Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume9 Chapter2
Chapter 2 - Blade Dance of the Night
(...That letter, what did it actually contain?)
Driven out of the room by the young ladies and having returned to his room, Kamito leaned Est against the wall and laid himself down on the bed, still wearing his uniform.
(...Oh well, whatever. Speaking of which, today sure was tiring.)
As soon as he lay on the soft bed, he suddenly became aware of all the fatigue in his body.
...This was hardly surprising, given all that had happened throughout this entire day.
A date with Leonora Lancaster the ace of the Knights of the Dragon Emperor, as well as the battle against Ellis and the rest in the Water Elemental Festival in the lake.
In the True Sanctuary he had listened to the Queens' oracle regarding the finals, then -- Greyworth had entrusted him with the final secret technique.
The strongest countering sword skill, one that could even defeat the anti-spirit destructive sword technique of the Bursting Blossom Spiral Blade Dance.
Absolute Blade Arts, Final Form -- Last Strike.
Reaching out with his right hand into the darkness, Kamito bent his fingers one after another in the air.
At the time, his entire body had suffered the impact. The numbness in his arms still had not dissipated completely.
As if reluctant to lose grasp of the secret technique's true nature, Kamito clenched his fist tightly.
(--This is no ordinary sword technique for combat but one meant to be applied in the ritual kagura of princess maidens.)
While defending against the enemy's attacks and using ritual kagura to interfere in divine power, sword strikes were converted into a dance performance that absorbed the enemy's divine power. Furthermore, once the divine power expanded to an explosive level, it was released all at once to unleash a one hit kill attack--
...In theory, it was basically something like that.
Of course, it was impossible to learn a sword technique by relying on theory alone.
Even though Kamito was born with exceptional talent in analyzing combat techniques, trying to master an understanding of ritual kagura movements overnight was too much of a stretch.
Greyworth had also mentioned that the sword technique was a double-edged sword. Depending on the situation, it would be best to avoid using it as much as possible--
"...However, perhaps there really is no other choice. In order to defeat that girl."
Team Inferno's leader.
The masked elementalist who called herself Ren Ashbell, just like Kamito three years ago.
Kamito had faced her in direct combat only once, that time in the forest when he rescued Claire and the rest. In just a few rounds of clashing, she had clearly displayed overwhelming strength.
Furthermore, she had not even released her elemental waffe back then.
Why would such a powerful elementalist be completely unknown until now?
Also, her goal seemed to be just as Greyworth predicted, to bring the chaos of war back to this continent--
(...Anyway, pondering it now would be useless.)
Kamito sighed and put down his outstretched right arm.
(Having arrived at this point, all that's left is a dialogue through swords.)
Right now, it was imperative to recover from the fatigue accumulated from learning the secret technique, as well as restore his severely depleted divine power.
Feeling all the muscles in his body tense up, Kamito slowly closed his eyes.
--Just at this moment.
"Hey Kamito, are you still awake?"
Kamito frantically jumped up from bed--
Only to see Claire standing before the door.
"What's the matter?"
"Ah, hmm, uh..."
...Probably about the final round, or did she have something else to confirm?
His mind filled with questions, Kamito lit the spirit crystal by his bed.
Instantly, he could not help but hold his breath.
Standing in front of the door, Claire had changed into a flimsy lace nightgown.
Perhaps because she had just come out from a bath, her red twintails seemed to be steaming subtly with moisture.
She shyly twiddled her fingers. This particularly charming act caused Kamito to hastily shift his gaze away.
"You can't sleep?"
After all, the finals began tomorrow. Being nervous was only natural.
"Then I'll accompany you for a while. After all, I can't fall asleep yet either."
Claire stiffly nodded and entered the room.
"May I sit here?"
Claire cautiously took a seat on the bedside.
From her moist hair, Kamito could smell the fragrance of shampoo.
In this manner, the silence persisted for several seconds.
(Th-This is too embarrassing...!)
He was currently alone in the same room with a beauty in a nightgown.
