Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume6 Chapter6
Chapter 6 - Night Assault
Buried in the ground, the fire spirit crystal was glowing red.
Kamito and Milla were hiding behind a rock, warming themselves. Unlike a campfire, a piece of spirit crystal with a sealed fire spirit did not generate flames or smoke, conveniently avoiding detection by others.
Normally they would have met up with Claire and the rest by now, but due to the dangers of the night forest, they could not continue marching recklessly.
Kamito would have been fine alone but he was currently accompanied by a thirteen-year-old girl.
"Kamito, aren't you cold?"
Returned to the form of a girl, Est tightly gripped his arm.
"Ah, I'm fine."
As Kamito caressed her head, Est closed her eyes in enjoyment.
Though she remained expressionless as usual, probably because she had to stay in sword form for so long, Est was now trying to be spoiled.
"Kamito, so warm..."
Est kept rubbing her soft face against Kamito's arm.
Sitting opposite was Milla who cast a cold gaze at Kamito.
"You have been making your contracted spirit do this kind of thing all along?"
"No, it's not like that--"
"I am Kamito's sword. Kamito's wish is my command."
Est nodded expressionlessly.
"I see. Forcing a cute and innocent spirit to satisfy your desires..."
Milla's gaze turned colder and colder.
...This is no good. The misunderstanding is getting worse.
"S-So, you two must be hungry, right? If you don't mind, how about I prepare some food?"
Kamito tried to change the subject.
"Yes. I am hungry."
"Not a bad suggestion."
The two nodded.
(...These two, somehow they seem a bit alike.)
Kamito secretly smiled wryly to himself.
Then a few minutes later--
From behind the rock, appetizing aromas came drifting.
It was simple cooking using the hard bread Milla brought as rations, adding a few slices of smoked meat, seasoning slightly with some spices and heating with a fire.
Nevertheless, to Kamito and his group who were famished, this was already quite a sumptuous meal.
"...Kamito, hurry and let me try it."
"What am I going to do with you, Est..."
Smiling wryly, Kamito tore a piece of bread and placed it in Est's mouth.
"This is delicious, Kamito."
Est expressionlessly chewed the bread... She really was like a cute little pet.
"Feeding a spirit eh."
Milla glared coldly at them.
"Okay, you don't have to be formal, just eat this quickly."
Kamito served the steaming bread before her.
"...I will not be bought with food."
"I'm not buying you with food. This is just thanks for healing me."
Milla silently received the bread and took a cute little bite.
"That's really wonderful."
Kamito exclaimed wryly.
The sight of the two pretty girls eating bread expressionlessly felt rather surreal.
Swallowing the bread, Milla slowly spoke.
"Healing so fast is completely thanks to your own recovery ability. My spirit magic had virtually no effect."
"Ah yes, I seem to have a constitution that is difficult for holy spirit magic to take effect."
Even though he did not know what caused it, that was what Fianna told him, so it should be accurate.
"...? In that case, how do you normally heal your wounds?"
Milla exclaimed in surprise. Kamito scratched his head, a little troubled.
"Ah, how should I describe it. One of my companions is a princess maiden, umm, she uses her body to transfer magic directly..."
"...Enough. I basically understand."
Milla gazed at Kamito with eyes of despise.
"Clearly the rumors of Kamito's teammates offering their bodies in service to him is true."
"Wait a minute, don't misunderstand!"
"Kamito, what does offering their bodies in service mean?"
Est tilted her head expressionlessly in puzzlement.
"Est, you don't need to know that sort of term!"
"Rather than through words, you will teach her using your body?"
"Milla, what on earth are you saying!?"
As Milla's gaze grew more and more severe, Kamito ruefully clutched his head.
"Dinner is done, so it's probably time for Est to sleep."
Kamito gently rubbed Est on the head.
Est almost always slept at this time every night.
"Yes, Kamito. Entering standby sleep mode. Goodnight."
Est placed her head on Kamito's lap as if asking to be spoiled.
