Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume7 Chapter5
Chapter 5 - Four Gods
At Linfa's command, the Four Gods dispersed.
Charging forward from the front was their ace, Shao Fu. Her arms were equipped with tiger-styled gauntlets as her elemental waffe. She was apparently a close combat type elementalist.
"Claire, leave the vanguard to me."
"Understood. I will guard the back securely together with Ellis."
Hearing Claire's response, Kamito took a step.
Wielded in his hands, Terminus Est's blade emanated faint light rather than the usual dazzling silver-white brilliance. In order to extend combat duration, Kamito suppressed Est's power output.
Although this decreased the power of the elemental waffe greatly, this also lessened Est's burden and would also suppress the demon sword's curse to some extent.
"Haha, a one on one duel eh? How exciting!"
Shao grinned savagely as she rested her gauntlet-wearing fists against her waist.
"The Four Gods's strongest elementalist -- Shao Fu of the White Tiger, here I come!"
Kamito's sword engaged Shao's fists.
The elemental waffen played a symphony of dissonant tones as the clash of weapons shook the atmosphere.
"...She can even block Est's attacks!?"
"Don't underestimate me. This elemental waffe, the Divine Tiger Fangs, is a pair of gauntlets combining offense and defense into one."
Shao suddenly lowered her stance and released a godly swift strike.
Kamito rapidly reacted to defend -- However, the gauntlet's emblem roared as if it were a real live tiger and bit down on Kamito's arm.
Feeling intense pain in his arm, Kamito suppressed a scream as he tried to shake off the tiger's fangs.
But having caught the prey in its jaws, the tiger's teeth tore through Kamito's muscles and apparently reached deep into his bones.
Using this opportunity, Rao, Hakua and Rion suddenly broke through.
Kamito was planning to engage at least two enemies, but now three of them had broke past him.
Clicking his tongue, he swapped the Demon Slayer to his other hand.
After all, he was used to wielding with either hand. There was no difference to him.
In this manner, Kamito forcefully shook off the gauntlet that was biting him.
The teeth of the Divine Tiger Fangs loosened their grip. Shao jumped away with glamorous steps and readied her fists once more to begin a new flurry of rapid punches.
Even though Kamito immediately defended with his sword, he was unable to withstand the impacts fully and was easily blown away.
"There's more to this!"
Shao's petite figure suddenly vanished. In the next instant, she had already closed the distance and was unleashing her punches with godlike speed. As Kamito used his sword to deflect the Divine Tiger Fangs's sharp teeth, intense sparks flew and scattered between them.
Through ever-changing freely flowing movements, Shao did not give Kamito any opportunity to strike back.
(...This girl, she's using the Fist of Assassination!)
Combining a powerful elemental waffe with well-trained physical techniques, she unleashed yet another raging wave of attacks. Furthermore, each strike was heavy and powerful. If any hit were to land on a critical point, it would surely result in a fatal injury.
Kamito continued to dodge the continuous series of punches, but--
Intense pain suddenly flooded his entire body.
All this time, Kamito had been able to dodge Shao's quick succession of attacks with the slimmest of margins.
He should not have suffered a critical hit yet--
"The Fist of Assassination -- The Tiger's Killing Howl. It damages internal organs through invisible shockwaves."
Shao's azure eyes glowed sharply. They were like the eyes of a wild beast that had caught its prey.
Kamito wiped the blood from the corner of his lips and smiled.
"...Looks like I must show off my real skills."
"Don't force yourself. Given the condition of that arm, you won't be able to wield a sword properly--"
In that instant, her words were interrupted by a burst of intense sword pressure.
This sword pressure was produced by Kamito swinging the Demon Slayer with one arm.
"--One arm is enough."
Claire and Ellis blocked the three incoming elementalists.
Rao of the Azure Dragon wielded an azure dragon blade. Hakua of the Black Tortoise had a shield. On the other hand, Rion of the Vermilion Bird used a club. The three readied the elemental waffen manifested from their respective divine beast spirit.
"Excuse me, but you are not allowed to take a further step forward!"
Yelling out, Claire swung Flametongue.
Fianna's ritual kagura dance was not yet complete. Until Kamito could hurry here to reinforce them, Claire and Ellis had to guard this location with their lives.
