Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume3 Chapter8
Chapter 8 - Ellis' Determination
As Kamito opened his eyes, the familiar ceiling of Claire's room came into his vision.
Warm sunlight was shining through the curtain.
(...Eh? I... Why was I sleeping?)
His memory was in a mess.
He didn't know when his pajamas were put on him, or when his bandages were wrapped on him.
Next to his bed, there was a cracked spirit crystal that he believed was used for healing.
Kamito was going to just stand up for now—
Burning like pain ran at the side of his abdomen.
When he took a look, the blood at the bandages wrapped around his abdomen had dried up and hardened.
(That's right, I—)
Due to that pain, Kamito finally remembered.
(I was pierced at my abdomen by that spirit...)
It was the demon mirror spirit that went out of control due to the power of the Cursed Armament Seal.
The spirit that wounded Kamito was annihilated by Velsaria.
With overwhelming destructive force. Without even leaving any traces.
A spirit, which was thoroughly destroyed to that extent, could not even return back to Astral Zero.
It should have been completely eradicated.
"The Academy's strongest blade dancer— huh?"
Precisely because it was a sealed spirit the same as Est, that fortress was an abnormal elemental waffe.
She was becoming far stronger than the time at the Blade Dance three years ago.
(...With how I am now, could I defeat her?)
As he clenched his left hand which had once held a jet-black demonic sword, he asked himself.
He had a blank of three years where he went embarking on the journey to find Restia.
There was also the fact that the spirit contract with Est was still incomplete.
If it was about the reasons that he couldn't win, he could come up with as many as he liked.
(That orphan of the Instructional School — Jio Inzagi had said that I've become weak...)
That was because Kamito was subconsciously protecting his companions.
If that was a weakness, then—
(... I have indeed become weak, heh.)
Enduring the pain like that of a terrible burn wound, he finally got up from the bed.
Kamito's uniform was hanging on a wall of the room. It was a mere shadow of its former self with all that damage.
It was probably decided that there would be no point in washing it now, so it was left there like that.
While he placed both hands on the wall, he started walking with shaky footsteps.
After he searched his uniform's chest pocket, he took out a present and a chocolate.
The chocolate had melted and been flattened, but it was something that Claire made with great trouble. So, he was going to eat it gratefully.
After making his resolve and tossing a bite-size piece into his mouth, sweetness instantly spread out inside his mouth.
"...Hn? This is surprisingly..."
Although there was still a bit of bitterness, it was properly made deliciously.
Compared to the coal she had been mass-producing, she had improved considerably.
(...She basically is a very hard working person, isn't she?)
Her eccentrics that went with her mood was her weakness, but as she was an honor student, she was fast at apprehending things.
If she was serious, her cooking should also certainly conspicuously improve.
Suddenly, the room's door opened.
The one who came in, was Claire holding crumpled bandages with both hands.
"Y-You, what are you doing!"
"Nm? The chocolate you gave me was made pretty well. You've worked hard."
Kamito frankly praised—
Claire's face immediately reddened.
"I-Isn't that obvious? I-I've practiced a lot after all... Eh, that's not the point. W-Why are you awake? Your body still isn't in a condition to walk, right?!"
"Ah, no, just walking isn't a problem, look... Ouch!"
Just by slightly moving his arm, pain ran through the side of his abdomen.
"...Haaa. You really are a fool, your wound opened again, didn't it? Come on, sit there. I'll put new bandages on you."
Being softly pressed on his shoulders by Claire, Kamito was made to sit on the bed.
Under the gentle treatment from Claire that was different from usual, Kamito's heart ended up beating quickly.
"...Geez, you're a fool."
While Claire wrapped the bandages unskillfully—
She told Kamito what happened after he fainted.
The two, who reached out to the Cursed Armament Seals, were found unconscious in the forest.
It seemed like they were arrested immediately after the arrival of the Knights and were moved to the capital. Laying their hands on the Cursed Armament Seals did not mean that it ended with just breaking the academy rules. They would end up being charged for their crimes by the council that judged elementalists.
The actions by Velsaria, who got the general public involved, did not cause any deaths, and in addition, as a result of suppressing the casualties in the town to the minimum, she seemed to have ended up not being charged.