...No wait, although they shared a room back in the Academy residence, there was never a time when they sat on the same bed like this.
Claire continued to keep her gaze cast elsewhere as she fiddled with her fingers.
(Man, she's so cute...)
...As much as Kamito was reluctant, he could not deny this fact.
Just as Kamito found himself gazing mesmerized at Claire's facial profile with her moist hair--
"Hey, d-do you have anything amusing to talk about?"
Finally, Claire spoke up.
"Hmm, yeah, normally I would read a book I like before going to sleep, but because Rinslet spoiled the ending for me, I have nothing to read now."
"...Ah, speaking of which, you two were quarreling this morning because of that."
This morning, Kamito was dragged out by Mireille to act as the arbitrator for their dispute.
However, thanks to that, he was treated to Rinslet's breakfast and got to hear about their childhood stories.
"Sorry, I don't have anything amusing to talk about."
Kamito shrugged and shook his head.
Somehow, he felt like this had been happening a lot lately.
...If memory served him correctly, this also happened when the two of them had gone to negotiate with the Rupture Division.
"So, what's the continuation of the incident last time?"
As Kamito frowned, Claire turned around to face Kamito.
"That one, didn't you tell me about it at the theater? How you met the headmistress four years ago, Kamito. Just tell me the continuation of that story. You promised then that you'd tell me later."
Kamito was at a loss for words for a moment.
...He did remember he had made such a promise indeed.
(...What a terrible situation.)
Continuing from that incident, there was no way he could avoid mentioning the Blade Dance three years ago -- the time period when Kamito was still the Strongest Blade Dancer, Ren Ashbell.
As much as possible, he did not want to mention things related to that--
(...However, it's no wonder that she would be intrigued.)
Kamito cast his gaze towards his leather gloved left hand.
What Claire wanted to hear were most likely things related to Restia. It was already impossible to assert that the darkness spirit who had been pulling strings in the shadows behind the Blade Dance stage was none of Claire and the girls' business.
"...If you don't want to talk about the past, I won't force you. I'm sure you've gone through a lot, Kamito. But please, at least tell me a little."
Claire paused for a moment and continued:
"--What is that darkness spirit's goal?"
Stared at directly by those eyes of ruby--
"...It seems like it's something about making me awaken."
Kamito answered vaguely and ambiguously.
He did not choose to be so ambiguous for the sake of deceit or anything like that.
...To be frank, even Kamito was not sure what Restia's purpose was concretely.
However, it was absolutely certain that she wanted to use the current Blade Dance to let "something" dormant in Kamito's body awaken.
Furthermore, that goal seemed very likely to coincide with Ren Ashbell's.
'--I hope you can assassinate them. The five Elemental Lords.'
The statement that lingered in Kamito's hazy memories.
The Wish Restia entrusted to Kamito three years ago.
How were Restia's current actions related to that Wish --
"Awaken? You mean that 'Darkness Elemental Lord' or whatever?"
Claire asked with a serious expression.
"Then I have no idea..."
Kamito shook his head and continued:
"However, there is one thing I am absolutely certain. The place I grew up in, the Instructional School is the hell existing in this world. In that hell, she was the one who bestowed upon me a human heart. No matter what her current intentions are, I will absolutely take her back. It is for this very reason that I entered this current Blade Dance."
Kamito tightly clenched his left fist that was clad in a leather glove.
"Is that so..."
Claire showed a lonely expression.
"She's always occupied Kamito's heart, I see."
Blushing, she turned her gaze away as if sulking.
--Just at this moment.
A rumbling of running footsteps could be heard from outside.
Kamito frowned and in the next instant--
"Claire, stealing a march on us is really too sly of you."
Flinging the door open, Fianna appeared, dressed in a nightgown.
Faced with the situation, Claire frantically got up from the bed and stood up.
"W-What, w-what do you mean by stealing a march!? I-I had no intention of anything like that..."
"W-What were you two doing!?"
"C-Clearly we all promised to do it together!"
After Fianna, Rinslet and Ellis made their appearance, also in their nightgowns.
