
“Say, Fianna, are you really not planning to become queen?”
Seeing the conversation topic shift to her, Fianna shook her head slowly.
“The Emperor’s health has improved. Besides, I am not suitable either.” “Really? I think you’d make an excellent queen—”
“Thank you. These kind thoughts are enough for me.”
Fianna smiled wryly.
According to her, the imperial council’s authority in the Ordesia Empire had increased currently. Many of the Numbers were also going to be changed with fresh personnel. While he was recuperating at Ragna Ys, Virrey once asked Kamito if he wanted to join the ranks of the Numbers, but of course, Kamito refused.
“What about you, Claire, so you’re not returning to Elstein?”
“I have already decided my career direction.”
Hearing Fianna’s question, Claire replied resolutely.
“I remember you saying you wanted to become a teacher at the Academy, yes?”
“A teacher, huh? I see.”
True, in addition to a serious personality and excellent grades, Claire was also very good at teaching others.
...Being a teacher might be quite a good match for her.
“Originally, I wanted to entrust Elstein matters to Nee-sama—”
Saying that, a hint of gloom flashed across Claire’s face.
After the decisive battle at the Holy Capital, Kamito and company had stayed at the hot spring on Ragna Ys. However, Rubia soon disappeared.
“After all, Rubia-sama always liked her solitary ways—”
Just then, Fenrir stood up and went “woof.”
“Oh, it is almost time.”
“Being late on the first day will be bad, let’s hurry.”
Finishing his cup of freshly brewed black tea, Kamito stood up from his seat.
After swiftly getting prepared, Kamito and company passed through a beautiful garden on their way to the school building.
“The damaged school building has been completely restored.” “Yes, I heard that the Academy received plenty of donations from within Ordesia.”
“The courtyard is even grander than before.”
Passing by the church that served as the Sylphid Knights’ base of operations, they happened to encounter Rakka’s rock spirit clearing away the emptied barrels of alcoholic beverages that had been consumed during the party last night.
“Hello, Mr. Hero—”
Rakka greeted without reservation.
“You showed a lot of good stuff to everyone last night.”
Next to her, Reishia chuckled.
“I’m sorry, I can’t remember much of it...”
...What the hell did I do?
Just as Kamito was cringing inside...
“G-Good morning, Kamito—”
Ellis appeared in her uniform.
Probably because she had just taken a bath, the tip of her ponytail was still moist.
“Ellis, you resumed your morning training the first day back?”
“Yes, with my esteemed sister. We did spear training.”
Saying that, Ellis smiled wryly.
“I can’t believe you...”
Claire was speechless.
“Rakka, I am sorry for leaving cleanup work to you.”
“It’s okay. You just got back, Captain, so relax and rest.”
Rakka smiled and waved her hands.
“By the way, Captain, did you store ’’that’’ properly from last night?”
“...Ah, yes, of course.”
Hearing Reishia, Ellis nodded somewhat embarrassedly.
In response to Kamito’s question...
“Your crossdressing blade dance from the party. The Captain has been very working hard recording it.”
Rakka answered without thinking, causing Ellis to turn bright red in the face instantly.
“W-Wait a sec, what is going on here!?”
“Uh, umm... Well, uh...”
Ellis avoided eye contact while scratching her cheek.
“Isn’t there a spirit crystal that can store images from before your eyes? That’s probably what’s being used to record crossdressing Kamito’s blade dance, right?”
Ellis panicked, her secret exposed.
...Kamito had no memory of it all. So Ellis even did something like this.
Kamito stared at her.
“...U-Uh, I simply wanted to collect, as a precious memory, the sight of Ren Ashbella-sama dancing before my eyes. That is why I could not help but...”
Fidgeting with her fingers, she explained awkwardly. Although she looked quite adorable, Kamito was determined that such a living record of his dark history could not be allowed to exist in this world.
“Destroy that spirit crystal. Now.”