Rao of the Azure Dragon sprang into action and charged with the azure dragon blade horizontally. Seeing that, Ellis wielded Ray Hawk to intercept and blocked the swung azure dragon blade with her spear.
Demonic wind gathered and rumbled at the tip of her spear.
"--Evil winds, go and rampage!"
As Rao swiftly retreated, Ellis released blades of wind towards her.
Innumerable blades sliced apart the ground. However, just as the wind blades were about to strike their target--
Wielding the shield of the Black Tortoise, Hakua rushed over. Instantly deflected, the wind blades dissipated without trace. That was most likely a defense oriented spirit with the earth attribute, hence a half-baked attack was not going to succeed.
"Freezing fangs of ice, go forth and pierce -- Freezing Arrow!"
From the rear guard, Rinslet fired numerous freezing arrows.
--However, this time it was Rao's turn to stand before Hakua, sweeping all of the freezing arrows aways.
As expected of the highly renowned Four Gods. Their teamwork and coordination were on a completely different level.
"O Flames, capture my enemies -- Flame Chain!"
Claire swung Flametongue to entangle the cutting edge of the azure dragon blade.
She intended to immobilize the enemy's weapon in this manner.
"Foolish, water with its ever-changing multitude of forms can never be imprisoned!"
The blade of water vanished for an instant. Then turning the hilt of the azure dragon blade, Rao regenerated a new blade.
"Now it's my turn, Onee-chan!"
Aiming for the opening when Claire was withdrawing her flaming whip, Hakua rushed forward with her shield.
Rather than for defending -- this time she was using the shield as a close quarter combat weapon.
"O Earth, may thy roars resound -- Earth Blast!"
Crying out, Hakua struck the ground with her elemental waffe, the shield.
Earth attribute spirit magic instantly activated. The ground swelled up, scattering dust clouds. Rather than for causing direct damage, this was an attack aiming to disrupt enemy vision.
"Take this, scorching--"
Just as Claire tried to release a fireball preemptively, Hakua's figure appeared before her.
Instantly charging into her face, Hakua unleashed a punch that exploded in Claire's chest.
The heavy blow instantly rendered Claire's consciousness hazy. Like Shao, Hakua was also a practitioner of the Fist of Assassination.
With Claire blown away by the impact, Hakua rushed forward for a follow up attack -- However, Rinslet's freezing arrows halted her advance.
Probably because it was troublesome to handle demonic ice which was able to freeze the shield, Hakua chose to escape instead of defending. Using this opening, Claire readied her stance once more to use Flametongue to hinder enemy movements.
"Too naive, Miss Hell Cat."
Rion of the Vermilion Bird wielded a crimson club as she charged through the openings in the trajectory of the brandished Flametongue.
Turning her elemental waffe, the club, with one hand, she entangled the fiery Flametongue.
"I can't believe she's absorbing Scarlet's flames...!?"
"Hmph, my divine beast spirit Vermilion Bird is indeed a flame spirit servant!"
The crimson club left Rion's hands and transformed into a flaming demonic bird.
Having absorbed Scarlet's flames, the gigantic demonic bird spread its wings in the air.
"Ooh, as expected of a renowned divine beast spirit..."
"Even their cooperation far surpasses us."
The three members of the Four Gods naturally surrounded Claire and Ellis who were now standing back to back.
The situation was overwhelmingly unfavorable to Claire's team. While Claire and Ellis were being dominated by their opponents' teamwork, Kamito who was in charge of attack was also tied up with Shao Fu. Even though Linfa did not seem like the type who fought on the frontlines, users of ritual magic often had contracts with powerful spirits. This meant leaving her alone could prove to be quite dangerous.
(Fianna, we're relying on you...)
Claire momentarily turned her gaze towards Fianna who was performing a dance in the back.
"--Spirits who inhabit the vast land, please respond to my summons."
Behind the battlefield that was filled with the noise of clashing weapons, Fianna was currently dancing to perform ritual kagura.
As befitted the princess maiden who was once a Queen candidate, her dancing was magnificent and beautifully flowing without any hesitation or interruption.
From her lips came the chanting of spirit language to make offerings to the spirits of the land.
"--I am the one who prays for ye protection. I am the one who praises ye power."
Her magnificent dance resembled that of a dancing princess on the battlefield.
However, in contrast to her graceful dancing, Fianna's heart was filled with turmoil.
(I must hurry... If I don't hurry and finish the ritual...)
