Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume7 Chapter9
Chapter 9 - Pandemonium
--A few moments after that.
Kamito and his group arrived at the historical site which the Rupture Division had formerly used as their stronghold.
"Is this really the place?"
"...Yeah, no mistake about it."
Faced with Ellis' doubtful question, Claire gulped a mouthful of air.
Ellis' question was not without reason. Currently, the surroundings of the ruins was filled with an ominous aura that did not match with a barrier built by an elementalist.
"It seems completely different from the last time we came here..."
Kamito stepped in as he placed a hand on Terminus Est at his waist.
"This is already the interior of a witch's barrier -- Be careful."
"It's almost like a spider's lair. The air is rather turbid."
Shao spat out her words.
Entering an elementalist's carefully constructed stronghold was like attacking a secure castle. Without sufficient superiority in combat potential, breaching the defenses would be impossible.
(Especially a stronghold constructed by a princess maiden skilled in ritual magic--)
Feeling an illusion as if his feet were trudging through a muddy bog, Kamito made his way forward.
The entrance of the ruins lay open like a mouth of darkness, inviting victims to an obvious trap.
"...This is exactly like the Pandemonium of legend."
Just as Claire muttered, in that instant--
Kamito halted his steps and turned back to look up at the pitch black night sky.
Instantly, numerous magic circles appeared in the air -- the whole area was covered by crimson flashing light.
From the magic circles, a swarm of innumerable strangely shaped beings burst forth like a tide.
Gigantic eyes with several arms growing out of them. Burning skulls that cackled noisily. Amorphous amoeba that tumbled about. Giants with heads sprouting from their arms and shoulders. Spherical shadows that expanded and contracted incessantly--
"We of the Four Gods were wiped out by these things!"
In order to protect Linfa, Shao readied her elemental waffe, the Divine Tiger Fangs.
"But these numbers... Cannot compare to last time!"
Dozens, hundreds, thousands -- the swarm of demon spirits was increasing without bound, forming a pitch black cloud that enshrouded the entire vicinity of the ruins. Even though Sjora Kahn was known as the demon caster, summoning such an enormous number of demon spirits should be impossible. Very likely, the ancient ruins themselves functioned as some sort of summoning device.
"Freezing fangs of ice, go forth and pierce -- Freezing Arrow!"
Rinslet unleashed arrows of ice, striking down dozens of demon spirits in succession.
Nevertheless, this was merely a drop in the bucket. The rate of increase in numbers greatly surpassed Rinslet's efforts.
"...This is hopeless. Faced with such numbers of spirits as opponents, this will be never ending."
Claire yelled out as she swept enemies away with Flametongue.
Watching the cloud-like swarm, Kamito pondered for a while, then said:
"Hey, I've got a suggestion--"
"Leaves these things to me. Claire and the others, why don't you go rescue Fianna?"
Slicing the demon spirit before him in half, Kamito suggested.
"...No way! Even for you, Kamito, these numbers are--"
"You'll exhaust your divine power very quickly and become unable to use your elemental waffe!"
Claire and Rinslet instantly objected.
Indeed, Terminus Est's massive consumption of divine power was its one and only weakness.
--But of course, Kamito was already aware of that.
"No problem. After all, we have the great imperial princess here who is highly skilled in ritual dance performances, right?"
"Hmm, you can rely on me."
Clad in the Kirin's elemental waffe of the Seraphim Feathers, Linfa thumped her paper-thin chest confidently.
"Making use of the stronghold's leylines to obtain blessings is completely effortless."
"I will be in charge of guarding Linfa-sama. Kamito, you focus on destroying these things."
Using the Divine Tiger Fangs, Shao instantly swept away the demon spirits at the shrine entrance.
"...I understand. Then I'll leave this place to Kamito and the rest here. Let's go!"
Claire took swift action as soon as their decision was made. Nodding briefly in acknowledgement, she rushed towards the shrine entrance together with Ellis and Rinslet.
"I'm relying on you girls to rescue Fianna!"
"Yes, we will definitely bring her back!"
Kamito watched as the three disappeared into the depths of the shrine--
For just an instant, Kamito relaxed his shoulder completely.
"Very well, with that, I can now use her sword techniques without any reservation--"
Licking his parched lips, Kamito grinned fearlessly.
"...Come, third rate flunkies. I will take care of you all no matter how many of you there are."
In the next instant, several hundred demon spirits rushed towards Kamito all at once.
"--Evil winds, go and rampage!"
"Turn into charcoal, Fireball!"
Using blades of wind released like raging waves, the swarm of demon spirits in the passage were swept clean all at once. Riding on that tornado, scorching flames of conflagration burned intensely.
Although there were still many demon spirits inside the shrine, they numbered far fewer than those outside. Exterminating the demon spirits who kept popping up like bubbles, Claire and her group continued to advance along the passageway.
