Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:Volume9 Chapter3
Chapter 3 - Sparks Scattered Across the Battlefield
Opening his eyes, Kamito found a dim gray sky displayed before him.
"...Is this place the stage for the final round?"
Experiencing the dizziness unique to the aftereffects of Leap, Kamito surveyed his surroundings.
Entering his view were the scattered ruins of an astoundingly vast city.
Monolithic structures resembling shrines stood tall everywhere, or rather, collapsed rubble and debris formed mountains. Strange trees were growing out of the ground, displacing stone tiles, creating a scene like a sea of trees.
"As the stage for offering kagura to the Elemental Lords, this is really a creepy place."
The abandoned city, Megidoa -- a historic battlefield of the Spirit War thousands of years ago.
Howling winds blew sand and dirt across his cheeks.
Compared to the sanctuary Ragna Ys, the air was completely different.
The presence of destruction -- a substance that could be described in such a way, clung stubbornly to one's skin.
Here was a place completely devoid of life's presence.
Even the presence of spirits, which should normally be widespread throughout the world, was also--
"...In any case, it looks like there aren't any enemy teams I'll run into straight away."
Kamito started walking as he paid close attention to his surroundings.
These massive structures gave off an intimidating presence simply by existing.
Although this was in Astral Zero, a realm where time was half-stopped, the sight of these millennia-old structures still standing intact was quite astounding.
--Suddenly, Kamito noticed something as he approached the walls surrounding the abandoned city.
(...Perhaps, these building materials are not simply stone?)
One would like to call them stone, but their surfaces were as smooth as mirrors.
...It was hard to imagine that an object that had withstood erosion from wind and rain over millennia could remain in this condition.
Just as he reached out with his hand to pat dust off the surface, sparks scattered where his fingers made contact.
The divine power released from his fingertips had reacted with the stone material.
(...This, it can't be!)
Kamito widened his eyes.
If one were to ask what kind of substance could react to an elementalist's divine power, only one answer came to mind.
(These ruins were originally built from unrefined spirit crystals!?)
Truly incredible -- but based on what he witnessed, it was the only conclusion.
This abandoned city could have been a massive mine for spirit crystals.
Only because the purity of the crystals were low, they could not be used even after processing.
Standing there in amazement for a while--
(...By the way, now is not the time to be doing something like this. I must find Claire and the others as quickly as possible.)
Coming back to his senses, Kamito instantly began to search around.
"...By the way, I might as well try this."
Searching his uniform pocket, he took out a communications spirit crystal.
Infusing a little divine power through his fingers, he concentrated his awareness--
Bringing it to his ear, all he could hear was the noise of static.
"...No use. Oh well, I never expected it to either. So, what about this?"
Next, Kamito took out a different type of spirit crystal and quietly chanted the words for releasing.
In it was sealed a guide spirit which was very handy during times when lost.
Kamito had caught it in the Spirit Forest near the Academy before the Blade Dance started.
The fairy of light was quickly summoned and began to fly casually in front of Kamito's nose.
"Tell me, which way is north?"
Might as well try asking--
...However, the fairy simply tilted its little head and kept spinning in circles in the same spot.
"...Oh my, I guess I have no choice but to search on my own two feet."
Was this because an isolation barrier had been erected within the field, or was it a property of the abandoned city's land itself? In any case, clearly he could not rely on convenient spirit crystals.
Of course, this was already anticipated as soon as they heard the rules for the Cross Fire event.
Hopefully, he could meet up with at least one other member from Team Scarlet before night fell--
At this moment, Terminus Est gave off faint light as it hung on his waist.
Kamito touched the sacred sword's hilt and infused a little divine power--
Within the blink of an eye, the sword had transformed into an adorable silver-haired girl.
"What's the matter, Est?"
"Kamito, I recognize this place."
"What's the story?"
Indeed, Est was a spirit who had lived for centuries -- no, millennia.
Recognizing a place that had been a battlefield during the Spirit War was not anything too mindblowing.
However, the current Est was supposed to carry only the portion of power that split off from the original Demon Slayer when the contract with Kamito was established. Hence, only fragments of her memory remained--
"...Could it be that your memory returned?"
Est shook her head expressionlessly.
"But this scenery is indeed stored in my memory--"
--At this moment.
A terrifying presence suddenly appeared.
"Kamito, a terrible presence--"
"Yeah, I know."
Earlier, there were no presences around, not even spirits.
But now, Kamito could sense hostility so strong that it pricked his skin.
(An enemy elementalist? No--)
Instantly, as if spewing out from the earth, numerous shadows appeared in the surroundings.
Humanoid shadows with ambiguous outlines.
