Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume8 Chapter3
Chapter 3 - The Ice Demon and the Hell Cat
Chirp, chirp chirp.
A small bird's chirping could be heard outside the window.
The second morning following the conclusion of the Tempest.
Kamito was abandoning himself to pleasant slumber.
"......Onii-sama. Please wake up, onii-sama."
Ruffle ruffle. Ruffle ruffle.
"Uu, nn......Est, let me sleep a little more."
Kamito groaned in the bed. His fatigue from the real battle hadn't been abated yet. At least for today, he wanted to sleep to his heart's content.
"Jeez, onii-sama, you sleepyhead!"
An amazed sigh......somehow, it seemed like she had given up.
Kamito was relieved, and at that moment.
A soft sensation upon his cheek.
Kamito's sleepiness was completely blown away.
He shot up in the bed and,
"Ahh, you finally woke up!"
The beautiful girl with shining platinum blonde hair met him with a sunny smile.
Kamito yelled in a fluster.
The one there was Rinslet's younger sister, Mireille Laurenfrost.
The tidy white dress and accompanying red ribbon were very lovely.
"Good morning, onii-sama."
Mireille gave a polite bow.
"Good morning, Kamito."
Beside her was one other person, a cute girl.
It was Milla Bassett, the leader of the Rupture Division. The fundamentally black clothing complemented her somewhat wavy dark brown hair.
Rather than that---
"What on earth is it?"
Kamito asked as he rubbed his drowsy eyes.
"......Umm, I have a request for onii-sama."
"Yes, onee-sama and Claire-sama are fighting in the room."
It had settled down since coming to Ragna Ys, but those two had fought constantly in the classroom back at the academy.
......That had resumed, it seemed.
"It's something that happens all the time; won't it be fine if we leave it?"
"At this rate, the castle room will be destroyed."
Just after Milla said that, a fierce quake came from the hallway.
"Never mind a classroom, breaking a building of the Divine Ritual Institute is, as expected, not good......"
Kamito wearily sighed and got up from the bed. Ellis, who would normally plunge right in, was currently out of the castle.
"By the way, what about Carol?"
"She's probably still sleeping. That Carol, she just won't wake up unless onee-sama gets her."
"......This is the first time I've heard of a maid that's woken up by her master."
......Kamito was as amazed as always at the ever-useless maid.
Quickly moving down the tremoring hallway, Kamito arrived at Rinslet's room.
"I was not at fault!"
"......~Wh-What, are you trying to say I was!"
......The argument could be heard even outside the door.
"Hey, you two---"
Kamito opened the door and entered, and just then.
"Freezing ice demon breath --- Freezing Fang!"
"Eat this, scorching conflagration --- Fireball!"
The offensive spirit magics clashed within the room. Kamito was blown away by the impact and smashed into the corridor wall.
The two exclaimed in surprise and quickly dashed to his side.
"H-Hey, what were you thinking!"
Claire sounded worried as she peered at Kamito's face.
"......Y-You guys, were you trying to destroy the room?"
Kamito shakily stood as he pressed on his dizzy head.
"......Th-This has nothing to do with you!"
"Th-That's right! This is our problem!"
The two young ladies averted their eyes as if uncomfortable.
"---I called for Kamito-sama, onee-sama."
And from the other end of the corridor came Mireille's group.
"It's because you two wouldn't stop fighting at all."
"Th-That is, n-not my fault!"
Rinslet puffed her cheeks as if pouting and turned away.
"......So, what's the cause of this fight?"
Kamito asked with a sigh.
"It's Claire's fault!"
"It's Rinslet's fault!"
The two pointed at each other and sparks erupted between them.
"Well, calm down. I'll listen to both of your stories."
With that, with tears gathering in her ruby eyes, Claire showed him a book.
Guessing from the cover illustrations, it was one of Claire's favorite romance novels geared towards teens.
"What happened with this book?"
"Rinslet spoiled its conclusion!"
Claire glared at Rinslet with teary eyes.
"I, I thought you had already read it!"
"I haven't read it yet! Even though I was looking forward to reading it when we returned to the academy."
"I-In the first place, you're the one who started talking about that book!"
Kamito hurriedly cut in.
"......You guys, you were fighting about this kind of thing?"
"What do you mean this kind of thing!"
"I-It's fine already, you don't have to return this book!"
Claire screamed with teary eyes and left with her twintails standing on end.
"Hmph, just do what you want!"
Rinslet folded her arms and turned her head to the side.