Relatively far away from her current location, Kamito and Shao Fu were engaged in an intense battle of clashing weapons.
(...No, I must focus my attention to performing the dance here!)
Suppressing the screams in her heart, Fianna made an offering through her dance performance.
Not only Kamito. Her teammates were also fighting desperately.
As the sound of clashing weapons reached her ears, they were transformed into anxiety throughout her body.
(What I can do is only this dance performance...!)
At this moment, Fianna's body suddenly felt lighter.
Her offering of ritual dancing had caused the spirits of the land to respond.
Beneath her graceful footsteps, a glowing magic circle was being drawn.
This was a ritual dance performance for obtaining the land's blessing for the dancer's comrades.
"The Fourth Variation of Ritual Kagura -- Oratorio!"
Kamito's Demon Slayer and Shao Fu's Divine Tiger Fangs clashed intensely with an explosion of sparks.
Every time Kamito swung his sword, blood dripped continuously from his injured right arm.
If he became stuck in a battle of attrition, he would eventually lose consciousness from blood loss.
"Are you a monster!? How could you move like that with this level of injury!?"
However, the anxious one was Shao. Her punches were repeatedly deflected despite their godlike speed. Kamito had already seen through the variations of her moves by now.
(--There were quite a few users of the Fist of the Assassin at the Instructional School. Even though they might be from different sects, the basic motions were all similar.)
"Well then, try this -- Roar of the Royal Fang!"
Shao's Divine Tiger Fangs released a shockwave of wind.
The powerful shockwave blew Kamito away.
"I can't believe you even have projectile attacks!"
"That's called a hidden hand!"
Shao grinned savagely as she pounced like an agile beast.
Kamito had no choice but to block her impact while lying on the ground.
(...This is bad, I'm going to lose in strength if this continues.)
Shao's Divine Tiger Fangs was the type of elemental waffe which amplified the elementalist's power. In contrast, even though Kamito's Terminus Est was the strongest class of sacred sword, it did not have the ability to augment the contractor's own power. Enduring with one arm ultimately had its limits.
"You're apparently not too skilled in groundwork techniques, Kazehaya Kamito!"
From the jaws of the Divine Tiger Fangs, a shockwave of wind was released at close range this time--
Just at this moment.
Suddenly, shining magic circles surfaced from the surrounding ground.
Kamito took advantage of Shao's moment of surprise to kick her gauntlets away and escaped from the mounted position.
Beneath their feet were numerous magic circles glowing with blue-white light.
As abundant divine power flowed into his body, Kamito found himself brimming with strength.
This was all thanks to Fianna's ritual dance performance -- the Oratorio was complete.
"--The tables have turned, Shao."
Wielded in his hand, Kamito's Demon Slayer gave off a dazzling brilliance.
As soon as Fianna's magic was complete, the odds were in their favor. So long as Kamito received the abundant divine power provided by the leylines, he could unleash the power of the strongest elemental waffe without reservation.
"As befitting of the famous princess maiden and former Queen candidate, to think such immense power could be drawn out."
Shao praised as she readied her fists in a stance.
However, Kamito could still discern composure in her expression.
"--However, compared to Linfa-sama, this is nowhere enough."
Instantly, the designs of the magic circles covering the ground were being overwritten with frightening speed.
It was like someone was dripping pitch black ink over a blank sheet of paper--
"...What is going on!?"
"The use of ritual magic to overwrite ritual magic. Linfa-sama was waiting all along for your princess maiden to finish her ritual dance performance!"
As Shao punched, Kamito blocked with the Demon Slayer.
--What great force. Compared to before, her power had clearly increased. On the other hand, the divine power filling Kamito's body was continuously receding, causing the sacred sword's brightness to dim accordingly.
Not only did it render Fianna's completed ritual magic ineffective, this spell even rewrote it to empower the Four Gods instead.
"...What the heck, how could something so messed up be possible!?"
Kamito screamed as he desperately pushed back against Shao's weight. Even though he was completely unversed in ritual magic, Kamito knew that this was quite unreasonable.
Kamito's gaze traveled over Shao's shoulder.
In the distance, he could spot the figure of the dancing Quina Empire's princess, dressed in a dazzling rainbow-colored feathered robe.
"The divine beast spirit Kirin's elemental waffe -- Seraphim Feathers."