Her figure dispersed into particles of light in the air, turning into a beautiful sword.
Kamito rested the sleeping Demon Slayer lightly against the rock.
"You're not going to sleep, Milla?"
"Are you treating me as a child?"
"Nothing like that. With so much happening today, you must be tired."
"No matter how I think about this, you must be more tired than me."
"I can't go to sleep first while a girl is still awake, right?"
Milla tilted her head in surprise.
"Since I can't sleep, talk about something interesting."
...Somehow it feels like I keep getting this kind of unreasonable demand lately.
"I'm sorry. I'm the boring sort of man."
Regarding how boring he was in conversation, Claire knew best.
"Does not matter. I will be the one to decide if it's interesting or not."
Kamito sighed, relenting--
"A long long time ago, there was a spirit sealed in a lamp at a certain place--"
Just like the time when Claire hassled him, Kamito began reciting the story he had heard from Restia. Instantly, Milla's eyes widened with interest.
"...Umm, you don't find this boring?"
"No, keep going."
Seeing Milla shake her head, Kamito continued.
Objectively speaking, Kamito's storytelling technique was quite poor. Nevertheless, recalling and imitating the gestures and tones Restia used when he was young, Kamito continued with the story.
Kamito stopped in surprise.
...Unbelievably, Milla seemed to be trying not to laugh.
Noticing Kamito's gaze, Milla frantically avoided eye contact.
"You're very cute when you laugh."
"W-What are you talking about!?"
She lowered her gaze as if trying to hide her face.
(...Could it be, she's shy?)
Suddenly, Kamito asked a question that had been nagging at him.
"By the way, you called yourself a tool back then in the forest?"
Milla recovered her usual cold expression.
"What do you actually mean by that?"
"Exactly as the word implies. Because that is the existence known as the elementalist."
"Elementalists are not tools. At least, not at the Academy where I go to."
"That is simply your own value system. I am simply a tool cultivated for winning this Blade Dance festival. That is the totality of my value."
Milla Bassett -- this girl, merely thirteen years of age, displayed an expression as if she saw through everything.
That was the same expression as the youth in the past.
What sort of treatment she received back in her home country, was easily imagined.
(A girl who lived only for the purpose of winning the Blade Dance...)
Too cruel -- Kamito whispered angrily to himself.
Her homeland was the small state which had gained its independence from the Holy Kingdom of Lugia not too long ago. Whether in military or economic strength, it was quite behind compared to the surrounding countries. Hence they were resolved to raise the prestige of their country through spectacular results at the Blade Dance festival.
Milla Bassett was the tool cultivated for this purpose.
--Hence firmly rooted in this belief, she gradually cast off her emotions as a human.
That was almost like himself, before he met Restia--
(I had Restia by my side. But this girl--)
Kamito could not help but speak out.
"Do you really, honestly believe that?"
"Your value, does it only lie in winning the Blade Dance festival?"
"Other than that, I don't know any other way to live."
Milla shook her head, at this moment--
Suddenly, Kamito noticed a change in the surrounding atmosphere.
"...Seriously, it's this late and we still get visitors."
Hearing Kamito's words, Milla finally reacted.
Warily, they surveyed the surroundings--
"How surprising. I clearly eliminated all traces of my presence."
A girl's voice came from behind the rock.
"Even though your team is third, you are still representatives from Areishia Spirit Academy after all."
At the same time, other sounds came from the opposite side. Based on the footsteps there were two people.
(A chance encounter -- was of course impossible.)
Kamito licked his lips and reached for Est against the rock.
Very likely, this was the team who sent out the fireball scouting spirit earlier.
There was one person on the right and two on the left. An approaching pincer attack from two directions.
"--Knights owing allegiance to the courageous king, bestow upon me the light of victory!"
Milla chanted a spirit language incantation, manifesting a sword of spirit magic in her hand.
Standing up with her, back to back, Kamito asked.
"You're not summoning your contracted spirit?"