"Will Kamito be fine?"
"Don't worry about that guy."
As Ellis voiced her concern, Claire shook her head.
(...That's right, that guy will never lose.)
The instant Kamito's face surfaced in her mind, Claire inexplicably found her cheeks getting boiling hot as if being burned by a fire.
Lubdub -- the beating in her chest intensified as well.
(...N-No, th-this isn't anything like that!)
Claire shook her head as if trying to deny the notion.
(D-Damn it, it's all Fianna's fault for saying something weird...)
"Claire, what's the matter?"
"N-Nothing of any importance!"
Claire brandished Flametongue and sent the demon spirits before them flying.
As the sound of their footsteps rebounded off the hard surface of the ground, the trio continued to run along the long passage that seemed to stretch to who knows where.
"...I never knew these ruins were so vast."
Would they be able to find Fianna amidst such vast premises?
Just as Claire began to worry--
Suddenly, the passage opened up to reveal a large spacious hall.
"Be careful. This could very well be a trap."
With a wave of the hand, Claire produced illumination using spirit magic.
Suddenly, a collapsed figure appeared at the depths of the great hall.
"Who is that!?"
Claire readied Flametongue with wariness, then--
"Wait... It's me!"
Sprawled on the ground was Fianna whose uniform was all cut and tattered.
"W-What happened to you!?"
"Are you injured?"
The trio swiftly rushed over.
Fianna lowered her gaze as if very apologetic.
"Yeah, I was able to find an opportunity to escape, but my foot--"
She displayed an expression of pain. It seemed like she had sprained one foot.
"Are you able to stand?"
As Fianna reached out, Claire was just about to hold her hand when--
Suddenly, she was struck with a sense of dissonance.
(--This is wrong!)
Swiftly she withdrew her hand and leaped backwards.
In that instant, a sharp shortsword narrowly missed the top of her head by millimeters.
"...You, you're not Fianna!"
"Fufu, as befits the younger sister of the Calamity Queen, your senses are quite sharp."
As soon as the sentence was finished, Fianna's image began to quiver like a mirage--
A beautiful girl dressed in a highly exposing outfit appeared.
Yelling out shrilly, Claire struck out with Flametongue.
Intensely burning crimson flames attacked the witch--
"Ara, what an impatient little lady. Come forth -- demon spirit Baldanders!"
From Sjora's shadow, out crept a thin and faceless humanoid.
The humanoid spread its arms to protect its contractor--
Immediately, it was unceremoniously sent flying by Flametongue.
Claire paused with disappointment, for she originally expected her attack to be blocked, .
Striking the wall of rock, the humanoid lay tilted and powerless like a puppet. Scorched by the crimson flames, its outer skin that resembled black metal was melting. It struggled desperately, trying to escape from the fire, but--
"Freezing fangs of ice, go forth and pierce -- Freezing Arrow!"
Numerous freezing arrows rained down from above, shattering its arm.
(...This thing is the Demon Caster's contracted spirit?)
--Regardless, it was way too weak.
(This seems rather suspicious instead...)
"You think you can defeat us alone?"
"Fufu, the true value of Baldanders lies not in brute force but in its other abilities--"
While dodging Rinslet's arrows of ice, the witch recited words for a contracted spirit's releasing.
"--Thou, weakest of the weak and strongest of the strong, heed my command and hereby take form!"
"...I won't let you succeed!"
With a flying leap, Ellis made a thrust using Ray Hawk but ended up being a step late.
A pure white mask appeared in the witch's hand.
"Elemental waffe -- Proteus Masques."
In the blink of an eye, Sjora's red lips twisted as the image of her figure distorted like a mirage.
Claire, Rinslet and Ellis gasped at the same time.
Over there was--
With gorgeous black hair and mysterious jet black eyes -- a beautiful girl.
She was dressed in an exotic foreign outfit that had a relatively long lower hem and resembled ritual attire.
In her left hand, she wielded a demon sword of darkness that emanated an aura of disaster.
"How on earth..."
The winner of the Blade Dance festival three years earlier.
--The Strongest Blade Dancer, Ren Ashbell, was now standing present.
The Demon Slayer traced out an arc wiping out swarms of demon spirits.
Faced with the onslaught of the abnormally shaped beings, Kamito chopped, slashed and sliced nonstop.
"...Th-That guy, is he really human?"
Watching the blade dance that seemed like it was performed by a fierce god, Linfa's eyes widened as she carried out her ritual dancing.
Ten-odd minutes had passed since the blade dance began -- Terminus Est's light remained bright without waning.
The magic circle drawn on the ground was providing Kamito with power continuously through the leylines.
"--That said, given such numbers, it's still quite tiring."
Kamito smiled wryly as he chopped down several demon spirits.