The one who issued the ruling was Greyworth, however— this judgment was probably pushed back to just before the Blade Dance and it —without a doubt— involved the speculation of the congress of the Ordesia Empire that there was no way they could punish the academy's strongest candidate.
After Ellis helped Claire move Kamito, she seemed to have stayed confined in her room.
It might be that she felt responsible as the Captain for the fact that she couldn't protect the town from destruction and that she couldn't prevent students from getting involved with the Cursed Armament Seals.
"... How long did I sleep?"
"For almost a day. The Valentia Holy Festival ended a long time ago."
"Is that so..."
Kamito glanced at the clock hanging on the wall.
Since last night, more than half a day had already passed.
"Claire, I'm sorry for being late."
Kamito handed over the small box, which he took out of his uniform a while ago, to Claire.
"Ah... Err, this is your present... For your birthday. Although it's already over."
Claire widely opened her ruby eyes.
"No way, why...?"
"Rinslet told me. Well, for the daugther of a noble, this may not be something of high value."
Receiving the box, Claire untied the ribbon with fidgety hands.
Inside the box, a cat-shaped silver pendant was perfectly placed.
"T-This, isn't this what I wanted...?"
"Weren't you continuously looking at it that time?"
Claire gently and preciously took out the pendant.
"This should be expensive. You aren't even a noble, how did—"
"I asked a big favor from Ellis, and got an advance on the remuneration from the Knights."
"...S-So... It was like that."
Claire tightly clasped the pendant, while she looked at Kamito with her eyes glancing upwards—
"...Th-Thank you, Kamito"
And said that shyly.
Kamito's heart spontaneously beat faster at her expression that she usually didn't even show.
(...T-This person, making such a face is criminally cute—)
He had been thinking that he would hear something like—"You're sensible for a slave at best".
He did not think she would express her gratitude that frankly.
"Sorry, Kamito... Err, I was at fault."
With another unbelievable line emerging, Kamito doubted his ears.
"I-I'm saying that I was at fault... Err, for getting angry and chasing you out. You joined the Knights for the sake of earning money to gift me this?"
"Ah, no, that's—"
Just when he was about to say it, Kamito closed his mouth.
Although it wasn't entirely like that— it seemed better to remain silent at this point.
"Despite that I didn't even listen to your explanation and willfully got angry... Sorry."
Her red twintails drooped down.
"No, I'm at fault, my words were insufficient at that time. Sorry."
"—Hey, are you people done?"
There was the sound of a cough.
The two turned away in a fluster.
"Fianna, since when were you here!?"
"From when Kamito-kun pressed on coercively, saying 'It's time for you to become more frank, even though you always say you hate it— the truth is you want to be messed up by me, right?'"
"Don't fabricate an impossible fact!"
"Y-Yeah! T-To be messed up... T-That's not allowed!"
Claire turned steamily bright-red and got angry.
"Hoho, I'm joking. Really Claire, what are you getting red for, I wonder?"
"W-Wh-What did you come here for, Ero-Queen?!"
"As our opponent for the match tomorrow has already been declared, I came here to tell you that!"
"Our opponent for the match?"
"Yeah, our opponent is the first-ranking —Velsaria Eva's— team~"
Claire's expression became sharp.
"...The Silent Fortress, huh?"
As long as they kept on winning through, she was an opponent they would have to face one day.
Claire should have been prepared for this.
However, the power that eradicated two mighty high level spirits in an instant was—
Kamito picked up the elemental waffe sword that was leaned on the side of the bed.
"I will defeat Velsaria. I have to make her open her eyes with my hands."
"W-What are you saying!"
Claire sharply glared at Kamito.
"With that kind of injury, there's no way you can participate in the match tomorrow?"
"She isn't an opponent you two can win against."
"T-Things will work out. Putting Velsaria herself aside, the others have not yet matured as a team. As they were just head-hunted from the Knights, their training in coordination have also not yet been sufficiently—"
"That Silent Fortress isn't such an easy opponent."
Claire had an impulsive personality, however, as an elementalist, she was endowed with calm eyes for battles.
Just with that, she wouldn't mistake the strength difference between Velsaria and her.
The strength of Claire, who uses Scarlet, towered above the rest of the elementary students but, even with that, she wasn't an opponent she could win against.
Former princess maiden of the Divine Ritual Institute Fianna was an expert at ritual dances but it did not change the fact that she's a novice at battles. Her Georgios was certainly strong but considering the fact that it could not be released as an elemental waffe, its options for battles were limited at any rate.