Rinslet was hugging a pillow while Ellis held a teddy bear in embrace.
"...W-What happened, why has everyone gathered here?"
Kamito voiced his puzzlement.
"...Sigh, it can't be helped."
Hearing Kamito's question, Claire slumped her shoulders as if surrendering and faced Kamito once more.
Still continuing to blush, she coughed once.
"T-Tonight, you will be sleeping together with all of us!"
This time it was Kamito's turn to be completely dumbfounded.
(H-How did it come to this!?)
...Several minutes later.
Lying on the bed in his pajamas, Kamito had already repeated this question to himself an uncountable number of times.
The bed in the room was quite large, but even so, squeezing all four young beauties on it meant that they could not avoid being in close contact with one another.
"Ah, mmm... H-Hey, everyone is leaning too close to Kamito!"
"Th-This is something that cannot be helped, otherwise we would fall off the bed."
"...W-Wow, a male's body feels so solid."
"Fufu, Kamito-kun, it's perfectly fine for you to use my bosom as your pillow, okay?"
The beauties' breathing brushed past the back of his ear. Their whispers continued nonstop.
As if about to be suffocated by maidenly body scent, Kamito felt his sanity on the brink of collapse.
"Fuah, Kamito, you are not allowed to move... J-Just leave everything to us."
"That's right, Kamito-kun, all you need to do is sleep right there... Yes, smooch♪"
While Claire caressed Kamito's chest with her slender fingers, Fianna used her lips to kiss Kamito on the neck.
"H-How could I possibly sleep in a situation like this...!?"
Kamito tensed his entire body and yelled out.
According to Claire, this was apparently a type of ritual magic for recovering Kamito's energy.
Something about being in contact with the bodies of princess maidens would stimulate the circulation of divine power.
...The root cause of this situation stemmed from Greyworth's letter.
Apparently the letter said that Kamito had exhausted a great amount of divine power in order to learn the secret technique, hence there might be adverse effects on the final round the next day, etc.
Furthermore, the letter also gave step by step instructions on the ritual magic required to recover the depleted divine power.
(...Damn it, what did that witch do this time!?)
The image of Greyworth's malicious smile surfaced in his mind.
"K-Kamito, if we do not press our bodies closer together, the effect produced will not be enough, okay..."
Ellis' soft bosom was pressing hard against both his arms, accommodating in shape with great elasticity.
Only a thin layer consisting of a lacy nightgown and underwear separated them from intimate contact between each other's bare skin.
Vaguely visible beneath her nightgown was the black underwear she only wore on occasions of "decisive battles."
"A-A serious captain of the knights can't be doing something like this!"
"...N-No it is not like that, hyah..."
The usually stern maiden knight was looking at Kamito with passionate eyes.
Kamito could not stop his heart rate from accelerating.
Her armor removed, her ponytail untied, the impression she gave off was completely different from usual.
Watching her blushing cheeks and her dark-brown eyes which seemed to be filled with unease--
Kamito felt a surging impulse to embrace her tightly in his arms.
(...W-What the heck am I thinking!?)
Kamito frantically shook his head as if trying to drive out evil thoughts.
...But since the bed was packed full with girls, in actual fact all his body could do was move slightly.
"...Kamito-san, I-I shall offer my divine power to you too."
A seductive sound of clothing friction could be heard.
This time, it was Rinslet who was crawling over Kamito's body and drawing her face near.
Her lips were as lovely as rosebuds while her adorable eyes were like emeralds.
Slightly curling at the tips, her blonde hair was lightly brushing against Kamito's face.
"J-Just this once, I am Kamito-san's body pillow..."
...Kamito could feel his cheeks getting hot and his heart beating faster and faster.
These highborn ladies from prestigious noble families normally displayed such intense pride.
But now they were pressing themselves tightly against Kamito in a manner completely contrary to that.
(...G-Girls really have such supple bodies.)
...Even though things had already progressed to this point, Kamito could not help but be confronted with this feeling of reality.
Rinslet whispered shyly by his ear.
"W-What is it?"
