A few hours after the destruction spirit’s attack.
The Bellfahle-class flying ship repaired by the engineering team landed in the sacred land of the wind spirit king.
“Ah, I can see the island!”
On the deck, Rinslet seemed to be in a good mood and pointed at the island.
The pure and high-spirited figure of the ladies was cute.
“Do, don’t say it so loudly. It’s embarrassing.”
Claire whispered that in a small voice while poking Rinslet’s elbow.
“Oh my, to want me to be quiet, are you jealous?”
“You give off a bad impression is what I’m saying.”
Kamito watched over them with sidelong glances while riding at the edge of the ship.
“So that’s the sacred land……”
Between the thick clouds and surrounded by a steep mountain range was a floating island.
<Ragna Ys> — even within Astral Zero, it is one of the most important sacred lands.
“Restia is there……”
Kamito gripped his leather gloved left hand.
The flying ship quietly advanced towards the floating island’s port.
Past noon. A little after the appointed time, the flying ship docked at Grand Ys’ harbor.
Upon seeing the battered condition of the flying ship, all the ship mechanics held their heads.
They transferred at the port into the <Divine Ritual Institute>’s prepared horse-driven carriages.
Because horse-driven carriages were meant for four people, it was a little tight with six. Est went as a sword but that only freed up one space.
During the horse-driven carriage’s bumpy ride, he had felt Rinslet’s breasts. Kamito quickly separated himself from her but it was really tight.
“Ka, Kamito-san……you’re perverted.”
“S, sorry, it was unavoidable.”
“Well, I understand that but……”
But there was no reproachful look in that face.
By the way, on the opposite side, Claire—
“……Whatever, anyway, my breasts won’t shake……”
For some reason, she was muttering to herself with teary eyes.
The horse-driven carriage continued to the opening ritual <ceremony>’s castle.
While pointing at various things outside the window, Claire acted a guide.
“The floating island <Ragna Ys> is one of the five sacred lands, the sacred land of the wind spirit king. The Blade Dance was held here 74 years ago.”
By the way, the Blade Dance three years ago had been held in the fire spirit king’s territory at Fire Mountain city. There was no rule as to where the Blade Dance would held as it was decided by oracles received by the spirit princesses.
“And the castle in the center is a historic ruin from a mystical age.”
“So that’s where we’re lodging, huh.”
“Yes, it is an unequaled opportunity. Normally the <Divine Ritual Institute> would never allow anyone except princess maidens enter. Which reminds me, have you been there before, Fianna?”
“Yes, but just once. I normally remained at the fire spirit king’s shrine.”
“……The spirit king’s true shrine. I’m a little nervous.”
Ellis whispered that with a nervous expression.
There were no signs of people on the paved road.
The ones invited to the opening ceremony were the five great spirit kings <Elemental Lords> and the spirit princesses that serve them, the spirit contractor representatives and the uppercrust nobility only. The entrance of others was not permitted and may have provoked the beginning of a real war.
“Are the king and queen of the Empire not coming?”
“……It seems. But that doesn’t concern me.”
Fianna shrugged and Kamito—
Fianna had been named the <Lost Queen> after she lost her spirit contracting powers despite being a spirit princess candidate and consequently was shunned by the king and queen.
Speaking about the king and queen to her may have been insensitive of him.
“I don’t mind. To begin with, our relationship wasn’t that good and not returning to the <Divine Ritual Institute> almost got me disowned. I have no intention of clinging to my title as the second princess and even if I’m removed from the monarchy line—”
And then Fianna stopped talking.
Claire’s parents had been imprisoned and she was chasing her rebel sister who had disappeared.
“I don’t mind.”
Claire flicked her red twintails up and turned to Rinslet.
“Is anybody come from Rinslet or Ellis’ households to watch?”
“Yes. My father and younger sister will be coming.”
“One of the Blade Dance’s objective is to gather superior talent. The Fahrengart family traditionally adopts those excelling in martial ability.”
Rinslet and Ellis nodded at the same time. Come to think of it, Ellis’ step-sister, Velsaria Eva, was adopted, thought Kamito.
“Th, that’s why, that is, if you display your true power before them, they might be wi, willing to accept you as an adopted child……”
For some reason, Ellis was muttering unintelligibly with a red face.
“Will Kamito’s family be coming?”
At Claire’s words—
Kamito asked without thinking.
With the way the conversation was going, it was obvious that he would be asked that.
But Kamito suddenly couldn’t manage to reply.
Family — the one word Kamito was most separate from.
“You, you really don’t talk about your family. I think I heard your parents were from the empire?”
He nodded with ambiguity. In the academy application that Greyworth had prepared, Kamito was the adopted son of a lower-class family of nobles. Claire had believed that.
Of course, that family of nobles didn’t really exist. It was just a family created on paper.
Kamito had no known family name. Any vague memories he had of his parents when he was young had been overwritten with the experiences at the <Instructional School>.