Besides, in order to attack the floating fortress, a spirit that could make powerful long-range attacks was necessary.
The thing that would be dealing with the anti-air battle in Team Scarlet would currently be only Claire's spirit magic. However, it would be impossible for ordinary spirit magic to break that armor.
"But, if I were to be an attacker, we could somehow hold for five minutes—"
Onto Kamito who was about to get out of bed—
"Yeah yeah, no matter how sturdy Kamito-kun's body is, participating in tomorrow's match is absolutely a no-go."
Fianna pressed the cleavage of her soft breasts.
Claire angrily glared at Kamito, whose face turned red from the comfortable feeling of elasticity.
"That's right, an injured person like you would just become a burden."
It was vexing but he couldn't make a rebuttal.
Indeed, even if Kamito, who was seriously injured, participated, he would just end up being a hindrance.
"Then... is Team Scarlet forfeiting?"
Kamito, who asked, understood it. That option was not possible.
Once one forfeited a match, one's ranking would significantly drop as a penalty.
Even without that, if they don't defeat the first ranking team here, the possibility of sixth-ranking Team Scarlet to enter the top participating three within the next two weeks would almost disappear.
A heavy atmosphere filled the room, and at that moment—
"Fuu, I hear what you're saying!"
An elegant voice came from outside the room.
The one coming in with her platinum-blonde hair swaying was Rinslet.
Carol the maid was courteously standing behind her..
"Rinslet, what are you doing entering my room as you please!?"
"Everyone, it seems like my power is needed."
Ignoring Claire who complained, Rinslet boldly walked.
She stopped in front of Kamito, who was sitting on the bed, and brushed up her hair.
"As long as it is me, I'll see that the fortress lady falls to the ground."
"Milady is saying that she wishes to join Claire-sama's team."
Carol simultaneously translated what Rinslet's words meant.
"Is that right, Rinslet?"
"...N-No! I just..."
Rinslet asked for Carol's help in a fluster.
"Fufu, milady, you're really not honest."
Placing her hands near her mouth, Carol giggled.
Suddenly, Kamito stood up and grasped her shoulders.
Her slender shoulders started trembling.
"Hyan! W-what are you doing! Grabbing a lady's shoulders so violently!"
She protested with a shrilling voice. However, Kamito did not let go.
With Kamito staring at her, Rinslet quickly quieted down.
Her face turned bright red as she pinched the edge of her skirt..
"S-Stop...Err If you look at me in such a way, I-I'll end up feeling strange."
"K-Kamito, what are you doing!?"
"Kamito-kun, no matter the circumstances, you're overly lacking in distinction."
Ignoring Claire and Fianna, who raised their voices—
"Please, Rinslet. Join our team."
Rinslet was astonished. Claire also was staring in wonder.
Rinslet's elemental waffe Freezing Arrow was a long range attack elemental waffe. Especially as Kamito would be unable to enter tomorrow's match, they would want to include her into the team by all means.
Although, as Claire would belligerently ask, this young lady would certainly put on her pride. So, that's why Kamito made a begging appearance.
Like a bride that was proposed to, she docilely nodded.
"I-If Kamito-san says so..."
Blushing, she twirled the tips of her hair with her fingertip.
"Isn't this fine, Claire?"
Kamito gently let his hands go from Rinslet's shoulders and turned around.
Claire sighed, saying "It can't be helped".
"Certainly, if we cared about its appearance, we can't win against that Silent Fortress. At any rate, we would need ranged support, and its strength is so-so."
"W-Wait, please don't misunderstand. I offered to join your team because Kamito-san requested it."
Carol pacified Rinslet, who flew into a rage.
In any case, this meant that they now ended up being able to make long distance attacks from the ground.
(...If I add myself in as an attacker, our balance would become good.)
Claire seemed to have thought of the same thing as Kamito.
"All we're left with is one more person, we'll need someone with the power of an attacker though..."
She mumbled with a serious look.
Just then, there was the sound of knocking from the door.
Everyone looked at each other... Having visitors come to this room was unusual.
Claire walked over and opened the door.
The ones outside the door— were two unexpected people.
While Claire held onto the door knob, she widened her eyes.
"Claire Rouge, we have a request for you..."
