Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume7 Chapter4
Chapter 4 - The Approaching Snake
At dawn, Kamito began preparing to set off after a brief nap.
Using a wooden stick in place of a sword, he swung it around to relax his tense and stiff muscles. Then Kamito walked to the plaza for breakfast.
On this fifth day of the Blade Dance, the showdown against the Four Gods lay ahead.
Although the opposing team was renowned for their strength, Team Scarlet had also developed teamwork through numerous intense battles against formidable foes. The Four Gods were not impossible to defeat.
At the plaza, the young ladies had already begun preparing breakfast.
"--You have greatly disappointed me. 'Test him discreetly.' Pish posh."
"What are you talking about? My manner of investigation was not wrong!"
Kamito suddenly halted his steps.
Claire and Ellis appeared to be having some kind of dispute.
(...Could it be about last night?)
Kamito quietly hid himself in the shadows amongst the trees and listened intently.
He was greatly intrigued by why Ellis was asking those questions last night.
"...Seriously. To think I went as far as to suspect Kamito as Ren Ashbell. Utterly ridiculous. Kamito is innocent, I'm sure of it."
"H-How can you be so sure!?"
"You'll understand as soon as you read this."
Saying that, Ellis took out from her breast pocket the notebook from yesterday.
"What does this explain?"
"Ren Ashbell's favorite food is soft and fluffy cotton candy. When she bathes, she washes her abdomen first. Kamito's answers are completely different."
Claire frowned in astonishment.
(...W-What is going on, this is completely incomprehensible!?)
Hidden in the shadows, Kamito could not help but ridicule the situation in his mind.
"What is that? How would you know what Ren Ashbell's favorite food is?"
Claire stared hard at Ellis who crossed her arms with full confidence and explained:
"Any fan who worships her would know this of course. Back then, the magazines had many articles about her and I cut them all out and collected them."
"I-I can't believe you..."
Claire sighed with exasperation.
"Those kinds of reports are surely made up casually. Besides, that question about busts has nothing to do with Ren Ashbell at all!"
"You two stop playing around. Hurry and help prepare breakfast!"
Due to the interference of Rinslet's scolding, the two girls' conversation was cut short.
(...I see, so that's what those weird questions last night were about.)
Hiding in the shadows amongst the trees, Kamito felt cold sweat dripping down his cheek.
Ellis' questions were based on the profile of the Strongest Blade Dancer, Ren Ashbell.
...Speaking of which, three years ago, the day before the finals, reporters from every country were swarming Ren Ashbell, hoping for an interview.
Even in female attire, Kamito could not disguise his voice. Hence, when faced with the reporters' questions, he simply responded briefly with "yes" or "no" answers. Thanks to that, many ridiculous rumors began to spread from those interviews--
(...However, that's not the issue.)
The troublesome thing was that Claire and the girls were beginning to suspect Kamito's true identity.
Even though they seemed like they were only at the stage of speculation, however--
"Kamito-kun, what's the matter♪"
As a cheerful voice spoke to him from behind, Kamito yelled out in surprise.
"Come on, this isn't something worth getting frightened over."
Turning around, Kamito found the mischievous imperial princess showing a hurt expression.
"S-Sorry... The situation has become somewhat of a mess."
"What's the matter?"
"It seems like they're suspecting me of being the Ren Ashbell of three years ago."
Kamito groaned as he crouched on the ground, clutching his head.
"They only seem to be half in doubt, but I fear I'm in trouble if they keep probing further."
"Why don't you just come clean with it all?"
"I don't want to ruin their dreams... Besides, I feel like my relationship with them would also become a bit weird."
"...Indeed that's true. I also want to keep this an exclusive secret just between the two of us."
Fianna smiled lightly.
"Oh well, I'm sure there won't be a problem so long as there are no more slip ups. Besides, Kamito-kun being Ren Ashbell is completely unbelievable from an ordinary person's point of view. I think Claire and the rest are just letting their imaginations run wild frivolously."
"I really hope you're right..."
Just as Kamito was sighing deeply--
He suddenly noticed.
"...Fianna, what happened to your arm?"
Her usually smooth skin was covered with numerous wounds.
"...Oh, this was, umm, caused by sword training with Georgios yesterday. Don't worry, I'm fine. I've already cast healing magic so it will recover soon."
Smiling wryly, Fianna shook her head.
"Didn't I already tell you not to force yourself?"
She bowed her head apologetically.
Seeing the usually composed imperial princess show such an expression, Kamito felt uncomfortable.
(...Really, Fianna seems quite anxious.)