Although he had already defeated hundreds of these demon spirits, the swarm showed no signs of reducing in size.
(I really don't know if my stamina can last until Claire and the girls return...)
At this moment, sensing the presence of an enemy attacking from behind, Kamito turned around and slashed--
However, the slash simply cut through empty space.
In that instant, jet black lightning had been released, reducing the demon spirit to charcoal.
(Did Shao cover me? No, the spirit magic just now was--)
Suddenly, a jet black feather floated down before the tip of Kamito's nose.
"You seem to have your hands full, Kamito. Would you like my assistance?"
The lovely voice reaching his ears stirred him from his very core.
Black hair fluttered in the wind, seeming as if woven from the very night itself.
Twirling the dress of darkness, touching down lightly on the ground was the black-winged angel.
"Good evening, Kamito."
Seeing Kamito rendered speechless, the darkness spirit girl smiled with a chuckle.
"Finally, my power has recovered to the point where it allows me to assume this appearance. Although I'm far from peak condition, I do have more than enough strength to play with some low level spirits."
"...You really intend to help?"
"Yes. These kinds of fodder won't help your awakening no matter how many you defeat. Let me take this opportunity to play for a bit."
Restia released jet black lightning from her fingertips, turning multiple demon spirits into charcoal.
"You're not going to transform into my sword?"
Kamito joked to his past partner--
"Ara, my jealousy runs deep, you know? Please first rescind your contract with that sacred sword, then we'll talk."
"--Sorry, that really cannot be helped."
Restia pouted as if sulking and glared at the demon spirits before her, taking out her wrath upon them.
"O black blade of darkness, capable of crushing the scales of dragons, annihilate mine enemies -- Arc Blast."
Instantly, numerous flashes of lightning descended from the sky, wiping out all the demon spirits in the area.
"Y-You, still merciless as ever..."
As Kamito's faced twitched, Restia turned around to face him again.
"Hey, you must be listening, right? --Miss Legendary Sacred Sword?"
Restia spoke provocatively.
At this moment, the Demon Slayer in Kamito's hand shone with dazzling light.
It was as if it was acting defiantly in response to Restia.
"Why don't we have a contest? Let's see who can ultimately defeat more enemies, you or I?"
The silver-white sword in Kamito's hand shone with even greater brightness.
--From afar, the faint noise of weapons in action could be heard.
(Kamito-kun and the rest are fighting...)
Chained and restrained, Fianna bit her lip hard.
With the power of the spirit contract sealed away, she was nothing but a weak and powerless girl.
Simply an imprisoned princess waiting to be rescued by her prince.
(I hate this...!)
As she struggled desperately, the metal restraints dug deeper into her wrists.
If she simply shattered her own magic stone, she should be able to spare her teammates from trouble. But with her wrists restrained currently, she could not even do that.
(No, but even if I can return to their side, I am still--)
Perhaps she would end up burdening them instead of helping. Such worries seethed in her mind.
At this moment, suddenly -- the rigid impact of boots resounded within the cave.
"...Who is it?"
Fianna asked towards the darkness.
It could not be Sjora. The witch should still be busy intercepting Kamito and the rest.
Suddenly, a small flame was lit in the darkness.
Illuminated by that flickering light was a scarlet mask.
Fianna stared with wide-eyed amazement as the masked girl approached silently.
"What do you intend--"
"Don't move. Unless you want your wrists to become charcoal."
Whispering softly, she then touched the handcuffs with her fiery hand.
The shackles which sealed away the power of spirit contracts easily melted and fell to the ground.
"Why... do this...?"
"You are a key part of my plan. I cannot let the witch have you."
Leaving those words behind, the masked girl prepared to turn around and leave.
"Wait... Hold on and wait, Ren Ashbell!"
Stumbling around, Fianna grabbed her hand desperately.
--I can't let her leave just like that.
It was imperative to ask what she intended to do to Kamito.
Fianna stared at the scarlet mask whose gaze bore down coldly upon her.
"Sjora Kahn said that Kamito-kun is the Demon King's successor and that Claire and I are the Darkness Queen candidates?"
"What are your intentions for Kamito-kun?"
"The witch spoke too much huh--"
A whisper of annoyance escaped from the dark side of the mask.
"Don't screw around... Kamito-kun is not a tool for you people to use!"
"Kazehaya Kamito is my trump card. --For the impending war."
"What on earth...?"
"You are currently unqualified to be privy to the matter. Lost Queen."
In the next instant, Fianna found herself suspended in midair.
Still grabbing onto Ren Ashbell's arm, Fianna was thrown onto the hard stone surface of the ground.
Intense pain erupted as if all her bones had shattered. Nevertheless, Fianna still did not let go of her arm.
"...I won't let you leave... Until you explain fully about Kamito-kun!"