Shao smiled smugly.
"That feathered robe amplifies Linfa-sama's powers greatly."
Kamito smacked his lips as he glanced behind him.
(Damn it, Claire and the Ellis are also being dominated--)
"--Don't turn your gaze away in mid battle!"
Shao's Divine Tiger Fangs roared. Overwhelming force was about to crush him.
Kamito instantly stopped pushing back and dodged her attack.
This unexpected move caused Shao's forward motion to miss its target, throwing her off balance.
"--I'm sorry but let me ready my stance once more."
Kamito reached into his uniform pocket and took out a small stone.
This was spirit crystal sealing a lightning spirit. After he infused a tiny amount of divine power via his fingertips--
Instantly, a dazzling flash of light erupted.
"...What, how... Why...?"
Faced with the unbelievable phenomenon occurring before her eyes, Fianna collapsed onto her knees in surprise.
The magic circles of the Oratorio were overwritten in an instant.
"Fianna, what on earth happened!?"
Acting as her guard, Rinslet fired off freezing arrows of demonic ice as she called out.
However, this rain of arrows meant for pinning down the enemy was rapidly eliminated by the flaming demonic bird, the Vermilion Bird.
Having obtained the blessing of the overwritten ritual dance performance, the divine beast spirits employed by the Four Gods were greatly powered up.
Fighting out front, Ellis was blown away and rolling on the ground.
Her chest armor was shattered while her torn open uniform was stained with blood.
"...Cough, sorry, I was careless..."
Ellis struggled to get up.
The spear tip of her wielded Ray Hawk was also damaged, causing the force of the winds to weaken.
"The Four Gods's contracted spirits suddenly became stronger!"
Striking down the fireballs released by the Vermilion Bird, even Claire was being forced back to the rear guard position.
Carrying Rion on its back, the fiery demonic bird raised its scythe-like neck to the maximum height.
"Hmph, so long as Linfa-sama continues cheering for us, we of the Four Gods are invincible!"
Raging scorching breath was released.
"Dance, I call upon the crimson flames of destruction -- Hell Blaze!"
The Vermilion Bird's breath and Claire's spirit magic flames collided in midair.
"...No good, we're being overwhelmed!"
"Freezing fangs of ice, go forth and pierce -- Freezing Arrow."
"--Evil winds, go and rampage!"
Even though Rinslet and Ellis also attacked simultaneously, the Vermilion Bird was empowered by the ritual dance performance and easily repelled the attacks.
"We can't hold out much longer... Fianna, please perform protective magic!"
Turning back, Claire suddenly stared in wide-eyed surprise.
Fianna was in a kneeling posture, her shoulders trembling.
"It's all my... fault..."
--A useless member of royalty. The completely worthless Lost Queen.
All the merciless criticisms, which she had heard during the four years when she had lost the power of her spirit contract, now reverberated within her mind.
(Four years ago on that occasion, I also failed to stop that precious person of mine...)
And now, because her power was not enough, the team was facing imminent defeat--
Crimson flames in the form of a demonic bird were approaching. Even if she started performing defensive magic now it would be too late.
(Once again, I am...!)
Just as she was about to close her eyes--
The demonic bird's flames were deflected, resulting in a great explosion.
Blown away by the intense force of the explosion, Fianna's entire body was thrown against the ground.
Moaning, Fianna opened her eyes.
Over there was--
"It's too early to give up, Your Highness the princess!"
Standing there was Kamito, Demon Slayer in hand.
"Everyone, are you all okay?"
Kamito glared at the Four Gods before them as he asked the girls.
"I'm okay... Is what I'd really like to say. It's really dangerous!"
Claire shrugged as she replied.
"All we can do is fight on..."
Kamito smiled wryly as he infused power into the Demon Slayer.
His right arm was too numb to use at all. More urgently, he was going to lose consciousness from blood loss if he continued to move like this for a few more minutes. Also, the damage from Shao's Fist of Assassination still remained.
Shao Fu of the White Tiger cracked her knuckles with displeasure as she approached.
"You're terrible, Kazehaya Kamito. To think we were having so much fun together."
She must be complaining about the little trick he used as a delaying tactic.
"Unlike these young ladies of noble birth, I don't have much of an upbringing."
The Four Gods cautiously kept their distance. Not letting down their guard in the face of injured prey, their discipline truly befitted a renowned strong team.