"What, these guys!? They're... spirits?"
"These are the ghosts of destroyed spirits -- Forsaken Spirits, Kamito."
"...The ghosts of spirits?"
"Yes. When spirits die with excessively strong resentment, sometimes they lose their spiritual qualities, becoming ghosts that linger in the ground -- This abandoned city seems to harbor large numbers of these ghosts."
"...I see. After all, this is the historical site of a battlefield."
Muttering, Kamito licked his parched lips.
Although spirits had all sorts of forms, these ghosts were all generic humanoid without exception. Did all spirits all become like this when their spiritual qualities were lost--?
The ghosts gave off resentful noises as they reached out towards Kamito.
Kamito frantically held Est's hand as he dodged the arms coming from all directions.
"...Tsk, these guys are not targeting me but Est!?"
"Apparently so, Kamito. Very likely, I--"
As if trying to smother Est's words--
The Forsaken Spirit swarm attacked once again.
Kamito swiftly embraced Est with both arms and took a flying leap.
"Dealing with them one at a time would take forever. We must break through in one go, Est."
"Yes. I am your sword, your wish is my command--"
Est nodded in midair.
--You, Dispassionate Queen of Steel, sacred sword that destroys evil!
--Here in this time and place, take form as the sword of steel to become the power in my hand!
As the spirit seal gave off dazzling light, a shining silver-white sword immediately appeared in Kamito's hand.
"Sorry, I don't have time to handle your obsessions."
Wielding the strongest elemental waffe, Kamito charged into the swarm of ghosts.
"...The wind blows with much hindrance, this place."
Her ponytail swaying in the wind, Ellis murmured with a surprised expression.
The spatial Leap had transported Ellis to the interior of a massive building in the ruins.
This was a place like a great hall, covered all over by a collapsing ceiling.
In the center of the hall, the crumbling remains of an altar stood there in a pile. Very likely, this place was used as a shrine in ancient times to make offerings to spirits.
Ellis spread her arms in the air and summoned the wind.
But the wind that usually responded to her call was silent now.
All she could hear were faint background noises.
(...I cannot sense the presence of spirits. The leylines have also been ripped completely apart, right?)
She gnashed her teeth in her mind.
--A battlefield site from the Spirit War. One would find it difficult to imagine such a place as appropriate for performing blade dances in offering.
The Elemental Lords, why would they select a place like this as the stage for the most important festival ceremony?
(...Anyway, I must hurry and meet up with Kamito and the rest.)
Although she had been sending out Wind for reconnaissance, under such conditions of chaotic leylines, they probably could not fly very far.
As expected, she had to search on her own two feet.
In order to walk out of these ruins, Ellis turned to the massive stairway in the hall. Just at this moment.
The wind shuddered slightly.
Ellis halted immediately and tensed her body.
(--Someone is approaching?)
She instantly summoned her demon wind spirit Simorgh, releasing it as her elemental waffe Ray Hawk.
With wind swirling around the spear tip, she stayed high alert of her surroundings.
(There is no sign of anyone near, however...)
Instantly, the ground beneath her shook.
Ellis instantly made the decision to chant Flight magic and jumped directly upwards.
Immediately, a giant plant emerged from the position where she had been standing.
Numerous wriggling vines extended and chased after Ellis as she flew through the air.
Faced with the unexpected attack, Ellis reacted an instant too slow.
The vines swiftly entangled her ankle and dragged Ellis towards the ground.
Turning Ray Hawk around in a backhand grip in midair, she severed the vines--
However, in the next instant, she was suddenly struck with searing pain.
(...This is paralytic poison!?)
Her concentration broken, Flight magic dispelled, Ellis fell straight towards the ground.
Just as her body was about to crash onto the surface--
"--Evil winds, go and rampage!"
Ellis unleashed Ray Hawk's full power.
The released tempest sliced open the ground, protecting Ellis from the impact of her fall.
Rolling on the ground, Ellis tried to stand up but her movements were hindered by one paralyzed leg.
"Guh, what on earth..."
A massive plant that suddenly burrowed out from the ground.
In the center where a vivid red flower blossomed--
"--Using wind to neutralize the impact. Not bad at all."
A girl stood upright.
Mysterious jade-green hair. Ominous red eyes shining with the light of disaster.
Ellis had seen that appearance of hers, dressed in the Theocracy's military uniform, at the True Sanctuary before the main event.
(I remember her, a member of Team Inferno--)
Although she had covered her face with a hood back then -- There could be no mistake.
Those sharp and pointy ears were the characteristics of the Elfim race.
