Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume5 Chapter4
Chapter 4 - Laurenfrost Sisters
Kamito and the others returned to the tower just before the sun had fully sunk past the horizon.
As with yesterday, there was a ball in the great hall of the tower. This one had nothing to do with the commencement ceremony, however; it was simply an activity organized for the aristocrats, so there were virtually no elementalists participating. As they were to do battle in the main tournament event the very next day, they were simply not in the mood to go to something as frivolous as a ball.
Kamito returned to his own room and gathered the things he would take with him tomorrow.
The items he put into the bag included some easy-to-carry food, a lantern made of spirit crystals, and other necessities for survival in the forest.
As the rules of the game limited the weight of things he could bring with him, the items had to be carefully selected
"The individual fight three years ago was much easier than this..."
At that time, Kamito only had to concern himself with beating the opponent immediately in front of him.
However, this time, he would have to make plans to ensure the survival of all his group members.
Because alone, Kamito was no match for Ren Ashbell.
No... as things were right now, without Est, he probably did not have enough power to beat even Leonora Lancaster and the other elementalist teams.
"... I must not become a burden to the others."
Kamito muttered to himself. Then –
From outside the room came sounds made by lovely girls.
"Wow, so beautiful! My sister's hair is really pretty!"
"Ah ah... Mireille, don't pull my hair!"
... That was Rinslet's voice.
"What is it?"
Kamito opened the door and walked to the hallway –
And saw a little girl playfully tugging at Rinslet's hair.
"...... Rinslet, what're you doing?"
At the sound, Rinslet turned her head in surprise.
The little girl playing with her hair turned to face Kamito too.
Just like Rinslet, the little girl also had a head of gorgeous pale gold hair.
The white dress she was wearing contrasted very nicely with her clear emerald-green eyes.
The little girl looked to be about seven or eight. While she was still young, she looked extremely cute, and somewhat alike to Rinslet.
"Oh wow, it's Kamito onii-chan! Look, I see Kamito-chan!"
Grinning widely, the girl took big strides towards Kamito –
And, with a bump, buried her head in Kamito's tummy.
Stunned, Kamito could not respond, but Rinslet hastily ran over, saying:
"Mireille, you cannot do that! You are a lady of the Laurenfrost family, how can you display such thoroughly indecent behavior! "
"It doesn't matter, Kamito-chan will soon be Mireille's brother-in-law anyway."
Upon hearing the girl's words, Kamito could not help but frown in puzzlement.
"M-M-Mireille! W-W-W-What rubbish are you saying!"
"Huh? Doesn't sister always write in her letters to me... ooo, ooo..."
Rinslet quickly put her hand over the girl's mouth.
Kamito scratched his head and said:
"... Uh, this kid... is Rinslet's younger sister?"
"That's right. My name is Mireille Laurenfrost, and I am the third daughter of the Laurenfrost family."
Breaking free of Rinslet's grasp, the girl curtsied to Kamito like a perfect aristocrat.
Her lively emerald-green eyes danced cutely.
When she grew up, she would surely be a noble beauty, just like Rinslet.
"I am Kazehaya Kamito, teammate of Rinslet –"
"I know, little pet dog of your teammate and my elder sister, right?"
Mireille smiled sweetly and said.
"L-Little pet dog, what the hell?"
"M-Mireille! Stop talking nonsense!"
Rinslet quickly hushed her, but Mireille simply wore an innocent look and continued:
"Huh, that's not right? Then, is it... boyfriend?"
"O-Of course not! H-H-How can he be... b-boyfriend..."
The elder of the two sisters clapped her hands to her cheeks, her face so red that she looked about to go up in smoke.
"Oooh... elder sister is embarrassed now, how cute!"
"... Hmph, I h-hate you, stop speaking nonsense to bully me!"
Rinslet gently patted Mireille on the back.
Looking at the two of them, Kamito could not hold back a smile.
