Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance:VolumeEF Chapter7
Chapter 7 - Elemental Festa
The day after Kamito and the rest of Team Scarlet returned from their training camp—
Claire suddenly screamed from the bathroom.
"What's wrong, Claire!?"
In the middle of cooking eggs in the kitchen, Kamito looked back frantically—
The bathroom door was flung open violently. Claire emerged naked wrapped in only a towel.
"Wha... W-Why are you dressed like that?"
Kamito could not help but blush. Despite her child-like figure, Claire really looked very sexy with her wet crimson hair adhering to her neck.
"Oh no, Kamito! This water spirit... Hyah!"
Screaming, Claire collapsed on the bed in pain.
The towel wrapped around her body fell aside lightly, revealing her naked pale body.
Kamito exclaimed in surprise.
Unbelievably, revealed from under the towel was a writhing, glowing translucent tentacle.
The tentacle of water was wrapped around Claire's naked body, tormenting her.
"Hyau... Nn! As soon as I started showering, the water spirit... went berserk..."
Tears appeared in Claire's eyes while her body twisted in pain.
Somehow, it feels like something similar happened before—While thinking that, Kamito grabbed the wriggling tentacle of water, infused divine power and tore it to pieces.
Tossed away, the tentacle of water turned into particles of light and disappeared.
"Huff, huff... Th-Thanks a lot..."
Freed from captivity, Claire exhaustedly hugged the towel that had fallen onto the bed. Was she still in a state of panic? She was apparently unaware that Kamito had seen her naked body.
"What on earth is going on...?"
"I don't know either. As soon as I started the shower, the water spirit suddenly went crazy. I've no idea what happened—"
Kamito turned his gaze towards the bathroom whose door was ajar. Previously, spirits had run amok due to Restia using a frenzy spirit—
At that moment...
"Kyahhhhhhh, w-what is this!?"
"M-Milady, are you alright? Fire, fire!"
Screams were heard from next door, startling Kamito and Claire.
"Are they having trouble too?"
Just as Kamito muttered in puzzlement and was about to check things out, in that instant...
Accompanied by the sound of massive explosion, the wall disintegrated all at once.
Blown away by the blast, Kamito fell on the floor. The instant he looked up—
From the giant hole in the wall emerged a big lizard wrapped in flames.
"A flame spirit!"
Claire cried out.
The flame lizard roared and lunged at Claire, who was sitting limply on the bed—
"Huah! H-Hold on—"
"O Freezing fangs of ice, go forth and pierce—Freezing Arrow!"
Instantly, countless arrows of ice descended, blowing the flame lizard away.
A cloud of steam appeared over the flame spirit while it faded away and vanished in thin air.
"Claire, are you alright?"
Entering from the hole in the wall was Rinslet, wielding her elemental waffe.
Her prided blonde hair was slightly singed.
"Rinslet... My goodness, what on earth is happening...!?"
"I have no idea either. I was just using the stove to make pork stew when suddenly, the fire spirit went berserk."
Kamito and Claire tilted their heads questioningly.
"What the heck is going on..."
Did someone hear the commotion? They then heard a patter of running footsteps climbing the stairs.
"You people, what was all that noice just now...?"
The one who opened the door and entered was Ellis, leading members of the Sylphid Knights.
"W-What is this...!?"
Seeing the room's sorry state, Ellis was speechless.
"Y-You got the wrong idea! The spirits went crazy on their own!"
"We did not do the slightest thing."
Ellis swept her strict gaze around the room once...
"...Is that so? So it happened at this dorm too, huh?"
Pressing against her temple, Ellis spoke with a sigh in her voice.
"What is going on?"
Kamito, Claire and Rinslet exchanged looks.
At the old cathedral far away from the dorms, inside the conference room of the Sylphid Knights' headquarters—
Signs of damage from the destruction wrought by Velsaria a while back had been repaired almost completely. Functionality as headquarters was already restored.
Once Kamito and company were seated, Ellis began to speak solemnly.
"As things stand, the city spirits controlling the Academy's life line seem to be in a bad mood."
"In other words, the reason why the spirits went berserk earlier was because Areishia Spirit Academy has displeased the two great dragon spirits?"
"The two great dragon spirits?"
Kamito wondered aloud.
"The flame dragon spirit and the water dragon spirit... They are top-tier spirits governing all the Academy's spirits."
Rinslet raised her index finger and explained.
"It comes as no surprise that you have no idea, seeing as you only enrolled at the Academy recently. The two great spirits initially served Sacred Maiden Areishia. Ever since the founding of the Academy, they have maintained a contract with the Academy."
"It would not be wrong to say that it is thanks to these two great spirits that we are able to use stoves and showers in the dorms without worry."
There existed many grumpy and unruly spirits that did not obey princess maidens. Consequently, the reason why students at the Academy were able to use spirit mechanisms safely was reportedly due to these two great spirits ruling over them.
...Well, on further thought, this was only natural. Without beings to keep the myriad spirits in line, using so many spirit mechanisms normally would probably be impossible.
That being said, spirit mechanisms had also become ubiquitous in people's daily lives in the Ordesia Empire. The same went for the Academy too—
"So, you were just bringing up that you heard the two spirits are in a bad mood, right?"
"Yes, on further thought, there were warning signs a while back—"
Ellis spoke with bitterness in her voice.
Tracing to the root—
It was a very simple matter, but very difficult to resolve.
Recently, due to the many incidents in the Academy town, offering ceremonies had been postponed, causing the two great spirits to become even more angry.
"Further to that, the whole Academy has been preparing for the Blade Dance, the militarized spirit running amok, the Jio Inzagi attack, and a few days earlier, the tragic incident in town during the Valentia Holy Festival... The accumulation of catastrophes has apparently displeased the two great spirits. The steep decline in the Sylphid Knights' numbers, preventing us from deploying manpower in the usual offering ceremonies, is probably part of the reason too..."
Feeling responsible, Ellis slumped her shoulders.
"...In any case, they're unhappy because they aren't getting enough respect, right?"
"There's no respect in the way you're describing it, but that's pretty much it."
Claire shrugged and replied.
"Then can't we just offer them a grand ceremony?"
"...Well, although that should work, it's always troublesome after they've been offended once."
Spirits were capricious being with delicate feelings. This applied to all of them whether low-ranked spirits living at the water's edge or high-level spirits alike.
(...I remember one time when Est had been very stubborn, with no way to improve her mood.)
Once, when Est had crept into his bed, Kamito had moved her to sleep in Claire's bed. This evidently displeased Est, causing her to refuse to speak with Kamito for a whole day.
Kamito repented and slept with Est ever since—
"Then what exactly needs to be done?"
"Oh, the headmistress and the teachers have gone to Astral Zero to supplicate the two great spirits..."
A voice spoke from the cathedral entrance.
Kamito looked back to see Greyworth standing there with a wry expression on her face.
"Headmistress, what do you mean by... failed?"
"Literally failed. The two great spirits did not respond to our supplication."
Greyworth walked straight over and sat down on a nearby chair.
Ellis bit her lip tightly and looked down.
"We of the Sylphid Knights are responsible for this incident. Had we done our job better, this could have been—"
"What? This totally isn't your fault. Ultimately, the spirits' displeasure stemmed from the headmistress six generations ago who reduced the offering ceremony to once every three years. With no warning signs beforehand, this sudden once in a few centuries incident of displeasure is a pain for me too, but there's no use complaining to the spirits since their concept of time is completely different from ours—"
Greyworth quietly shook her head.