"My contracted spirit requires a special summoning ritual. It cannot be performed here."
"...A spirit of ritual summoning type eh."
Certain powerful spirits required summoning by ritual. For example, there was Team Cernunnos's beast swarm spirit. Milla's contracted spirit seemed to be the same. In exchange for great power, much time and energy had to be expended and it was therefore unsuited to blade dance duels between individuals.
Illuminated by the glow of swords, the enemies' appearances became clear.
Two of the girls were wearing uniforms similar to Milla. A red background decorated with white lines, they were opposite to the Rupture Division's uniform.
"The Holy Kingdom of Lugia's Sacred Spirit Knights--"
Milla's eyes widened.
So that was the case. After all, the Principality of Rossvale obtained its independence from the Holy Kingdom of Lugia. In that case, having similarities in their uniforms was only natural.
(By the way, isn't the Sacred Spirit Knights the team of Paladin Luminaris?)
Luminaris was the ace-level elementalist who reached the finals in the Blade Dance festival three years ago.
Served by a holy spirit, she had presented Kamito with a formidable challenge during the finals.
Though she was apparently not at the current scene, the Sacred Spirit Knights were renowned as one of the strongest teams from the mainland, all things considered.
Fighting with his current wounds while protecting Milla would be rather disadvantageous.
"--Ah, you're not going to retreat? If you run away now, we might let you off?"
"Stop joking around. Who would waste such an excellent opportunity?"
The knights jeered.
Most likely, they had received news of the Rupture Division's demise.
Even the fact that Milla Bassett's companion was only a male elementalist belonging to a weak team was perfectly clear to them.
Furthermore, the Holy Kingdom of Lugia and the Principality of Rossvale were hostile enemies. It was common for political conflicts between countries to be carried over into the Blade Dance competition.
(...Our only choice is to fight, right?)
Kamito raised his sword with annoyance.
"You too, if you give up Milla Bassett's eye, we could let you two off."
"Oh my, you allied with her without knowing anything?"
Glancing quickly at Milla, Kamito found her glaring silently at the knights before them.
"Milla Bassett's eye was originally our country's property. We are simply retrieving it."
"What on earth is this about?"
"There is no need for you to know, seeing as you are about to fall here."
Kamito shrugged helplessly... Apparently there was no room left for conversation.
Suddenly, the three knights tightened the encirclement.
"Milla, don't leave my side."
"Don't look down on me. No matter what, I am still the leader of the Rupture Division."
"...Got it. Then I'll entrust my back to you."
Instantly, the three knights attacked in concert.
The sound of blades clashing rang out. Intense sparks scattered in the dark night.
The strike of a heavy battle axe was blocked by Kamito using Terminus Est.
Intense pain came from his arm. Looks like the wound he sustained from falling down the cliff was rupturing.
(--Clearly these are masters. I can't be careless at all!)
Leaping to the side, Kamito held his sword in one hand.
"Don't think you can escape--"
Slicing wind, the massive battle axe flew through the air--
Due to this unexpected attack, Kamito reacted a second too slow.
"--Swarming subjects of the night, hasten forth to slaughter your enemies!"
Instantly, the flying battle axe transformed into a massive swarm of bats.
"...T-This is a legion spirit!"
"Legion" was the term for contracted spirits composed from an amalgamation of multiple spirits. Although they were unsuited to performing mundane commands, they were particularly effective against enemies who were not geared towards fighting multiple opponents.
As it happened, Kamito's Terminus Est was precisely a sword type elemental waffe, unsuited towards fighting multiple opponents.
Kamito swung his sword at the swarm of spirits that resembled a dark raincloud.
A slash from the Demon Slayer instantly destroyed the incoming wave of spirits--
However, this merely destroyed a small fraction of the total. The bat swarm of spirits gave off piercing cries as they attacked Kamito.
Sharp claws tore wounds all over his body. Red blood flowed from his ripped open skin.