(... Silly Rinslet, losing all dominance before her little sister.)
While this scene was indeed hilarious, to be mistaken for Kamito's lover or girlfriend was certainly not very nice for Rinslet.
Kamito gently placed his hand on Mireille's head.
Mireille squealed as if she was being tickled.
"I am neither Rinslet's pet dog, nor her boyfriend. You shouldn't vex your sister like that."
"... Oh... uh-huh. Kamito-kun, I'm sorry."
Blushing slightly, Mireille nodded.
It seemed that, like her sister, she was a naturally honest and good child.
"Oooh... you didn't have to deny it so thoroughly..."
For some unknown reason, Rinslet pursed her lips and bore a slightly unhappy expression.
"It can't be Kamito-san, the one who captured all three of us young ladies with your sweet talk..."
"Carol!? When did you come –"
The maid, who had appeared out of nowhere, smiled and chuckled.
At Carol's words, Rinslet stared at Kamito in astonishment and said:
"K-Kamito-san... n-no, I will not have a threesome with my sister!"
"Rinslet... Are you thinking of rude indecent things?"
Rinslet took a step forward and reached out as if to protect her sister, while Kamito rolled his eyes at her.
"I-I think, if I'm together with my big sister... I don't mind doing anything at all."
This little sister was really something, to say such odd things.
Carol cleared her throat, pinched the back of Mireille's neck and said:
"All right, Mireille-san... your elder sister has things to do, so let's be good and go back to our room."
"Oooh... but I still want to play more with Kamito-kun."
Seeing that Mireille was about to defiantly shake her head in refusal, Carol whispered in her ear:
"Be good, you mustn't disrupt your sister's private time!"
"Oh... t-true. I see, Carol."
Mireille abruptly stopped her fuss and grasped Rinslet's arm tightly.
"Sister, I'll be cheering you on tomorrow, you must save Judia and bring her back!"
Her innocent, smiling expression suddenly turned very serious.
Opposite her, Rinslet also nodded with a look of firm determination.
"I know, leave it to me."
Mireille gently released her sister's arm, broke out into her original smile, and turned towards Kamito.
"Kamito-kun, after the Blade Dance ends, you must come visit our Laurenfrost area."
"Mmm, I know."
"If Kamito-kun could really be my brother-in-law, that would be so great..."
With those words, which left Kamito shaken, Mireille –
Exited from the other end of the hallway, accompanied by Carol.
"I h-hate her... taking care of this little sister really gives me a headache..."
"But you sure are an elder sister who really knows how to take care of people, Rinslet."
"B-But of course, I am after all the eldest sister of the house."
Rinslet rumpled her long hair, a little embarrassed.
Kamito suddenly grew curious about the name Mireille had mentioned in passing.
"Oh yes, who was that Judia person you two were talking about just now?"
A dark cloud passed over Rinslet's face.
"S-Sorry... did I just ask a question I shouldn't have?"
"N-No, not at all!"
Lowering her gaze, and shaking her head, Rinslet said:
"Judia is my other sister, the second Laurenfrost daughter."
"So you have another sister."
"Mmm. She's now in the Laurenfrost castle, in a long unwakeable sleep."
Tearfully, Rinslet told the whole story to Kamito.
The second daughter of the Laurenfrost family, Judia Laurenfrost, was originally a highly ranked, excellent princess maiden of the Divine Ritual Institute. However, just a few years ago, while performing a sacrificial ritual towards the Water Elemental Lord, she made a mistake. In a fury, the Elemental Lord imprisoned her in a curse of never-melting ice.
Margrave Laurenfrost had recruited elementalists from all over the empire in an attempt to break the curse, but to no avail. Despite possessing the power of a variety of high-level spirits, they could not break the curse.
After that, Judia had lain unmoving, dormant in a deep sleep..
"... a curse of the Water Elemental Lord? That must be something no human elementalist can break."
"Yes, there remains only one way to save Judia."