Ellis shook her head repeatedly.
“I was really hurt by the fact that you hid your identity of being Ren Ashbell-sama. C-Can I not keep just a little record of my idol!?”
…She had a point. Kamito felt guilty for hiding things from her for so long.
Ellis was Ren Ashbell’s loyal fan and had even joined the fan club in the Academy. Seeing her all teary-eyed, Kamito sighed.
“...Don’t let anyone see it, especially Greyworth.”
“Yes, of course! I will treasure it as my own personal memory.”
Hearing Kamito’s answer, Ellis instantly smiled with radiance, nodding again and again.
...Seeing such a happy smile on her, Kamito felt compelled to keep his word and not take back the permission he had granted.
"I am so happy for you, Captain."
Rakka patted Ellis' shoulder.
"Excuse me, everybody, we are going to be late."
Rinslet frowned and reminded them.
“Okay Ellis, see you later.”
Parting ways at the corridor with Ellis, who belonged to Weasel Class, Kamito and company entered the classroom of Raven Class.
It had been many months since they last attended a real lesson here.
After defeating Velsaria to qualify for representing the Academy at the Blade Dance, Team Scarlet had spent most of the time on training. The next time they returned to the Academy, Kamito had lost his memory due to the shock of losing Restia. After that, there was the expedition to Laurenfrost then the rescue of Fianna, oh well, it was certainly a long story—
"Let's sit there."
Kamito and company sat down in the back row and opened their textbooks on spirit language.
"Looks like the textbooks will need a major overhaul."
Reading the textbook, Claire murmured quietly and Kamito concurred.
After all, the Holy Lord, leader of the Elemental Lords, was gone, while the rest of the Elemental Lords had also lost the incredible power they used to hold.
Also, Kamito's team had conveyed many truths to the Divine Ritual Institute, including that of the Otherworldly Darkness and the Angels, the Spirit War six thousand years ago, the existence of Ren Ashdoll the Darkness Elemental Lord, the inside story of Demon King Solomon a thousand years ago, as well as the spirit Iris and Sacred Maiden Areishia, etc—
Although they had no idea how much the Divine Ritual Institute was going to disclose, research in spiritology was definitely going to undergo momentous change.
"I heard that the Divine Ritual Institute intends to add milady's pancake recipe to their curriculum."
"I am not surprised. After all, those are the pancakes that captivated an Elemental Lord."
Hearing Carol talk happily, Fianna concurred.
"They are just ordinary pancakes..."
Looking a bit troubled, Rinslet cocked her head.
"Speaking of which, we need to report about my sister's and my flames."
The Otherworldly Flames that the Elemental Lords had stolen in the ancient past and passed on to the human race.
Claire apparently intended to research those flames thoroughly before she graduated.
"Also, there's Scarlet's sisters and details of the Spirit War, there's so much I want to research—"
At her feet, Scarlet meowed.
"—You lot, hurry and sit down."
Just then, Ms. Freya entered the classroom.
Standing at the stage, she rolled up her materials to tap the lectern.
"Ah, allow me to introduce a part-time teacher today."
She cleared her throat and spoke.
Claire and Rinslet exchanged a look.
"Perhaps there is a shortage in available teachers."
...She was right. The Millennia Sanctus' attack on the Academy and the demon spirit summoning incident caused by Astral Shift had definitely injured many teachers. In addition, reconstruction of the imperial capital had also drafted a great many accomplished elementalists, hence there were shortages everywhere.
—Just then, a woman dressed in a suit arrived dashingly before the lectern.
"—Starting today, I, Ren Ashbell, shall be working here as a teacher. Pleased to meet you."
It was a woman with long beautiful crimson hair. She was wearing a scarlet mask&mash;
Claire's voice resounded across the entire classroom.
At the cafeteria space outside the school building...
Due to the unlimited supply of free bread provided to students, this was a popular place to hang out.