(Well then, what should we do...)
Kamito calmly observed the four elementalists. Rao, Hakua and Rion were individually inferior to the ace Shao Fu. If they were engaged in blade dance one on one, Claire and the girls were most likely stronger.
(--However, the truly troublesome factor is these girl's teamwork tactics.)
Against a coordinated attack from all four members of the Four Gods, even Kamito could not take them lightly.
(If I do it alone, it really is a bit challenging...)
Kamito glanced behind him.
Discovering his intention, Claire spoke up.
"Rinslet and I can still fight."
"Leave the support to us."
Rinslet nodded as well and readied her magic bow of ice.
Indeed, Kamito was no longer alone. He had trustworthy teammates now.
These comrades, worthy of protection, brought power to Kamito's sword even greater than any ritual dance performance.
"I'll leave Fianna to take charge of Ellis' treatment."
Ellis nodded vigorously.
"Ellis, I will avenge you."
Comforting Ellis who was biting her lip out of regret, Kamito suddenly kicked the ground for a flying leap.
The first to react was Hakua of the Black Tortoise. Bending over in a low stance, she swiftly approached.
Based on her movements, Kamito instantly discerned that she was also a user of the Fist of Assassination just like Shao.
The other three also ran over at different intervals, as if planning to attack wave after wave in succession to wear down his stamina -- However, the fact that they did not attack all at once actually provided Kamito with an opportunity instead.
Through the battle against Shao, his senses had already been sharpened to a very keen level.
Feeling something was awakening within his body, Kamito started to blade dance.
"O Earth, may thy roars resound -- Earth Blast!"
Hakua struck her shield against the ground. As the ground swelled up, numerous pellets of stone flew out. Even though it was not magic with particularly high damage, trying to block all the pellets with a sword was virtually impossible.
"Kamito, hurry and dodge!"
Claire swung Flametongue. The freely dancing crimson flames deflected all of the stone pellets.
Kamito instantly crossed the sandstorm sweeping across the ground.
The girl wielding the azure dragon blade rushed before him. Rao of the Azure Dragon. Due to the effects of the ritual dance performance, the azure dragon blade's cutting edge had grown several fold.
As the gigantic azure dragon blade swept horizontally, Kamito bent over to evade the attack. Immediately, several arrows of ice flew over his head. It was Rinslet's cover fire.
"How foolish, to think you'd attempt to freeze a blade of water--"
"This is no ordinary ice -- Blossoming without waiting for winter, Ice Break!"
Instantly, the ice fragmented to produce a scatter shot, blowing Rao away.
Using this opening, Kamito instantly closed in.
"Don't think you can succeed!"
Hakua rushed before him, trying to block the sword's attack with her elemental waffe, the shield, however--
"Est, my apologies -- I will be using a slightly reckless skill!"
Kamito yelled out as he poured his entire body's divine power into Terminus Est.
Spinning his body rapidly, he thrust the tip of the brilliantly radiant sword towards the shield.
An intense showering of sparks exploded. Even for the strongest sword spirit, trying to pierce with one strike a spirit specializing in defense was not possible.
However, the attack did not end there. Kamito momentarily released the sword--
"Absolute Blade Arts -- Sixth Form, Crushing Fang!"
Then he forcefully hammered his fist against the hilt of the sword.
Using the blade to transmit the impact -- this was a weapon breaking technique that belonged to the domain of unorthodox sword skills.
The Black Tortoise's shield was shattered into particles of light. Hakua's eyes widened greatly.
Having shattered the shield, the sword's blade pierced Hakua's chest.
Damage to the body was instantly converted into psychological damage. Infused with immense divine power, this attack immediately rendered her unconscious.
"How dare you do that to Hakua!"
Emotionally distraught, Rao slashed with her weapon. At the same time, brandishing the crimson club, Rion attacked from the opposite flank. On the other hand, Shao charged in from straight forward with the Divine Tiger Fangs positioned at her waist.
Faced with simultaneous attacks from three directions--
"Absolute Blade Arts, Third Form--Shadowmoon Waltz!"
Using one foot as a pivot, Kamito unleashed a spinning slash like a tornado.
Sparks flew all around. Spinning, slashing then turning again -- Kamito's sword danced madly like a tempest, shattering Rao's azure dragon blade and Rion's club at the same time.