"...Tsk, there was not supposed to be any presence of elementalists in the area--"
"Oh, you mean those wind spirits you released in the surroundings? How could those things possibly locate one such as I who has been specially trained in covert operations?"
The girl shrugged as if it could not be helped.
"Indeed, wind elementalists are excellent for gathering intelligence and searching for the enemy. However, whether in the use of spirits or concealment of your presence, you are rather amateur."
(...So my location was found by a reverse trace...!)
As a knight, Ellis was not an expert in intelligence in the first place. Even though she had undergone training for the sake of the Blade Dance, it was true that she could improve her flexibility in the usage of wind.
Even so, she never expected her location to be discovered so easily--
Ellis once again examined the girl's contracted spirit.
A spirit in the form of a fearsome plant -- undoubtedly it was a minion possessing the earth attribute.
(...The earth attribute, in other words, the type to search for enemies by sensing vibrations in the ground, right?)
The Elfim race had superior hearing compared to ordinary humans. Following the sound of footsteps, pinpointing the location probably was not a very difficult task.
(My opponent appears to be alone, however...)
Using Ray Hawk for support, Ellis stood up unsteadily. Her left leg was hurting but at least the sensation of pain implied that the leg was not completely paralyzed.
(...What should I do?)
The girl before her was a member of the strongest team participating, Team Inferno.
However, since this girl was an elementalist specializing in intelligence gathering, her combat ability should not be too high. If this girl, in charge of seeking out the enemy, was defeated here, then they could fight Team Inferno under more favorable conditions--
Ellis halted this line of thinking at the very edge.
During the meeting, Team Scarlet had decided -- Never fight a battle alone.
Within their team, Ellis was the only one able to use search type magic. If she were defeated here, the team's gathering would be delayed greatly.
(Compared to a knight's honor, my companion's victory is currently more important--!)
Instantly making her decision, Ellis chanted a spirit language incantation.
"O Wind, sweep away mine enemies -- Wind Bombs!"
Instantly, intense shockwaves of wind were released from Ellis' hands.
However, the target was not the girl before her.
The violent mass of wind blew up the sand and dirt on the ground, obscuring visibility in a large area.
At the same time, Ellis jumped toward the great stairway at the entrance to the ruins.
Using the momentum of the strong winds she instantly left the scene--
(...Guh, my leg!?)
However, intense pain suddenly flared up once more.
The paralytic poison seemed to be truly taking effect now.
--However, she could not stop.
If she failed to make use of this sudden attack to escape, there was probably no other chance.
"I won't let you escape. Catch her, demon tree spirit Titania!"
Amidst the cloud of sand and dust, numerous vines chased after Ellis.
"--Tsk, evil winds, go and rampage!"
Looking back, Ellis immediately swung Ray Hawk.
The released blades of wind instantly chopped apart the vines.
"That kind of thing--"
However, the demon tree spirit's vines instantly regenerated. Then split into several bundles, they attacked as if trying to entangle Ellis' body.
"I am the witch who gallops across the blue sky -- Air Wings!"
Just as she was about to be captured by a prison of vines, Ellis chanted magic for high speed flight.
Instantly releasing the wind gathered around her feet, she flew as fast as she could to a spot near the ceiling of the great hall.
(That demon tree spirit's attack range should not be unlimited--)
I will take this opportunity to escape outside -- Just as Ellis was thinking that to herself.
Amidst the dust cloud that obscured visibility, something flashed.
Ellis frantically attempted to evade--
However, it was impossible to rapidly adjust one's posture in midair.
The knife's blade grazed her chest armor, producing a grating metallic noise.
(It missed? No--)
Suddenly, killing intent could be sensed -- coming from above Ellis in flight.
Looking up at the collapsing ceiling, Ellis was rendered speechless.
Wielding a knife in reverse grip, the girl kicked against the ceiling surface and descended rapidly.
(Did she use Flight magic as well!?)
--No, that's impossible.
The demon tree spirit was without a doubt an earth attribute minion.
The system under the earth attribute should not contain any Flight magic.
Ellis hastily swiveled Ray Hawk and used the shaft to block the knife strike--
"--How naive. Such stale and old-fashioned knightly combat techniques."
The girl used the spear shaft as support to make a leap.
Once again, she kicked the ceiling to rapidly reverse her direction and unleashed an even more penetrating slash.
(...This type of movement is!?)
Ellis suddenly noticed.
--They were very similar to Kamito's.
Different from normal combat skills, they involved unrestrained three-dimensional movement in myriad forms.
"Could this be the same as Kamito--"
"The same? That would be rather rude to him--"
In that instant, the directly thrust knife made a shallow slash across Ellis' arm.
The wound itself was not critical. But immediately--
Intense pain traveled all over her body like an electrical current.