"Umm, I can feel your breath when you exhale, Kamito-san... Ah... Yah..."
As if feeling ticklish, the highborn lady twisted her body and gave off a cute scream.
"S-Sorry, but it can't really be helped in a situation like this... Woah!"
Kamito frantically turned his face away, only to instantly bury himself into something soft.
...Full of elasticity, the sensation was comfortable beyond belief.
"Fufu, Kamito-kun, this is your favorite royal breast sandwich♪"
"I-If you're an imperial princess, then please don't say something so tasteless!"
Kamito yelled with his face all red.
Due to the activation of ritual magic, the spirit seal on Fianna's chest was glowing faintly blue-white.
"Jeez Kamito, you're such an idiot..."
This time, Kamito felt a sudden bite on his arm.
"...Mmm... Ahmmm... D-Don't forget, you are something that belongs, smooch... to me."
The tip of Claire's cute tongue was licking Kamito's skin like a kitten lapping up milk.
Kamito felt his entire body shudder from this sensation he had never experienced before.
"Hmm, Kamito's sweat, it's a little salty..."
Claire swept up her hair from her neck and licked Kamito's arm in earnest.
Her red eyes seemed to have lost focus as if her mind was in a daze from a fever.
"Oooh, smooch... D-Don't get the wrong idea, this is just a ritual for recovering your divine power..."
"Th-That is correct, Kamito! Tonight, please entrust your body to us--"
"We'll gradually eliminate your fatigue!"
The young ladies on the bed timidly reached out with their fingers.
"...Umm, that's kind of completely impossible."
...In a situation like this, Kamito could not possibly fall asleep gradually.
"Fufu, looks like it can't be helped."
Fianna smiled and drew a small magic circle in the air with her finger.
"Nimbly dancing spirits, please bestow restful slumber upon the warrior -- Sleeping Cloud."
Instantly, a purple mist covered the entire room--
Thus Kamito's consciousness sank into darkness.
...The next morning.
Surrounded by a rather comfortable sensation, Kamito woke up.
"...Was it just a dream?"
Half-awake, Kamito muttered to himself. However--
"Uwah, Kamito, where do you think you are touching..."
"K-Kamito-san is such a pervert..."
The whispers by his ear prompted him to suddenly sit up on the bed.
"...A dream, yeah right!"
The memories from last night before Fianna's sleep hypnosis remained vividly in his mind.
Sleeping in the same bed as Kamito were the highborn ladies in their nightgowns sleeping soundly with adorable breathing noises. Seeing Claire's thigh exposed from under the hem of her nightgown, Kamito blushed and frantically turned his gaze away.
"Kamito, I-I can't believe you forced me to do something so shameless, you are truly, yaaa..."
"Fufu, doing this with everyone, Kamito-kun is truly the Demon King of the Night..."
"...W-What the heck are you girls dreaming!?"
Kamito remarked in exasperation as he listened to the girls talking in their dreams.
"...I'd better go take a shower and purify myself as well."
...In any case, this sort of situation was really terrible for his mental health.
In order not to wake Claire and the girls, Kamito quietly got out of bed.
Leaving the bedroom, he opened the curtain to the entrance of the Purification Chamber.
Only to find a fiery burning object crouching on the floor by his feet.
Claire's contracted spirit, Scarlet.
Normally, Claire would hug Scarlet in her sleep like a hot water bottle, but because she was squeezed in with everyone else on Kamito's bed last night, Scarlet had no choice but to sleep out here.
"...I almost stepped on its tail."
Kamito sighed with relief.
The hell cat spirit stood up and started walking in circles around Kamito.
Normally, contracted spirits did not open their hearts to anyone apart from their contractor. But who knew if it was because Kamito fed Scarlet all the time or not, Scarlet displayed unexpected intimacy with Kamito.
"You want to bathe together too?"
Kamito asked half jokingly but Scarlet shook its head vigorously.
"...Oh well, you're a flame spirit after all. Being afraid of water is only normal."
After rubbing the hell cat's head, Kamito took off his pajamas and entered the showering space.