"...B-But at this rate, the exclusive contract maintained since the founding of the Academy will be destroyed, right?"
"Yes. Without cooperation from the two great spirits, the Academy will become unsustainable eventually. Although it is possible to eliminate the two spirits, that would be meaningless..."
Greyworth lowered her voice to speak dangerous words.
Oh well, the Dusk Witch definitely was capable of eliminating high-ranked spirits too—
"Don't be so pessimistic. In the end, all they did was ignore my supplication."
"What do you mean?" asked Kamito.
"The two great spirits demanded a large-scale offering ceremony to be held in their honor. If done well, their moods will improve, simple as that."
"A large-scale offering ceremony..."
"—Indeed, the Elemental Festa."
Greyworth spoke solemnly.
Team Scarlet showed doubt on their face.
The Elemental Festa was an offering ceremony of the biggest scale, performed by selected idols to entertain spirits through ritual dancing known as kagura along with singing.
"We have to organize such a big offering ceremony at a time like this?"
Ellis exclaimed in surprise.
"...Yes. Normally speaking, such a large offering ceremony wouldn't be held before the Blade Dance, but since our representatives for the Blade Dance are already decided, there shouldn't be a problem—"
"In that case, the two great spirits will be appeased?"
"Only if the offering ceremony is spectacular. In that case, we need—"
Greyworth knocked the armrests of her chair and grinned.
"...to recruit Festa participants from the Academy. You guys will enter too."
Kamito and company exchanged looks.
To be honest, Team Scarlet was still far from being a solid team. To give up Blade Dance training to rehearse for an event, no matter how little time—
Did Greyworth read the subtle atmosphere? She continued.
"You cannot refuse. The two great spirits named you guys for the kagura."
Ellis cried out.
"Oh, they apparently took an interest in your team after watching the match against Velsaria a few days ago."
"We never learned proper kagura..."
Indeed, their knowledge of kagura was amateur at best. As underclassmen, they were true prodigies even capable of deploying elemental waffen, much less summon contracted spirits, but kagura demanded different talents. Furthermore, to memorize within such short time—
The girls looked quite distraught.
"...I don't think this is a bad deal for you."
Greyworth spoke again.
"...What do you mean?"
"The two great spirits said they will grant a special blessing, of either a fire or water affinity as suitable on a personal basis, to the idols obtaining victory in the Elemental Festa."
"A blessing from the two great spirits!?"
Claire, Rinslet and Ellis were suddenly excited.
(...I see now, so that's the deal huh?)
...This was worth it. Top-tier spirits normally resided in Astral Zero and refused to give audience. Obtaining blessings from such spirits could allow one to draw out even stronger powers from their contracted spirits.
From what Kamito could see, the girls were currently able to draw out at best half of their contracted spirits' power.
Especially Claire's Scarlet was a total unknown.
If they were blessed by a high-ranked spirit—
"Assuming this is true, it would definitely be an attractive proposal."
Rinslet looked pensive.
"Regardless whether it is true or not, for the sake of fairness, this needs to be announced to the whole Academy."
The looks on the girls' faces suddenly turned serious.
The reward was a blessing from top-tier spirits—Competition was going to become intense.
"...But failure is not an option."
"Yes, to be frank, I'm not confident..."
Claire and Rinslet were agonizing over it—
"—I shall enter."
Ellis declared calmly.
"Putting aside the issue of the blessing from the two great spirits, I feel responsible as captain of the Sylphid Knights for the current situation. As such, I shall take this on alone."
Faced with Ellis' determination, Claire and Rinslet looked at each other—
Finally, they both shrugged.
"...Fine. We are a team, right?"
"I-I am fairly confident of my singing."
Claire looked away while Rinslet tossed her hair.
"You two... I am so grateful."
Ellis thanked quietly and bowed her head at the two girls.
"In that case, it is decided—"
Greyworth nodded, smiling profoundly.
The entire Academy was immediately notified of the upcoming Elemental Festa. To be held a week later—on the Day of Iris when the link between Astral Zero and the human realm was the strongest.
"...That being said, what do we actually do?"
On the way back to the dorm from Raven Class' classroom, Claire sighed with a troubled look.
"We've never had proper kagura experience."
"The Academy's courses never covered it?"
"It was covered, but only the very basics."
Claire shook her head at Kamito's question.
"Yes, it'd be totally different if there were a specialized course on being idols."
"...I see. Well, let's all give it our best."
Hearing Kamito's muttered response, Claire was offended.
"What the heck? You sound like you're not involved—"
"No, but look, I'm a guy... If I got on stage, the spirits will get angry instead, right?"
"Even if that's true..."
Grrrrr, Claire's face was filled with displeasure.
However, there was no helping it.
Spirits, for the most part, preferred pure young maidens.
A spirit like Est would be an exception.
Also, Kamito had unpleasant memories associated with the word "idol"—
"Well, this time, I'll cheer for you girls from behind—"
Kamito tried to gloss over things ambiguously and leave.
Claire suddenly grabbed the back of Kamito's collar.
"W-What are you doing...?"
"Kamito, you need to help out properly."
"What do you mean by help?"
Claire pointed her finger straight at Kamito.
"Yes, you'll be our manager!"
"...Manager? What's that?"
Never heard of the word before, Kamito cocked his head.
"The manager is a support member of an idol group, responsible for making schedules, preparing meals, handling negotiations, along with all kinds of handy chores."
"Oh I see..."
Kamito clapped his hands in comprehension.
"...Isn't that exactly what I've been doing all along?"
Kamito asked with his eyes narrowed.
"Precisely what I have been relegating to Carol all the time."
Rinslet chimed in, proudly for some reason.
"...Sigh, I get it."
Kamito shrugged and sighed.
"I'll be that whatever manager."
...Oh well, at least it's better than "Let's all be idols together!"
"...Next, if only we had a teacher to instruct us in kagura."
"Yes, I think it might work if we asked for a favor, saying it's for the Academic Affairs department—""
Saying that, Claire pulled opened the door to her room.
"Hey, what is the meaning of this!?"
In the very center of the room, the Second Princess was standing with arms akimbo, very angry.
"—As soon as I returned from the spiritology protest, I found my bed in a total mess!"
In the room, Georgios was slowly cleaning up the rubble.
The imperial family's knight spirit engaged in room cleaning, what a surreal scene.
"Speaking of which, we do have a kagura pro here."
"Indeed, I agree."
News of the Academy holding a giant event instantly spread. Everyone who wanted to enter all crowded at the Sylphid Knights headquarters to register.
In any case, credit earned at the Elemental Festa would be added to their usual points, while emerging victorious could receive a blessing from top-tier spirits.
However, among the participants there were probably girls who wanted to attract attention as idols, to shine on stage too—
"...It feels like it's developed into something big."
Seeing the huge crowd gathered in front of the cathedral, Claire commented in surprise.
"Hmph, numerous rivals merely serve to motivate me more."
"Hey, we will be training over there, hurry—"
Fianna was calling out from the center of the plaza. Claire and the girls obediently went over.
Indeed, no kidding, Fianna was an elite princess maiden from the Divine Ritual Institute. Undergoing harsh training since early childhood, she was truly an expert on kagura.
