Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume7 Chapter1
Chapter 1 - Declaration of War
It was the fourth morning during the main battle of the Blade Dance festival -- the Tempest.
Lying on the futon in the tent, Kamito suppressed yet another yawn for who knew how many times already.
The morning after the intense battle against Nepenthes Lore, the whole team had just saw off the departure of Milla Bassett, the leader of the Rupture Division who had resolved herself to forfeit the event.
By the fourth day of the main battle, every team had already built their strongholds, and the blade dance was heating up. This was not supposed to be a time of rest, but having undergone the battle against Nepenthes Lore last night, Team Scarlet's members were all utterly exhausted.
Hence, they all decided to stay and defend the stronghold for a day in order to obtain sufficient rest.
(But this is unbearable...)
Kamito groaned as he turned on the bedding.
Despite his body's exhaustion and the sleepiness he felt, he simply could not fall asleep.
The reason was due to the memories Kamito glimpsed during the instant when Restia disappeared.
The memories of that day, sealed somewhere deep in his mind.
As Ren Ashbell, the strongest blade dancer, Kamito had emerged victorious from the Blade Dance three years ago.
Towards the young Kamito, Restia had declared her Wish--
'I hope you can assassinate them. The five Elemental Lords.'
(Assassinate Elemental Lords... What on earth did that mean?)
Lording over all spirits, ruling the elements that comprised the world -- they were the Five Great Elemental Lords.
They were not simply particularly powerful spirits. --If one had to describe it, this world could be considered their creation.
(Have me... Assassinate them?)
Why -- No, before considering why, this was simply beyond a human's ability.
What happened in the end to the Wish three years ago, Kamito had virtually no recollection.
What he could still remember was only the instant when that hateful and black Wish devoured her.
He was struck with an intense headache. Every time he tried to dig into his memories, this intense dizziness would occur.
It almost felt like the domain storing the memories had been uprooted whole.
(...That time, I failed to catch her hand.)
Kamito tightly clenched his leather gloved left hand. Mere hours ago, before she disappeared, the sensation of embracing her in his arms still lingered on his fingertips.
She had not been exterminated from this world. Simply exhausted in power, unable to manifest for now. The spirit seal branded on the back of his left hand was proof of that.
--At this time.
Suddenly, Kamito noticed a sense of dissonance near his lower body.
Something seemed to be crawling around, restless around his waist. The cold soft touch felt a bit like the scales of a reptile.
(...A wild snake?)
Surprised, Kamito frowned and lifted the blanket from the bed.
The girl who slipped beneath his blanket was the sword spirit.
Her silver-white hair shone lustrously under the sunlight. Tender white skin that resembled the color of fresh milk.
Expressionlessly, she was gazing at Kamito with her mysterious violet eyes.
"Ah... Wait a minute, y-you, why are you dressed like that!?"
Kamito widened his eyes and shouted.
This was not her usual naked kneesocks look.
Est was currently wearing a tight-fitting erotic studded leather bondage suit in black.
The garter belt could be seen extending from beneath the leather miniskirt. Her bare feet were clad in black longboots.
Entwined several times around her right hand was a leather whip. In her left hand was a red candle.
Clad in this outfit, the cute little girl displayed even greater seductive charm than when fully nude.
"Kamito, is dressing like this really strange?"
Continuing her posture of riding on Kamito's abdomen, Est asked expressionlessly.
"No, rather than strange, let's just say the meaning is not... Hot, this is burning hot!"
Who knew when it had been lit, but the melting candle wax was dripping onto Kamito's upper body.
"Do you feel happy, Kamito?"
"No, who the heck would feel happy!? This burns, that's all!"
Kamito frantically blew out the flame on the candle.
Est inclined her head in puzzlement.
"I'm not interested in something like this! By the way, who taught you this?"
"...How regrettable. This book says that people feel happy when wax is dripped on them."
Est took out a book from somewhere. Although Kamito was not very knowledgeable about novels, he could tell it was a love novel aimed at teenagers.
Casually flipping through the pages, he found beautiful illustrations throughout.
On first glance, there was nothing extraordinary about it, no different from a normal novel--
On one of the final pages, Kamito could not help but voice his surprise.
Probably the section most visited by the owner, this page was marked by a fold.
It was a scene where an elegant high-class lady was being punished by the butler working in the household.
The illustration depicted the high-class lady's ecstatic expression as wax was dripped onto her bare skin.