Using his hand to touch the tiny spirit crystal that was inlaid in the metal stand, he infused a little divine power. Very soon, water began to flow forcefully out of the hole in the ceiling.
The icy cold water droplets helped him to gradually cool down the elevated temperature of his body.
As Kamito took his wet hand, intending to scrub his body, he discovered that the teeth marks left behind by Claire's bite were still visible.
Recalling again what happened the previous night, Kamito blushed.
"...That Greyworth, I really shouldn't have worried about her."
Even after losing the power of the spirit contract, the witch was still a witch. From the very start, watching Kamito squirm in awkward situations had always been her greatest entertainment.
"...But anyway, the effects of the ritual magic seem to be real."
Slightly clenching his fist to summon strength, the faint phosphorescent glow of divine power appeared all over his body.
All his fatigue from the previous day had been dispelled. Kamito's body was back in peak condition.
In this state, even using Est at full power would not exhaust him so quickly.
At this time.
"Kamito, time to scrub your back."
"Yeah, thank you."
After answering politely--
Kamito tilted his head in puzzlement.
Turning around, he found an incomparably beautiful fairy.
Long silver-white hair shining with dazzling brilliance. Pristine snow-like skin as white as fresh milk.
Those mysterious violet eyes of hers were staring expressionlessly at Kamito.
The sword spirit -- Terminus Est.
Renowned as the legendary Demon Slayer, Kamito's contracted spirit.
"E-Est! W-Why are you here!?"
Blushing, Kamito frantically turned his gaze away and screamed.
Est's current appearance was naturally her usual naked kneesocks look.
...Oh well, although there was nothing strange about being naked in the shower, she apparently still adhered adamantly to her philosophy of never taking kneesocks off, even in a place like this.
Expanding due to the moisture, the black kneesocks seemed even more seductive for some strange reason.
"Kamito, if you don't sit down I cannot scrub your back."
"I-It's okay, don't worry! I can handle it myself!"
Est glared expressionlessly at Kamito.
"Kamito, I was unable to get into bed this morning."
"I was unable to get into bed this morning."
She repeated herself.
Come to think of it, Est always crept secretly into Kamito's bed every morning.
Presumably because the highborn ladies had occupied the entire bed, she was unable to sneak inside this morning.
"...Are you actually angry about that?"
"No, I am not angry. Master."
"No no no, you are definitely angry!"
Despite the fact that it was difficult to read Est's thoughts and feelings from her expressionless face, whenever she addressed Kamito so distantly, there was no doubt that she was angry.
"...I-I am in the wrong! Next time you crawl into bed, I'm not going to be angry again."
"Yes, let's make this a promise."
Kamito placed his hand on Est's head and gently caressed her beautiful silver hair.
...Looks like her mood had lifted.
However, Kamito could only relax for a moment.
"So Kamito, please turn your back to me."
"Like I said, how did it come to this!?"
"Kamito, I was unable to get into bed this morning."
"...I-I get it. Sorry."
Giving up on resisting, Kamito sat down with his back facing Est.
Est pressed her tiny palms tightly against Kamito's back.
(...C-Clear my mind of unnecessary thoughts.)
Indeed, this was definitely nothing worth feeling guilty about.
(Just a contracted spirit helping me scrub my back, that's all.)
The floating soap bubbles gradually expanded.
An unknown sensation coming from his back made Kamito greatly alarmed.
"Kamito, what's the matter?"
"E-Est... Say, y-you're touching my back."
"...? Of course, because I am washing your back, Kamito."
A bouncy sensation.
"N-No, that's not what I mean, your chest..."
Est inclined her head in puzzlement and pressed her sud-covered body even closer.
...This situation was terrible. Extremely terrible indeed.
Although Est had no intentions of that sort--
The small yet extremely elastic sensation on Kamito's back was very dangerous in various ways.
"P-Please, just scrub normally with your hands--"
Just as Kamito was midway through his sentence.
"--Kamito, please listen to me."
Pressing her body tightly against him, Est whispered in Kamito's ear.