In terms of kagura talent alone, she would rank higher than the lecturers at the Academy. Under her instruction, Team Scarlet's kagura would surely reach a higher level of perfection than any other team—
"...I'm surprised. This could very well work."
Sitting on a bench to watch the young ladies training, Kamito remarked leisurely.
From what he could see, they all had excellent potential.
Claire and Rinslet were prodigies who were quick on the uptake. Although he was slightly worried about Ellis, who looked like dance was not her strength, Kamito knew very well that she was amazingly hardworking. No matter how harsh the training, she would grit her teeth and muster every ounce of her strength to push through—
"Kamito, can I eat this?"
Kamito handed a lunch box of meatballs to Est, who was sitting rigidly beside him.
Chew chew... The sword spirit expressionless placed a meatball in her mouth.
Kamito was suddenly struck with curiosity and asked.
"Oh right, Est, you're on the receiving side of kagura offered to you by humans. What kind of dancing do you like?"
Est stared off into space, lost in thought—
"It starts with 'cappa'."
"I like the one that starts with 'cappa'."
"...Umm, how does the dance go?"
"Cappa~, cappa cappa~, cappa~, dish on the head~, cappa~..."
Apparently enjoying herself(?), Est sang expressionlessly.
(...Hmm, I don't really understand Est's sensibilities.)
Fianna's strict voice could be heard from the plaza on this leisurely afternoon.
"First are the basic forms. Express yourselves like flowing water, like a powerful waterfall!"
"What the heck, that's too abstract!"
"L-Like a waterfall would be... like this? Ho, ho..."
Ellis awkwardly twisted her body with doubt on her face.
"WRONG! A waterfall is like this, watch, dance more passionately!"
...It looked like things were more difficult than I had imagined.
"...Hmm, just as expected. Oh well, I suppose it wasn't going to be that easy, huh?"
Looking down at the plaza from the headmistress' office, Greyworth sighed softly.
Although they seemed to practicing orthodox kagura, they ultimately lacked basic skills. A bystander would think they were engaged in some kind of suspicious ritual.
"This might take longer than I thought—"
Greyworth chuckled and turned her gaze away from the window.
"Headmistress, may I interrupt?"
Standing at the door was Freya.
"What's the matter?"
"Team Scarlet is confirmed to compete in the Blade Dance. They don't have free time to spend on this kind of idol event, do they?"
There was a hint of accusation in Freya's tone. All things considered, four out of the five members of Team Scarlet were students of Raven Class. As their homeroom teacher, it was only natural for her to feel displeased.
"Hmm, you're saying that it's a waste of time for these kids to practice dancing?"
"I wouldn't go so far... But they ought to devote more time to special training for the Blade Dance, right? Even if the two great spirits had nominated them—"
"Oh, that was a lie."
"The two great spirits did not nominate anyone. I merely wanted them to enter the Elemental Festa."
"Why would you do that...?"
"Because ordinary training cannot provide what they currently need—"
Smiling confidently, Greyworth cast her gaze outside the window again.
"Furthermore, I might be able to see something interesting."
Freya frowned questioningly.
"Have you heard of Himeragi E. Arsage?"
"...Yes. Three years ago, the legendary idol who had suddenly shown up in the imperial capital."
"Indeed. Having reached the pinnacle of popularity, she suddenly retired one day. Some say she wasn't human. Others say she was a spirit—"
"Were she here, perhaps we would have no need to hold an Elemental Festa."
A smile surfaced on the corners of Greyworth's lips.
Whom she was watching was—
The manager, delivering handmade lunch boxes to the girls.
"—I think this place is very suitable."
Where Fianna had brought Team Scarlet for training was—
The fountain plaza at Undine Street in the Academy town.
The plaza was surrounded by a dense cluster of classy cafes and trinket shops. Big spenders were plentiful here, resulting in much prosperity. Furthermore, due to the abundant divine power released by the pure fountain, it was also famous as a place where spirits rested.
"I see, it's definitely a great location," said Kamito.
"...D-Do we have to dance here with so many people around?"
Claire, being shy, asked worriedly in a whisper.
"Hmm, I would prefer a more secluded place, if possible—"
"What are you talking about? For the real thing, you'll need to perform for an audience at an even bigger arena. As idols, it's ridiculous for you girls to be so shy."
"My goodness, Her Highness is completely right."
Ellis and Claire looked around shyly.
"Since it's just practice, you don't need to be so nervous."
Fianna approached the fountain. The spirits gathered in the surroundings began to spin in the air, looking very interested.
"Hmm, a bigger audience would be better. Let's add more audience."
"Y-You don't have to do that!"
Ignoring Claire's protest, Fianna drew a simple magic circle on the ground and started to chant incantations in spirit language.
—The magic circle drawn in chalk began to glow faintly. From there, spirits of various forms, big and small, came forth.
The summoned spirits instantly buried the entire fountain plaza.
Also, people in the surroundings also gathered, curious to know what was happening.
"Hey, are you sure it's okay to summon so many?"
"Perhaps you summoned a bit too many."
"Hmph, this is perfect."
Rinslet puffed out her chest proudly.
"...Sigh, I think I'd prefer a blade dance instead."
"How rare for us to agree. I find wielding an elemental waffe more comfortable too."
Claire and Ellis simultaneously shrugged and sighed.
"Pull yourselves together and stand properly out front."
As the instructor, Fianna adjusted the girls' standing positions.
"Well then, I'm going to watch with Est. Do your best."
"Hold on, that's so unfair, traitor~!"
Amid Claire's protests—
Kamito took Est by the hand and sat down at a cafe's outdoor seating.
"Kamito, can we order this pudding?"
"Can we order two?"
"Kamito, I love you♪"
Indulging Est as usual, Kamito ordered a coffee for himself at the same time.
He turned his gaze to the fountain, just in time to see the nervous girls announce that they were about to finish preparations for the performance.
(...Let's see the fruits of their training.)
Solemn music was played out from the spirit crystal that Fianna set up.
Bi~, hyarabi~, hyarabi~, hyarahyarabi~bi~...
Instantly, sacred sounding notes of a flute filled the plaza where spirits had gathered.
Claire, Rinslet and Fianna moved their arms and legs fluidly, using their entire body to extol life.
The vast earth, the distant sky, as well as the endless cycle of birth and death...
Bi~, hyorobi~, hyorohyorobi~...
...Sweat drops were sliding down Kamito's forehead.
(F-For some reason, I suddenly feel so sleepy...)
Kamito involuntarily looked around him—
The intrigued audience that had gathered initially were yawning with boredom. Among the summoned spirits, it looked like roughly half had returned to Astral Zero...
Then soon after—
The majority of the spirits gathered around the fountain were gone.
"—Wait, what the heck!? Why did they all go back!?"
Claire's twintails stood on end as she brandished Flametongue. Not intimidated at all, the last of the spirits escaped.
"My goodness, how rude!"
Rinslet nodded with anger on her face.
"...My apologies, perhaps I screwed up."
Ellis bowed her head at Claire and Rinslet.
"No, this is not your fault, Captain."
"I agree, no matter how I look at it, the chosen music is the problem!"
Holding her flaming whip, Claire accused Fianna.
"What kagura from the Divine Ritual Institute? This is totally useless."