"...Y-You weren't being serious just now!?"
Crossing the Divine Tiger Fangs, Shao used its teeth to block Kamito's sword strike.
Her forehead broke out with cold sweat.
"I wasn't holding back out of mercy. However, it was your blade dance that awakened me."
Kamito found his limbs moving on their own accord. His body was recalling the sword skills he had used in the past as the Strongest Blade Dancer, Ren Ashbell.
"Impossible, for a single person to overwhelm us, the Four Gods..."
"Don't forget about me, Flame Chain!"
"And me too -- Freezing Arrow!"
The flaming whip and the arrows of ice attacked. Faced against repeated coordinated attacks from the Raven Class combo, even the Four Gods's ace could not help but halt her movements.
Kamito kicked the ground to gain speed to follow up with an attack against Shao who had lost balance--
Suddenly, he felt a chilling presence from behind.
The presence appearing behind -- Rion of the Vermilion Bird.
"Hmph, your shadow belongs to me now."
Kamito instantly spun around to release a slash, but Rion swiftly fled.
She seemed like she did not intend to attack.
(...What's going on?)
Even though doubts entered his mind, Kamito could not attend to them yet.
Using the momentum of the spinning slash, he was about to turn towards Shao.
"Tsk -- Roar of the Royal Fang!"
Shao unleashed the shockwave of wind towards Kamito's feet.
A deafening shockwave was heard. As a large amount of dust was swept up, Kamito's view was obscured.
Discovering her intent, Kamito instantly swung his sword to blow away the dust with the pressure--
But by the time the dust settled, the Four Gods had already retreated back to Linfa's location.
Shao panted painfully. Unconscious, Hakua was being carried in Rao's arms.
"Linfa-sama, as much as it pains me, let's retreat first for now."
Rao quietly advised.
"The Four Gods of the Quina Empire, retreating in the face of a second rate team?"
"Looks like our judgment was off. Team Scarlet is not some second rate team. Furthermore, that Kazehaya Kamito--"
"Is no ordinary lustful beast but a veritable monster. To be honest, I have little hopes of victory."
Linfa bit the sleeve of her ritual attire regretfully.
"L-Listen well and bear this in mind, Kazehaya Kamito! The next time we meet will be your time of death!"
Leaving behind such villainous dialogue, they fled.
"H-Hold it right there!"
"We're not going to let you escape!"
Kamito frantically called back Claire and the girls who wanted to pursue the Four Gods.
"..? What? Why shouldn't we pursue at this time?"
"No, well you're not wrong... But my body, I'm reaching my limit..."
Groaning in spasms, Kamito collapsed to his knees.
Just as expected, using sword skills from before so forcibly, the strain on his body was immense.
Claire rushed over frantically.
Stabbed into the ground, the sacred sword disappeared into the air and returned to its original form, a young girl.
"Kamito is always so reckless."
Est grumbled expressionlessly with her back towards Kamito.
Fianna had finished Ellis' emergency treatment and ran over, panting.
Taking out a piece of spirit crystal from her chest, she pressed it against Kamito's body. Even though it was only treatment of the lowest level, it had some comforting effects and could reduce pain to some extent.
"I'm sorry. It's all because my ritual dance performance ended up helping the enemy..."
"Don't let it weigh on your mind, Fianna, it's not your... fault..."
"That's right. An elemental waffe for amplifying a princess maiden's powers is absolutely too unfair!"
Even Claire who usually quarreled with Fianna all the time was comforting her.
However, Fianna's expression remained gloomy. Probably because her power did not help at all in this battle, she felt more or less responsible.
"By the way, the sword skills just now... Hey, Kamito!?"
Kamito's view suddenly went dark.
Hearing the worried voices of Claire and the rest, Kamito lost consciousness.
"D-Damn it, damn it damn it damn it damn it~!"
The Quina Empire's princess, Linfa Sin Quina, was stomping her feet with chagrin.
To think the Four Gods would lose to a lower ranked team and had to escape into the middle of the forest.
Even though the result was a draw because no magic stones were lost, it was equivalent to defeat. Virtually all blade dances carried out within the grounds were visually observed by the visiting royalty and nobility through spirits sent out by the Divine Ritual Institute. There was no doubt that the Quina Empire's reputation was going to be lowered greatly after this.
"...Damn it. Who was it that said they were a second rate team?"