Clenching her fists, Rinslet continued: "That is the reward of the Blade Dance victors – the Elemental Lord's blessing. My Wish will be for the Water Elemental Lord to have mercy and bestow his forgiveness, to let me save Judia."
Her words rekindled a fire in Kamito's mind.
(Yes, it's not just me...)
Claire, Ellis, Fianna... and Rinslet as well. His partners in the Blade Dance all had a strong unshakeable motivation.
The disappearance of Est, right before his very eyes, had dampened Kamito's spirits and made him a little more withdrawn.
However, he could not afford such excuses.
Resting both his hands on Rinslet's shoulders, Kamito told her:
"Rinslet, we absolutely must achieve the final victory."
"Y-Yes, you're right!"
Rinslet blushed and smiled happily.
Probably because she usually preferred to wear a stubborn, haughty look, Kamito felt that this candidly smiling Rinslet looked immensely adorable.
"Well, Kamito-san... I'll head back to my room and get ready."
Rinslet shyly turned and dashed towards the other end of the corridor.
"... Well then, I too will continue my preparations."
Kamito shrugged his shoulders and started back towards his room. Then –
"Hee hee... Kamito, you're just as popular as ever."
Fianna was standing at Kamito's door, and appeared to have been there for quite a while.
"How was it? Have a good date with Claire and the rest?"
The second royal princess smiled and teased Kamito.
"... Date? Not at all, that was just –"
Midway through his sentence, Kamito stopped, not knowing how best to continue.
From an objective point of view, it did indeed look like a date... maybe.
Furthermore, it looked like an outing of a frivolous womanizer with three pure, untarnished beauties.
At Kamito's reaction, Fianna sighed, dumbfounded, and said:
"Ah... I see Kamito now is not just the Demon King of the Night, but the Demon King of the Daytime as well."
"... Demon King of the Daytime, what's that?"
"Never mind, it was I who got you guys to go out and have fun... from now on it'll be my turn to show you my moves."
"... Your turn, your moves? What do you mean?"
Kamito tilted his head, not understanding.
Fianna suddenly looked serious.
"I found an acquaintance who can break the curse on you."
While Kamito and the others were touring the streets, Fianna had been searching for people who could destroy the Brand of Darkness.
"... Fianna, thank you very much."
"You're welcome ... However, there still remains one problem."
"As she is a high-ranked princess maiden, I cannot simply ask her to leave the Grand Shrine, so meeting with her will be a bit difficult. Thus, I will need you to come with me personally, Kamito."
"... Oh, so that's it? Of course I can go with you."
"Wonderful. So, without further ado, can I please ask you to hurry and change your clothes?"
"Change my clothes?"
"Yes, I recall that Kamito... you seem to be very good at dressing up as a girl?"
– A few minutes later.
Before the mirror in the room stood a dark-haired girl.
"... This is too surprising, I never expected it to be so accurate."
"You rascal, don't tell me you're actually pleased..."
"N-No such thing, it's just our only solution."
Fianna gazed into the distance, trying to brush over the issue.
(She's definitely enjoying this...)
Kamito muttered testily.
Indeed, the reflected girl in the mirror was Kamito, wearing the ceremonial outfit of the Divine Ritual Institute.
There was a black wig on his head and makeup powder on his face.
With even a layer of pale cherry-colored lipstick on his lips, he looked the very picture of a young maiden.
"What a beauty... Although your outline is a little different, such beauty is unmistakable... You truly look like the former Ren Ashbell. If you walked the streets looking like this, you will certainly be the subject of much talk."
"H-Hey... could you keep it down –"
Kamito instinctively looked around.
Although they were indoors, there was no guarantee; the walls had ears.
Upon seeing Kamito's embarrassed countenance, Fianna smiled sweetly and said:
"However this outfit really is a masterpiece. It's so pretty I want to call everyone over to feast their eyes on it."
"... Please don't!"