Seizing this momentary opening, numerous vines restrained Ellis' entire body, tying her up into a bundle and dragging her along the ground.
Sharp thorns tore through Ellis' tights and buried into her flesh, completely immobilizing her.
Completely deprived of her freedom, Ellis watched as the demon tree spirit user landed quietly.
"Number Seven of the Instructional School -- the 'Venom', Lily Flame."
"First I shall start with disposing of you--"
The vines entangling Ellis' body all moved at once.
In a little alley in the abandoned city where trees grew twisted and misshapen, a girl's screams were heard.
Fianna was desperately fleeing from the swarming Forsaken Spirits that kept emerging.
Terrifying shadowy arms were reaching towards her from all directions.
"D-Don't you dare touch me so easily, the only one allowed to touch me is Kamito-kun!"
As she swiftly gestured and chanted defensive magic, the ghosts withdrew their arms as if out of fear.
...However, faced with the burgeoning ranks of the swarming Forsaken Spirits, these efforts amounted to nothing but a drop in the bucket.
Sending them reeling only momentarily, in a blink of an eye, the ghosts' numbers increased further and continued to give chase.
"--Georgios, I command you to cut down all who disobey!"
The knight spirit silently followed the imperial princess' orders.
Wielding a sacred sword with both hands, he cleared away the swarming ghosts before him in a single sweep.
Seizing the opportunity of the pathway opened momentarily, Fianna sprinted out.
--From a while ago, this had been repeating again and again.
"...It's really not the time to be bogged down in a place like this--"
Holding a strategic role within the team, it was more important for Fianna to converge with her teammates more than anyone else.
By herself, it was impossible to bring out the true worth of the powerful elemental waffe Save the Queen. Furthermore, she was the only person in the team who could use true healing magic.
--Suddenly at this time.
The Forsaken Spirits who occupied the area suddenly halted in their motions.
A strange silence descended.
It was like the calm before a storm--
Immediately, a terrifying roar shook the atmosphere, causing the ground to shake.
The vibrations caused the sand and dust accumulated on the ground to blow around.
In response, the knight spirit swiftly readied his shield and protected Fianna from the flying debris.
(What powerful divine power--!)
It was a bone-chilling feeling of terror.
Fianna looked up towards the direction of the roar.
(That thing, what is it...?)
In the center of the abandoned city, a massive pillar of fire rose.
A pillar of fire that reached the sky, sweeping up all the debris around it.
Even though she was quite far away from it, Fianna could still feel the heat scorching her skin.
It was not Claire's hell cat spirit.
These were more terrifying flames -- demonic flames that destroyed all existence.
Fianna held her breath and gazed in that direction--
Only to see the massive burning pillar of flame gradually change its form after a while.
Spewing flames continuously, it was a torso that resembled black lava.
The eyes were like high temperature furnaces, flashing red light, as smoke was emitted nonstop from the mouth.
Gripped in its hand was a massive whip of flames.
That -- was essentially a vicious demon.
"--The militarized spirit designated for sealing, Valaraukar!"
Fianna had seen this appearance in the Divine Ritual Institute's resource materials before.
The demon flame spirit that was sent into combat towards the end of the Ranbal War. However, it was reportedly too unstable and was sealed and abandoned after being used twice--
(...Dragging that kind of thing here, what on earth are they thinking?)
--A this moment, Fianna suddenly noticed.
The swarm of ghosts that gathered in the area had vanished without a trace like an ebbing tide.
Immediately, an unbelievable sight entered her view.
Over in the distance, in the center of the abandoned city--
Swarming in hundreds, thousands, Forsaken Spirits were attacking the vicious demon of flame.
Faced with the onslaught of ghosts, the vicious demon of flame swept them all away with the massive whip.
However, the Forsaken Spirits continued to jump into the burning flames like moths drawn to a fire.
This incredible scene caused Fianna to stand there dumbfounded--
"I-I must take this opportunity to escape out of this place... Let's go, Georgios!"
Brought back to her senses, Fianna and the knight spirit ran out of the alley together.
In the outskirts of the abandoned city, strange trees grew on the city walls.
Located on the edge of a bell tower extending out from the city walls--
"--My, how you all have fallen."
A girl smiled tenderly, wearing a dress colored in shade of darkness.
Pristine white complexion. Beautiful black wings sprouted from her back with lustrous splendor.
Her dusk-colored eyes gazed upon the massive swarm of shadows.
These were ghosts of the spirits who had perished in the Spirit War of the past.
Disobeying the logic of the world, they were filthy existences that lingered, sustained purely by hatred and resentment.
"...Oh well, it's not like I'm in a much better position either."