Her voice trembled. Fianna could feel her heart beating intensely from the frighteningly oppressive presence emanating from Ren Ashbell.
Even so, she still resolved to never let go of that arm no matter what.
"You haven't changed at all from back then."
Ren Ashbell's voice changed.
--No longer completely indifferent, slight annoyance had crept into her voice.
"Nonsensical words from the powerless only serve to disgust others."
Pulled by the arm's frightening strength, Fianna was slammed hard against the ground repeatedly.
However, despite her fading consciousness, Fianna still did not let go.
"I understand... In the past, you also failed to protect certain things."
"Unable to protect something precious, you fell into despair!"
Fianna screamed as she panted.
--Four years ago. That particular day when the great shrine of the Fire Elemental Lord had been plunged into flames of conflagration.
Fianna had been powerless to stop that particular person she revered and held dear.
Struck down with mental trauma from the fear, Fianna even became disqualified from being an elementalist.
"Indeed. Powerless one, you were unable to protect anything--!"
Intensely burning flames erupted from Ren Ashbell's arm.
The surging wave of hot wind blew Fianna away forcibly, sending her flying into a wall of rock.
"--Back then, I must have warned you. Do not appear before me ever again."
Barely hanging onto her consciousness, Fianna suddenly realized.
The scene from that particular day was vividly replayed in her mind.
'Fianna Ray Ordesia -- Do not appear before me ever again.'
Fianna also remembered how the traitorous Queen had made her declaration amidst burning flames of conflagration.
"Impossible... You! Could you actually be her!?"
"--Just like four years ago. You cannot stop me."
From the inner side of the crimson mask, blazing eyes akin to burning flames stared right through Fianna.
These were ruby-red eyes identical to those of Claire Rouge.
Then this girl's true identity must be--
"...I am finding more and more reasons I can't let you leave."
Fianna stood up with staggering steps.
"Claire... She came here precisely for the sake of meeting you!"
Even though it was impossible to see her expression behind the mask, Fianna could still notice her overwhelming imposing presence waver.
Pressing down on the throbbing pain of her arm, Fianna stepped forward, one step at a time.
"I am no longer the same as four years ago. Because--"
I now have comrades fighting courageously alongside me. I now have reasons I cannot back down no matter what.
If I retreat now, I will probably return to being that Lost Queen, most likely.
"I have no wish to repeat my regrets from back then."
Fianna sternly stood before Ren Ashbell.
"Nonsensical. Well then, I shall make you remember again. The flames that brought you to despair on that day."
The wind quivered, bringing a wave of heat. Rumbling and swirling flames were generated in her hand.
This was Claire's specialty of flame type spirit magic -- Fireball.
However, its size and temperature completely dwarfed Claire's level.
Fianna's entire body broke out in cold sweat.
Her legs became immobile. However, she could not retreat. Absolutely unacceptable.
"Regret your powerlessness, Lost Queen!"
Crimson flames with the ability to incinerate everything were released.
Fianna closed her eyes as she recalled the image of that girl in her mind.
--Three years ago, the image of the Strongest Blade Dancer who gave her courage when she had lost everything.
These flames could not be blocked using defensive magic. Even a knight spirit's armor would probably melt in their heat.
Even so, she had no choice left but to try her luck -- Let's take a gamble.
"Thou shalt be my sword, thou shalt be my shield, with unlimited towering light, purify and exorcise those belonging to darkness--!"
As if trying to block the incoming flames, Fianna stretched out her arms and recited the words for summoning.
Amidst the darkness enshrouding the great hall, a flash of light beyond comparison burst forth.
The exploding barrier of light scattered the flames and momentarily pushed back Ren Ashbell's body.
Unbelievable -- With such an expression, Fianna panted as she whispered.
Gripped in her hands was a beautiful rapier that gave off dazzling light.
Fianna had already made substantial progress in training her elemental waffe's release.
The incident four years ago was what caused her to become the Lost Queen.
In the depths of her heart, it was a traumatic scar that seemed as if it had been smoked by scorching flames.
Now, having completely resolved herself, Fianna was finally able to unleash the true power of her contracted spirit.
"As a princess maiden of the Divine Ritual Institute, you have manifested your elemental waffe huh--"
Ren Ashbell's voice was filled with amazement and admiration.
"--I see. I shall take back what I just said... Guh!?"
Suddenly, she collapsed on her knees as she pressed one hand against her heart.
"...Time's up, I see. This contemptible body."
Panting painfully, she stood up and made her way towards the depths of the darkness--
Fianna instantly tried to pursue but was blocked by the intense flames burning before her.
She only halted her steps for but an instant. --Nevertheless, as soon as the flames vanished, Ren Ashbell's figure was gone.
"...My senior. Why do you..."
Just as Fianna stood there in shock, murmuring.
She could hear acute noises of battle coming from afar.