Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume7 Chapter2

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Chapter 2 - Claire's Suspicions[edit]

Part 1[edit]

"...Seriously, where did Fianna go off to?"

A few minutes later, Kamito and Claire were walking through the forest.

The barrier constructed by Fianna was quite vast in area. Although Scarlet tried to sniff out the trail of her divine power, it was difficult to track down due to the chaotic leylines.

Even though they had entered the depths of the forest, the imperial princess was nowhere to be found.

"Could it be another forest spirit attack...?"

Muttering softly to himself, Kamito used his hands to part the dense branches.

--Instantly, he found himself at a wide open space.

"This place is..."

Numerous trees lay fallen haphazardly while the ground surface was scorched and scarred.

This was near the stronghold's defensive line. Last night, Team Scarlet had engaged Nepenthes Lore in a deadly battle precisely at this location.

Dirt and mud lingered all around. Even though there should be no risk of having divine power stolen anymore, Kamito was still hesitant to step on the stuff.

"...It still seems quite unbelievable. To think we defeated that kind of monster."

Witnessing the sight before them, Claire was mesmerized for an instant. Kamito also nodded lightly.

Nepenthes Lore -- the unidentified monster that Restia had called the Demon King's will, was the strongest being that Kamito had fought in these past few months.

(...Had it been myself two months earlier, surely I would not have won.)

Kamito silently sighed in his thoughts. The only reason he had been able to win, just barely, was because he had the support of his teammates in addition to his gradual recovery of his power from three years ago.

"Hey, Kamito..."

"Hmm?"

As if suddenly thinking of something, Claire spoke up.

Her gaze was directed towards a dark patch of marsh. It was where Nepenthes Lore was destroyed.

"Back then, Kamito, you were using Ren Ashbell's sword skills, right?"

"...!"

Kamito's body suddenly froze.

...Looks like she had not forgotten.

The Ninth Form of the Absolute Blade Arts -- Bursting Blossom Spiral Blade Dance. This was the mystic sword technique taught by the premier member of the Empire's prided Numbers, the one renowned as the continent's strongest elementalist, Greyworth Ciel Mais.

And Kamito had used that move in front of Claire and the rest.

Even though he had no chance of winning unless the secret sword was used, it was far too careless of him.

He had completely forgotten that Claire and the girls idolized her from three years ago. As soon as he used her sword skills, the girls would definitely recognize them.

(However, in the end, my identity was not exposed.)

...With some thought, covering up shouldn't be too hard.

Wiping the sweat off his brow, Kamito desperately racked his brain for excuses.

"I used to learn sword skills from that old hag Greyworth. Maybe that girl received sword instruction from Greyworth too."

"W-What old hag... Don't be so rude to the Headmistress!"

"...No, but she really is an old hag based on her age. That Dusk Witch is a complete monster."

Kamito shrugged, turned right and continued walking.

"She's not here either. Let's go back into the forest--"

"Wait a sec."

Claire gripped Kamito's shoulder tightly.

"...W-What are you doing?"

Kamito's face twitched.

"Just now, you were trying to deceive me, right?"

"...No I wasn't?"

"You, are you hiding something from me?"

Claire glared intently at Kamito with her eyes of ruby.

...Looks like this reason isn't enough to misdirect her.

"W-Why would I need to hide anything from you?"

"Umm, well, that..."

Claire pouted, deep in thought.

Apparently she had not noticed that Kamito was actually the Strongest Blade Dancer three years ago. Instead, her suspicions were probably directed towards a connection between Kamito and Ren Ashbell -- probably something on that level.

"The elemental waffe Ren Ashbell used was indeed a demon sword with the darkness attribute, right?"

This time, Claire brought up a crucial point.

"Few as they are, darkness spirits aren't actually that rare. If you're trying to say it was Restia, you're making a huge mistake."

Even though tumultuous feelings rippled through his heart, Kamito maintained a calm expression as he answered.