"E-Est, this kind of book is not appropriate for you! It's too early for you, Est!"
Kamito instantly closed the book with a smack... Although Est was an elemental who had already lived for centuries, that was not where the issue lay.
"Where did you find this book?"
"Claire keeps it under her pillow."
"T-That girl, I can't believe she's reading this kind of book when she is a lady of nobility..."
Kamito's face convulsed as he grumbled quietly.
"So, which side does Kamito prefer?"
Kamito answered Est's expressionless query with a question.
"Yes. To whip or be whipped... Whichever you choose, Kamito, all shall be according to your will."
Kamito could not help but gasp.
Instantly, his heart raced as he imagined Est wielding a leather whip tensely, restrained in a bondage suit, with numerous whip marks on her adorable rear end.
(...Damn me, what am I thinking about!?)
Kamito shook his head violently.
Whipping Est or anything like that... I can't possibly do that.
"I'd rather suffer a hundredfold than let Est be treated that way."
This forceful declaration prompted Est to nod.
"Yes, Kamito. So this means you prefer to be whipped, Kamito?"
"Eh? No that's not right, you're mistaken... Ouch!"
Est remained expressionless as she began to whip Kamito's upper body.
"E-Est, what are you doing!?"
"Kamito, do you feel happy?"
"Like I said, I don't have that kind of unusual interest!"
"In other words... Unhappy?"
Est tilted her head in puzzlement.
"A-Ahhh... Perhaps there exist people in this world who might be happy, but I'm not one of them."
Kamito shook his head as he rubbed his painful skin.
Hearing his words, Est slumped her shoulders as if a bit disheartened.
"Sorry, Kamito. Does it hurt?"
"Ah, don't worry about it... Umm, I appreciate your well-intentions, Est, but there is no need to put them into action."
Kamito gently caressed Est's head as she inquired with worry.
After all, Est had come up with this less than ideal plan after much thought, for the sake of making Kamito happy. Reprimanding her would be quite pitiful.
"By the way, where did you get this equipment?"
"Hmm, from amongst Fianna's ritual equipment."
"...I see. So the other culprit is Her Highness the imperial princess."
Skilled in ritual magic, Fianna had brought to the grounds a large amount of equipment for festival rites and rituals. Amongst them included animal ears and exotic foreign clothes with bold high slits etc. Various ritual attires of unknown purposes were fully stocked in all shapes and sizes.
(...I can understand the candle, but aren't the leather whip and bondage suit way too weird?)
...That said, Kamito was completely uninitiated in the domain of ritual magic and had no basis to comment.
At this moment, the curtain draping over the tent's entrance was vigorously thrown open.
"...Kamito-kun, what on earth is going on!?"
A beautiful girl with gorgeous waist-length black hair had made her appearance.
Fianna Ray Ordesia, Her Highness the imperial princess.
Covering her mouth, her dusk-colored eyes were staring wide open.
Her gaze was directed towards the bondage suited girl riding on Kamito.
"Y-You've misunderstood, this is, umm..."
Kamito frantically tried to diffuse the misunderstanding, but—
"...Hmph, to think Kamito-kun actually had a thing for this."
Fianna was murmuring as if coming to a realization, cheeks blushing slightly.
"...In that case, you should have said so earlier."
"I-It's not a problem! Even if Kamito-kun has such unusual tastes, I will accommodate you fully! Besides, it's not like I'm not interested either..."
Shyly covering her increasingly reddened face, the imperial princess turned around and fled.
...It would be troublesome if this misunderstood scene was not cleared up. Transferring Est who was riding his body to the bed, Kamito frantically got up, planning to chase after Fianna. But just as he was about to exit the tent—
"Hey Kamito, my book's gone missing... Wah!"
Rushing without paying attention, he almost collided with the girl who was entering the tent.
The one arriving was the red twintailed beautiful girl with blazing eyes of ruby.
"Kamito... Seriously, what are you doing in such a panic..."
Claire frowned in surprise--
...Then turned her gaze towards the depths of the tent.
Over there was Est's crouching figure, dressed immodestly.
"Y-Y-You even made your contracted spirit d-dress, d-dress like that...?"
Rumble rumble rumble rumble rumble rumble rumble rumble...!
"W-Wait a second, that's all because of your b--"
"Excuses are futile. You great pervert, prepare to turn into charcoal!"
Completely mercilessly, Claire summoned Flametongue.
