Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume6 Chapter7
Chapter 7 - Return
Ever since the youth resolved himself to kill the darkness spirit girl who sent his heart into incredible turmoil--
He began to grow and develop with unbelievable speed.
Even the elders who decided to have them meet had not anticipated this. By this point, even amongst ranked elementalists who also trained at the Instructional School, there were few who could match him in combat.
"You're not going to kill me?"
"I will -- One day, surely I will."
Throughout the deathmatch training sessions which lasted several hours at a time--
Somehow this exchange became their standard catchphrase.
After each deathmatch, the boy would have long involved conversations with her.
The darkness spirit girl told all sorts of things about the world to the boy that he had never known.
Such as the sorrows, joys and various wonderful things that filled the world.
Then every night before the boy went to sleep, the girl would gently tell a bedtime story by his side.
--To an observer, this was quite an incredible relationship.
"And then, the king sealed the spirit of the lamp once more--"
"...Then what happened?"
Placing his head on the girl's lap, the dissatisfied boy sought the story's continuation.
Because she always stopped at the most exciting spot.
"Let's continue the next part tomorrow."
Gently caressing the boy's black hair, the girl smiled.
Clearly those fingertips had been firing off merciless magical attacks at the boy just a while ago.
"Tell me now. Who knows if I'll still be alive tomorrow."
"Ah right, tomorrow is the mission to destroy the great shrine--"
A mere twelve-year-old boy was already starting to take on missions assigned by the Instructional School.
"The one in charge of destruction is Muir. Lily and my job will be covering and assisting her. Within the Great Shrine, there are reportedly eight elite spirit knights as guards."
"Will you survive?"
"Who knows. I am a tool -- I only have to follow orders and complete the mission."
"But if you die... You won't be able to listen to the continuation of the story."
The boy suddenly opened his closed eyes.
"...What a bother."
"Even if it is just to listen to the rest of the story, please return alive."
"...Yes, that's right... I got it."
The boy nodded with upfront honesty.
"Also, don't forget our promise--"
"I will be the one to kill you."
"Fufu, of course."
This was not fear of death. However, I must survive -- thought the boy to himself.
For the sake of the promise with her--
Feeling the back of his head resting on something soft and comfortable, Kamito woke up.
Opening his eyes, he found a cute girl's face.
"You must continue lying down."
Saying that, Milla pressed Kamito's head down hard on her thighs.
Feeling her smooth soft skin against his cheek, Kamito could not stop his heart from racing.
With no other way, Kamito had no choice but to continue lying down in this manner.
The sky was still dim. Night had only just ended.
...A lap pillow, how nostalgic.
(Back then, I always went to sleep on her lap...)
Keeping his eyes opened, he stared blankly--
"You can't sleep?"
"Yeah. I have the type of body that can do without sleep."
"Really... That's the same as me."
"Because that was how I was trained."
Kamito could not help but groan.
...Right. Just like Kamito, she was raised as a tool.
(Isn't that identical to what those Instructional School guys were doing...)
He felt intense wrath towards the Principality of Rossvale's knights who raised Milla.
Furthermore, she did not have anyone in her life like Restia who was with Kamito.
Kamito slowly got up from Milla.
"This is, yours--"
Milla extended over two magic stones.
"Hmm? Ah right..."
These were apparently the magic stones from the two members of the Sacred Spirit Knights.
Kamito took one and left the other in Milla's hand.
"This is for the Rupture Division. Didn't we agree to share the magic stones fairly?"
Milla shook her head.
"You defeated them, Kamito."
"We are allies."
Forcing Milla to hold the magic stone properly, Kamito stood up.
For a while, Milla stared at the magic stone in her hand--
Finally, she nodded slightly and placed it in a pocket in her uniform.
Milla looked up at Kamito.
The azure right eye and the amber left eye, those heterochromic eyes were staring at Kamito.
"My eye, you're not going to ask about it?"
--Come to think of it, those Sacred Spirit Knights did say something about Milla's eye.
"You want me to ask?"