"H-How odd. Back in the Divine Ritual Institute, the Ritual to Pray for a Bountiful Harvest is considered one of the ultimate kagura no matter what kind of application..."
Fianna avoided eye contact.
"Well, I guess it's a bit of a stretch to start off the bat with ultimate kagura."
Arriving at the side, Kamito shrugged and remarked.
Sure enough, proper training of the basic forms would be necessary to perform a kagura dance up to standard. This was not something that could be mastered in a day or two.
"Furthermore, it looks like city spirits don't really like stiff and formal kagura."
"...That might be true."
Fianna shrugged and nodded.
"Sigh, and we specially trained in it..."
Claire slumped her shoulders, looking very demoralized.
On the other side of the road, lively-sounding music could be heard.
It was very festive and grand music, standing in stark contrast to the kagura Claire's team had played.
"What is that?"
"Let's check it out—"
The girls ran towards the source of the sound.
At the end of the main road—
There was a wooden outdoor stage.
This type of small versatile arena would normally be used for putting on plays or skits.
The audience seating was filled with people and spirits.
Young maidens standing on the stage were banging drums.
They were dressed in animal costumes featuring ears and tails, playing musical instruments with apparent joy.
Kamito seemed to recall seeing them somewhere before.
...Or rather, they were acquaintances of the okay sort.
"They are members of Team Cernunnos, no?"
Rinslet remarked in surprise.
Indeed, they were a team whom Kamito had battled against during the mock exams.
Back when they were still a two-man team, Kamito and Claire had met a painful defeat at the hands of this strong team, whose leader was a druid girl employing a powerful beast swarm spirit.
"...Looks like it."
"Girls, sing and dance even more happily—"
The druid girl raised her staff and shouted.
As though responding to her, the spirits hovering over the audience seating flashed.
The drums continued to bang...
"Eh, even though the music sounds primitive, the spirits seem to like it."
"Compared to the somber kagura, this is much better."
"Umm, it is true that my body is starting to move involuntarily..."
Ellis began tapping to the beat with the tip of her foot.
"Oh, I spot the Captain!"
"Really~ What is she doing here~?"
Girls with towels around their heads gathered around.
Ellis exclaimed in a fluster.
The girls running over were her fellow Sylphid Knights.
"Don't tell me the Captain will be performing in the Festa too~?"
Kamito somehow sensed evil in the Knight girl's smile.
"U-Umm, I suppose."
"No way! I thought the Captain would never do anything like those idols!"
"I-I have all kinds of reasons!"
Ellis coughed deliberately, blushing deeply.
"...By the way, judging from your outfits, you girls will be performing in the Festa too, right?"
"Yes, the five of us underclassmen have formed a group called the Wind Fairies."
The knight girls spun around, causing their skirts to float.
"It's fine as long as it doesn't affect our responsibilities as knights, right?"
"Yes, of course—"
Ellis stared hard at her underclassman's tiny skirt.
"Th-That skirt's length, isn't that a bit shameless?"
The girl cocked her head in reply.
...They were definitely wearing quite tiny skirts.
"You cannot expose so much thigh!"
"Eh~, but the spirits clearly prefer this..."
"That's right, also, they're wearing even more outrageous clothes over there."
Ellis frowned. The girl pointed at the stage ahead.
While Team Cernunnos was exiting the stage while the audience applauded, another group was entering to replace them.
Appearing on stage was—
A unit of beautiful princess maidens clad in dresses with the color of night.
With jewels on their tiaras shining like stars, jet-black dresses that seemed as though they would meld into the darkness of the night, they were full of mysterious allure all over.
This scene was as though dancing spirits of the night had descended.
"Somehow, this feels like the real deal..."
"These costumes are too high level."
"But what about the critical part, their performance?"
The five girls bowed at the audience then—
Djen~, djen djen, djen~!
A guitar sounded.
Instantly, the maidens' clear shouts dominated the entire venue.
It was the newest kagura, with an intense beat, tried and tested in cities.
The ambiance at the venue instantly exploded.
The audience was even more enthusiastic than when Team Cernunnos was on stage. The glow of divine power from the spirits also turned into all kinds of colors.
"...W-What is this...!?"
"Is this kagura...!?"
Claire and the others were conquered by this kagura that was completely different from their own performance.
Playing stylish music, dancing freely across the stage.
The black dresses fluttered, countless jet-black wings danced in the air—
When their song finally ended—
Thunderous applause burst forth from the audience.
The maidens responded with cool expressions and got off the stage.
Claire silently bit her lip.
The gap between their performances had shocked her greatly.
Dark Evangel was the name of the unit.
One of the members descending from the stage fixed her gaze on Claire.
"Claire Rouge... Hmph, you guys will be performing at the Festa?"
She spoke with a mocking tone.
In that instant, Claire's twintails jumped up.
"...Yeah, that's right. Got a problem with that?"
Kamito was going to stop her.
"Yes, of course, Calamity Queen's sister—"
"...What did you say!?"
"If small fry like you guys perform, the two great spirits will end up so disappointed."
"We will win for sure. You can go suck your thumbs and watch."
"At least that would be better than offering an awful kagura in front of everyone—"
The girls of Dark Evangel were covering their mouths, snickering to themselves.
"...Y-You, w-what did you say...!?"
"Claire, violence cannot be used."
"I understand how you feel, but hold it in. The Blade Dance is coming soon."
Rinslet and Ellis grabbed Claire's shoulders when she still wanted to swing Flametongue.
Claire glared reluctantly at those who had provoked her, enduring.
"Hmph, I can't believe you people won the right to enter the Blade Dance. Something must be wrong."
"The Laurenfrost hillbilly nobles, the totally useless Lost Queen—"
"Velsaria Eva? I can't believe she dappled in Cursed Armament Seals. A total dishonor to the whole school, what is there to be proud of?"
"What, how dare you... insult my esteemed sister!"
"Ellis, calm down—"
This time, it was Kamito's turn to grab Ellis by the arm.
"—I-I absolutely won't lose to you."
Claire's voice trembled as she pointed at them, declaring steadfastly.
"Ho, please make us look forward to it."
"Because whom we follow is the lord producer of darkness."
With a sneer on their faces, the members of Dark Evangel scattered black feathers at Team Scarlet from their dresses before leaving.
"...~, unforgivable, unforgivable. I cannot believe they called the Laurenfrosts hillbilly nobles!"
Rinslet kept stomping her foot.
"Although I am accustomed to malicious slander from others, I still feel offended here."
Fianna quietly whispered.
As for Claire—
She was staring intently at the backs of the departing members of Dark Evangel.
Kamito asked her, causing Claire to slowly turn her head back.
"Guys, we must win, no matter what it takes—"
"Yes, this concerns the honor of nobles!"
"I cannot forgive them for insulting my esteemed sister—"
"Fufufu... I shall conduct a cursing ceremony to give them nightmares about chickens every night, preventing them from sleeping."
"Let's not do that."
Kamito frantically stopped Fianna who had taken out an effigy used for suspicious rituals.
Claire and the rest of the girls exchanged glances, nodding silently.
Dark Evangel's provocation had evidently fired up the young ladies' hearts.
However, from what Kamito could see, given their current state, forget about Dark Evangel that they had just witnessed, even defeating other groups would be stretch—
"...Come, let's continue training. Every second counts now," said Claire.