Yesterday, she had revealed her worries over whether she was a burden to the team.
Hence, she wanted to become stronger even if it meant pushing herself excessively.
(...But strength obtained in such a manner easily collapses.)
Kamito placed his hand on Fianna's head.
"...Uwah, w-what are you doing?"
"Fianna, I trust you. Do your best."
Fianna's dusk-colored eyes wavered subtly.
Faced with her uncharacteristically transient expression, Kamito could not help but feel in his heart--
Fianna suddenly cried out sharply.
She instantly left Kamito's side and stared into the depths of the thicket warily.
"Fianna, what's the matter?"
"...An ominous presence. This comes from my instincts as a princess maiden."
Kamito frowned as he followed her gaze.
--Entering his view was a little snake colored a vivid shade of green, watching them with its widened red eyes.
"...Snake? No, that's--"
"Yeah, an elementalist's familiar--"
Just as Fianna whispered softly--
"As expected of the renowned Lost Queen. Even a familiar's presence was detected."
The snake spoke with an exceptionally sweet girlish voice.
Kamito instantly drew his short sword from his waist and positioned Fianna behind him.
"...Who is it?"
"Fufu, this is the first time for us to converse in this manner."
The snake's laughter was terrifying. Its tongue flicked out as it lifted its body.
"The demon caster of the Alphas Theocracy, ring any bells?"
"Demon caster... Are you Sjora Kahn!?"
Fianna cried out sharply while Kamito stared with his eyes widened with surprise.
Sjora Kahn -- the second-in-command of Team Inferno.
"I never thought a mere familiar could possibly get through...!"
Fianna bit her lip tightly in dismay.
"In terms of strength, your barrier is quite well done. But thanks to the massive holes opened up by that darkness spirit and Nepenthes Lore, well, hehe."
The snake smiled as it repeatedly licked Fianna's body with its leering gaze.
Under that seemingly poisonous gaze, Fianna was trembling slightly in her shoulders as she stood behind Kamito.
"...Fufu, I knew it. The Darkness Queen is more fitting for you."
Just as Kamito frowned in puzzlement over the term--
"Take care then, successor to the Demon King. We shall meet again."
The snake swiftly disappeared into the depths of the thicket.
"Chasing it would be pointless. It's just a familiar."
Fianna stopped Kamito as he was about to give chase.
...Indeed, even if it was caught, it was inconsequential.
"Looks like it was spying on us. I'm sorry, this is all because my barrier wasn't perfect enough."
"This isn't your fault, Fianna."
Hearing the two of them, Claire and the girls approached at this time.
"Kamito, what are you doing in this kind of place?"
...I'm dead meat if they found out I was eavesdropping just now.
Just as Kamito racked his brains for an excuse--
"Fufu, what a shame that we were discovered, Kamito-kun♪"
Fianna embraced Kamito's arm tightly.
"Wha...! W-What are you doing!?"
"W-What is the meaning of this, Kamito!?"
"What were you doing with Fianna!?"
"Fufu, perverted things, of course♪"
With a victorious expression, Fianna smiled.
" " "...~!" " "
The three young ladies glared tearfully at Kamito.
(Sigh, can we really beat the Four Gods like this...?)
Kamito sighed deeply in his mind.
After the little commotion this morning--
Team Scarlet finished a light breakfast and set off. The matter of the demon caster's spying in the stronghold was already mentioned during the meal.
"...Sjora Kahn eh. Although it's a bit concerning, we should focus our attention on the showdown against the Four Gods instead. If it's simple spying, other teams did it too."
Put it aside for now and don't be too concerned -- That was Claire's opinion.
Kamito had expressed agreement, but--
(...Was it really simple spying?)
Trudging over the soft soil as they made their way, Kamito supported his chin with his hand as he immersed himself in deep thought.
...For some reason, there's an unpleasant premonition.
The mention of the Darkness Queen lingered in his mind, causing great unease.
Although he had no impression of ever hearing something like that before -- for some unknown reason, his heart was greatly unsettled.
"Kamito, you're walking too fast."
"...Ah, sorry about that."
Stuck in his thoughts, Kamito had carelessly forgotten to pace himself to accommodate Est.
Holding his hand, Est had been following closely behind Kamito all along. Skipping as she walked, she looked absolutely adorable.
"...I'm so jealous of Est."
"W-Why, why does Kamito dote on Est so much..."
"Truly, Kamito-kun has ascended to the throne of the Demon King of the Daytime."
Kamito could feel the cold and stabbing glares of the young ladies walking together with him.