"Milla, if you ever want to tell me, then let me know when the time comes."
Kamito shrugged, just at this moment--
From overhead, the sound of feathered wings flapping could be heard.
The two turned their gaze towards the sky to find a demon bird circling in the air above with its great wings spread.
"That's... Ellis' Simorgh!"
It was far in the distance but Kamito was certain. That was the demon wind spirit contracted to Ellis.
"You recognize it?"
"Yeah. Look, my comrades are searching for me."
Soon after, the demon wind spirit slowly landed before Kamito and Milla.
Kamito asked the demon bird directly as it folded its wings.
"Is Claire okay?"
Simorgh nodded as it crooned softly.
...Looks like she is fine.
"Really... I'm glad to know that."
Kamito breathed a long sigh of relief.
"Go and tell everyone that I'm fine. I'll be back soon."
With a cry, Simorgh took to the rosy skies.
"Let's go, Milla... Time to set off."
The two hastily gathered their camping equipment.
(That girl Claire, surely she must be angry...)
Claire was lying on the futon under a blanket.
Her body curled in a ball. She still had some leftover fever.
Softly murmuring his name for who knows how many times.
Claire tightly gripped one side of the blanket.
Absentmindedly, she cast a glance towards the little mirror by the bed side.
"What a tragic looking face..."
Her prided hair in a mess, her eyes were all red from crying all night.
"--Clearly from the day I lost my older sister, I promised myself never to cry again."
On the little table, there was breakfast covered with a sheet of cloth. Probably brought by Rinslet.
...But surely I have no appetite right now.
(Kamito, without you by my side, I...)
What was with this pain in her chest?
...Loneliness? No, even though that was partially the reason, there was more--
(I've done so many bad things to that guy in the past...)
Claire reflected over everything she had done till this date.
Whenever Kamito was intimate with other girls, she always felt enraged for no particular reason, unable to accept, wanting to whip him and burn him into charcoal--
(...I really am a fool. Clearly now, I can be a bit more forthright.)
Just as she sighed--
Something squirmed beneath the blanket.
Puzzled, she pulled away the blanket to find the hell cat spirit enveloped in gentle warm flames.
Claire suddenly felt very touched.
Clearly Scarlet was also in a very weak state, but the cat still stayed by Claire's side to provide warmth.
"...Y-Yes. As the master, I must have faith in that guy."
Encouraged by Scarlet, Claire rubbed her eyes.
Patting her face, she tied her hair with her favorite ribbons.
"...That's right. I can't give up. Kamito is surely still alive."
Her spirit renewed, she got up and started eating breakfast in large mouthfuls.
This was no proper manners for a lady hailing from a formerly prestigious family, but now was not the time to be concerned... She had to recover her energy as fast as possible to search for Kamito.
Just at this moment, a clatter of footsteps could be heard. The entrance to the tent was flipped open with a smack.
Rinslet arrived, clearly frantic.
"Claire, we seem to have found Kamito!"
--A few hours passed after that. Kamito returned to the stronghold of Team Scarlet.
At the skillfully concealed entrance in the forest, his comrades were already out to greet him, however--
"...Seriously, how much are you trying to worry us!?"
"N-Not like I was particularly worried or anything like that...!"
"Enough of this, Kamito-kun is always so reckless!"
Faced with the three young ladies' wrath, Kamito could not help but shrink back.
...It was only for a day, but clearly they were really worried.
Claire's ruby-like eyes were filled with teardrops--
...For some reason, she was crying.
Kamito frantically placed his hands on her shoulders--
"Idiot... Seriously, I was so worried... Wuaaaaaah!"
Clenching her fists, she hammered against Kamito's chest.
"Claire... I'm sorry."
Faced with Claire acting like this, Kamito gently caressed her head.
"Wah... Sob... I-Idiot..."
"Because she was worrying about Kamito, she cried the whole night."
Rinslet whispered secretly by his earside.
"Is that so?"
Claire's face instantly turned burning red.
"L-Liar! I didn't cry!"
"Oh my, trying to deceive us is pointless."