"You're saying it's pure coincidence?"

"Yeah. You seem to be harboring some kind of strange hopes, but let me clarify beforehand. I am not Ren Ashbell's acquaintance."

(...Because I am Ren Ashbell, not her acquaintance.)

Kamito added in his mind.

"R-Really..."

Probably because Kamito's tone of voice had become forceful involuntarily, Claire's shoulder seem to stiffen slightly.

"Because you used the same sword skills, I was wondering if you might have been fellow pupils of the same master..."

"...Who knows? Anyway, I don't know the details."

Leaving those words, Kamito stepped quickly into the forest.

"Wait, wait a minute, wait up, come on! ...What's the matter, are you angry?"

Twintails swaying, Claire hastily chased after him.

"...No, there's nothing to be angry about."

Kamito slowed down his pace and scratched his head a little apologetically.

"You know I admire Ren Ashbell very much, right?"

"Uh, yeah..."

Kamito nodded as he concealed the wavering in his heart.

(...Said to my face like this, it's quite embarrassing.)

"Not only me but all the elementalists from the continent are enamored by her blade dance."

However—suddenly, Claire gloomily shook her head.

"--She's changed, in just a mere three years."

"..."

Kamito silently turned his gaze to his left hand.

(Changed eh...)

Alternatively, Claire may have superimposed her impressions of Ren Ashbell and her elder sister.

The one who betrayed the Elemental Lord to become the Calamity Queen, Rubia Elstein.

She too, was once revered by all the elementalists of the entire continent.

"However--"

Claire halted her steps.

"Actually I began to realize quite early on -- perhaps, the Ren Ashbell who is attending the current Blade Dance might be an imposter."

"Why do you think that?"

"Just intuition. Or perhaps wishful thinking? But everyone else in our team thinks so too."

"Well, that can't be ruled out for sure."

Kamito felt that a direct denial would be overly suspicious, so he decided to answer ambiguously instead.

"However, if that is the case -- then why has the true Ren Ashbell not stepped forward?"

"...M-Maybe there are other reasons?"

"Right. For example -- Kamito-kun is Ren Ashbell or the like."

"...!?"

Suddenly, a voice came from somewhere.

"...Fianna!?"

Appearing out of the rustling leaves was the imperial princess with a mischievous smile.

"Seriously, what are you doing? Everyone is worrying about you!"

Claire glared at Fianna with her arms akimbo.

"Repairing holes in the barrier. Thanks to the battle yesterday, there are numerous damaged areas."

Answering in that manner, Fianna looked successively at Claire and Kamito. Then she spoke:

"What about you two, were you having a tryst right here?"

"O-Of, o-of course not. Don't make such a strange accusation!"

Claire cried out, her face fully red.

"B-By the way, what did you mean by that statement just now? That Kamito is--"

"Hoho, exactly what the words stated."

The imperial princess seemed to be smiling with great amusement.

(Hey hey, what the heck, Fianna!?)

Kamito's heart raced.

He frantically gestured with his eyes towards Fianna but she feigned ignorance.

"...What nonsense, how could that be possible? Disregarding other issues for now, Ren Ashbell is a girl, you know!"

With a shocked expression, Claire directly rejected the idea... Oh well, that was probably the normal reaction.

"That's right, I'm just testing out a wonderful delusion."

Fianna answered as if trying to change the subject, then she immediately embraced Kamito's arm.

Boing.

"Fianna!?"

The softness of her bosom surprised Kamito, causing him to blush.

"W-What are you doing!?"

"Fufu. Hey Claire, may I borrow Kamito-kun for a while?"

"Eh? N-No way! Kamito is my possession!"

...Claire instantly yelled out a statement that any third party not in the know would have instantly misunderstood.

"When did he become Claire's belonging... Anyway, what's your answer, Kamito-kun?"

The imperial princess turned her mischievous smile towards Kamito.

If you refuse then your true identity will be exposed♪ -- the imperial princess' eyes seemed to be saying that.