The darkness spirit girl whispered in self-deprecation.
"After all, three years ago on that day, I became an existence that was no longer myself."
Driven by hatred, the ghosts surged forth all at once, intending to devour her.
"However, I still -- cannot become the likes of you."
Restia narrowed her eyes slightly.
"Black thunder that incinerates even souls to nothingness -- Hell Blast!"
She mercilessly released high level wide area annihilation magic.
Out burst forth jet black lightning, instantly wiping out the surging swarm of Forsaken Spirits.
This was overwhelming power as befitted the highest ranking spirit.
(...Looks like the corrosion has already advanced greatly.)
Pressing her hand against her chest, a painful moan escaped from Restia's lips.
Restia's original power was not merely at this level.
Starting three years ago, when the pitch black Wish of the Elemental Lords devoured her that day, her very existence had been gradually corroding from within.
Over half of what constituted her being had already been lost.
Making things worse was the fact that her remaining power had been greatly depleted by the fight with Kamito a few days ago.
"Who knows how much longer I can hold out for..."
Restia's heel flattened a ghost lying sprawled on the ground.
"But I have a mission I must complete. I cannot allow myself to be destroyed here."
Surfacing in her mind was the face of the young man who exchanged promises with her on that day.
"I must let Kamito awaken as the Demon King--"
Just at this moment.
She noticed a new presence.
The footsteps of stiff military boots could be heard climbing up the spiral staircase of stone.
Not a spirit. This was an elementalist's presence, emanating intense divine power.
"I knew it, you have not recovered from the wounds you sustained when you were defeated by Kazehaya Kamito, darkness spirit."
Appearing forth -- a young blonde female knight wielding a glorious sacred sword.
The Paladin -- Luminaris Saint Leisched.
"Ara, greetings to you. The young lady from three years ago."
Restia removed herself from the outer wall where trees were growing all over.
This was a precautionary reaction towards her opponent's power.
During the Blade Dance three years ago, Restia had never revealed her human form in public.
However, this girl had apparently discerned Restia's true identity already.
"Do you have business with me?"
The young female knight swiftly readied her sword.
"I have come to exterminate the darkness spirit who stands as the world's enemy -- You."
Kicking against the stone tiled floor, she instantly closed the distance.
The vigorous and forceful thrust tore through the air like thunder.
In response, Restia spread her wings and immediately escaped to the air to evade--
In the next instant, numerous arrows of light pierced one of her wings.
(...An ambush from a nearby tower!?)
--I see. So she dared to make her appearance in order to draw attention away from the ambuscade over there.
With a scattering of jet black feathers and her black wing pierced, Restia lost balance and fell on the stone tiles.
Luminaris turned and made another thrust.
"...Tsk, disappear from my sight -- Hell Blast!"
Losing composure, Restia once again released a ball of jet black lightning.
"--Evil be purged, Sacred Shield!"
Luminaris immediately released defensive spirit magic. Easily deflecting spirit magic of the highest level, she sliced through Restia's remaining intact wing.
The matchup between darkness and holy attributes was the worst. Furthermore, Luminaris was undoubtedly contracted to a high ranking spirit. In a one-on-one fight, Restia had little chance of victory.
"...You've grown in strength, young lady."
"Don't look down on others, darkness spirit."
The sword elemental waffe swept horizontally. Even the dress of darkness which could deflect all magic was tragically seared and torn, simply when grazed by the holy light emanating from the sword's blade.
However, trying to escape through the air would end up being a target for the ambuscade again.
These wings that are currently of no use, might as well be abandoned.
"Blow forth and howl, tempest of the demon sword -- Blade Storm!"
Just as Luminaris swung the sacred sword, making a shallow slash across Restia's shoulder blade--
The feathered wings scattered into countless blades which then flew towards Luminaris.
This was indefensible anti-human magic for killing and maiming. Nevertheless--
"--You have finally revealed an opening, darkness spirit."
The Paladin's face displayed a smile of pity--
Without even taking any defensive posture, she charged forward directly.
"Holy lance that vanquishes darkness -- Lance of Longinus!"
Amidst the howling tempest of blades, Luminaris raised her arm.
--Then from a magic circle appearing in the air, she summoned a lance.
Restia instantly understood. --The nature of that weapon.
(Imbued with anti-darkness magic, a piece of divine armament...!)
Despite suffering innumerable wounds, the Paladin continued to charge through the swirling blades.
Performing powerful spirit magic left the caster vulnerable for a brief period afterwards.
Luminaris had been waiting for this particular instant.
"--Enemy of the world, return to eternal darkness!"
The thrown Lance of Longinus pierced Restia in the chest.