"First, we need to pick a new song—"
"Yes. As much as it frustrates me, Dark Evangel's song is very polished."
"I suppose finding an instructor specializing in kagura would be best—"
With serious expressions on their faces, the girls brought up suggestions to one another.
Watching them like that, Kamito—
Somehow, he felt he understood the true reason why Greyworth had ordered them to participate in this Elemental Festa.
(In that case, what I am able to do is—)
Although it pissed him off that he was going along with Greyworth's plan, he felt that it was not a bad thing in the current situation.
(...Just now, I felt a bit angry when my teammates were insulted.)
"Kamito, what's wrong?"
"...Listen, everyone. Do you want to beat those people?"
Kamito quietly began to speak—
"Yes, that goes without saying."
"I cannot allow such words to be spoken with impunity—"
"You seriously wanna win, right?"
When Kamito repeated himself, the girls nodded vigorously.
"—In that case, could you leave the rest to me, your manager?"
Kamito swept his gaze across all their faces.
"I will make you win."
Starting from that day, for the sake of the Elemental Festa a week later, Kamito's special training began.
This included an early morning lesson before morning classes and a lesson after nightfall. Apart from that, Kamito would devise individualized lessons for the girls when they did not have class. Naturally, they did not relax their training for the upcoming Blade Dance either. Hence, this was extremely harsh training even for his teammates who were confident in their basic fitness.
Meals too. Everyone's portions were under Kamito's management. Kamito's special menu not only addressed nutrition but also covered the replenishment of divine power.
"Uwah, this is disgusting. What is it!?"
Drinking dark blue juice, Claire complained with a suffering look.
"...~, with my sense of taste, I ultimately cannot accept it!"
"This is a special elemental drink. It's for replenishing divine power."
Through an unusual method, this special drink was prepared from herbs growing in the Spirit Forest.
Able to make an elementalist draw out their maximum power, this was a secret recipe from the Instructional School.
"Oh my, this tastes lovely."
"Kamito, another cup."
"See, you girls need to learn from Fianna and Est."
"Ugh~ ...But isn't Est a spirit?"
"Y-Your Highness, is there something strange going on with your sense of taste?"
Despite the suffering looks on their faces, the girls drank their special drinks in one breath.
They had commissioned a tailor shop, which Ellis frequented, to make Team Scarlet's stage outfits with express service. In order to distinguish themselves from the numerous rivals, memorable costumes were important in addition to putting hard work into the performance. In particular, the enemy they wanted to defeat—the members of Dark Evangel—was quite flawless in both their choice of music and the design concept behind their costumes.
The design concept behind Team Scarlet's costumes was based on dancing blades.
Pure white dresses embroidered all over with silver thread, evocative of dancing blades. An personalized ribbon was tied on each girl's shoulder with a different color.
"...S-So embarrassing. Do I really have to dance like this?"
Clutching the hem of her skirt, Claire groaned.
"Endure it. Besides, these clothes look good on all of you."
"Eh? I-It looks good...?"
The young ladies blushed because of Kamito's comment.
This was not flattery. Indeed, the girls definitely looked great in their costumes. Although he had recently gotten used to the fact they were outstanding beauties, the pride of the Academy, seeing them dressed in something apart from their usual uniforms made Kamito realize this fact once more.
Spirits, which liked pure and beautiful maidens, would be satisfied by their lovely appearances, right?
Just as Kamito was thinking that—
"What is the matter, Kamito?"
Replicating the girls' costumes in an instant, Est was spinning round and round.
Clad in a silver-white dress, Est looked completely like a snow fairy.
"Hmm, it looks great on you too, Est."
"So happy, Kamito."
Spin spin spin. Est began to spin even faster.
...Sword spirits apparently loved to spin.
—Thinking that, Kamito was struck by a thought and asked.
"Hey Est, why don't you try performing in the Festa too?"
In fact, the Elemental Festa did not have any rule "forbidding spirits to perform."
A dance featuring Est, who was so cute, would definitely bring joy to many spirits.
"Yes, Kamito—Your wish is my command."
Est finished one more revolution then entered a "ping" pose expressionlessly.
A group lesson for all of Team Scarlet was held that night. Since interruptions were common on school premises, they went to Astral Zero via a gate in some ruins.
"So, what do we do about the music?"
Kamito handed a small spirit crystal to Fianna when she asked.
"I think this song will work. Girls, listen to it whenever you have time."
Kamito poured divine power into the crystal through his fingertips, causing it to glow faintly and start playing music.
What came out of the crystal was a sound composed of percussion and woodwind instruments, a tune with a quick rhythm. Due to the rich variation in the melody, one could listen to it again and again without getting tired of it.
"This song, don't tell me it's..."
Fianna exclaimed in surprise.
"—Himeragi E. Arsage's dance!?"
"...You know it?"
"Yes, appearing out of nowhere four years ago, the legendary idol. She made her appearance at the Elemental Festa held at the imperial capital, isn't it a famous story how she quelled the flood at Dorna River?"
Hearing this, Kamito involuntarily looked away.
"...W-Whatever. Then hurry up if you know it."
Saying that, Kamito took out another spirit crystal this time and placed it on the floor.
"What's this one for?" Claire asked.
"There are lingering images from the past. I want to show you girls this first."
As before, Kamito poured divine power into the spirit crystal. It glowed and projected a clear image on the walls of the collapsed ruins.
"Kamito-kun, this, no way...!"
Fianna exclaimed in surprise.
"Yes, I borrowed it from the Academy's library. A video of Himeragi E. Arsage four years ago."
Projected there was—
A beautiful girl, her blonde hair fluttering while she danced.
The glittering fan in her hand was waving like an endlessly flowing river. Due to blurriness in the video, the face was unclear, but the beauty of her kagura was fully conveyed.
"...Th-This is my first time watching this. So beautiful."
"Yes, I feel like my heart and soul has been cleansed simply by watching this."
"Such a young girl, how amazing—"
The kagura performed by the legendary idol four years ago fill Claire and the girls with awe.
Everyone watched the video intently without another word.
Finally, the image vanished and the music stopped.
Kamito coughed dryly and spoke.
"Girls, do you get why I showed you this?"
"...Umm, you want us to learn the dance of the legendary idol, right?"
Claire nodded and replied.
"Yeah. If you learn this kagura, winning won't be a dream."
"But it is not possible to master kagura of this level in such short—"
"Don't worry. I'll instruct you."
Kamito asserted to the worried Ellis.
"Kamito, could it be possible that you have kagura experience?"
"...Well, in the past, a little."
Kamito glossed over it vaguely.
Fianna looked at him suspiciously in response to his attitude.
"...Very well. Anyway, let's try it out."
Claire spoke as the leader. Everyone nodded.
During the week after that, Kamito started his special spartan training.
"Claire, your movements are messed up! Ellis, show more vibrancy!"
Blowing a whistle, Kamito roared at the same time. For some reason, he was wearing a tracksuit with sunglasses.
"Hey, doesn't it feel like he changed as a person?"
"Why is he wearing sunglasses at night?"
"No chitchat over there! The idol's path is not that easy!"
"Kamito, I am hungry."
"...Fine. Take a break, Est."
"You favor Est too much!"
"Milady, do your best~"
Facing the young ladies running their hardest at the Academy's track, Carol waved flags.
"Fufu... It looks like you finally awakened, Kamito."