"Ah yes... I happen to have something to discuss with Fianna too."

Kamito nodded repeatedly like a strung up puppet.

"Ah, w-wait up!"

"I-I'm sorry, Claire..."

Wrapped around Kamito's arm, Fianna led him rapidly towards the depths of the forest.

"J-Jerk! Kamito is an idiot--!"

From behind, the crack of the whip could be heard.

Part 2[edit]

"Fufu, that was so close♪"

"...What the heck were you trying to do? You almost blew my cover!"

Within the dense thicket, Kamito was being led by the arm by Fianna.

Although the soft sensation of her bosom made Kamito's heart race, he still protested as if he was unhappy.

"Kamito-kun, you're so amusing when you're agitated."

"Come on, you..."

Kamito groaned with his eyes half-narrowed... Seriously, this imperial princess is such a handful.

"Just kidding. But you should thank me because I actually helped you out."

Kamito tilted his head quizzically.

"Helped me out, how? Claire was already starting to suspect that I am Ren Ashbell. Saying something like that would only increase her suspicions--"

"--That's why."

Fianna raised her index finger.

"No matter how much she suspects, the fact that Kamito-kun turns out surprisingly to be Ren Ashbell -- something so ridiculous would surely be dismissed as impossible to believe, right? Then simply take the plunge and tell her the truth, for that will lead her to rule out that possibility."

"I see. That does make sense."

Kamito could not help but feel impressed with Fianna.

...As expected of the imperial princess skilled in negotiations. To think she thought that far ahead.

"Hmm, but isn't there the risk that Claire might actually believe it?"

"Well, in that event, I would think up something on the fly."

"My admiration for you was for naught."

Faced with Fianna's nonchalance, Kamito sighed lightly.

"But it's better to be more careful. That girl is sometimes inexplicably sharp with her intuition. In this particular regard, she is truly Rubia-sama's younger sister, even though their personalities are completely different... We've arrived, this is it."

Fianna suddenly halted her steps.

The tree branches were densely entangled around this spot, creating a dead end.

"...This?"

"This is the space protected by a special barrier. You could even call it my personal room."

After Fianna extended her hand and chanted a spirit language incantation, the criss-crossing branches instantly disentangled.

Under her guidance, Kamito stepped towards the depths.

"This is..."

It was a hemispherical space delineated by flourishing trees. Gentle sunlight shone through layers of leaves to form speckled shadows on the ground. This space seemed far more spacious than one would imagine as a personal room. In fact, it was enough to perform a blade dance freely.

"How strange, I didn't notice this when searching for you just now, Fianna."

"Because it is surrounded by a small-scale Isolation Barrier. Even a spirit would find it difficult to discern."

...I see. So that's why it couldn't be found.

"But why did you bring me here?"

"..."

"Fianna?"

Seeing Fianna suddenly so awkwardly unsettled, Kamito's gaze turned to surprise.

"Umm... I-If it's here, then we won't be disturbed..."

"Eh?"

Fianna blushed with embarrassment and immediately--

Rustle rustle. She slowly placed her hands on the chest portion of her uniform.

"W-What are you doing!?"

"I-I just want to repeat what Kamito-kun was doing with Est just now."

"...Wha!?"

Kamito felt the intense beating of his heart.

Fianna shyly removed her uniform and unbuckled her skirt.

Swish. The seductive sound of clothing friction could be heard.

In the next instant, appearing in Kamito's view was--

Clad in a pearl-white bondage suit, the imperial princess' figure.

...Although it was similar to what Est was wearing just now, Fianna's full body restraints had an even more stimulating design.

The low riding leather panties hugging her bottom tightly were quite erotic.

"Y-You, this outfit..."

Just as Kamito stared in shock--

"S-Seriously, to think you actually enjoyed seeing girls dressed like this... Kamito-kun, you're such a pervert."

Fianna blushed as she rubbed her legs together shyly.