After waiting for and meeting up with Ellis after her elementary spiritology class, Kamito's group were at the cafeteria, questioning the masked teacher.
"...! Why are you here, Nee-sama!?"
"It was at Dame Greyworth's request. Claire, your collar ribbon is messed up."
However, Rubia was completely unfazed and even relaxed enough to adjust Claire's ribbon for her.
"Where did you go? You made Claire so worried."
"I borrowed a military ship from the Theocracy and sent the Instructional School orphans back to their homelands."
"After all, the war is over. There is no need for Team Inferno's continued existence."
How nice, to have homelands to return to, Kamito thought. Previous to this, there had never been a single child who could return home after being taken to the Instructional School.
Children of unknown origins were reportedly staying at a facility in the imperial capital for the time being. Specialized in intel gathering, Lily was devoting her full efforts to investigating the girls' homelands.
"May I ask why you are wearing a mask?"
This time, it was Fianna's turn to ask.
"It is not like I can show the true face of the Calamity Queen. I shall continue to borrow your name, Kamito."
Indeed, the world's impression of her still remained at the point when she had participated in the Blade Dance as the masked elementalist Ren Ashbell, leader of Team Inferno.
"My lessons are very strict. Do not expect me to go easy on my own little sister."
Rubia spoke solemnly to Claire while picking up a piece of freshly baked melon bread.
Claire nodded with a nervous expression. Just then—
"Oh—, it's Onii-sama!"
Accompanying the familiar voice was a patter of light footsteps.
Kamito looked back, as was surprised to see Muir Alenstarl dressed in the Academy's uniform.
"Why are you here, Muir!?"
"She said she wanted to study here, so I had spoke with Dame Greyworth."
Muir spun on the spot, causing her skirt and ash-gray hair to flutter up.
"I see, ah..."
Considering Muir's psychosocial development, attending school at the Academy might be a good thing after all. Though given her age, she ought to be going to Eluor Elementary Academy instead—
(...Once Mireille enters the Academy, they could very well become good friends.)
Just as he was thinking that...
This time, it was Leonora approaching them with her dragon greatsword hanging at her waist.
Due to an exchange activity between Dracunia and the Academy, Leonora was apparently going to be staying here for a while.
Last night, she had clearly drunk as much Dragon Wine as Kamito, but right now, she seemed totally unaffected. Impressive as ever, a princess maiden contracted to a dragon spirit, blessed with an especially resilient body.
"The food at the student cafeteria here is extremely delicious. I like it."
Leonora sat down at the same table as Kamito's group.
This brought quiet cheering to the surrounding tables immediately.
Back when the Academy town was attacked by swarms of demon spirits, the Knights of the Dragon Emperor had come as reinforcements and repelled the enemies. Thanks to that, Leonora was extremely popular at Areishia Spirit Academy.
"The morning training is over?"
"Yes. The students here are quite good."
Leonora nodded. She was currently a blade dance instructor at the Academy.
"Kamito, I wish to be your partner if any chance should arise in the near future—"
Staring straight into Kamito's eyes, Leonora smiled fearlessly.
With Greyworth teaching her the Absolute Blade Arts, the dragon knight was clearly getting stronger and stronger.
"If it is a blade dance you want, I am ready for you any time."
"Blade Dance of the Night?"
"...! I-Idiot, of course I mean in the daytime!"
Kamito could not help but choke.
"Engaging in a Blade Dance of the Night during the daytime, what a pervert you are, Kamito."
Leonora blushed, fidgeted and murmured.
"W-Wait a sec, what are you two chatting about!?"
"L-Leonora-dono, that is too immoral!"
Claire and Ellis spoke out.
Next Leonora cleared her throat and regained composure.
"—By the way, I have good news to convey to all of you."
Faced with Leonora's sudden change of the subject, Kamito and company exchanged looks with one another.
"What do you mean by good news?"