"Based on their ranking within Areishia Spirit Academy, it is true that they are indeed lower than Team Wyvern and Team Cernunnos."
Shao grumbled as they walked. Rao answered as she carried Hakua on her back.
"...Oh well, ultimately, true strength can only be understood through actual combat. Looks like the rumor of them defeating the Knights of the Dragon Emperor is not completely unfounded."
"...~Y-You people, why can you still remain so calm!?"
"Like I said, we haven't lost yet, right?"
"We have already fought with all our strength. Even if met with defeat, there are no regrets."
Faced with Linfa's tearful cries, Shao and Rao answered respectively.
"...Oh my, I agree wholeheartedly with Linfa-sama!"
Suddenly, Rion of the Vermilion Bird, who had been walking silently so far, halted her footsteps.
"For a highly renowned team, to think the Four Gods would lose so pitifully to a single person. If it were me, I'd be so ashamed I would never go back to my home country."
"...What did you say?"
Shao glared viciously at her as Rao frowned with surprise.
Normally, Rion would never say anything so instigating.
"Rion, please watch your behavior. Insulting companions is strictly prohibited... What are you laughing at?"
Rion's expression twisted malevolently.
"My apologies, Your Highness the imperial princess. Because you are all absolutely too stupid..."
Not only her tone but also her entire voice changed.
"Linfa-sama, hurry and leave!"
Rao and Shao jumped forward to protect the imperial princess.
Instantly, Rion's outline was distorted like a mirage--
Appearing there was a seductive beauty dressed like an erotic dancer.
"Team Inferno's witch, Sjora Kahn!?"
Shao instantly equipped her elemental waffe and faced off against her.
"Y-You, what did you do to Rion!?"
"That impudent little mouse was taken care of, naturally. Oh well, killing her would cause disqualification, so I kept her alive♪"
"Bastard, you dared to deceive us ever since the imperial council yesterday...!"
Shao's Divine Tiger Fangs produced a roaring tempest.
"Hmph, well then..."
Sjora jeered and snapped her fingers.
"--Ladies of the Four Gods, will you kindly hand over your magic stones?"
Suddenly, a swarm of innumerable oddly shaped creatures rushed forth from the forest.
An army of over a hundred demon spirits, grinding their teeth like ravenous beasts.
"To think you even set a trap--"
Protecting the cowering imperial princess behind her, Shao's voice expressed despair.
--As a result, the tragic feast drew to a close in a matter of minutes.
"How unfortunate. As expected of the Four Gods's ace, you're not that easy to take care of."
Sjora Kahn held the two newly acquired magic stones in her hand.
They were Rao and Hakua's. In order to buy time for Shao and the imperial princess to escape, Rao volunteered to sacrifice herself and retired from this stage of the Blade Dance.
"Oh well, even though it was a stupid little drama, it was kind of fun for some entertainment on the side."
Sliding the magic stones into her chest, Sjora licked her lips.
Indeed, to the witch, preying on the Four Gods was simply like a pre-meal snack.
Her true plan was to seize initiative before the leader of Team Inferno -- the crimson-masked elementalist.
To achieve this, Sjora had to steal that girl whom she wanted.
"The Demon King's successor belongs to our great Hierarch -- And his shadow is already in my possession."
Sjora snapped her fingers.
Then a pitch black human figure crawled out from her own shadow.
A humanoid puppet without a face -- the demon spirit Baldanders.
In the past, it had been one of the spirits serving the Demon King Solomon. Expressly prepared by the Alphas Theocracy's Snake for this Blade Dance festival, the sealed spirit for Sjora Kahn's exclusive use.
Baldanders's attribute was Transformation. It had the ability to capture a target's shadow once. In addition to the elementalist's appearance, even the contracted spirit's abilities could be emulated perfectly.
The reason why the divine beast spirit Vermilion Bird's power could be harnessed, was due to this ability of Baldanders.
"Hmph, I'm coming for you, Darkness Queen."
A faceless shadow trailing behind her, Sjora walked into the depths of the forest--
Translator's Notes and References
- Kirin(麒麟): a mythical hooved Chinese chimerical creature known throughout various East Asian cultures, sometimes called the Chinese unicorn, also known as a son of the dragon, and brings good luck.
- Baldanders: Also known as the Soon-Another, a creature of Germanic literary myth that features protean properties.