"N-No, wait a minute, did you misunderstand something!?"

Kamito frantically yelled out.

"...Misunderstand?"

"Uh yeah. About just now. How should I put it? It was simply Est's mistake... I didn't ask her to dress like that. I don't have those kinds of interests!"

"...Yes, I understand."

Fianna nodded slightly nervously.

"What you enjoy, Kamito-kun... Is not the M role... But the S, right♪"

STnBD V07 051.JPG

"No! You're completely mistaken!"

"There's no need to hide it. N-No matter which side you desire, I am fine with it."

"You've totally got the wrong idea!"

Protesting vehemently, Kamito began to pant.

"Like I said, just now was a--"

Kamito desperately tried to correct Fianna's misunderstanding caused by the scene of Est in the tent.

Hearing Kamito's explanation, Fianna was struck with a shocked expression--

"...So, in other words, Kamito-kun, you're really uninterested in that area?"

"That's right."

Kamito answered glumly.

"This is simply... My misunderstanding?"

"Oh well, indeed..."

After Kamito nodded--

"...~!"

Fianna's face suddenly went all red.

"Sniff sniff... A-As a princess of the Empire, to think I disgraced myself so..."

Due to excessive shame, she covered her face as she rolled along the ground.

Kamito had never seen Fianna so distraught... It felt rather cute actually.

"To think I acted so embarrassingly before Kamito-kun... I want to die, I must bite my tongue and commit suicide."

"W-Wait, stop...!"

Because the imperial princess was murmuring dangerous words, Kamito frantically comforted her.

"E-Even though I don't have an interest in that area, Fianna, you don't have to be embarrassed by that attire... Rather, umm, I think you look very pretty."

"...Really?"

Fianna asked in surprise, slightly blushing.

Restrained by the tight bondage suit, her bosom displayed cleavage that seemed especially dazzling.

Kamito held his breath and nodded.

"...I'm so glad."

She was instantly reassured.

"A-Actually, dressing like this makes me very embarrassed."

...Naturally. Even though the imperial princess always loved to tease Kamito, she was at her core a very pure and innocent girl.

"...Could you stop toying with me. It's scary."

Kamito shrugged as he sat down on a tree stump.

"But I clearly wasn't toying around..."

"Hmm?"

"Nothing, okay."

The imperial princess turned her gaze away as if displeased.

Even though Kamito could not figure out why she was angry--

"But anyway, this is really a wonderful place."

Gazing at the sunlight streaming in from between the branches that acted as a ceiling, Kamito offered his opinion.

This was quite serene. In a place like this, he should be able to concentrate and meditate alone.

At this time, Kamito's gaze was suddenly drawn to the branches covering the area.

(Snapped and broken... No, this was cut by a sharp blade?)

If they had been trimmed, it was done too carelessly. It felt like someone was swinging a sword and struck branches by accident.

(Also, these footprints are...)

Kamito once again turned his gaze to the ground. There were signs that the grass had been stepped on hard haphazardly. Unless vigorous activity had occurred in this place, such trails should not be left in the grass.

"Fianna, what were you doing here until just now?"

Slightly suspicious, Kamito asked.

"Of course I was practicing for kissing with Kamito-kun♪"

Fianna instantly replied.

"..."

"S-Seriously, Kamito-kun, don't make me say something so embarrassing..."

The imperial princess chided.

"...Then in actual fact?"

Coughing lightly once, Kamito asked again--

"...You're so dense all the time, but only in this area are you really sharp."

Fianna sighed as if she gave up resisting.

"Say, can you keep this a secret from Claire?"

"...? Ah yeah, I know."

Seeing Kamito nod, Fianna sat down by his side.

"--I was here, receiving sword training from Georgios."

"Sword...?"

In response to Fianna's quiet confession, Kamito questioned.

Within Team Scarlet, Fianna's role lay in support through ritual dancing. Based on this premise, having her wield a sword in battle should almost never happen. Besides, she was also uninitiated in combat training, having never been trained as an elementalist at the Academy.