Her petite lower jaw was resting against Kamito's shoulder.
The wet silver hair draped and clung to his burning hot skin.
"Kamito, you have accepted my fate as the cursed demon sword. Hence, as your sword, Kamito, I shall accept the entirety of your being, Kamito."
"Even if you are the reincarnation of the Demon King, Kamito, my feelings will not change. I am your sword, Kamito, and your wish is my command -- Promise me, you must be absolutely victorious."
These were the thoughts and feelings invested in this blade dance by the normally cool and collected sword spirit, now voiced out loud.
In order to respond to Est's feelings, Kamito replied:
"--Yeah. I'll be relying on you, partner."
Kamito turned towards his shoulder to face Est and nodded vigorously.
--Then in the next instant.
Just as what seemed to be Scarlet's call was heard coming from outside, the door to the shower space was forcefully flung open.
"Uwaaaah, y-y-you, what are you making poor Est do!?"
Claire appeared, shouting with her face all red.
"Kamito!" "Kamito-kun!" "Kamito-san!"
Following closely behind were Ellis, Fianna and Rinslet, equally astounded by the sight.
"N-No! This is because--"
Kamito tried his hardest to explain, however--
A situation where he was accompanied by a beautiful girl spirit dressed in nothing but kneesocks, all covered in soap suds...
...He could not find any reasonable explanation at this time.
"...~Y-You sexual deviant!"
"Shameless, completely shameless!"
"Sigh, Kamito-kun surely is the Demon King of the Daytime."
"Y-You damned atrocity, I will make you into a ham cutlet sandwich!"
Rumble rumble rumble rumble rumble rumble......!
Faced with the burning rage of the young ladies, Kamito's face twitched convulsively.
Having had breakfast at the castle residence, Kamito and his group gathered in the lobby.
Next, the group was going to meet the princess maidens sent by the Divine Ritual Institute to lead the way on foot to a transport Gate a certain distance away.
Kamito was carrying the entire team's luggage by himself.
Although the weight of luggage allowed into the field was limited and therefore no one could bring too much, the sum total of five people's luggage was quite a burden.
Especially Fianna who used ritual magic, her bag was stuffed to a bulging degree.
"...Say, what's inside this?"
"Candle holders, large mirrors, stand made from unvarnished wood... As well as all sorts of ritual outfits."
"...I see, so that's why it's so heavy."
Kamito shrugged helplessly.
"This is your deserved punishment. Carry the luggage properly."
"Just treat this level of exertion as training for your back and legs."
"It's all because you're too much of a pervert, Kamito-san!"
The young ladies seemed to be still angry about the morning incident.
...Oh well, simply punished to carry the luggage was already quite fortunate.
As a side note, Est had returned to sword form and was hanging at Kamito's waist.
The exposed blade reflected light streaming in through the window, glittering with dazzling brilliance.
The lobby was not only occupied by the members of Team Scarlet. The various members of the Laurenfrost family were also present to see them off.
"Onee-sama, you must save Judia-oneesama."
"Don't worry. We will surely obtain victory in this blade dance and fulfill the Wish."
Rinslet gently caressed her younger sister Mireille's head.
Her Wish was to rescue her other younger sister, Judia Laurenfrost, who had been eternally sealed in cursed ice by the angered Water Elemental Lord.
Naturally, not only Rinslet but also everyone in the team, all of them shouldered their own respective reasons that compelled them to win in this battle.
"Onii-sama, please remember to protect Onee-sama."
Mireille smiled lightly towards Kamito again.
"Ah yes... Wait a minute, I'm not your brother."
"Th-That's right! Without Father's permission, that kind of thing..."
"But my lady, when I reported to Margrave Laurenfrost the day before yesterday, he frequently praised Kamito-sama."
"Carol, y-you, w-what are you talking about~!?"
Thud thud thud.
Blushing intensely, Rinslet hammered her fists against the incompetent maid's back.
...The final battle was clearly imminent, but the current scene felt no different from usual.
(...Oh well, this is more like the way we are.)