"In any case, it's great that Claire is fine."
Smiling wryly, Kamito continued to caress her head.
"Y-Yes... All thanks to Kamito."
Her face red, Claire lowered her gaze.
Then as if resolving herself, she bit her lip hard.
Fiddling awkwardly with her fingers, her head bowed deeply--
"Umm... I-I have decided, from now on, I will be more hon--"
"...Ah, right. Wait a minute."
Suddenly, Kamito spoke.
Claire was completely shocked.
"No, before that, I have something I must report to everyone first."
All the girls tilted their head in puzzlement. Kamito turned around and waved his hand at the trees behind him.
"Milla, you can come out now."
From the depths of the trees came a rustling sound--
A girl with dark brown hair, Milla, appeared.
Claire and the girls all exclaimed in surprise.
"...A pleasure to meet you all."
Milla stepped forward and politely bowed her head towards Claire and the rest.
"..." "..." "..." "..."
The young ladies fell silent.
Claire's shoulders were trembling.
"...This really adorable child, who is she?"
The red twintails were standing straight up like burning pillars of fire.
"...H-Hey Claire? Why are you getting angry?"
"I-I am not angry. Completely, entirely not angry...!"
"Kamito, I can't believe you are this kind of man...!"
"...Seriously, what is going on!?"
"Could this be, a kidnapping!?"
Ellis, Rinslet and Fianna all cast icy-cold glares.
...Somehow, it felt like there was some kind of extremely embarrassing misunderstanding.
Fortunately, Milla was the one to clear things up.
"--I am Milla Bassett, the leader of the Rupture Division representing the Principality of Rossvale."
"Milla Bassett -- in that case, you were the one who proposed the alliance...?"
Met with Claire's inquiry, Milla nodded.
"Yes. Together with Kazehaya Kamito, we have exchanged oaths to establish an alliance."
Milla's words made all the young ladies perk up their ears.
"I decided on my own to form the alliance... So, is there anything wrong with that?"
"N-No, that's fine. However..."
Claire began to pout.
"When elementalists exchange Oaths, I remember the ritual..."
"A kiss from both parties -- is necessary, right?"
Ellis and Rinslet instantly glared at Kamito.
"...You did it, Kamito-kun?"
"N-No, let me explain..."
The instant Kamito's gaze wavered, none of the girls failed to catch it.
"Kamito, please answer honestly!"
"Well yes, I did it, but just on the hand..."
"I can't believe you, to think even an innocent thirteen-year-old girl was not safe--"
Despite Kamito's stammering explanations, the young ladies' glares remained exceptionally cold.
--In the end, Kamito had to spend quite a long time to clear up the misunderstanding.
(...Why do they have to be suspicious to this degree?)
Tilting his head in puzzlement, Kamito was lying on a futon in the tent.
His body's fatigue was still present, so he intended to nap until dinner.
As for Milla, he felt reassured to entrust her to Claire and the girls. The young ladies seemed quite happy at the arrival of a young girl, as if gaining a younger sister to be spoiled.
...Naturally, Milla seemed quite troubled on her side.
"...Kamito, are you still awake?"
Claire's voice was heard from the entrance.
Hearing Kamito respond, Claire entered lightly with bandages.
"What is it?"
"Time for new bandages. You're still wounded, right?"
"Ah yeah, sorry..."
Kamito extended his arm as Claire gently wrapped bandages over them.
Somehow the silence felt rather awkward.
Kamito wanted to say something, but could not find any words.
Perhaps because they had spent almost every day together until now. Being apart for a single day seemed to have disrupted their rhythm.
Furthermore, recalling the fact that Claire had cried for him out of worry, it felt rather embarrassing.
Claire was the first to speak up.
"About just now, I'm sorry... Umm, for s-suspecting you."
"Did you eat something strange?"
Her uncharacteristic attitude caused Kamito to frown.
"S-Shut up, I'm just apologizing honestly!"
...Yes, this was the normal Claire.
As she wrapped bandages around Kamito's arm, Claire spoke softly.