"Kamito, giving Est special treatment is too unfair -- No wait, this is a battlefield! H-Holding hands like that, you can't immediately react if there's a sudden attack!"
"Well, even though that might be true..."
Having no intention of letting Kamito's hand go, Est held even tighter.
...Apparently, she had no intention of taking sword form.
"I can't stand this, what the heck..."
Claire pouted unhappily.
--In that instant.
"We have been waiting for you, Kazehaya Kamito!"
A girl's voice was heard in the quiet forest.
With Claire's orders, the entire team entered a defensive formation.
Kamito immediately performed a releasing chant. As Est's figure disappeared into particles of light in the air, a dazzling silver-white sword, Terminus Est, appeared in Kamito's hand the next instant.
On the far end of the wide road extending through the forest--
Were four girls dressed in vividly colorful oriental formal attire.
"--Be careful. They are the Four Gods."
Claire readied Flametongue as she spoke.
They were quite striking beauties in all regards. Due to the fact that spirits mostly preferred beautiful maidens, having good looks could be considered part of an elementalist's requirements. However, the four standing before them emanated an exotic foreign aura of attractiveness that differed completely from the high-class young ladies at the Academy.
Their form-fitting formal dresses emphasized their supple bodies and each was embroidered with designs representing their respective divine beast.
The skirt portion of the formal dresses all featured daringly high slits, allowing their seductive thighs to flash in and out of view alluringly as they walked.
"Seriously, Kamito, where exactly are you looking?"
"Your gaze is completely focused on those girls' thighs!"
Claire cast her icy cold gaze at Kamito.
"D-Damn it, you're utterly shameless!"
"Truly unbelievable, Kamito, you...!"
"Say, do you really like that kind of dress, Kamito-kun?"
"No, that's not it..."
Kamito frantically shook his head.
Ignoring Kamito and his groups' antics, the girls of the Four Gods approached.
"Making your acquaintance for the first time, I am Rao of the Azure Dragon."
"I am Hakua of the Black Tortoise."
Their black hair styled in buns, the two girls bowed together towards Kamito and his group.
Looking extremely alike, they were most probably sisters.
"Fufu, I am Rion of the Vermilion Bird."
"--Shao of the White Tiger. Please treat me well."
The last to introduce herself was an energetic white-haired beauty.
Her azure eyes displayed a gaze of savagery akin to wild beasts.
(She is the strongest elementalist amongst the Four Gods...)
Despite her short stature, her entire body gave off a terrifying aura of combat.
Clearly this was not an opponent he could defeat by concealing his true power.
(But I really want to avoid letting others witness the sword skills I used during my Ren Ashbell era...)
Kamito eyed Claire and the girls behind him.
If he focused entirely on the blade dance, he might possibly use his past sword style naturally.
--Making a grand appearance was a girl in ritual attire.
Because she was quite short, she had been blocked from view by the Four Gods until now.
"I am the Quina Empire's third princess -- Linfa Sin Quina!"
The girl ran forward and announced with her chest swelled out in pride.
(...Is that girl the commander of the Four Gods?)
It was clear from her ritual attire that she was not an elementalist who fought on the frontlines. Most likely, she was someone who performed ritual dancing like Fianna--
(Speaking of which...)
Kamito stared intently at the imperial princess Linfa's petite body--
(...Her age should be greater than Milla Bassett, right?)
This was what Kamito originally thought.
The youngest participant this time was undoubtedly Milla Bassett.
...But no matter how one looked, this child felt even younger than her.
"Umm, may I ask a question--"
"Speak, bestial king of lust!"
"How old are you currently?"
Instantly, Linfa replied with a wary expression--
"A-Are you trying to make this princess one of your conquests!?"
"No, sorry, I have no interest in winning the hearts of children."
Kamito shrugged and waved his hand.
"I-I am not a child, I'm already sixteen!"
"Eh? Are you kidding? I can't believe we're the same age...!"
"Of course it's true! Y-y-you, y-you insolent fellow!"
Linfa angrily pointed her finger at Kamito as she yelled tearfully.
"Damn you, Kazehaya Kamito! A-Absolutely unforgivable! My loyal Four Gods, this inhuman bestial king of lust must be drawn and quartered instantly!"
Answering to Linfa's orders, the girls of the Four Gods summoned their respective elemental waffen.
"Somehow I seemed to have made her angry...?"
"Idiot, who asked you to poke at someone's sore spot! Pay attention, we're up!"
Kamito wielded the Demon Slayer with both hands and leaped forward.
--Thus the blade dance began.