The rules of the Blade Dance forbade killing any of the participating elementalists. But conversely, so long as their lives remained intact, any amount of physical injury and suffering was permitted.
They must be trying to chip away at my stamina gradually.
(If only Claire's Flametongue was here, they could be incinerated in an instant...)
Kamito was unable to use spirit magic for large area destruction. Even though the swarm of spirits blocked his view, he was certain Milla must be currently fighting the other elementalists.
(Trying to kill these guys one by one will take forever...)
Raising the Demon Slayer, Kamito rushed into the center of the spirit swarm. With self-sacrificing determination, he penetrated by force, intending to defeat the enemy elementalist directly -- !
"--Of course I'm not going to let your plan succeed. Capture the unrighteous, Shackles of the Criminal!"
Suddenly, flashing shackles appeared out of the air and locked down Kamito's feet.
In the middle of the chaotic and violent swarm of spirits, Kamito was immobilized.
"Those who attempt to escape the legion will be caught by the Shackles of the Criminal. The Sacred Spirit Knights' coordinated attacks are flawless."
Another knight jeered victoriously.
(I see. As expected of a strong and renowned team--)
Kamito silently cursed his dire situation. Using the legion to obscure his view while hiding the capturing type elemental waffe Shackles of the Criminal inside -- this was a coordinated attack that made use of the compatibility between their contracted spirits.
The legion mercilessly attacked Kamito as he stood there unable to move--
"...Your plan itself is not bad. But regrettably, you have underestimated my Est!"
Yelling out, Kamito infused divine power in the Demon Slayer.
"--How could this be possible!?"
The knights cried out in surprise.
Giving off intensely bright light, the shackles of the elemental waffe restraining his feet were cut into halves.
Wielding the sacred sword which emitted overwhelming dazzling light, Kamito charged forward.
The swarming spirits of the legion were destroyed as soon as they made contact with Terminus Est's sword aura.
"Damn it... Hurry and come back!"
The knight in front of Kamito frantically tried to transform the legion back into the battle axe form -- but unfortunately, it was too late.
Kamito rushed before her and slashed at the knight's abdomen.
With a great yell, the knight collapsed immediately. However, within Astral Zero all damage caused by elemental waffen beyond what the body could sustain were all converted into psychological pain, hence the girl simply lost consciousness.
At the same time, the black cloud-like legion dissipated into particles of light.
Stabbing into the ground his sword which has lost its brightness, Kamito rested his shoulder against it as he panted.
(This is really tiring...)
Terminus Est belonged to the strongest class of elemental waffe.
Hence, using it in the manner just now would deplete divine power almost instantly.
Deciding that she could not win one on one, the Shackles using knight stepped back with a click of her tongue.
On the other side of the rock, Milla was currently engaging the knight with the slender sword in an even battle.
Wielding a sword of light, she deflected the enemy's relentless strikes one by one, producing sparks whenever their blades clashed intensely.
Milla's sword skills were definitely not mediocre. Within the Academy, her skill level would definitely achieve top grades.
However on this Blade Dance stage where top class elementalists gathered, her power seemed slightly inadequate in comparison.
In terms of ability as an elementalist, the opponent was clearly superior to her.
Using his body which still could not stand steadily, Kamito raised the sword in his hand.
However, the Demon Slayer could only give off faint light.
"Clearly your power is depleted, male elementalist."
"Hmph, as if...!"
Forcing his unsteady body, Kamito began to run to aid Milla--
"--Your plan will not succeed, Shackles of the Criminal!"
The knight released a set of chained shackles from her hand. Kamito jumped to evade -- but the shackles were only a red herring.
Another set of shackles released from the opposite direction snagged Kamito's right arm.
"You no longer have the strength to break free from the Shackles now!"
In the instant Kamito's movements were halted--
The other knight that had been fighting Milla rushed over.
"All I need is one arm."
Replying to Milla's cry with a smile, Kamito switched to wielding his sword with his left.