"...Although we know that something like this isn't the courtesy of making a request."
They were Ellis' teammates who should be recuperating at the academy's medical institution.
They were Rakka and Reishia from the Sylphid Knights.
In a dark room with all its curtains closed—
Ellis was cowering in her bed with a face that lacked aspiration.
What she was absent-mindedly staring at was a spirit crystal sealed with memories.
There was the figure of Velsaria that Ellis idealized when she was young.
She also didn't go for the Knights meeting this morning. This was, of course, her first time.
What she was wearing wasn't the academy uniform, but pajamas with polka-dots.
Without even tying her ponytail, her long hair spread out radially on her bed..
(—You are not a knight.)
Velsaria's words were revived in her head.
(It may be just as what my esteemed sister said...)
Amidst the darkness, Ellis had firmly grasped her bed sheet.
(...While I've said that that's not it, in the end, I couldn't protect anything.)
The townsfolk who were enjoying the festival.
The students that ended up involved with the Cursed Armament Seal.
In addition— even her precious comrades from the Knights.
Even Kamito, who came to assist the Knights out of good will, had sustained serious injuries.
(It's all my responsibility. If I had gotten more of my act together, this would—)
It was also natural that the upperclassmen responded to Velsaria's invitation and left the Knights.
There would be no one who would follow a powerless captain only speaking of ideals.
"...I...am not qualified to call myself a knight—"
"That's right, in your current state, you are not qualified to be called a knight, Ellis."
Ellis threw up her blanket in shock.
"Sorry, but I melted your keyhole."
As Claire said that, she was entering the room without any discretion.
"W-Why are you here, and what do you mean that I don't have the qualifications of a knight!?"
"Heh~ You still have the spirit to get angry after an insult. I feel at ease now."
As Claire walked to the side of the bed, she placed her hands on her hips and looked down at Ellis.
Normally, Ellis would have gallantly stared back, but—
Now, she averted her eyes like she was being overwhelmed.
"...H-Has Kamito awakened yet?"
"Yeah, he even said some reckless things like participating in tomorrow's match."
"What—? Don't tell me, with that kind of injury?"
"That's right. Furthermore, our opponent is the Academy's strongest, Silent Fortress."
"That's crazy, what are you all thinking!?"
Ellis stood up to grab Claire.
"Do you still not understand my esteemed sister's strength?"
"Ah, she is certainly a powerful elementalist— but it doesn't mean she's invincible."
Velsaria Eva Fahrengart was the strongest in the Academy.
This was a fact everyone knew of.
"Three years ago, Ren Ashbell defeated her."
"That's— She is the strongest blade dancer. That comparison is just too different."
"True. But, we have the goal of defeating that Ren Ashbell."
Towards those words that Ellis had never imagined of— she was at a loss for words.
(...Defeat Ren Ashbell!?)
"How is that possible—?"
"It is possible. I mean I'll do it~"
Claire's eyes were serious.
She was seriously thinking of defeating the strongest blade dancer.
"I will win through the Blade Dance. Then, I will definitely get my Wish granted. Whether if it is the Silent Fortress or the strongest blade dancer, anyone who gets in my way shall just be brought down."
Glaring straight ahead were her pupils harboring calm flames.
Small anxieties were inside Ellis' heart.
"Ellis, did you plan on entering the Blade Dance with such resolution?"
Claire seized Ellis' collar.
"Is your ideal of a knight that you're aiming to be something of this level?"
Ellis got startled and pushed Claire's hands away.
"I am... I am a prided knight of the Fahrengart!"
Violent winds blew about in the room.
The bed sheet was blown away, and the small items on the desk and furnishings were dancing in mid-air.
The curtains were ripped apart, and bright light suddenly shone into the dark room.
After the storm eased down—
"It looks like your winds are still blowing."
Claire suddenly smiled.
Then, she thrust her finger towards Ellis.
With her other hand on her hips—
"Ellis, join our team!"
Ellis was dumbfound and asked back.
"Me... Team Scarlet?"
"Correct. If you join, we can win— against that Silent Fortress."
Claire nodded with a serious expression.
However, Ellis firmly shook her head.
"Sorry, that's an unreasonable talk. I already have companions to fight with—"
Ellis turned around towards the voice she had heard from outside the room.—
The ones over there were a lively-looking girl with short hair and a similar-looking girl with braided hair.