......Well, this kind of fight happened all the time. It shouldn't get too serious.
He heard someone lightly clear their throat.
"I've shown you a distasteful side of me, Kamito-san."
Rinslet looked like she felt awkward as she twirled her hair around her finger.
"......You two, can't you get along a bit more?"
"Th-There's no way we can get along!"
Rinslet's face reddened and she bit her lip.
"I'm working together with her because we're in the same team right now, but we're originally fated rivals!"
Come to think of it, these two were long-time childhood friends.
Certainly, there should be no problem if Kamito were to cut in more.
"Well, at any rate, tomorrow is the finals. Be sure to make up before then."
Kamito shrugged and was leaving, and then---
......Growl. That kind of idiotic sound came from the hallway.
Rinslet and Mireille raised their eyebrows in puzzlement.
"......Could it be that you haven't eaten breakfast?"
"Y-Yeah, I was just awoken by your little sister not too long ago."
Kamito nodded with a tinge of red across his cheeks.
In an instant, Rinslet's face lit up with pleasure.
"I-If that's so, I was just about to make something. I-If you'd like, you can also eat."
Truthfully, it was a very tempting offer. He could get breakfast through room service if he asked the princess maidens, but Rinslet's breakfast would definitely taste better.
At any rate, she wouldn't lose even against a pro chef.
"Well then, maybe I'll take you up on that."
"I can't make anything extravagant because there's no real kitchen, but I'll make do."
Rinslet nodded cheerfully.
"Ah, onee-sama, I want to eat with you, too!"
In response to Mireille who put her hand up cheerfully,
"Mireille has already eaten breakfast."
Milla the maid pointed that out calmly.
"I-It's fine! If it's onee-sama's cooking, then I could eat endlessly---"
Milla caught hold of Mireille by the nape as she tried to enter the room.
"Fuaa, what are you doing!"
"It is Mireille's study time."
"I don't want to! Coming this far, I don't want to study!"
"That won't do. You won't become an outstanding noble like that."
"Nooooo, onee-sama's breakfast~!"
Milla dragged along the struggling Mireille.
Before long, they'd turned the corner and Mireille's shrieks couldn't be heard anymore.
"She's really the former leader of the Rupture Division; even at thirteen years old, she's got her act together."
......Unlike a certain useless maid, she would become an excellent maid.
Rinslet excitedly began putting on an apron.
"......Is there anything I can help with?"
"Fufuu, do not worry. Please just sit and wait."
Rinslet took out a frying pan from the shelf and started up the fire spirit crystal in the kitchen in the corner.
Rinslet was making pancakes as she hummed. As he gazed at the Rinslet's lovely hair swaying and felt the appealing fragrance of honey---
Kamito picked up the novel that Claire had left behind just before.
(......"The Lady Blooming in the Dead of Night". Yet another generic title.)
He skimmed the contents.
It seemed to be about an unyielding beautiful noble girl that was caught by a cruel demon king, becoming his prisoner, and the succumbing of her mind and body.
(......Hmm, Claire only likes these types of book.)
While thinking that, he closed the book and,
The apron-wearing Rinslet turned towards him with a beaming face.
There were three pancakes upon the plate, all laden with plenty of honey. The crispy burn marks looked really delicious.
"Now then, eat up ♪"
Nom. Kamito stuffed his cheeks with the pancake on his fork and,
Said just one thing in a voice of praise.
The interior was fluffy while the outer surface was fried just right.
The Laurenfrost specialty butter and honey were also superb.
"Just as expected. It's fried to perfection."
"Fufuu, I'm glad."
Rinslet gazed happily at Kamito who was stuffing his cheeks.
"What is it?"
"N-No, it's nothing!"
He asked with a puzzled expression and she averted her eyes shyly.
While Rinslet was spacing out, Kamito ate up the deluxe pancakes.
"......Ahh, that was delicious. Thank you for the meal."
"Fufuu, if you'd like, you can have my share as well."
Rinslet passed him another pancake.
"......Mm, is that okay?"
"Yes, I don't eat much in the morning."
"Then I'll accept."
Nom nom nom.
"......J-Just like that, you can also move on to eat me?"
"J-Just talking to myself!"
Rinslet hurriedly shook her head.
---After Kamito finished his breakfast, Rinslet poured some after-meal black tea.
The black tea was poured into teacups and the rich fragrance of Laurenfrost tea leaves filled the room.
It seemed the black tea had been prepared beforehand. She might have actually planned to have breakfast together with Claire.