"Ah, ever since Rubia-neesama left, I've been alone."
Seeking power impatiently, she clashed constantly with upperclassmen and the Sylphid Knights.
At the time, she did not understand anything.
She regarded everyone around her as her enemies.
Needing no comrades. Trusting no one. Trying to become strong alone.
...That was truly what she believed in back then.
"But after meeting you... I feel I've changed."
"...Perhaps so, maybe."
"Whether Fianna, Ellis, or Rinslet... I consider them p-precious comrades."
Perhaps due to embarrassment, Claire's face was as red as a burning fire.
"Umm, so, this... All this time, I've wanted to say this to Kamito..."
Claire's hand that was doing the bandaging paused as she stuttered.
Then she lifted her face as if greatly determined--
"Kamito, thank you..."
She spoke as if very shy.
Kamito quietly gulped a mouthful of air--
"Same for me."
"If I had never met Claire, I would never be standing upon this stage of the Blade Dance festival. Umm, completely unrelated to the team size restriction... Do you get what I mean?"
"...Yes. Alone, I don't think any of us could have stood here."
Finishing the bandaging, Claire stood up.
"Well then, rest well for today."
Then she made a beeline for the exit.
Looking at her back... Kamito spoke.
"Restia will probably come to target me. In the near future, perhaps I'll have to leave this place for a while."
Nepenthes Lore -- that monster would surely come together.
When the time came, Kamito had no confidence whether he would be able to protect Claire and the girls given his current state.
But Claire shook her head resolutely.
"When the time comes, we will face them. Together, everyone from Team Scarlet."
For dinner that day, a small party was held to celebrate the alliance with the Rupture Division.
On the dinner table made from tree trunks, all sorts of delicious food were laid out.
Honey spread on bread. Cooked beans. Wild herb and mushroom salad. Laurenfrost style stew. River fish pie. The dessert menu was a sumptuous feast made from canned fruit.
Milla exclaimed with surprise.
"Please help yourself to the food, no need to be reserved."
"Of course. After all, Milla, you did help my slave."
Claire sliced a piece of fish pie for Milla.
Apparently they had become quite friendly while Kamito was sleeping. Sitting there side by side, they seemed like very close sisters.
As a side note, Claire had resumed her usual attitude towards Kamito.
"Claire, help me cut some of that pie please."
"Oh my, how conceited of you, to dare order around the Elstein family's daughter?"
...That was how things went.
"The main course is ready."
Rinslet brought a huge plate of roasted meat that was still sizzling.
She must have roasted an entire pig whole.
"Seriously, you really hunted a wild boar!?"
"Fu, of course it was yours truly, together with Fenrir."
Rinslet puffed out her chest with pride.
The tender and juicy roasted meat looked very delicious. Together with sliced ginger and garlic, a special sauce seasoned with spices, the rich aroma filled the table.
"Yes, the meat is really soft and tender. It is also perfectly cooked."
"Fufu, if you like, let's go hunt some more?"
"No, it doesn't really feel right to recklessly hunt wild animals in the sanctuary..."
Ridiculing with his half-narrowed eyes, Kamito shoved salad into his mouth.
Beneath the dinner table, Scarlet and Simorgh were also fighting for the roasted meat.
On the other hand, Fenrir sat very politely in the distance, though salivating if one were to look closely.
Looks like the Laurenfrost family were quite strict in educating their spirits.
"Hey Rinslet, it should be okay to give some of the meat to Fenrir, right?"
"That's not allowed normally... But we'll make an exception just for today."
Given the mistress' permission and a tossed portion of meat, Fenrir happily pounced.
"Kamito, I want to eat meat too."
"Ah yes, you love tasty food the most, Est."
"So happy, Kamito."
"Wait a minute, Kamito, you're spoiling Est too much."
"Fufu, I've dripped some sauce on my bosom. Kamito-kun, please help wipe it up."
Accompanied by a sudden voluptuous sensation, Kamito found his arm pressed against Fianna's sauce covered chest.
"Y-You can wipe it yourself, right?"