Leonora took a light breath and said:
"—The next Blade Dance has been confirmed."
Claire and the others exclaimed in surprise.
"...Blade Dance, are you for real?"
"Yes. The Dragon King told me."
No mistake. Leonora nodded.
"But didn't they just finish holding one recently—"
"This Blade Dance is apparently related to the reorganization of Astral Zero."
Fianna nodded with a pensive look.
With the Holy Lord's demise, the relationship between Astral Zero and the human realm was beginning to change. Through the Blade Dance festival that connected humans and spirits, they were probably trying to explore the path forward in building a new relationship.
"Blade dancing to bring joy to all spirits in Astral Zero instead of a kagura ritual offering to the Elemental Lords, huh?"
A great idea perhaps, it might bring vitality back to the continent that had been ravaged by war. Kamito wondered if the one who had suggested the idea was Water Elemental Lord Iseria or the festival-loving Volcanicus.
"The time will be half a year from now."
"Time is tight, we'll need to reconsider new team tactics."
"Claire, it is not certain yet whether it is a team battle."
"The regulations will apparently be the same as last time's. As the captain of the Knights of the Dragon Emperor, I look forward to a rematch against Team Scarlet."
"Yes, we are not going to lose!"
Claire and Leonora shook hands lightly.
"Muir can join Team Scarlet!"
"No. A team has a maximum of five members. Find another team to join."
Muir pouted unhappily.
(...A Blade Dance, huh? It feels so nostalgic even though the last one wasn't that far back.)
Looking up at the sunny blue sky, Kamito muttered in his thoughts.
Princess Linfa and Shao Fu of the Quina Empire, Luminaris whom he had fought at the Holy Capital, surely they were going to enter again, right?
"We must not be complacent even though we were the victorious team last time. I heard that a male elementalist calling himself the Demon King's successor has appeared in the Theocracy. He is quite good, they say—"
"...I have a feeling he's not a stranger."
A look of annoyance appeared on Kamito's face.
But times had changed. Claire and the others could probably win easily even though they faced such a tough battle in the past.
"Kamito, using divine power of darkness is forbidden. The spirits will be displeased."
Rubia reminded him ahead of time.
"Yeah, I know."
He had no intention of using that power to begin with... After all, it placed too great a strain on his body too.
"I am so looking forward to it."
"It is almost time for afternoon lessons—"
"Yes, let's go."
Saying that, Claire got up from the table.
Just as Kamito was about to leave and follow her.
Rubia stopped him.
"Who among them have you chosen?"
He looked back, only to see a mischievous gaze from Rubia who had taken off his mask.
It was his first time to see such an expression on Rubia's face.
"Although I think you should simply choose my sister, if you really cannot make up your mind, remember I am an option too—"
Kamito did not know if she was joking or what—
With a chuckle, she turned around and left.
"—Oh my, it's already time to prepare for the next Blade Dance. I really can't retire in peace."
From the window of the headmistress' office, watching the scene below, Greyworth shrugged mildly.
As soon as the Blade Dance was announced officially, the Academy had to arrange a special program centered on the theme of tournament matches. Things were going to get busy, presumably.
Putting that aside—
"—Looks like the lad has found where he belongs."
Looking at her disciple walking among his companions, Greyworth grinned.
"Oh dear, are you preparing to retire? The Dusk Witch?"
Just then, a gust of wind blew while black feathers floated down.
With jet-black wings outspread, the darkness spirit landed on the room's windowsill.
The two of them had witnessed the whole journey of Kamito's growth.
Although these two had not always been on the same side, they got along with familiarity like old friends.
"...No way. I still have to watch this Academy's development a while longer."
"Is that so?"
Restia turned her gaze to outside the window, gazing tenderly upon Kamito.
The boy, whose heart used to be closed tightly, had found the place where he belonged—
(...Perhaps my mission was to guide him to this place.)
Whispering softly, Restia smiled serenely.