Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume2 Prologue Draft
—Three years ago.
"Haa, haa, haa—"
In Astral Zero, a girl was running through a forest, full of many twisted trees lined up in rows.
Her shoes had long since slipped off, and the soles of her bare feet were covered in injuries.
Since her long black hair had been done up at both sides of her long-sleeved, extravagant, yet courteous attire, she did not run smoothly.
From behind her, violent sounds of many trees being mowed down were approaching.
Being caught was just a matter of time.
(Why did such a thing—)
The girl was invited to watch the Blade Dance as the guest of honor of the Ordesia Empire.
Although being called the guest of honor, she was just an extra baggage that came with the royal family.
She received this title after losing her place as a Queen candidate from the «Divine Ritual Institute».
This person had nothing special, and other than her title as the former second princess, she was just a mere thirteen year-old girl.
Her fellow nobles, who by right should have pledged allegiance to the imperial family, were sending her looks of contempt.
Even the retainer court ladies were ridiculing her behind her back.
A worthless lost queen—
It was painful for her to come here since she would be exposed to a lot of people's gazes.
That match with Ren Ashbell, which she wanted to see, was held later on in the afternoon, and even if she left, there was no one who would be particularly worried.
Therefore, she came to the middle of this forest, all alone.
Without knowing how dreadful this place inside the Astral Zero could be.
While she was walking through the forest, Dryada tree spirit approached her from behind and let out a dreadful roar.
Usually Dryads were rather docile spirits. But perhaps, this one was angry because the former princess stepped on some twigs and broke them.
(It's no good, if this keeps up—)
She could not get away— realizing that, the girl prepared herself for a fight.
She stopped, turned around and firmly glared at the Dryad.
"Y...You, if you are my knight, then simply go and beat it—"
Shouting with a shaky voice, she began to recite the spell that would summon her contracted spirit.
——Thou servant of the king of the child of man, knight and master swordsman!
——By the contract of the old blood, become the sword that protects me, come forth and do my bidding!
The spirit seal, engraved on the girl's chest, emitted a faint light—
However, that was all it did.
Suddenly, the connection with her contracted spirit was severed and the seal's glow vanished.
(...! I thought so, it's already hopeless, I—)
Despair surfaced on her face.
The Dryad let out a roar and swung its log-like arm—
At that moment, there was a blinding flash of light.
The girl’s eyes widened in surprise.
That Dryad's hand had clearly vanished from her sight.
It was as if time had stopped.
From the stump were the spirits arm used to be, black smoke was raising up.
And then *Don* there was a sound of someone landing on the ground.
Before the girl's eyes, a single boy was standing.
He had black hair and wore a black vest with a pair of navy blue trousers.
The boy was holding a jet-black demon sword that emitted black fog.
"Stay still there, it's dangerous."
He told her bluntly and turned toward the spirit before him.
The Dryad roared in anger at having its arm cut off and attacked him.
As it swung down its remaining hand, the girl reflexively covered her eyes.
"It isn't going to work on me though, I'm sorry."
He was blocking the attack that held all of the Dryad’s might with his sword grasped in a single hand.
Then the boy exhaled and without a pause kicked off the ground.
With all his strength, he cut off the spirit’s remaining arm and hit its torso very hard with the flat of his sword.
It was a single blow, but it was enough to bring the spirit, which prided itself on its strength, down and incapacitate it.
"Maybe I overdid it a little. Even thought, it was my intention to not injure it as much as possible."
The girl stared at him dumbfounded, and then he turned around.
If she were to describe him, she would call him slender and handsome.
His eyes were so clear that he could be easily mistaken for a girl of about the same age.
At that very moment, he did not seem like a person who had brought a spirit to its knees in the blink of an eye.
Then, the girl suddenly realized something.
(Eh? This person, it's like I have seen him somewhere—)
The girl tilted her head to the side.
"Err, are you alright? Are you injured?"
The boy asked calmly.
"Ye...Yeah, I'm fine. You have my gratitude for saving me."
"Is that so... that's good."
The boy took a breath in relief, lowered his blade and walked toward her.
At that moment—
The jet-black demon sword emitted more black fog— the girl realized the significance of this action, and her face turned pale.
That was it. A sword that cuts up spirits could not be an ordinary sword.
(That's an elemental waffe!? But, why—)
Then, she finally realized it.
Her savior’s face looked incredibly familiar.
She saw him before. After all, this boy—
Seeing the girl's expression stiffen, he paused in his steps, puzzled.
And then, his eyes widened in realization.
"Gua... Damn it! Ahhh!"
He covered his face with both hands and shouted.
Surprised, she pointed at him.