Kamito smiled wryly inside.
He suddenly found someone tugging his uniform from behind.
Turning around, he found a young girl in an adorable maid uniform standing there.
Slightly wavy dark-brown hair.
Eyes of heterochromia.
She was the former Rupture Division leader and currently the personal maid attending to Mireille, Milla Bassett.
"Milla, thank you very much for the information you gave us yesterday."
In response to Kamito's thanks, she said:
"I am simply doing my part naturally as the ally of Team Scarlet."
Milla quietly shook her head.
"...Please, return safe and sound."
"Yeah, don't worry. We will surely return victorious."
"Mmm~, seriously, Milla, is that all you're going to say?"
"W-What are you talking about...!?"
As Mireille teased Milla jokingly, Milla instantly blushed shyly.
"The princess maidens responsible for leading the way have arrived. Time to go."
Bidding Milla and the rest goodbye in front of the castle residence, Team Scarlet set off.
Following the guidance of the princess maidens leading the way, the group walked in the forest.
Because special transport magic was being used this time, the transmission location was not at the True Sanctuary but in four temples in the forest.
"--Everyone listen carefully, let's make a final confirmation."
Claire walked as she raised her index finger.
"After being transported to the field, we must prioritize converging with teammates. Before our team is gathered, try to avoid unnecessary battles as much as possible. This applies even if the enemy is alone."
Their main strategy had already been discussed in the meeting last night.
Other than Kamito, all other teammates must avoid one on one combat as much as possible. They were to battle as a team from start to end.
Even though Claire and the girls were excellent elementalists, they still faced substantial difficulties in going head to head against the ace-level elementalists participating in the current Blade Dance.
Let alone Ren Ashbell, as soon as any of them faced the Instructional School's Muir the Monster, Dragon Knight Leonora or Paladin Luminaris, chances of victory were very slim.
Team Scarlet's strength lay in their teamwork. Although their cooperation was quite lacking when the team was initially formed, they now meshed with one another's traits like gears, allowing them to perform several times better than their original strength.
Naturally, they performed best when all five members were gathered in formation, but even when fighting as pairs in tactical units, they could probably muster enough power to oppose the individual aces of various teams.
Hence, they must gather in groups of at least two before engaging any enemy teams.
However, Kamito was the exception with his ability to defeat ace-level enemies singlehandedly. Instead, he should proactively seek out battle in order to weaken the other teams.
(...That said, none of these enemies would be easy to defeat, given they were elite enough to advance to the finals.)
In terms of pure power, Muir with her special ability of the Jester's Vise definitely held the advantage. Also, the power displayed by that other Ren Ashbell was only the tip of an iceberg.
Ultimately, it was best to avoid unnecessary combat and meet up with the team as quickly as possible.
They walked for dozens of minutes as they discussed.
"--The destination is here."
The princess maidens leading the way stopped before a small shrine in the forest.
The doors were opened to reveal five faintly glowing magic circles drawn on the stone floor.
"Are these the Gates responsible for transporting us?"
Kamito laid down the luggage he was carrying in his arms against his chest.
"Kamito, thank you for your labors."
"Everyone, let's carry the minimum with us. For now, we'll have my Fenrir keep the things that are only needed after we meet up."
Snapping her fingers, Rinslet summoned the white wolf with a flurry of wind and snow.
The white wolf widened its jaws and instantly sucked in the luggage.
"I'll carry the equipment for ritual magic myself -- Georgios!"
This time it was Fianna who summoned her knight spirit.
The tall armored knight opened up parts of his armor and took in her bag into the empty space.
"Doesn't this mean there was no point in making me carry the luggage?"
Kamito grumbled as he stepped on one of the glowing Gates.
"These are your respective magic stones."
The leading princess maidens handed over to everyone the spirit crystals containing spirit magic for making the spatial Leap.
This was identical to the ones used in the previous survival battle -- the Tempest.
Since the field was surrounded by an isolation barrier established by the Elemental Lords, there was no way to leave through ordinary means.