(She might have intended to talk about that book......)
Kamito reached out for the book on the table.
......He tried asking something that he'd been curious about for a while.
"So you also read this kind of book."
In an instant, Rinslet's face reddened.
"That is, I was introduced to it by Claire at first, a-and if you read it, the contents are deeply intriguing, so I'd like you to not think of me as an immodest girl! I am, to the end, a person of scholarly pursuit---"
She defended herself while bashfully rubbing her knees together.
"I don't think it's something you need to be embarrassed about."
Kamito smiled wryly and returned the book to the table.
"But to be sharing books, your relationship is quite good."
"I-It's just an inseparable relationship!"
Rinslet averted her gaze.
"I see, an inseparable relationship......"
Kamito took a sip of the black tea and,
"So you've been rivals since childhood, right?"
"If you're okay with it, would you let me hear about that? About when you were kids."
"Well, you two are always fighting. I was just wondering if it's been the same since long ago."
Rinslet placed her hand upon her cheek as if thinking about it a little and---
Before long, she breathed in like she recalled a distant day.
"......It will be a little long. I'll boil some more tea."
She stood up quietly from her seat and placed the kettle on the fire spirit crystal.
"This is about when I first met her and acknowledged her as my rival."
"When you first met her?"
"Yes. That was exactly ten years ago. It was when my father brought me to give our greetings to the house of Marquis Elstein---"
As if lost in nostalgia, she began telling the story softly.
Ten years ago when Rinslet accompanied her father on a visit to the Elstein territory. A time when Rinslet was still six years old.
Rinslet's father, Margrave Laurenfrost, was planning to get the opinion of the Duke Elstein household's head which produced successive generations of Fire Queens on the ritual that would be devoted to the Fire Elemental Lord.
The margrave was bringing along his daughter so she could meet her future schoolmate of the same age, Claire Elstein.
"The Elstein house is prominent even within the empire. Get along with Lady Claire."
"Whether we get along or not depends on her."
Margrave Laurenfrost sighed at his daughter's composed six-year old face.
Her domineering personality was a secret worry of the earl's.
---The one who came to greet the two that had traveled a long distance by coach was the head of the Elstein house, Wolfram Elstein himself.
"Well, well, thank you for coming from so far away."
He was a great man with the presence of a high noble. His wife was still working at the imperial court in the capital so she wasn't present.
"I am the Laurenfrost's eldest daughter, Rinslet Laurenfrost. I will be in your care this time."
Rinslet held the hem of her dress and curtsied elegantly.
Even if she was six, she already conducted herself like a model noble.
"Ohh, as expected of the Laurenfrost house's daughter. She's got her act together. I wouldn't think she was the same age as my daughter."
"No, no, your daughter is also quite lovely---"
Rinslet paid no mind to the socially controlled interactions of the adults.
Her emerald green eyes were staring to the spot directly behind Duke Elstein.
Twintails like animal tails were bobbing.
The girl in a white dress seemed to be cowering behind the duke.
(......What's with her?)
Rinslet sharpened her gaze and the girl shrunk back even more.
......She's like a small rabbit.
(......She's nothing like what one would expect of the daughter of a high noble household.)
Rinslet appraised her as such on their first meeting.
"Claire, greet Margrave Laurenfrost and Lady Rinslet."
The girl widened her ruby eyes and panicked.
"U-Umm, that, I......"
"Claire, calm down."
Claire took a deep breath and,
"I am the second daughter of the E-Elstein house, Claire Elstein."
She gripped the edges of her skirt and lowered her head.
"Haha, what a sweet daughter."
"No, it's quite embarrassing that she has such a deathly fear of strangers."
Duke Elstein shook his head with a wry smile.
Rinslet mercilessly surveyed the girl before her.
Red twintails tied at each end of her head. Ruby eyes peeking out.
The white dress suited her slender build quite well.
She was outstandingly good-looking......there was no denying it.
However, beyond that---
(She's not very interesting......)
That was Rinslet's honest thought.
(I was expecting a little because she was a family member of the famous Fire Queen.)
Rinslet had already lost interest in Claire.
"Come to think of it, where is your other daughter?"
And Margrave Laurenfrost voiced his question.
"My apologies. She collapsed from offering a ritual to the earth spirits. After a large ritual, she always sleeps for three days."
"Your daughter is already being entrusted with the earth spirit rituals?"
Margrave Laurenfrost spoke with surprise and Rinslet also widened her emerald eyes.