Under the moon's clear pure glow, on top of the research tower in the Academy's premises—
A figure was looking down at Kamito and company during their special training.
It was a maiden with jet-black hair, wearing a dress in the color of night.
Her dusk-colored eyes were watching Kamito with tender affection.
"I was planning to cause a commotion before the Blade Dance... But it looks like the Dusk Witch has interesting hobbies too—"
The darkness spirit girl chuckled and turned around.
Over there were five girls standing in a row with their eyes blank.
They were the members of Dark Evangel.
"Dance as I have taught you. I shall make you the best idols."
Then a week later—
The super grand event of the Elemental Festa, held by Areisha Spirit Academy, opened.
The stage for the princess maidens to perform was a circular outdoor arena located in the center of the Academy Town. With a maximum audience capacity of two thousand, people say it had been used for blade dance tournaments before.
The judges of the performances were the two great dragon spirits, who were the reasons for holding the event, as well as the many spirits residing in the Academy town. In addition, many townsfolk had gathered to watch the princess maidens' spectacular dancing, even though they were not directly involved with the judging. Even the audience were awestruck by the two divine dragon spirits dancing leisurely in the air.
The noise of the excited audience, exceeding two thousand in the number, could be heard—
At the arena's control room, Team Scarlet was nervously waiting for the even to begin.
"I-I can't believe I have to dance in front of so many people..."
Changed into her adorable outfit, Claire spoke timidly.
"W-We just need to perform like we practiced."
Nodding, Ellis had stiff expression, sure enough.
Even though she always looked calm and confident, Fianna seemed nervous too.
Only Est was the same as usual, expressionlessly eating melon bread as a snack.
"That's Refilca Sazer of the Numbers, and also Countess Milton, as well as Sir Balboa who works as an administrative official for the imperial family..."
Looking at the VIP seating, Fianna named the important nobles. The Academy organizing a once-every-several-years Festa must have caught the attention of nobles at the imperial capital.
"...~Oh no, m-my grandfather is here too?"
Ellis hid her face in embarrassment. Most likely, the old man with a solemn expression, sitting in the center of the VIP area, was Duke Fahrengart. With a hand band around his forehead, he was holding glow sticks in his hands to cheer for idols.
"I can't believe he came all the way out here to cheer for his granddaughter. What a great grandfather, right?"
"Oo, but, the thought of my grandfather watching..."
"Don't be so nervous. You've all been working hard till now. You'll be fine for sure."
I promised the girls. Seeing Kamito nod, the girls' expressions changed.
"Y-Yes... We have trained so much."
The members of Team Scarlet nodded vigorously at one another.
"Oh my, what is this?"
Mocking laughter came from the door of the control room.
The members of Dark Evangel had appeared there.
"Since you won't beat us, why not drop out now?"
"I could say the same to you."
"Do not foolishly believe we are still the same as before."
Claire and Rinslet glared at them strictly.
"Hmph, no matter what you're planning, in the end, you won't beat us because we've received our great master's training."
Claire raised an eyebrow in surprise—
"...Fufu, I look forward to the real performance."
Smiles surfaced on the girls' face as they left the control room.
"...Looks like they are quite confident."
"We won't lose for sure, because we've been training hard the whole time."
Staring at the door, Claire and Rinslet nodded at each other.
Watching them, Kamito laughed wryly in his mind.
(...I guess things will be okay like this.)
For the past week, the girls had been putting every ounce of their being into the harsh training under Kamito's instruction.
Basic training in the Spirit Forest, muscle training making use of the Instructional School's assassination training methods, singing lessons taking place simultaneously with blade dance practice—
...These girls had not complained a single word the whole time, truly awe inspiring.
Right now, Team Scarlet was definitely stronger than when they had faced Velsaria in battle. This was a kind of strength they could never achieve had they simply engaged in blade dance and elemental waffe training—
(...We've done everything we can. They should be strong enough to win.)
All Kamito could do now was believe in them.
Outside the control room, a massive bell sounded.
Claire looked up and quickly extended her hand, clad in a pure white glove.
"Everyone, we must win—"
"Yes." "Indeed." "Certainly." "Yeah—"
Hands from five people were stacked together.
Finally, Kamito placed his hand on top—
Then the Elemental Festa raised its curtain.
As soon as the Festa began, the stage was covered by astounding heat.
Thunderous cheers. Spectacular lights crossed and illuminated overhead. Summoned to various parts of the venue, sound spirits amplified the music played from spirit mechanisms. The dancing princess maidens, putting their all into their performances, were causing the two thousand members of the audience to boil in excitement.
Spirits flashed intensely, emitting the light of divine power. The torrent of light from countless spirits resembled a resplendent river reflecting sunlight.
"Oh, the legendary giant bust spirit came to watch too."
Rinslet was pointing to a translucent sphere hovering lightly.
It looked like many spirits had come from Astral Zero to watch.
Like swimming in a river of torrential light, the two divine dragon spirits were moving their massive bodies leisurely. Every time they stirred with the gigantic tails, the glow of burgeoning divine power would cover the sky.
Bathed in the divine power of the spirits, the idols on stage performed their songs and dances with every increasing fervor.
"Everyone is more amazing than I expected..."
"Indeed, they are all excellent."
The unit formed by Ellis' junior knights—The Wind Fairies—had delivered a well-choreographed performance, causing Claire and Rinslet to offer praise.
After every idol performance, the live audience would cheer generously. At the same time, they also decided the winners and losers mercilessly. There was only one standard of success, namely, to what extent the dance they had offered had satisfied the spirits—
Devices set up in four corners of the venue would measure the light of divine power released in the surroundings, then display on a noticeboard on the stage powered by spirit light.
"The Wind Fairies received a score of 89.2 for their performance!"
A teacher from the Academy served as the host and read out the score displayed on the noticeboard. This was currently the highest score of all groups performed so far. The Wind Fairies jumped up with a "wow!"
"...Good job... They did well..."
Seeing her juniors' lively performance, Ellis could not help but weep tears of joy.
"Hey Ellis, this isn't the time to be emotional. We won't be winning unless we surpass that score."
"...Yes, I-I know."
Ellis wiped her tears away and resumed her usual solemn expression.
"At last, we will be performing for real next—"
After the Wind Fairies exited the stage, thunderous applause was heard again.
As Claire spoke, Team Scarlet entered the stage.
The sound instantly exploded.
Four years ago, at the Elemental Festa held at the imperial capital, the legendary idol—Himeragi E. Arsage—had used this song, Gospel's Elementalia.
The percussion instruments maintained a steady beat with the incredible timbre of strings and woodwind instruments mixed among them, setting the audience's hearts racing. Also, supported by this melody that was inexplicably exciting as an offering to spirits, the pure princess maidens' singing voices were shaking the air.
Ellis and Rinslet danced in a perfect combination step, tapping out the beat with the heels of their boots. Claire had her twintails untied and was dancing freely back and forth across the sage. Like a fairy, Est was spinning. Fianna was at the center of the stage, offering a spectacular dance while staying perfectly aware of every member's movements and giving directions.
Middle of the song, when the tune accelerated all at once, Claire and Rinslet crossed each other, swapping positions in an instant, displaying a duet's perfect coordination. The spotlights on the stage were turning in a dizzyingly spectacular manner. Leading the spinning Est by the hand, Ellis moved to center stage—
Compared to the majority of other groups whose movements aimed for perfect unity, Team Scarlet's choreography concept was based on keeping the idols' individuality as much as as possible, while calibrating to an exquisite balance.