"Of course, this isn't any official training, but I'm simply learning some sword skills for self-defense. At the very least, I hope I can protect myself."

"Why would you suddenly think of this? Even self-defense sword skills cannot be learned overnight--"

"I know. However..."

Fianna bit her lower lip hard.

It was an expression that lost her usual composure, full of desperation.

"...I can't bear it. For me to be always protected and a burden to everyone else."

"Fianna, you support the team most splendidly. The only reason we defeated that Nepenthes Lore was thanks to your perfectly constructed barrier."

"The credit all lies with Milla's efforts. I didn't make any difference at all."

Fianna shook her head.

"At the time, even if I had joined in on the frontlines I would have been a burden. When clearly Claire and the rest could support you, Kamito-kun, very well."

...Looks like she's especially lacking in confidence.

(...The fight against Nepenthes Lore was simply a trigger.)

It was most likely a notion that had entered Fianna's mind a long time ago.

"I have never thought of you as a burden, Fianna."

Kamito said as he looked straight into Fianna's face.

"Claire, Ellis and Rinslet are the same. Everyone trusts in you."

"Kamito-kun..."

Adorned by adorable lashes, her dusk-colored eyes fluttered slightly.

"...Thank you for comforting me."

"It's not comforting, I'm just speaking the truth."

Kamito shyly turned his gaze away.

"Fufu, Kamito-kun is tsundere♪"

A usual mischievous smiled surfaced on Fianna's face as she quietly stood up.

"It's almost time to return, or else Claire and the girls will worry."

"Claire already knows we're together. There's nothing to worry about--"

"...Good grief, I'm not talking about that type of worry."

As Fianna shrugged helplessly, Kamito could only watch in puzzlement.

Part 3[edit]

"What the heck, Kamito is such a jerk. I don't care about him..."

Meanwhile, Claire was sitting with her knees up against her chest, throwing pebbles at the river.

Behind her, Scarlet was prowling back and forth as if worried about its master.

"Kamito belongs to me..."

...Plop. Water splashed in the distance.

At this moment, the sound of someone stepping on the sandy ground could be heard.

"C-Claire, what are you doing? You look so gloomy."

"Ellis..."

The one who spoke to Claire was Ellis. Even though their relationship was originally like natural enemies at the Academy, it had progressed enough after they became teammates that they could now discuss many matters.

As a side note, Scarlet frantically disappeared as soon as Ellis was spotted.

"Has Her Highness the imperial princess been found?"

"Yeah. She's probably making out with Kamito right now!"

Throwing a bigger stone, Claire patted her skirt and stood up.

"...Hmm. What are you talking about? What is going on?"

Ellis' eyebrows shot up.

Seeing that, Claire told her what just happened in the forest.

"...I see. Kamito was taken away by Her Highness the imperial princess."

Hearing Claire's explanation, Ellis showed a solemn expression and nodded.

As a further side note, the reason why she always referred to Fianna as Her Highness the imperial princess even though they were fellow teammates, was because she hailed from a family of knights who served the Ordesia imperial family throughout the generations.

"Speaking of which..."

Ellis rested her chin on her hand and murmured softly.

"So Claire, you noticed as well. That sword skill used by Kamito."

"Yeah. Even though Kamito said he didn't know her, and that it was simply coincidence that they both learned the same sword skill from Headmistress Greyworth."

"Really? Since Kamito said so, then that's probably the case."

"...But somehow I keep feeling like he's hiding something. About Ren Ashbell."

Claire frowned, deep in agonizing thought.

If there was no relation at all, Kamito's attitude was far too suspicious.

(...Come to think of it.)

Suddenly, Fianna's words surfaced in Claire's mind.

--For example, Kamito-kun is Ren Ashbell or the like?

(Impossible, right...)

Claire instantly shook her head.

They simply used the same sword skill... That idea was really ludicrous.