There should only be three years' difference in age between her and the Elstein household's eldest daughter, Rubia Elstein. As expected, it was a shock that the earth spirit ritual was being left to someone of only nine years of age.
"It seems my elder daughter has potential as a Queen. I plan to enter her into the Divine Ritual Institute next year."
"Ohh, the Divine Ritual Institute. That's quite major."
The Elstein house had a history of producing numerous Fire Queens.
The eldest daughter might become a Queen candidate in the future.
(......Rubia-sama is amazing. Completely different from her younger sister.)
That younger sister had a slight smile on, perhaps because she was happy that her sister was praised.
"Well then, Margrave Laurenfrost, let us discuss this time's ritual in the upper guest room."
"Yes. Rinslet, you play with Lady Claire."
Rinslet showed a rare flustered condition.
(......I have to play together with her? This isn't a joke!)
Claire also seemed bewildered.
"Rinslet, you're a noble with honor, so you cannot shirk your responsibilities. Now, let's go, Duke Elstein."
"N-No way! Father---"
As if cutting off Rinslet's appeals, the door shut ruthlessly.
"......Umm, wait. Wait a second."
Kamito set the teacup down on the table with a clack and---
Interrupted Rinslet's story.
"What is it?"
She knit her brows, seemingly unsatisfied from having her story cut off.
"......No, well, is that really Claire?"
Kamito asked with an expression of half belief, half disbelief.
......What he'd heard so far didn't sound like the current Claire at all.
(......Rather, it's like an entirely different person.)
"It sounds unbelievable, but it's the truth. That girl used to be shy and docile long ago."
"I-Is that so......"
Well, even now she had some areas resembling a fear of strangers and he also knew she had her gentle and girly points.
(Even so, you know......)
"May I continue?"
Rinslet cleared her throat.
Kamito nodded while still perplexed.
---When Duke Elstein and Margrave Laurenfrost came out of the guest room, it had already been several minutes.
Claire hid behind the curtains and seemed to be observing the mood of Rinslet who was twirling her hair with her finger.
(Haaa, I'm bored......)
Even though Rinslet was approaching her limit, not much time had passed.
Claire's shoulders shook as if frightened when Rinslet called out to her.
"I am your honored guest. Could I at least get some black tea?"
Claire nodded and hurriedly brought back a tea pot. Inside the tea pot were small fire spirit crystal fragments which warmed it.
"Ohh, you're using fairly good tea leaves."
"Yes, we used the best black tea because a guest was coming."
Rinslet voiced her compliment honestly and Claire smiled happily.
"Ahh, we also have snacks. They're really delicious!"
Claire ran off and came back with a plate of cookies from somewhere.
"They seem delicious. Did you make them?"
"No, it's a souvenir that father bought at the capital. I really like the snacks there."
Rinslet elegantly picked a cookie up with her fingertips and placed it in her mouth.
"This flavor is quite good. I like it."
Claire felt relieved since she had been nervous.
While Rinslet sipped black tea, she looked around the guest room.
As expected of a prominent family of the empire, the interior design was extravagant. The taste in furnishings was also good.
However, unfortunately, there was nothing that would alleviate her boredom.
"Haa, I'm bored......"
While holding her head in her hands over the table, she sighed.
And Claire started to mumble as if trying to saying something.
"What is it? If you're a noble's daughter, then clearly say what you want."
Claire repeatedly opened her mouth and,
"I-I have dolls!"
"Y-Yeah, I'll bring them now!"
Claire nodded happily and dashed out of the room.
While staring blankly, she waited and---
At last, Claire returned with both arms filled with stuffed toys.
All of them were lovely cat dolls.
"Here. Choose the cat you like."
Claire lined up the cat dolls on the carpet and,
"I'll lend you this. It's my favorite cat......"
She pushed a red cat plushy onto the perplexed Rinslet.
"......Are you making fun of me?"
Rinslet threw aside the cat plushy.
"Something as childish as playing with dolls, there's no way I'd do it!"
Claire once again became sullen.
(......I, I might have been a bit too harsh just now.)
......Being shown such a sad expression, she'd obviously feel bad.
Rinslet cleared her throat and,
"A-Aside from dolls, is there anything else that could relieve my boredom?"
"Y-Yeah, umm, then......a storybook?"
Rinslet asked without thinking.
"Do you, by any chance, read books?"
"Yeah, Rubia-nee-sama taught me how!"
Claire ran off again and this time returned with a heap of books.
"What an impressive amount......"