They were her teammates Rakka and Reishia.
"...You slipped out from the medical center?"
They should be having complete rest.
They shouldn't be allowed to be out at such a place.
"We are, erm, hoping that Captain would partake in the Blade Dance."
Rakka said while painfully coughing.
"We decided it ourselves. We already knew that we wouldn't be able to return to the academy before the Blade Dance... So—"
"You're... disbanding... the party?"
Having a stunned expression, Ellis looked at her two teammates.
"N-No, I will not allow that!"
"We had promised! To participate in the Blade Dance together!"
Ellis shouted like a child throwing a tantrum .
"We aren't able to. So—"
"But we really wanted to fight together... So, we'll like to entrust our wish to you, captain."
"Please, fight for us too."
"I want to see Captain's blade dance. A blade dance, like a gale, that blows everything."
Firmly bit her lips and clenched her fist.
Both sides refused to give up— Their glaring gazes ran into each other.
The one who sighed first was Ellis.
"...I understand. You two win."
The two girls let out a lively scream.
Ellis calmly turned towards Claire.
It wasn't the lifeless face from just now.
It was the face of a gallant knight.
"I, Ellis Fahrengart, request to join Team Scarlet."
Claire smiled and stretched out her right hand.
Ellis grabbed that hand in return.
"I'll prove to that person my way of a knight."
The strongest blade dancer— Ren Ashbell.
Three years ago, since the day she crossed her blade with hers, Velsaria's life changed.
On that day, she received a great shock.
Before that day, Velsaria had taken pride in being the strongest knight.
It wasn't like she was making light of the girl, who appeared before her eyes, for being a title-less newcomer two years younger than her.
No matter who it was, as long as they faced her, she would wield her full strength and strike them down.
That was her belief as a Knight.
She fought with all her strength— And then, she was defeated.
However, what grew in her heart at that time was not hatred.
It was more like a sense of veneration towards her.
It was something trivial; she too was, like Ellis and the other girls, fascinated by Ren Ashbell's blade dance.
So, what she received a shock from was not the defeat.
It was the eyes that the strongest girl faced at her, the loser.
What was reflected in the girl's jet-black pupils—
Was not hostility, not pity, not contempt— There wasn't even any emotions.
Velsaria was not even reflected in the girl's eyes.
...It was unforgivable. There was no way she could accept that.
She would defeat that strongest girl and make her acknowledge her existence.
This was probably— in a sense, an emotion that was comparable to love.
(...Soon, I can fight her again in the Blade Dance.)
Any other things were irrelevant.
(Even if my mind and flesh are consumed by this 'heart'—)
Late at night. Deep inside the Spirit Forest—
Loitering alone in the darkness, Velsaria had been suppressing her feelings of haughtiness.
At this moment, the bushes behind her moved slightly.
"—Is that you, witch!"
"Ha, as expected of you, you were able to detect my presence~"
There was the voluptuous sound of laughter heard within the forest.
The one who appeared was —the Cursed Armament maker— Vivian Melosa.
"You did well yesterday, because of you I got good data~"
"I knew it, it was you who implanted those Cursed Armament Seals on them."
Velsaria emitted a fierce murderous aura. Leaves of the trees swayed like they were astir.
"Yes, but, they broke immediately. Even for the famous Areishia Spirit Academy, I can't seem to come across a fine specimen like yourself!"
"Disappear. I told you to never appear in front of me again."
"Wah, you're pretty cold. I just came here to check out the corrosion rate of the 'heart'."
"I have no intentions to assist your research. The 'heart' is being fully controlled."
Vivian Melosa laughed out loud.
"Please stop acting tough. For a Cursed Armament Seal engraved on a heart— the only one who could control such a thing is possibly the Dusk Witch. If you just leave it like that, you will die in a few years~"
"Not a problem. As long as I live till the Blade Dance in two weeks, it is enough."
"That troubles me. You are actually a specimen I took a liking to—"
In an instant, Velsaria turned towards Vivian Melosa and released her elemental waffe.
A lump of compressed divine power blew apart the trees in the forest and gouged out the space before her.
After the dust had settled, there was no one there. There was only the dense darkness.
"...That damned witch."
Facing the empty space, Velsaria bitterly groaned.
*Thump*—, the 'heart' ached.