It was the left hand in the jet black leather glove. He could feel a stinging pain from Restia's spirit seal.
"--Very unfortunate for you, but I am ambidextrous."
With one arm snagged by the Shackles, Kamito kicked the ground.
Using one leg as a pivot to spin his body, he struck with a counterattack in response to the enemy's thrust.
The thrusting sword brushed past his face--
But at the same time, Kamito's sword pierced deeply into the opponent's heart.
Suffering massive psychological damage, the knight lost consciousness and fell to the ground.
Kamito held his shoulder due to the pain from slightly overstraining himself as he asked the Shackles user behind him.
"--Well then, you're the only one left... What are you going to do?"
The knight bit her lip in regret.
"Don't forget this, Luminaris-sama will surely take care of you!"
Leaving behind this loser's speech, she disappeared into the depths of the forest.
At the same time, the Shackles restraining Kamito also vanished.
(Three elementalists of that level -- given myself three years ago, I could have handled them in seconds.)
As he muttered to himself in self-mockery, Kamito coughed up blood.
His body was actually not well enough to use Terminus Est with full power.
(...But to think I would end up like this.)
His body swaying he collapsed on the spot as if losing all strength.
Just as his consciousness faded, he heard Milla's voice.
"--W-What is that!?"
"Could it be, a legion spirit!?"
The massive shadow towering before them was trampling the trees in the forest.
The minor country's team could only scream and flee into the forest as they watched the destruction of their stronghold.
Spirits in beast form swarmed and attacked the giant, but the giant swung its heavy fist, smashing the ragtag bunch of spirits to oblivion in a single strike.
"Ahahaha, you call yourselves representatives participating in the Blade Dance, and yet all you can do is this?"
On the shoulder of the giant -- the tactical class militarized spirit Colossus, sat a girl with ash gray hair.
The Instructional School's second Monster -- Muir Alenstarl.
Amidst rising black smoke and intensely burning fires--
The girl wearing the crimson mask gazed mercilessly at this scene of destruction.
The minor country's elementalists were struggling desperately, but given Muir's power, they would soon be vanquished together along with their stronghold.
"Ren Ashbell-sama, if this continues, the spirit will be broken by the usage of Muir's power."
Beside her, Lily Flame knelt on the ground, advising anxiously.
"Not a problem. Using a due to be scrapped militarized spirit to conquer a stronghold is worth it."
"But that Colossus was provided by the military of the Alphas Theocracy--"
"In any case, it is not a spirit those fellows can keep under control. Rather than expending effort to have it scrapped, we might as well break it through the use of the Jester's Vise."
Ren Ashbell shrugged and turned to Lily.
"That aside, have you found the location of the darkness spirit and Nepenthes Lore?"
"E-Excuse me... I am very sorry, not yet..."
Lily bit her lip regretfully.
The darkness spirit had taken away Nepenthes Lore without authorization, robbing divine power from elementalists indiscriminately -- such actions constituted clear betrayal of Ren Ashbell.
"I see. Then keep searching."
"That said, even if that darkness spirit is scheming something, my plan will not change the slightest."
"Ren Ashbell-sama, may I ask a question...?"
Lily looked up and asked apprehensively.
"What is it?"
"What kind of a person is Nepenthes Lore?"
She was well aware that the monster of a black knight was no ordinary human.
That thing was revived by the master before her using forbidden magic, an existence that should not exist in this world.
But ultimately, what was its true identity -- ?
Deep behind the crimson mask, those burning red eyes seemed to pierce Lily right through.
"Please forgive me for overstepping my bounds!"
Lily immediately knelt down and prostrated in regret.
Simply a glare was enough to give her a feeling of fear as if her heart was being gripped tightly.
"--That Nepenthes Lore is the successor to the past Demon King."
"Successor to the Demon King...?"
"In other words, the incarnation of the will of Ren Ashdoll who was buried in ancient times--"
A dark shadow flashed across her fiery eyes.
"--An existence identical to mine."