"I really like interesting books. What about you?"
"W-Well, I do read. If it's a book on politics, history or spirits."
Rinslet said while putting on airs.
"Wah, amazing! I-I like storybooks!"
The girl that had been hesitant until just now had her eyes sparkling as the conversation turned to books.
"Like this, or this, and this and this, all are really interesting!"
She piled her favorite books one by one in front of Rinslet.
"Hmph, storybooks are for children!"
Rinslet, who had no interest in novels, turned her head to the side.
"But, they're really interesting......"
Claire cleared up the books while looking sad.
"......Is there anything more interesting?"
Claire pressed her lips together as if troubled and,
Pressed her cheeks in slowly.
"......W-What are you doing?"
"An interesting face......"
Rinslet sighed deeply.
"......Haa, I wonder how long our fathers' conversation will take."
"I was told it would continue until evening."
Rinslet's face stiffened.
"You're joking; I'll die of boredom!"
"Yeah, so let's read a book together!"
At that moment, Rinslet remembered something.
"Come to think of it, I heard that there is a collection of treasured magic books in the Elstein house's underground Sealed Library."
The rumor of the Elstein house's sealed library was widely known amongst the empire's nobility.
All sorts of rare books covetous to elementalists were supposed to be gathered there.
There might be a book there that would peak Rinslet's interest.
"It's just the perfect thing for getting rid of boredom!"
Claire rushed to stop Rinslet who stood up with great vigor.
"Y-You can't! Father said we had to stay in this room. Moreover, there are dangerous sealed magic books in the underground library---"
"Oh my, are you scared?"
Rinslet challenged her.
"You don't really have to come along. I'll just search on my own."
Rinslet left the room and Claire chased after her.
Rinslet turned around in front of the door and turned to glare at Claire.
"Wait, who gave you permission to call me by name?"
She thrust her finger out at Claire who was staring blankly.
"Okay? Call me the daughter of Margrave Laurenfrost."
"But, onee-sama said you call friends by their name---"
"W-Who is your friend!"
Rinslet screamed out and Claire backed away with teary eyes.
"......Hmph, I won't acknowledge a crybaby coward as my friend."
Rinslet turned away and quickly walked away alone.
"---It's here, isn't it."
The aforementioned Sealed Library was inside an annexed library.
A sturdy iron door stood before Rinslet.
"......Darn, it's locked."
It was obvious it would be. There were hundreds of dangerous spirit magic books in there, after all.
"Yeah, that's why, let's go back to the room already."
Claire tugged on the hem of her dress.
"Enough with the sleep talk. This kind of lock means nothing to me---"
Rinslet gave a fearless smile and started chanting in spirit language quietly.
Doing so, all at once, the six locks were filled with keys of ice that fit just perfectly.
Turning them, the door opened with a heavy sound.
"Hmph, this much is obvious if one plans to enter Areishia Spirit Academy."
Long stairs that continued downward were behind the door.
There was no light; it continued in pitch black darkness.
"A-Are we really going in?"
"Oh my, are you getting cold feet?"
"......I've heard something. That there's a bad spirit inhabiting an old book."
"Hmph, you really are scared."
Rinslet said it like she was amazed.
"Truthfully, I'm disappointed. That a family member of the Elstein house which the Fire Queen belongs to would be this kind of coward. If the little sister is like this, the older sister must also be not much---"
"Stop talking bad about nee-sama!"
Rinslet closed her mouth in realization at Claire's icy voice.
"I am nee-sama's little sister. I am no coward."
The girl glared at Rinslet with tears in her ruby eyes.
"......Is that so."
"Fine. If so, then come along."
Claire nodded as if she'd made her resolve.
(......For now, it seems like she has the will.)
The two continued down the stairs.
"It's dark, isn't it. Is there no lamp or spirit crystal light?"
Rinslet sighed and,
"---O flames, illuminate."
Claire created a small shining flame on her palm.
"Oh my, you can use spirit magic?"
Rinslet was surprised. To be able to use spirit magic at this age, she had a lot of potential.
"Nee-sama taught me the basics."
"Hmm, you really are the daughter of the Elstein house that governs flames. Although it's not up to my level."
---And at that time. She realized something.
Even if it was beginner-level, that she had managed to use a spirit magic endowed with the flame element meant that---
"Could you possibly already have a contracted spirit?"
"Yes, I have one."
She was becoming more and more surprised. Having a contracted spirit basically marked her as a full-fledged elementalist.
"Show me for a bit. Your contracted spirit."