"If I do it myself, it won't be thorough enough... If you don't want to wipe it, you may lick instead~"
"Hey... G-Got it, then I'll wipe, okay?"
As his heart raced, Kamito reached out with his handkerchief towards the deep valley between her breasts.
"Mmm... The movements of Kamito-kun's fingers feel really perverted~"
"Allow me to wipe, Your Highness the imperial princess!"
Having made her way behind Fianna discreetly, Claire suddenly reached out and started rubbing Fianna's bosom.
"What are you doing!?"
"Kamito is my slave, okay, you're not allowed to order him around!"
"Hey, you are committing the crime of insolence against the imperial family!"
Ignoring the two girls fighting at the dinner table, Kamito reached towards the cooked beans.
"...Hmm, these cooked beans are quite tasty."
Despite its modest appearance, the soup had a rather delicate taste.
Hearing this comment, Ellis' ponytail jumped in elation.
"K-Kamito, I made that..."
"Ellis? Right, now that I think about it, the taste does feel like something you'd make."
"...Though compared to Rinslet's cooking, umm, it does feel a bit lacking in style."
Expressing her modesty, Ellis awkwardly fiddled with her fingers.
"No no, even though it looks simple in appearance, I'm sure it took a lot of effort to make this. After all, I do know how to cook more or less. I can feel the effort and feelings behind it."
"R-Really!? I-I hope you like it... I am glad."
Ellis seemed quite shy as she coiled the hair from her ponytail around her little finger again and again.
"Kamito, i-if you wish, let me feed you. Your wounds must still be affecting you."
"No, that's a bit embarrassing..."
"No need to be shy. So, say 'ah'--"
Seeing he had no choice, Kamito opened wide to accept the spoon.
"I-Is it good?'
"...Ah yes, very tasty."
"Ellis, you're stealing a march on us, so sly!"
"Please try my cooking too!"
Fianna and Rinslet reprimanded Ellis.
"D-Do not misunderstand! I simply noticed that Kamito's arm was still hurt so..."
"I-In that case, I'll feed him too!"
Sticking her fork into a piece of meat, Claire thrust it over.
"That's really hot, Claire, and you poked me in the face! Ouch!"
Milla watched the dinner table commotion blankly.
"Milla, what's wrong?"
"I've never had a meal like this."
Asked by Kamito, Milla replied in monotone.
"Don't you eat together with everyone in your team, Milla?"
"No, because my companion knights all take care of me with great caution."
Milla quietly shook her head.
(Taken care of with great caution -- hmm?)
Rather than cherished, this meant something different.
As if trying not to break or harm something fragile -- and keeping their distance.
This thirteen-year-old girl had always lived a life of untouchable isolation.
Like an offering on a sacrificial altar--
"Milla, you should eat as much as you can. If you don't eat properly you won't grow up."
Claire placed her hand on Milla's head.
"That is so true. Well, it's a little late for Claire's chest though."
"Whose chest are you talking about!?"
Watching Claire and Rinslet quarrel--
Kamito did not fail to catch Milla's extremely faint smile.
--Parting with her came so suddenly.
"Our training will end today."
The boy stood there in shock at the sudden announcement.
"Why... Why!? I -- still haven't killed you!"
"You have become strong. There is nothing more I can teach you."
The black-haired girl smiled calmly. Her dusk-colored eyes were filled with sorrow.
"...I hate this."
"I hate this! You have to stay by my side! Forever by my side--"
Halfway through, Kamito suddenly stopped his sentence.
"S-So, umm, I..."
Stuttering, his face went red.
"You're now able to make this kind of expression. Back when we first met, all you had was a stiff poker face."
The darkness spirit girl gently caressed the boy's head.
"You're almost my height now."
"...D-Don't toy with me!"
Kamito shook his head angrily.
Before he met her, the boy's feelings had never undergone such upheaval.
"The story's continuation--"
"I still haven't heard the rest of that story."
He was referring to the bedtime stories she told.
The continuation of that bedtime story had somehow become the boy's greatest pleasure.