A performance that showcased the maximum charm of these young ladies, each with her own strong individuality—
That was what Kamito intended to produce with this kagura.
It was like a bewildering dance of blades—
To the point that one might mistaken it for a blade dance, a dance performance filled with glamor and tension.
Roughly three minutes elapsed—
Claire and the girls were dancing at full effort the whole time.
Even compared to their special training this week, it was their best performance.
The instant the song stopped—
The entire venue was filled with applause akin to an earthquake.
The spirits flashed intensely like lightning. The two great spirits in the sky roared with thunderous joy.
(Great, well done...!)
Inside the stage, Kamito quietly clenched his fist.
Then the noticeboard displayed the score, causing the subsided cheering to erupt once more.
94.6—The current high score.
"...W-We did it!"
"We managed to do it, Claire!"
Claire and Rinslet were standing side by side and could not help but hug each other.
"Our dance offering has reached the spirits."
"A-Although it was embarrassing, it f-felt pretty good..."
Blushing, Ellis waved timidly at the audience. Kamito glanced at the VIP area, only to see Duke Fahrengart squealing while waving his glow sticks.
Fianna spoke to warn the trio on stage who were getting carried away.
"It's too soon to celebrate. The victor isn't decided yet—"
Claire jumped in surprise and returned to her serious look.
On the side of the stage was Dark Evangel, their preparations ready.
With a scattering of jet-black feathers, Dark Evangel entered the stage.
A mysterious atmosphere shrouded them, causing the mood at the venue to change drastically, instantly plunging the scene into silence. Descende from the stage, Claire and the girls watched them, gulping.
The spotlights on the stage criss-crossed—
The main vocalist gave a vigorous shout.
Instantly, the cheering was loud enough to shake the venue. The light given off by spirits overwhelmed the field of view.
"...I can't believe the spirits are reacting like this—"
Claire bit her lip involuntarily.
The audience's fervor far surpassed what they had during Team Scarlet's performance.
The two great spirits roared with joy, raining maximum divine power on the venue—
"...Guh, sure enough, a mere week of special training was not enough to fight them, huh—"
Ellis whispered in chagrin.
(...What is this feeling?)
Kamito sensed something intensely wrong about Dark Evangel's kagura.
Although it was definitely a spectacular performance, compared to Claire's team, there should not be such an overwhelming gap.
In that case, what exactly was behind the spirits' unusual fervor—
He felt a tug on his sleeve.
Kamito looked back to see Est. Her violet eyes were slightly dimmed.
"That is something bad."
"Yeah, I've got a bad feeling about this too..."
Just at that moment...
Fianna pointed overhead and shouted.
Surprised, Kamito looked up—
I noticed something strange about the two divine dragon spirits.
There was an ominous crimson glow in their eyes. Their massive scaled bodies were shrouded by darkness resembling mist.
Kamito's gaze returned to Dark Evangel on the stage. At that moment—
The divine dragon spirits' terrifying roars rocked the entire atmosphere.
"Fufu... Looks like those kids have been dancing well—"
On the clock tower overlooking the town, the black-winged darkness spirit smiled.
What she had taught Dark Evangel was an ancient lost ritual kagura, but with a minor twist.
Namely, it was a type of dark kagura for making spirits go berserk. Every time the ritual completed, even top-tier spirits could not possibly resist—
"So, Kamito, what are you going to do?"
Whispering in joy—
The darkness spirit girl chuckled.
The venue of the Elemental Festa was instantly plunged into massive chaos filled with screams.
The two giant divine dragon spirits unleashed fire and water breath. Gone berserk, hundreds of spirits were flashing intensely while crashing towards surrounding buildings.
The two thousand spectators gathered at the venue screamed, trying to escape.
"...What on earth happened!?"
Claire cried out.
"I have no idea either!"
"...Th-That's the Kagura of the Mad Banquet."
Fianna spoke in a nervous tone.
"What is that?"
"It is a type of dark kagura for making spirits go berserk. I read about it from a sealed book back when I was at the Divine Ritual Institute."
"What? Why would something like that—"
Claire widened her eyes in shock and met Kamito's gaze with her own.
Most likely, Kamito had thought of the same thing.
The darkness spirit who had given her a frenzy in the past and plunged the Academy town into chaos—
(...Could it be Restia?)
At that moment, one of the divine dragon spirits struck the stage hard with its massive tail.
The stage's stone wall instantly collapsed, producing a huge cloud of dust.
"...Oh no, Dark Evangel!"
"Don't worry, they're fine."
Fianna reassured the screaming Claire.
Kamito looked more closely. At some point in time, Georgios had raised a large shield under the falling rain of debris to protect the members of Dark Evangel, who had fallen unconscious.
"Princess, why are the spirits still berserk when the kagura has already stopped?"
"All is in vain once the Kagura of the Mad Banquet activates—"
The two great spirits roared and kept unleashing fire and ice breath.
...At this rate, not only the venue but also the neighborhood could end up destroyed.
(...This is really giving me no choice.)
Kamito was probably the only person present who was capable of fighting two high-level spirits at the same time.
...No time to hesitate. Kamito took the hand of Est, who was standing by his side.
"Est, let's go!"
"Yes, I am your sword, Kamito. Your wish is my command—"
Est's body turned into particles of light and vanished. The Demon Slayer appeared in Kamito's hand.
This was the ultimate elemental waffe, even capable of destroying high-ranked spirits.
However, Claire grabbed Kamito's arm just as he was about to rush in.
"No, Kamito, you can't! If you erase the two great spirits, the Academy won't be able to function!"
"Indeed, you should consider that the last resort—"
Looking at the silver-white sacred sword, Fianna nodded and concurred.
"Yeah, but at this rate, the town will..."
"We will take action. Kamito-kun, you go protect the people."
Fianna asserted clearly.
"...What do you mean by take action?"
"We will use our kagura to calm down the spirits."
"...Is that possible?"
"Yes. Thanks to the many idols here, if we all cooperate, it should be possible to break the Kagura of the Mad Banquet—"
Quelling berserk spirits was a very tough mission. However, if every princess maiden at the scene performed a calming kagura as an offering, perhaps it would work—
"...I guess we've got no choice. We're doing this, girls."
"...Understood." "You can count on me."
Faced with Claire's call, Ellis and Rinslet nodded with determination.
The song Gospel's Elementalia was playing at maximum volume—
With the song playing, Claire and the girls deployed their elemental waffen, dividing their efforts to handle the berserk spirits while calling for the remaining Festa participants to cooperate.
"Captain, our orders please!"
The members of the Wind Fairies, hidden behind the rubble, ran over to Ellis' side.
"Follow the princess' directions. Offer a calming kagura together."
"We will help too."
"Shareilia-san, thank you so much!"
With Team Cernunnos, dressed in animal costumes, leading the way, the other teams also came forward to gather one after another.
"Everyone, gather in front of the stage!"
Constructing an isolation barrier to defend against spirit attacks, Fianna gave directions to the princess maidens.
Conducting herself nothing like a princess usually, she was currently exuding royal solemnity.