"I can't. It's bad to summon a spirit unnecessarily if you're inexperienced."
Claire replied with sound logic. But Rinslet didn't back down.
"Oh my, if you won't show it, I suppose it's that low of a spirit?"
"Y-You're wrong, Scarlet is a very strong spirit!"
"If that's so, then prove it."
Claire was lost in indecision for a while but---
It was not okay for an elementalist to take a contracted spirit lightly.
Finally she nodded resolutely and,
"......Fine, I'll make a special exception to show you."
She took out a stick of chalk from within her dress' skirt.
She drew a magic square on the wall with difficulty and began chanting the spirit language summoning ritual.
---Guardian of the crimson blaze, keeper of the undying hearth!
---Now's the time to abide by the blood contract, come forth and do my bidding!
In an instant, a spirit seal in the shape of flames surfaced on the back of her right hand.
A small fireball appeared from the center of the magic square and suddenly became the figure of a hell cat enshrouded in flames.
It was about the size of a squirrel, a small and adorable kitten.
"This is Scarlet."
Claire hugged the hell cat veiled in flames in her arms.
"Oh my, it's quite small, isn't it."
Rinslet smiled with composure and,
"S-Scarlet may be small, but she's powerful!"
Claire puffed her cheeks.
"Well, I'll give you credit for being able to summon your contracted spirit. But it cannot compare to my Fenrir."
Fenrir was the high-level spirit Rinslet had contracted on her sixth birthday.
She drew a magic square on the wall like Claire and chanted the spirit language summoning ritual.
---Oh freezing beast with Ice-teeth, merciless hunter of the forest.
---Now is the time to abide the contract of blood, hasten to my side as commanded!
A spirit seal representing ice appeared on the back of her right hand.
And a fierce icy wind stormed through the stairway and---
A large white wolf appeared from thin air.
Claire's ruby eyes widened.
"Fufun, isn't he?"
Rinslet fell down.
"H-He isn't cute or anything like that; Fenrir is a ferocious white wolf!"
Fenrir let out a sad cry at being called not cute by his master.
"That's not true. He's really cute."
Claire touched Fenrir's fur and,
"D-Don't just touch him as you please!"
Rinslet shot out her finger and returned her contracted spirit to Astral Zero.
"Now then, let's go."
Claire also sent Scarlet back and hurried after Rinslet.
---The two continued to descend down the endless stairs.
"This is pretty long. Rather, is there even a bottom?"
"Rinslet-chan, isn't it about time to head back......"
"Stop calling me Rinslet-chan!"
"Haaa, whatever already!"
Rinslet sighed, astounded.
Finally, the stairs ended and the two arrived at the Sealed Library.
It was a large space with a high ceiling. The air was chilly.
Claire held the flame light aloft, showing the many tall bookshelves.
"So this is the famous sealed library."
"Yeah, what an amazing amount of books......!"
It seemed that it was also Claire's first time setting foot in here so she couldn't hide her excitement.
Indeed, the bookshelves were lined with books that seemed to have history to them.
"---I wonder if these are about rituals."
Rinslet slowly took one of them in hand.
The instant she blew away the dust on the cover and opened it,
"Kyaa! W-What is this!"
With a beet red face, she threw the book.
"Th-There was a picture of holding hands with a gentleman!"
Claire timidly turned the book with a dubious expression.
"Fuaaa, t-this one has them l-linking arms!"
The two screamed kyaa, kyaa.
For the sheltered noble young ladies, it was much too stimulating.
Rinslet roughly closed the book.
"Th-This is a book for adults! Let's search for a different book!"
"Y-Yeah, that's right......!"
The two were flushed red as they exchanged nods.
---Dozens of minutes later.
Rinslet piled the books she had taken from the shelves onto the floor.
"......Phew, there was worth in coming. This is an amazing collection."
For some reason, she slapped the books with old leather covers that had complicated characters on them.
She didn't really understand the contents, but she had just gathered every book that had extravagant binding and looked difficult.
"Rinslet-chan, can you read books written in spirit language?"
Picking up one of the books from that pile. Claire spoke out in surprise.
Rinslet pressed her lips together. She had received education for gifted children ever since she was a child, but as expected, she still couldn't decode spirit language.
"C-Can you read it?"
"Yeah, just a bit. Nee-sama taught me."
Rinslet instantly puffed her cheeks as if displeased and,
"Fuaa, Rinfure-hyan, it hauts!"
She was pulling on Claire's cheeks.