"Why, why are you apologizing--"
As if to seal the boy's mouth, the girl kissed him.
The boy's eyes widened in surprise.
Separating her lips from him lightly, she smiled shyly.
"Your first kiss?"
The boy nodded in a daze... His mind completely blank, he could not think properly.
"--Remember this well, the kiss of our contract."
The girl's fingertips, gently caressing his cheek, dissipated into the air as particles of light--
"Should there ever come a time in the future when I have changed so much that I am myself no longer--"
"Ah, this is so invigorating..."
Beneath the starry sky, Kamito was enjoying a soak in an open air bath alone.
This was not a hot spring but a pool created by piling rocks in a ring and using a fire spirit to boil water for a bath. Since the water in the sanctuary carried fatigue recovery properties, soaking his wounds in the crystal clear water felt especially comfortable.
Under the moonlight, Kamito looked at the spirit seal on his left hand.
Blood was slightly seeping out from the crescent-shaped crest.
...Recently, I seem to keep dreaming about her.
Those were Kamito's memories from before he became the strongest blade dancer.
On that day, Restia was sealed away once again. Because she had taught the boy what he was not supposed to know -- human emotions.
After that, through the re-education efforts of the elders at the Instructional School, the boy lost his emotions once more -- however, his feeling of longing for her, that alone was never forgotten.
Then four years ago, on the day that the archdemon of flame attacked and destroyed the Instructional School, he took the ring where she was sealed and the two of them began their journey.
--Those short but wonderful days.
As if trying to catch a hold of the night sky which reminded him of her beautiful black hair, Kamito reached out with his hand.
The spirit seal on his left hand was hurting.
(Summoning? Calling for me...)
Very soon, he would have to settle things with her--
That was what his intuition predicted.
Splash -- Suddenly, he heard a light noise in the water behind him.
Frantically turning around, he saw a tiny figure in the shadows of the rocks obscured by the steam.
"Is that Milla?"
He could hear Milla's voice.
"This is the men's bath reserved for me. The women's bath is located over there by the cliff."
"I didn't know."
"Sorry. It's quite easy to mix up... Anyway, I'm getting out so just enjoy yourself here."
Kamito hastily prepared to leave--
But Milla stopped him.
"I have something to say to you."
"If it's here, the others won't come."
...I see. Indeed, Claire and the girls were probably not going to come to this men's bath.
(Something she doesn't want the others to hear--)
Kamito immersed himself in the bath again.
On the other side of the light mist, Milla appeared, wrapped in a white towel.
Her body was small and slender. As her moistened dark brown hair clung to her face, there was a sense of charm that did not seem to belong to a thirteen-year-old girl.
As she walked over to the side, Kamito shifted his gaze away as his heart began to race.
"...So, what did you want to tell me?"
"About my eye. I only want you to know."
Milla's amber left eye flashed in the night.
"This is the value of my existence. The reason I was raised as a tool."
"--The Demon Sealing Eye, right?"
"...You already... know?"
Milla exclaimed in surprise.
"No I didn't. But I could guess."
The Demon Sealing Eye. This was a special eye that descendants from lineages of elementalists were born with in rare instances.
A type of extremely rare spirit crystal.
Due to numerous cases of Demon Sealing Eyes with powerful spirits sealed inside of them, the possessors were regarded as dangerous in most situations and persecuted, either that or used as weapons by those in authority -- that was how things were.
In any case, this thirteen-year-old girl was saddled with a cruel and harsh fate.
The reason why Kamito knew about the Demon Sealing Eye which was unknown to most people, was because there was another girl at the Instructional School who also possessed the same type of eye.
That girl had been used as a weapon and perished at an early age.
"When I was young, my parents feared this eye and sold me to the knights of the Principality of Rossvale, to be trained as a weapon needed to win the Blade Dance festival."
Milla gazed at Kamito expressionlessly.
"In order to control the sealed spirit with stability, anger, sorrow, joy -- all unnecessary emotions were deprived."
"...Crazy fellows. They exist everywhere."