...Several minutes later.
"Y-You are really the worst, the utter w-worst, w-worst kind of pervert!"
As Claire smacked her whip against the ground, Kamito knelt before her.
Seeing him in this disgraceful state, no one could possibly believe he was once the Strongest Blade Dancer, Ren Ashbell, whom girls all over the continent idolized.
"I can't believe you made Est wear th-that indecent outfit..."
Simply recalling the image was enough to make her blush... What a pure and innocent young lady.
"No wait, speaking of which, the whole reason Est dressed like that was because of your book, right?"
Kamito narrowed his eyes and questioned in return. Instantly, Claire's expression froze completely.
"Could it be possible, did you actually see the contents of the book?"
"No, I didn't read it but simply flipped through it."
"I-Is that so... Then it's fine."
Claire breathed a sigh of relief.
(...Hoho, I see.)
Kamito gloated in his mind... This was perhaps a chance for a counterattack.
"Oh well, I did glance at that one folded page."
"It was really shocking. To think that a daughter of the prestigious Elstein family would read that kind of shameless book."
Claire's face instantly became bright red.
"I-It's not some kind of shameless book, okay! It's a noble love story!"
"I don't see it at all... By the way, didn't you want to experience the same thing that happened to the heroine?"
"N-No, th-that, th-that kind of thing is impossible, you pervert...!"
Claire frantically denied the suggestion. However, her tone of voice sounded rather weak and unconvincing.
"You're actually the pervert, right, Claire? If other people in the Academy found out you were reading that kind of book, how do you think they'd react?"
"T-That kind of thing... N-No, I am not some kind of pervert..."
Claire gazed at Kamito with tears in her eyes.
(...Crap, I think I went too far.)
Kamito scratched his head, a little apologetic.
...Every time he was talking to Claire, somehow he always felt the urge to tease her.
"What happened here? What's with all the noise?"
Rinslet entered at this time, returning from the path in the woods.
Her emerald eyes flashed brightly. Her rose-colored lips invited tender affection.
Bathed beneath the sunlight, her platinum blonde hair glittered with brilliant luster.
Spotting Kamito sitting formally in kneeling posture, she raised her eyebrows and frowned.
"Claire, are you punishing people again? Kamito-san is such a poor dear."
Despite her haughty attitude which easily caused misunderstandings, Rinslet was in actual fact a very kind-hearted young lady.
"Kamito-san, you should stop serving this violent master. Come and be my slave instead. If you do that, I will personally prepare food for you every day."
Blushing slightly, Rinslet made her offer.
"...Hmm, even though it's strange for a master to be cooking personally for the slave, that doesn't sound so bad at all."
Kamito nodded as a joke. Rinslet's cooking skills were indisputable. If he were really treated to such delicious cuisine every day, oh how wonderful his days would be.
"...W-Wait a minute, Kamito?"
Claire seemed frozen as if she had suffered some kind of shock.
...Making an expression like an abandoned kitten, she bit her lip hard.
Seeing her like that, Kamito shrugged.
He stood up from the ground and placed his hand on her head.
"I already have a contract with Claire."
Contracted. I will become your contracted spirit -- That was how it went.
Claire instantly blushed as she stared at Kamito.
Then she averted her gaze as if embarrassed--
"T-That's right, Kamito is indeed my slave spirit. Furthermore, I-I have already given you my first time."
"Your first time?"
"W-What on earth is this!?"
Rinslet's voice shuddered.
(...Could it be, she meant that time?)
Kamito inclined his head in thought and finally remembered.
That was not long after he had met Claire, back when the military spirit had gone berserk in the academy town.
At the time, in order to motivate Kamito who was in a state of dejection after re-encountering Restia, Claire had kissed Kamito.
Surely she was blushing because she recalled what happened back then.
...Feeling a little embarrassed himself, Kamito also averted eye contact as he scratched his face.
"No fair, what is with you two!? It feels like I'm the only one left out!"
Pouting, Rinslet displayed anger on her face.
At this time, a sudden gust of wind blew by.
The two young ladies frantically pressed down on the hems of their skirts.
"K-Kamito, you must have seen it!"
"Kamito-san is such a pervert."
"No, it was unavoidable just now--"
"Hmm, Kamito, what sort of shameless act are you engaged in again?"
Just as Kamito shook his head repeatedly in protest, a shrill voice was heard from the air above.