Claire's shoulders slightly stiffened.
While questioning her, Rinslet released Claire's cheeks.
"Y-Yeah, just now, there was something---I felt a chill."
Rinslet knitted her brows.
The underground library was cool, but not to the point of shivering.
"Come on, please don't scare me!"
"But, I really---"
Rinslet screamed out without thinking at the blast of cold air from somewhere.
"I-It's fine, it's just a draft."
"But there was no draft until just now."
Claire whispered that, sounding worried and started looking around at the surroundings restlessly.
......Just like a frightened small animal.
(......Jeez, it can't be helped.)
Rinslet shrugged slightly and---
Held the shivering Claire's hand.
"Relax. I'm here."
It seemed she'd calmed down as her hand stopped shaking.
"......Rinslet-chan's hand is warm. It's like nee-sama's."
"Wh-What are you saying! I'm a cold ice demon!"
Rinslet's face reddened and she averted her eyes.
"At any rate, this is......"
The sound of the blowing wind was gradually getting stronger.
The books on the ground were flapping and their dress' skirts were flying up.
Just what exactly was happening---
"......It seems like a good idea to go back."
Rinslet muttered and just then.
"---Who is the one who has disturbed my slumber."
A ghastly voice resounded within the underground room.
"---Who is the one who has disturbed my slumber!"
This time, a louder voice from far away shook the lines of bookshelves.
The two pressed against each other and cringed.
"Rinslet-chan, th-that book---"
Claire pointed at the ground and yelled. It was one of the books that Rinslet had brought over. The page that had been opened by the wind was giving off bluish white light.
"Could it be that there was a sealed spirit sealed in that book!?"
"What did you say!?"
Sealed spirit---it was a general term for spirits that were sealed into magical items as a result of their ferocity.
It was an existence that an elementalist with little experience should fear the most.
"Th-That kind of dangerous thing was in that book---kyaaa!"
Lots of dust was falling from the ceiling as a result of the room's rumbling.
"---Who is the one who has disturbed my slumbeeeeeeeeer!"
A magic square of light formed around the book.
A giant ice figure appeared in the middle of the blinding light---!
That was a dragon---no, it was a large lizard crafted of ice.
Of course, there was no way that was a natural living creature.
It was a spirit. ---And an extremely strong one.
Claire muttered in a trembling voice.
"You know what it is?"
"I read about it in a book. It's a terribly ferocious ice beast spirit......"
Rinslet gulped at Claire's words.
The giant ice beast that appeared from the magic square leered at the two with its red eyes.
"So you two are my offerings......"
Waving its long tongue, it slowly moved towards them.
It seemed it happened to be able to understand human language, but it didn't seem like the kind that one could have a conversation with.
(......There's no way but to do it!)
Rinslet resolved herself and quickly chanted the summoning.
"---Answering to my command, come forth, demon ice spirit Fenrir!"
In a moment, the white wolf appeared from thin air. With a sharp roar, it attacked the ice beast.
"I, I did it!"
Summoning without a magic square was a dangerous bet but---
There was no prey the demon ice spirit could not hunt.
---But in the next instant. Rinslet's victory smile froze over.
The ice beast swung its tail and blew Fenrir away.
Fenrir smacked into the wall and was scattered into particles with only one attack.
A hoarse cry came from Rinslet's throat.
The demon ice spirit Fenrir was a high-level spirit that had served generations of the Laurenfrost house. It was an existence far above sealed spirits like that one.
But its contractor, Rinslet, was no more than a six year old girl. Because of her inexperience as an elementalist, it could not unleash its full potential.
The ice beast's long tongue licked Rinslet's cheek.
Her entire body cowered in fear.
(It's my fault......)
Rinslet heavily regretted her actions.
It would have been best to just do as Claire had said and obediently play with dolls back in the room.
(It's my fault that even she---)
She turned her gaze backward and Claire was on her knees shaking.
"Claire, you have to escape at least!"
"I, I can't......!"
Claire shook her head intensely.
"It's fine, so run. Protecting the weak is also a part of noblesse oblige!"
Rinslet yelled in a quavering voice and stood before the ice beast that was closing in.
"No! I can't just run and leave a friend behind!"
In an instant, the giant ice beast's claws flashed.
Rinslet's small body was easily blown away and smacked into the bookshelf.
A dull sound from the impact echoed and a great deal of books fell.
The shredded white dress was dyed with the pure red color of blood.
A sharp scream gushed forth from Claire's throat.