(Kamito is the one I idolize, that kind of thing--)

But inexplicably... Claire could not calm her thoughts.

From early on, Claire's intuition had always been exceedingly sharp. Now the turmoil in her heart felt similar to that feeling. Or perhaps, at least in the area of intuition, Claire had inherited the same disposition that her elder sister had as the Queen.

Kamito had said -- I am not Ren Ashbell's acquaintance.

But reflecting on this deeper--

(...He did not say he was not Ren Ashbell herself.)

Claire voiced out her sudden idea, but--

"...What are you talking about?"

Ellis shrugged in exasperation.

"What, I'm just saying it's possible, that's all!"

"How could it? Besides, three years ago, wasn't Ren Ashbell a beautiful young maiden? Purely in terms of probability, I think it is more believable that the masked elementalist you mentioned from Team Inferno is the one."

"That girl is definitely an imposter posing as Ren Ashbell. The true Ren Ashbell isn't someone like her!"

"Of course, I hope so too--"

Ellis regretfully stopped talking. At this time, Claire suddenly recalled a certain incident.

"...! Speaking of which, I once witnessed Kamito's cross-dressing look."

"W-What!? Kamito has that kind of fetish!?"

"Of course not. It was for the purpose of destroying the Brand of Darkness engraved by that Ren Ashbell when he and Fianna slipped into the Divine Ritual Institute. But because of that, I got to see Kamito who looked like a super cute girl in every way."

"Hmm... W-Was he really that cute?"

Ellis murmured, greatly interested.

"One more thing. Ren Ashbell was fourteen years old when she won the Blade Dance last time. Calculating from that, Kamito's age matches perfectly."

"...!"

Ellis gasped.

"C-Could it be true, impossible..."

"Yeah, of course, I'm only half convinced at this point..."

Or rather, Claire did not really believe in that possibility.

However, Kamito's attitude earlier was quite suspicious. This meant that the possibility was not zero.

"...Should we confirm it?"

Ellis spoke softly as if resolving herself.

"How do we confirm it? If we ask him directly, he'll surely change the subject."

"I have an idea. Tonight I can discreetly test him while we're on guard duty."

"Can that really be done?"

Claire tilted her head with a skeptical expression. This straight and serious Captain of the Knights did not seem like she was skilled in that area at all.

"Yes, leave it to me."

Ignoring Claire's unease, Ellis nodded confidently.

Part 4[edit]

In the depths of the forest far away from Team Scarlet's stronghold--

A luxurious oriental shrine was built where the forest had been cleared.

This was the camp of the Four Gods representing the Quina Empire.

Currently, before the shrine, an imperial council was being held with the princess in the center.

"--Well then, present your views."

A solemn voice could be heard from behind the sheer curtains.

This was the voice of the Quina Empire's third princess and commander of the Four Gods, Her Highness Linfa Sin Quina.

In front of the shrine, three girls stood ready, dressed in Quina style clothes.

"I offer my counsel in trepidation, Linfa-sama."

The one who stepped forward was a girl in green attire.

Rao Rin -- the user of the divine beast spirit Azure Dragon.

"May I boldly express dissent with regard to engaging Team Scarlet in battle at this point in time."

"Why? Report your reasoning."

"Granted, with Linfa-sama and the combined might of the Four Gods, annihilating a nameless second-rate team is no difficult matter. However, after battling them, in our moment of exhaustion, if that Team Inferno led by the Strongest Blade Dancer were to attack--"

"Hmm... Hakua, Shao, do you two agree with her?"

"Since Rao says so, Hakua believes it is fine."

"I only care about fighting strong opponents."

Hakua of the Black Tortoise and Shao of the White Tiger responded respectively.

"...You two's answers really add nothing to the discussion."

A sigh was heard coming from behind the curtains. Rao continued persistently.