Kamito desperately pleaded with Fianna, as if begging for his life.
"Oh... careful, with such loud cries, you'll be heard by people in the corridor."
Suddenly, just at that moment –
From the other side of the door came the sound of something dropping on the floor.
Kamito turned in the direction of the sound –
"Ka-Ka-Kamito!? W-What in hell are you doing!?"
It was Claire, an expression of shock and horror on her face. Scattered on the floor were things that had fallen from her hands.
"C-Claire!? Y-You're mistaken, it's not what you think – ah!"
Kamito rushed forward, wanting to explain himself.
However, in his haste, he tripped over the hem of the garment and fell, and the chest pad fell out of his chest and tumbled to the floor
... Everyone was silent for several seconds.
"Uh... Well, this..."
Breaking the silence, Claire opened her mouth and said:
"N-No, it doesn't matter... I don't mind! O-Only... I was just surprised to suddenly find out that you have such a hobby. U-Uh... everyone has their own hobbies, after all!"
"That's what I'm saying, you're mistaken!"
Kamito drew himself upright and explained loudly, but Claire played the fool and pretended not to hear.
"Y-You don't have to hide, it's all right! That... you look very appropriate in that, and I think you look pretty dressed as a girl. Although this hobby is something you probably don't want to make public, I support you, Kamito; I'm rooting for you, yeah!"
"I don't need your support!"
"Ha ha... Kamito, that's fantastic."
Fianna laughed, watching the duo.
"Fianna... I beg you, help me explain this to Claire, please."
"Well, I have no choice... I would have liked to see more of this good show."
"... What do you mean?"
Claire gave her a puzzled look.
"It's a long story... Kamito and I are about to sneak into the Grand Shrine, to ask a high-ranked princess maiden to destroy the Brand of Darkness on his body.
"You mean... the Grand Shrine?"
At this, Claire's jaw dropped in shock.
That was a perfectly understandable reaction. The Grand Shrine was after all the most sacred area of the entire floating island, not accessible to even Blade Dance participants.
"W-What do you intend to do there! Don't you know that there are very powerful guardian spirits keeping watch over the place?"
"Obviously I don't plan to storm the front gates! We will enter through a secret passageway; therefore, I need Kamito to take on the appearance of a princess maiden."
"But... t-this is too dangerous..!"
"Then, you tell me, is there any other way to rid Kamito of the curse?"
Seeing Claire at a loss for words, Kamito gently placed a hand on her head.
"Ah! ... W-What are you doing!"
"Don't worry, I won't be as clumsy as to get caught."
In response, Claire bit her lip nervously –
"Well, all right... I know..."
She nodded reluctantly.
"However, in that case, I have to come along too."
"That won't do. The fewer people sneaking in, the better. And Claire, your hair color simply stands out too much."
"Claire, are you worrying about me?"
"Stupid! O-Of course not."
"Rest assured, I will return Kamito safely to you in one piece."
"... Oooh... I w-wasn't even thinking anything of the sort!"
"Ha ha... Well then, I'll leave you to mind the house. Kamito, let's go."
Fianna waved goodbye to the furiously blushing Claire, who then –
She pressed her soft chest to Kamito's arm.
"Hey hey! Fianna!?"
Butterflies in his stomach, Kamito blushed.
"Oooh... S-So what... Kamito you idiot!"
Claire rushed out of the room in tears.
In this part of the floating island, Ragna Ys, was a chain of vast underground caves.
No one alive today knew when it had been constructed, or even for what purpose.
There was a figure standing in this place where even the highest ranked princess maidens were ordered to stop.
She was the girl in the bright red mask – Ren Ashbell.
She was in an area carved into a square space.
A stark contrast to the natural caves surrounding it, this room had obviously been built by man.
The small stone room was in fact the sacred True Sanctuary.
The Grand Shrine erected aboveground was merely there to provide a majestic appearance.
There was a rotting smell wafting about the place.