"Rinslet-chan, get a hold of yourself! Rinslet-chan!"
She could hear Claire's voice from far away.
She could tell that blood was leaving her from her entire body.
(I was really foolish......)
In her hazy conscience---
Regrets swirled around.
......I thought I could do anything. I had nothing to fear.
She had not realized until now that that was just the conceit of youth.
(At least, that girl......)
She wanted to at least save the girl that had called her a friend.
Even while on the verge of losing consciousness, that voice reached her ears.
"---I definitely won't forgive you!"
She finally realized that was Claire's voice.
The red twintails were swaying like a burning fire.
Her body was hot. The surrounding temperature was rising.
The ruby eyes that housed flames glared at the ice salamander as if piercing it.
The ice beast that was slowly drawing closer stopped for a moment as if it felt fear.
"---Born of nothingness, the flames governing destruction!"
The spirit language chant spun from her lips.
It was not an informal chant. It was a true chant that drew forth the utmost of one's divine power.
Rinslet's conscience was awakened by that unbelievable scene.
"---Don't tell me, Fireball!?"
It was a middle-class fire element spell.
The ice salamander roared.
It swung its claws to stop the chant---
Just before that, the spirit magic was completed.
"Take this, incinerating conflagration --- Fireball!"
The swelling blaze engulfed the surrounding oxygen and attacked the ice beast.
Rinslet reflexively protected her forehead from the raging explosion she expected.
Even ignoring whether it struck the ice beast, there was no explosion.
(......What is that!?)
On the other side of the wavering air---
The red lotus of flames had greedily devoured the ice spirit.
It was like a giant carnivorous predator had massacred its prey.
Those flames moved as if they had their own will and relentlessly devoured the spirit.
---Was that really Fireball magic?
At last, with the final death cries of agony from the ice beast, the flames vanished.
"Haaa, haaa, haaa......"
Claire had exhausted her strength from firing those flames and fell to her knees.
"......Y-You can use that kind of amazing magic?"
Rinslet asked as she pressed down on her clotting flank.
"Y-Yeah......but, father said to never use it......kuu......"
"Your hands are!?"
......Claire's hands were severely burnt.
"I-I'm fine, this much......"
With her face distorting from pain, Claire put on a smile to act strong.
"......I swear. Even though you're a crybaby, you're rash."
There was no response. Whether she'd used up her vitality or divine power, Claire had lost her consciousness as if having fallen asleep.
Rinslet gently touched her cheek and,
Softly whispered that.
"I will recognize you as my destined rival."
"That was my first meeting with her---"
Rinslet finished the story and quietly put down her tea cup.
"After that, we were rescued by our fathers who realized something strange was going on, but Claire and I were really frightened."
"......I see. Well, it's a relief you two were safe."
Kamito felt relieved.
"At any rate, as expected, isn't Claire's personality too different?"
"Yes, that child changed four years ago after the incident with Rubia-sama. She closed her heart to everyone and set herself on only becoming stronger."
But --- and Rinslet continued on.
"Lately, it seems that she has opened her heart again---that's right, ever since she met with Kamito-san."
"Come to think of it, when we met, she tried to make me her slave."
Kamito smiled wryly to hide his embarrassment and,
"---Thanks for the meal. I should get back to my room soon."
He stood from his seat.
......Listening to the story had taken quite a bit of time.
A boy staying in a girl's room any longer would be a breach of manners.
"......Th-That's true. Even though it's fine if you stay a little longer."
Rinslet muttered as if it was a pity.
---And at the time. The sound of knocking on the door.
"Rinslet, I, I---"
Rinslet opened the door and the one standing there was Claire who had a small box in her hands.
"What is it?"
"......Umm, snacks, I bought too many yesterday, so do you want some?"
As she averted her eyes, Claire brought the box in her hands out front.
......It looks like a chance to fix their friendship.
Rinslet seemed to understand her intentions.
"Oh my, it matches well since I was just making tea."
"Ah, is that so......eh?"
In an instant, Claire's face that peeked into the room stiffened.
"Wh-What......have you two been alone until now?"
"Yes. We ate breakfast together."
"......Hm, hmph, I see. Alone with Kamito."
Claire's expression was quickly degenerating into one of displeasure.
"K-Kamito is mine, so please don't just feed him as you like!"
"Oh my, Kamito-san isn't yours; he's mine."
Sparks were flying between the two at the entrance.
While he watched the state of those two---
(......Somehow, it seems like another fight has started.)
Kamito sighed, exasperated.