Kamito groaned painfully. Recalling how his own emotions were killed off and the orphans at the Instructional School who were used and expended like tools--
(If I had never met Restia, my fate would have been the same as those guys...)
"...Why are you telling me this?"
"Because I -- deceived Kamito."
Milla uttered this sentence with great suffering.
"Sealed within my Eye is the conquering army spirit 'The Crusaders' -- a tactical-class militarized spirit."
"A tactical class militarized spirit?"
Tactical class -- amongst militarized spirits, this was a type of spirit that was particularly difficult to control.
Other than for exceptional cases like Muir Alenstarl -- this was not the type of spirit that ordinary elementalists could control alone.
Controlling that type of spirit required specialized training as a team.
Kamito finally realized.
"I see. The Rupture Division also served as the team for controlling that militarized spirit."
"That's right. They were the team prepared for using the tool that is me. Only with the Rupture Division present can the Demon Sealing Eye be operated."
In other words--
Milla by herself was unable to draw out the spirit's power, basically.
"Possessing a spirit with the holy attribute is true... But I have no way of using that power."
"...So by deception, you mean this."
Allying with Milla who employed a holy spirit in order to facilitate battle against Nepenthes Lore--
This was the benefit she brought up during negotiations for the alliance. However, if that spirit could not be used, then Kamito and his team's strategy had to be altered fundamentally.
"I apologize. I must prevail in this Blade Dance no matter what. Because, being raised as a tool, that is my mission."
Despite the Rupture Division's collapse and nearly losing everything, she still struggled for survival.
Because Milla Bassett's value in living only lay in that.
"That's okay. That's your achievement after all."
Kamito gently placed his hand on Milla's head.
"This alliance is the victory you won with your own hands, Milla. Be proud of yourself."
Gently, he caressed her dark brown hair.
"...Milla, have you heard of the Instructional School?"
Suddenly, Kamito brought up such a topic.
"...Existing somewhere in the Ordesia Empire, a secret organization for raising assassins."
"Yeah. That's where I came from."
Milla's eyes widened with surprise.
"I am the same as you, Milla. Raised as a tool for murder from childhood."
"However, you... Don't look like it."
"Because there was a girl who helped me recover a human's heart."
Kamito gently withdrew his hand from Milla's head.
Milla hung her head... As if pondering something.
Soon after, she slowly looked up--
"Last night's story."
"The continuation of last night's story, I want to hear it."
Kamito recalled and nodded.
It was the fairy tale he had heard from Restia when he was young. In this open air bath where one could hear the sound of the river flowing, Kamito continued the story he told the previous night.
Was something really funny? Milla once again was desperately suppressing laughter.
...Oh well, as long as she's happy.
"You really are much cuter when you're smiling."
"W-What are you talking about..."
Kamito's half-joking comment made Milla blush slightly.
"Since you are able to laugh like this, you are no longer just a tool."
Assuredly, lost things had to be taken back.
As long as she had someone beside her the way Restia was to Kamito.
Gazing up at the night sky concealed by darkness, Kamito muttered to himself.
(...Restia, even now, I'm still waiting for you to continue that bedtime story.)
At this very moment -- a sharp pain was felt in his left hand's spirit seal.
Intense pain like scorching fire, it made Kamito's face distorted.
"--That person has arrived."
In the quiet forest, the black-winged angel appeared--
"What a secure stronghold your team has built here. As expected of Her Highness the Imperial Princess, former heiress to the throne."
Restia shrugged and pouted her adorable lips.
Probably as a counter against those with the attribute of darkness, there were apparently multiple holy barriers.
To her it was like the gates of hell.
"I'm very sorry, but I shall have to break through by force."
As Restia giggled, a massive figure appeared from the depths of the forest.
Emanating an aura of ominous disaster from all over, the black knight -- Nepenthes Lore.
Having absorbed divine power from numerous elementalists to become a complete monster, there stood the materialization of the Demon King's will.
"Well then, let's begin the blade dance, Kamito..."
With a great roar, Nepenthes Lore tore apart the barrier using claw-like gauntlets.