Once transported inside, an elementalist could only exit the field if their magic stone was taken or damaged -- in other words, a defeat in the blade dance.
"--May the princess maidens bestow the blessing of the Elemental Lords upon these proud elementalists!"
With the solemn declaration of the princess maidens, everyone's Gate was activated.
Suddenly, Claire called out to Kamito.
"...Very soon, we'll see each other again, right?"
"Why, are you feeling lonely?"
"...~I-Idiot, h-how could that be possible!?"
With a blushing face, Claire turned her gaze away.
Kamito smiled wryly--
"--Don't worry. Very soon, we will find each and every one of us."
Instantly, Kamito's entire body turned into particles of light and disappeared.
Meanwhile, in another temple in the forest--
"Ladies, starting from this moment, we will perform the final mission issued by Des Esseintes."
The blonde maiden knight took off her white overcoat and tossed it aside.
Worn beneath the overcoat was a uniform with white lines against a red background, similar to the Rupture Division's uniform in design except with the colors reversed.
Her sapphire eyes were infused with intense brightness. Her braided long blonde hair shining with dazzling brilliance.
She was the Paladin -- Luminaris Saint Leisched.
The leader of the Sacred Spirit Knights representing the Holy Kingdom of Lugia.
The young female knights, all with hair cut uniformly to shoulder length, stood motionless in a row before her.
Although one of the teams Kamito encountered in the Tempest also shared the name of the Sacred Spirit Knights, the team right here was trained to a completely different level.
Amongst the three sent by the Holy Kingdom of Lugia, the two defeated teams were merely vanguards.
The team present right here was their true number one squad.
--Within the Kingdom, the most elite team renowned as "Stahl Loewe."
Their power rivaled the Knights of the Dragon Emperor from the Dragon Duchy of Dracunia. In terms of team strategies, they were well-matched against the Quina Empire's Four Gods.
"Well then, to assist the completion of the mission, I have something to give you all."
Luminaris drew a magic circle using the sword in her hand.
Immediately, five blindingly bright beams of light were produced as long rod-like objects appeared from them.
A nervous atmosphere began to spread amongst the young female knights.
The shining tips of sharp lances -- These were five lances with holy scripture engraved on their shaft.
Specially crafted divine armaments -- the Longinus Copies.
Forged by top craftsmen of magical equipment, these were replicas of a legendary class magical equipment.
Due to being physical weapons forged from mithril, they were harder to use compared to elemental waffen. But for experienced elementalists, as soon as divine power was infused into them, they became effective weapons.
They were particularly powerful against spirits carrying the darkness attribute.
More importantly, these weapons carried a special effect -- all it took was the infusion of simple Search magic and they could automatically seek out the direction of darkness spirits.
The Holy Kingdom of Lugia's number one squad had received two missions from their country's Des Esseintes.
Superficially, their mission was complete victory at the Blade Dance.
But their true secret mission was -- "The extermination of darkness spirit Restia."
As for why the darkness spirit's extermination was necessary -- the reason was completely undisclosed.
However, to the knights of the Holy Kingdom of Lugia, the orders of Des Esseintes were absolute. Hence, they did not question missions in any way, instead they simply carried them out silently.
During the Tempest event, Restia was accompanied by the powerful monster Nepenthes Lore which prevented them from taking action. But this time, the rules were intermediate between an individual and team battle. So long as they seized an opportunity when the darkness spirit acted alone, there were ample chances of success.
Luminaris muttered to herself internally.
(...That darkness spirit was her sword.)
Three years ago, Luminaris had lost to that opponent despite the overwhelmingly favorable conditions.
Restia was the elemental waffe of the Strongest Blade Dancer -- the Vorpal Sword.
(--Facing the same opponent, I will not allow myself a second defeat.)
Luminaris looked up and sternly announced.
"Confirming our tactics once again. Our first priority is the extermination of the darkness spirit. As for the commander of Team Inferno, Ren Ashbell, do not engage her in combat unless three or more teammates are gathered. Over!"
The young female knights nodded simultaneously and gripped their respective Holy Lance.