Using Flametongue, Claire drew two spirits' attention. Rinslet struck down spirits that were aiming to attack Fianna. During this time, Ellis and the members of the Sylphid Knights swiftly rescued audience who had not run away in time—
(...The girls have progressed so much.)
Kamito was working to protect the audience too. He muttered to himself in his mind.
Despite quarreling all the time in the beginning, coming into conflict—
Now they had come to understand one another's strengths and weaknesses, able to coordinate and cooperate.
The gathered princess maidens began to offer kagura to the two great spirits that had gone berserk.
The young maidens' prayer-like singing voices turned into a powerful chorus, sending unruly spirits to Astral Zero one after another—
The two divine dragon spirits roared at the same time, firing their breath at the stage.
The raging breath easily broke the barrier, sending the entire stage flying.
(...Sure enough, it didn't work...!?)
Kamito poured divine power into the Demon Slayer.
The silver-white blade glowed with blinding brilliance.
He could not allow this to go on any further. To prevent the town from getting caught up in danger, there was no solution but to erase the two great spirits.
Just as Kamito was going to charge at the stage...
Unexpectedly, a shadow at his foot shook and a figure appeared.
Kamito could not help but halt.
Out appeared from the shadow was his homeroom teacher, Freya.
"Why are you here...? No wait, now's the time, please help!"
"Well, calm down—"
Freya quietly shook her head.
"The headmistress asked me to come over. To give this to you."
She handed out a large bag, carried in her arms.
"...What is this?"
"No idea. The headmistress says you'll understand."
With a question mark over his head, Kamito opened the bag to peer inside.
The bag contained—
A clean and tidy costume of pure white and brilliantly shining blonde wig.
Kamito instantly understand Greyworth's intent for delivering this to him.
...He clutched his head after he figured it out.
(...Argggggggh, I see now, damn it!)
"...Regroup, dance the kagura again!"
Sending layers of rubble flying, Claire cried out.
"Rinslet, I leave Fianna's protection to you—"
"Wait, starting right away is impossible. I need to prepare for kagura again."
Fianna shook her head very sadly.
"I need to construct a simple stage using a magic circle, that takes five minutes... No, three minutes."
Claire gritted her teeth.
"I will buy as much time as possible. Hurry up—"
At that moment...
Behind Claire and the girls, a bell-like sound was heard.
Everyone present turned around.
How long had she been there?
On top of the mountain of rubble stood a girl in a dress of pure white.
Gorgeous blonde hair. Jet-black eyes that seemed to contain the dark night within them. The corners of her lips were hidden behind a silver-white mask whose shape resembled a crescent moon.
The bell-like sound just now apparently came from the girl's earring.
"Umm, who are you...?"
Was she one of the idols scheduled to perform in the Elemental Festa?
Claire asked in doubt.
"...Himeragi E. Arsage!"
Fianna whispered with surprise all over her face.
"No mistake. Those clothes, that look... It is the legendary idol from four years ago."
"What did you say!?"
Fianna's observation raised a commotion.
However, upon closer examination, indeed—
Despite a different physique, those lovely airs enveloping her were identical to the legendary idol they had seen in the video.
"W-Why...? When you were supposed to have retired?"
...Did she come to watch the Elemental Festa?
Ignoring the shocked Claire and others, the masked princess maiden stood on top of the collapsed stage—
Whoosh—Then she started to dance kagura steps nimbly.
Her body was enveloped in a vibrant and eye-catching glow of divine power.
The fluid and glamorous dance performance made everyone present hold their breath.
Finally understanding her intentions, Fianna called out.
"Everyone, dance a kagura in sync with her rhythm!"
Claire asked in response. The masked girl silently nodded.
"U-Understood!" "Acknowledged!" "Everyone, follow her—"
Claire and the others stood up and began to offer a kagura together with the legendary idol.
...Guh.. uuuuuuu... oooooouuuuu...!
Like the dancing of countless beautiful blades, their dance performance caused to the two berserk divine dragon spirits to emit groaning roars. Himeragi E. Arsage and the princess maidens danced a flowing kagura, dispelling and purifying the darkness ensnaring them—
...Guh... Gwoooo, uuuuu...!
"Almost there..." "Hold on a little... longer..."
Himeragi E. Arsage took a last and intense step.
Then the instant the song ended—
The two great spirits roared and returned to Astral Zero at last.
...The next day, after the Elemental Festa concluded in massive chaos.
"...In the end, what the heck?"
In a cafe at the Academy town, Claire grumbled with a sigh.
Although the Elemental Festa ended up a total mess, the two great spirits were successfully calmed thanks to the legendary idol's sudden appearance. Having gone berserk and destroyed the venue, the flame dragon spirit and the water dragon spirit apparently reflected on their poor behavior and blessed every princess maiden who had entered the Festa.
The girls of Dark Evangel who had partaken in a forbidden ritual ended up in some kind of delirious state, unable to remember anything that had happened at the event. According to their testimony, a week ago, there had been a black-winged goddess. Although the Imperial Knights were currently investigating the suspect's connection to the current incident, chances of locating the suspect were slim.
Kamito's gaze fell upon his leather-gloved left hand, a bitter feeling in his heart.
"That being said, what a shock. I can't believe the legendary idol happened to visit from the imperial capital to watch this event."
Claire's words caused Kamito's heart rate to rise.
"Yes, she is so pretty!"
"Mm-hmm, true idol ought to be reserved to describe a princess maiden like her."
Ellis nodded with slight infatuation on her face.
"Kamito, you saw her too, right?"
"Uh, yeah... I-I guess... very pretty, haha..."
"What's with that 'I guess'? Even though she covered her face, Lady Himeragi was really beautiful."
Kamito turned his gaze elsewhere.
"But why did she disappear right away?"
"Yes, I wanted to thank her for protecting the town."
"Maybe she hates getting harassed by curious people."
"Hmm, what a charismatic individual, Lady Himeragi."
Fianna was the only one watching Kamito maliciously. Sure enough, she had realized something?
"Although I was already her fan before, I'm now her diehard fan~"
Kamito cursed a million times in his thoughts... The princess had evidently gotten a hold of even more blackmail material.
(...Greyworth, you knew this would happen from the start, didn't you?)
Kamito shouted angrily in his thoughts.
A sensation sweeping through the imperial capital four years ago, the legendary idol—Himeragi E. Arsage.
Needless to say, her true identity was Kamito, forced into crossdressing by Greyworth.
For Greyworth, this was nothing more than preliminary practice for Kamito's debut as Ren Ashbell... But for Kamito, who had entered the Festa complacently and ended up doing far better than expected, he ended up leaving a deep impression in the public's memories.
(...And to think I made up my mind never to be a damn idol again.)
Only later did Kamito find out, when he went to confront Greyworth, that she had given him Himeragi's costume as insurance, just in case no one succeeded in satisfying the two great spirits. Throwing in the mask for covering his face was the only saving grace...
Fidgeting with her hair, Claire spoke.
"...In spite of what happened, it was fun."
"Well, I suppose."
"Mm-hmm... It felt good."
"All of us were so cute, dressed in idol costumes."
The young ladies looked at one another and smiled.
...Oh well, compared to before, they definitely improved a lot in teamwork.
(...Well, I guess Greyworth planned this too, huh?)
Indeed, this could very well be better than Blade Dance training.
Kamito shrugged then gripped his left hand on which resided his contract with a darkness spirit.
...The Blade Dance would take place a week later.