The masked girl was staring at the black sarcophagus placed in the middle of the room.
The mere presence of the sarcophagus gave its surroundings a sinister and ominous air.
"– I have searched for you for a long time, Ren Ashbell."
Out of the blue came the childish voice of a young maiden.
A gray-haired girl slowly walked out of the darkness.
She was Muir Alenstarl.
She, who had been missing since the battle last night, was the second-ranked "Monster" of the Instructional School.
"It seems that the fourth person is finally here. Lily is fetching her here now."
"Is that so? That princess really brings trouble to other people."
The one they were talking about was the fourth member of Team Inferno – Sjora Kahn. She and Lily were different from Muir in that they had not been picked by Ren Ashbell's own people, but were elementalists appointed on recommendation by the religious Alphas Theocracy.
The Alphas Theocracy had not provided Ren Ashbell with any information on Sjora's abilities, because Sjora's other responsibility was to monitor all of Ren Ashbell's actions.
"Muir Alenstarl... You looked for me only to talk to me about this?"
"Of course not. Let me ask you... you fiend, what have you done to my brother?"
Muir asked severely, as if a knife had been stabbed into her neck.
"You are dissatisfied with how I unleashed his full power?"
"It should be Muir's responsibility to awaken my own brother."
"It was not my intention to deny you that, but because of other reasons, I had no choice but to speed up the initial plan."
Ren Ashbell shrugged her shoulders, seemingly without any second thoughts.
"And if my brother's body cannot bear it, what do you intend to do then?"
"If so, it will mean that he does not have the right to be the one to succeed the Demon King – that's all."
"What are you saying...!"
At this, Muir's expression turned sharp and murderous.
"You can't accept that? Then next time... wake him using your own hands."
After saying that, Ren Ashbell tossed Muir a small, delicate ring.
"... And this is?"
"I got this mythical class ancient artifact from the old fogeys at Alphas. The three militarized spirits sealed within are all weapons that were scrapped by the international guidelines."
"Do you think Muir will be so easily bribed by this toy of yours?"
"This is merely a token of our good friendship; please accept it."
"... Hmph, I'll just watch and see how long you can endure this."
While putting on the ring, Muir glared angrily at her.
"Although Muir is helping you for now, I am not like Lily. If you dare lay a hand on my brother again, I will kill you without mercy."
"Whatever... Go ahead, if you can."
Ren Ashbell easily shrugged off Muir's ferocious glare, then –
Turned again towards the black sarcophagus.
"Speaking of which... What are you doing here?"
"A resurrection ritual."
"... Huh? What's that?"
"Bringing spirits of the dead back to the living world – the Institutional School regards this as the most forbidden act of all."
"Bringing spirits of the dead...?"
Ren Ashbell was placing a chain of jewels on the sarcophagus.
That was the Blood Stone – found only in the original spirit world, such a highly prized spirit crystal contained power that ordinary spirit crystals could not possibly rival.
Next, in a clear bright voice, she started singing a chant that sounded like a curse.
"O Nether World Elemental Lord, I humbly beg you to call back the souls of the seeds of darkness – "
From behind the mask came some hard-to-understand spirit language.
If there had been princess maidens from the Institute there, they would certainly be very surprised.
For only the highest ranked princess maidens were permitted to sing the High Ancient language.
Bump, bump – from the black sarcophagus came sounds like a heartbeat.
Suddenly, the bright red Blood Stone shattered!
Sizzle... Hiss... Sizzle
With tiny movements, the lid of the sarcophagus slowly opened, and from the resulting small crack – emerged something!
"W-What on earth... is this...?"
Muir Alenstarl could not help but flinch at the repellent, horrifying sight before her eyes.
"He is the previous Ren Ashbell – Nepenthes Lore."
Ren Ashbell's voice echoed brightly in the stone room suffused with the smell of rotting flesh.
"He is also – the fifth member of Team Inferno."