Stern brown eyes. A ponytail swaying in the cyclone.
A storm gathering about her, the girl stared at Kamito as she landed on the ground.
The girl making her appearance was Ellis Fahrengart. The knight in armor.
"What's going on, Ellis? You're even using Flight magic."
Hearing Claire's surprised enquiry, Ellis coughed lightly.
"Ah, there's something urgent."
Kamito and the other girls looked at each other in turn.
"Look at this. It was just delivered by a spirit familiar."
Saying that, Ellis handed on a scroll made from animal skin.
Releasing the buckle, they found words written in a squiggly snake-like script.
"...What foreign language is this?"
Kamito frowned. Even having undergone Restia's education and being able to decipher literature written in spirit language, Kamito was unfamiliar with foreign languages.
"Hmm, I can't read it either."
"Seriously, you guys are hopeless..."
Claire sighed with a surprised expression.
"This is a script widely used in oriental cultures. This should have been covered in the Academy's foundation courses, right?"
"...I-I'm not good at languages."
Ellis' ponytail dangled with dismay.
True to her reputation as a high achieving student, Claire read the contents of the letter fluently.
But after reading it, her expression became very solemn.
"What did it say?"
"...It's a declaration of war. And it's from the Four Gods."
"The Four Gods...!?"
The Four Gods was a formidable team from the Quina Empire, a major country on the eastern part of the continent. Not only did the Quina Empire have a longer history than the Ordesia Empire, it had also won the Blade Dance a greater number of times.
Widely known amongst the participants of the competition was their topnotch team cooperation as well as the name of Shao Fu, the user of the divine beast spirit White Tiger.
Disregarding Team Inferno, this was a team that rivaled Dracunia's Knights of the Dragon Emperor and the Holy Kingdom of Lugia's Sacred Spirit Knights. It was imperative to be wary of them.
"The Four Gods established their stronghold relatively close to here. After dominating all the surrounding teams, the only one remaining in the area seems to be ours."
"By declaration of war, they mean?"
"A direct confrontation at a location away from either side's stronghold."
Re-rolling the scroll, Claire shrugged.
The Blade Dance was not simply a combat festival that pitted competitors against one another in contests of martial strength. Instead, it was the stage for exalted elementalists to act as priestesses and make blade dance offerings to the Five Great Elemental Lords. Consequently, when one team was intent on engaging in blade dance with another, they would send the recipient a letter that implied a declaration of war.
It was already the fourth day of the Tempest main event. Nearly all teams had already constructed secure strongholds. Even though blade dances in the opening stage were dominated by skirmishes and ambushes, now that the middlegame had started, teams were increasingly engaging in duels like this to break stalemates.
"Then what should we do?"
Kamito surveyed the girls' faces one after another.
Of course, there was the choice of ignoring this unilateral declaration of war, however—
After some consideration, Claire quietly spoke.
"I believe we should accept. If we cower at a time like this, it would tarnish the honor of Areishia Spirit Academy and Headmistress Greyworth."
"I agree with Claire."
"To dare challenge an exalted lady like me to battle, how bold!"
Just as expected, Team Scarlet's young ladies all seemed eager to battle.
Kamito had no objections. After all, only three days remained in the competition. This was a chance to take possession of the massive number of spirit stones collected by the Four Gods.
"The time for the decisive duel is tomorrow morning. Ellis will send a messenger to bring our reply to the Four Gods--"
"Wait a minute."
Kamito suddenly interrupted.
"We haven't asked Fianna's opinion yet. Isn't this a bit inappropriate?"
"Indeed. Where is she currently?"
"Just now, I think she walked towards the forest..."
...Come to think of it, where the heck did she go? Kamito began to worry a bit.
Even within the forest's barrier, it was not absolutely safe. After the damage caused by Nepenthes Lore, the stronghold's defenses were full of openings. It was possible for beasts or malevolent spirits to take advantage of the barrier's weaknesses to invade.
"Let's search briefly in the forest. Ellis can continue scouting the surrounding situation."
"I will go search."
"Then I'll go as well."
"Rinslet, it's time for me to take your shift. You should go into the tent for a break."
"It's important to rest according to the prescribed schedule. After the battle yesterday, you should be quite tired. Why don't you warm yourself a little right now?"
"Sniff sniff... I understand."
Admitting defeat to Kamito's thoughtful consideration, Rinslet nodded obediently despite her pouting lips.