"Why is Ren Ashbell-sama a boy?"
The girl stared her savior sternly while he was trying to catch his breath.
She understood that she was saying something unthinkable.
But the person in front of her had short hair and his chest was completely flat.
No matter how anyone looked at him, he was a boy.
(I am not mistaken—)
This person looked exactly like the Blade Dancer, who was currently participating in the tournament and winning every match thanks to her overwhelming strength.
Without a doubt, it was the face of Ren Ashbell!
(Besides, that sword—)
The jet-black demon blade in the boy's hand... That darkness-attribute elemental waffe— «Vorpal Swordthe sword that pierces truth», which brought down many of its masters opponents in the past.
And then, above all else, there was that sword skill, which was displayed when he, with merely one blow, defeated the raging spirit.
"Ah, this is, err, how do I put it ..."
Frantically, the boy attempted to come up with an explanation.
"Wh...What to do, Restia!"
"I don't care. I told you many times to be in your female clothing even if you're not participating in a match."
"But I didn't think that there would be people in the middle of this forest!"
"Nevertheless, since it was a cute girl, you went to save her without thinking."
"I...It's not like that!"
He tried talking to his sword sneakily.
The girl's thoughts were in complete disarray. She was also surprised that Ren Ashbell was actually a boy.
Only pure maidens could contract a spirit— that was a simple fact taught to her at the «Divine Ritual Institute» when she was young. Speaking of a male elementalist, none came to mind, over than the legendary Demon King, Solomon.
(This tournament's favorite, the famous Ren Ashbell-sama, is actually a boy—)
If that became known, the scandal would be so big, that it would even affect the Blade Dance.
Scratching his hair, the boy gazed at her in resignation.
"Er...err, erm, there are circumstances to this. So, I am a boy but, without asking anything, could you keep this a secret from everyone?"
Receiving his troubled and pleading look, she felt a sudden flutter in her chest.
(Eerr, what do I do...)
She was honestly bewildered. The blade dancer, whom she admired, was a boy— even if she understood it, there was no way that anyone could get used to this thought immediately.
Besides, though she didn’t have any rights for the throne anymore, she was still the second princess of the Ordesia Empire and a pure maiden from the «Divine Ritual Institute». Was it alright for her to overlook this, even though it would desecrate the «Blade Dance»?
However, when she saw that boy's troubled face—
Unintentionally, she nodded.
"I won't tell anyone, I won't ask anything. You helped me after all."
Even if Ren Ashbell was a boy, she still admired him as an elementalist.
His Blade Dance gave the girl, who, since that day, was always depressed courage. That understanding would not change. Besides, there was also the fact, that he had saved her life.
To give a reward to a Knight's meritorious service was the imperial family's precept.
"T...Thank you! You saved me some trouble!"
The boy took a breath of relief.
"You're quite a simple person. These are just words."
"Yeah, but you don't look like a girl who would break a promise."
Hearing such straightforward words, she couldn’t help but blush.
(Wh...Why is my heart beating so fast?)
"I'll escort you to the exit, since Astral Zero's forests are dangerous."
"Your shoes... they seemed to have slipped off. Come on, hold on to my back."
The boy noticed that her feet were covered in injuries and helped the girl climb up his back.
"Er...Erm, my breasts are touching your back."
She whispered embarrassed.
With her cheeks dyed red, the girl quickly turned away.
In the middle of a dim forest, the only sounds were that of leaves crumbling under their feet. Finally she inquired.
"Hey, why did you go so far as to fake being a girl and participate in the «Blade Dance»?"
After a moment of silence—
"Because, I have a «Wish» I want to be granted."
He answered her with a serious expression.
A «Wish»— A miracle the Elemental Lords bestowed upon the victor of the blade dance.
At that moment, those words that the boy spoke made her understand something.
(I see, if it's for the Blade Dance «Wish», even my power...)
After coming to a place near the match area, the boy gently helped her climb down from his back.
"You'll have to return by yourself from here. Because I will be having my next match."
"Yeah, thank you. Err..."
"Tell me your name."
"Ren Ashbell is an alias, right? That's not your real name."
After a short hesitation—
"It's Kamito. Kazehaya Kamito."
It had a strange and mysterious sound. The girl muttered that name, feeling it roll off her tongue.
"Well, err... could we meet again? Kamito."
"Eh? Ye...Yeah, once the Blade Dance is over—"
"—Is that so. It's a promise, Kamito."
Seven days later, Ren Ashbell held the title of the Strongest Blade Dancer.
However, the princess never saw him again.
Because he, who should have been granted his «Wish», suddenly disappeared.
- Furigana 101: ReadingMeaning