"I humbly petition Linfa-sama to reconsider. Even though they are a team of little renown, Team Scarlet definitely should not be underestimated. Since we have already secured enough magic stones for advancing to the finals, there is not need to take unnecessary risks."

"Hmm, but then..."

The imperial princess seemed quite troubled.

"Actually, the declaration of war was already sent out."

"What! W-Why did you do something so willful on your own! You must discuss with us before making such important decisions, how many times have I repeated that!?"

"That is precisely why I did not discuss with you people."

"Please discuss with us before deciding!"

Rao was howling angrily, almost roaring... In such a state, there was no longer any reverence displayed towards the imperial princess.

"Send out a messenger immediately to retract it! Now!"

"No way! How could a declaration of war be so easily retracted once sent out!?"

"I-Indeed, even though that is true..."

Shao patted the speechless Rao on the shoulder.

"Oh well, don't get so angry, okay? After all, whether Team Scarlet or Team Inferno, isn't it fine so long as we slaughter them all?"

"How could it be that simple? Team Scarlet does indeed possess that male elementalist who was able to fight Leonora Lancaster to a draw. Even if we win, it will surely be a tough battle--"

STnBD V07 065.JPG

"Indeed, it is that male elementalist!"

Suddenly, the imperial princess exclaimed.

"...Linfa-sama?"

"It is precisely for the mission of exterminating that atrocious immoral tyrant that I have issued the declaration of war!"

"The atrocious immoral tyrant?"

"Hmm, you all should have heard rumors. That tyrant, Kazehaya Kamito, surrounded by pure and innocent ladies of nobility, immersed in unspeakable acts of lechery!"

"I-Indeed, such rumors have reached our ears..."

Recalling those numerous and terrifying rumors, Rao's shoulders shuddered.

"That bestial king of lust not only forces cute girls to attend to him in bed, but also compels them to be perversely attired in nakedness with only kneesocks."

"...What a pervert!" "Truly a pervert."

Shao and Hakua frowned.

"Furthermore, during this current Blade Dance, unsatisfied with pushing down girls from enemy teams, he even strips them and v-v-vio.."

"Violates them?"

"H-Hakua, how could you say such a word before the princess!?"

Rao cried out, her face all red.

"I-In any case, such an indecent bestial king of lust must be exterminated as soon as possible. This is no longer an issue of magic stones!"

"I-Indeed that is true..."

"Oh well, but wait a minute, we haven't heard Rion's opinion yet?"

Shao suddenly interrupted.

Rion Sharma was the last member of the Four Gods, the user of the divine beast spirit, the Vermillion Bird.

She was entrusted with the mission of scouting for Team Inferno's stronghold.

...Although they had asked her to return before they held the current imperial council, she had yet to make her appearance.

"Could she have failed in her mission?"

"Unlike you, Rion is much more prudent. That cannot--"

"--Your Highness' trust in my unworthy self, fills me with trepidation."

At this very moment, a voice of great clarity could be heard from the forest, accompanied by footsteps.

"Oh Rion, what tardiness!"

"What on earth have you been doing? Everyone is so worried about you."

Appearing before their eyes was a red-haired girl dressed in crimson attire.

The girl walked up to the shrine and knelt down on one knee before the curtain.

"Rion Sharma, announcing her return thus."

"Yes, thank you for your efforts. Hurry and report on the movements of Team Inferno, okay?"

"Yes, Ren Ashbell and the rest seemed to have already gathered sufficient numbers of magic stones and are not venturing out of their stronghold. They are probably setting aside their prepared military spirit in wait for the finals. If we want to attack Team Scarlet, now should be a perfect opportunity."

"In other words, we have nothing to fear. --Thus it is decided, we of the Four Gods shall exterminate the atrocious immoral bestial king of lust, Kazehaya Kamito!"

With the shout of orders from the imperial princess Linfa, the girls of the Four Gods nodded in unison.

Only one person--

No one noticed, but displayed on the lips of Rion Sharma as she continued keeping her head bowed was a smile of mockery.