The one who had been by the young Kamito’s side was darkness spirit — only Restia.
(I wonder if I could call them family……)
Kamito recalled the other girls at the facility.
The other two girls in his tactical team at the <Instructional School>.
They didn’t know each others’ real names and it wasn’t a relationship between comrades.
The intelligence expert spirit contractor, Lily Flame.
And that girl that was attached to him and called him nii-sama.
(……The military-use spirit contractor, Muir Alenstarl.)
Four years ago. Ever since the facility had been destroyed in the flame spirit’s attack, Kamito had lost track of where she was. He had heard the greater half of the orphans there were taken in for protection by the Empire but there were sure to be others like Jio Inzagi who had used the chaos of the institution’s destruction to escape.
He wondered if his remembering them was because of that dream he had—
“……? What’s wrong, to make you have such a grim face?”
“Nothing, just thinking about the past.”
Kamito averted his eyes from the inquiring Claire and looked out the window.
They were approaching the castle on the mountain.
The horse-drawn carriage stopped before a large gate made of stone.
The castle at the top of the slightly inclined mountain was prepared with unparalleled beauty and grandeur.
It was surrounded by a forest and had a lake a short distance away.
Other teams also arrived and stopped their horse-drawn carriages before the gate.
(……It’s a good thing we haven’t run into that Dragon Princess.)
Relieved, he descended from the horse-drawn carriage and,
“We have been awaiting your arrival. Princess maidens who have come to entertain the spirit kings.”
Inside the gate, a group of miko garment-wearing girls greeted them.
“They are the apprentices of the <Divine Ritual Institute>. My kouhais.”
Fianna whispered that into his ear.
“While you are staying here, we will be in your care for instruction in femininity.”
When the princess maidens bowed, Kamito stole a glance of their bare breasts underneath the garment and his heart throbbed.
Looking closely, the ceremonial garments they were wearing was equivalent to being half-naked.
The opening above the breasts was large and at the hem of skirts, a slight amount of youthful skin was peeking out.
Even though the clothes were to inspire purity, they were strangely erotic.
Maybe if Claire and the otheers wore those clothes……he suddenly thought of that.
“Hm? Kamito, what are you looking at?”
He was asked that by Claire—
“Ahh, I was just thinking that if you guys wore those clothes, it’d really suit you—”
……Kamito said his thoughts out loud without thinking.
(……Uwa, I messed up!)
“Wh, whwh, what you sasasa, saying, you perverted slave spirit!”
Claire’s face flared red and she beat her whip against the ground.
“Ka, Kamito-san likes those kinds of things, it seems……”
“Wh, what do you think the holy garments are!”
“I wonder if I still have my holy garments from when I was in the <Holy Ritual Institute>?”
The three ladies whispered amongst themselves.
“So, Kamito-sama, whose figure did you imagine?”
The smiling Carol asked and Kamito averted his eyes.
Entering the castle, they arrived at a large entry hall.
Beautiful arches with a high ceiling. A carpet was spread on the ground through a pillared corridor up to a door that led further in.
The lighting was provided not by lamps or spirit stones but by small floating light spirits.
Even if it was called a relic of the mythical age, several thousand years of repeated reconstruction and remodeling had left few traces of things from that long ago. The sole remaining traces were scultures hidden by stone pillars.
Along the pillared corridor’s walls were colorful illustrations. These were at best the remnants of a few hundred years and the motifs were spirit princesses that had left their name in history as well as <Blade Dance> winners.
Kamito stopped before a large set of pictures.
Depicted there was the winner of the Blade Dance from three years ago.
The strongest blade dancer — Ren Ashbell.
Wrapped in the strange garments of foreign country, with an ominous demonic blade of darkness in her left hand.
That blade in her left hand was the darkness spirit, Restia’s elemental waffe <The Sword That Pierces Truth <Vorpal Sword>>.
Bewitching black hair. Pearly white cheeks.
That girl’s profile, drawn with a delicate touch, viewed as a goal, was very beautiful.
“……This is overdone. The work of a painter without a discerning eye.”
Kamito muttered that and Ellis who had walked around turned around.
“It’s you who lacks appreciation. Her beauty wasn’t like that.”
“That’s right. Even though we’re the same gender, she made my heart throb.”
Claire also nodded in agreement.
“Ah—, I see……”
Kamito made an sour expression and groaned.
“Fufu, aren’t you glad, Kamito-kun.”
Fianna teasingly laughed and looked at Kamito through half-opened eyes.
Following the princess maidens through the large castle, they finally arrived at their rooms.
“Empire representatives <Team Scarlet>, your room is over here. If you would like to eat, use something or anything else, please do not hesitate to do so.”
“Wait a second, am I in the same room?”
Kamito quickly asked the princess maiden and,
“Th, thth, there’s no way, what are you thinking!”
Claire refuted it with a panicked expression.
“Y, yeah, as expected, staying in the same room as a gentleman is difficult.”
Said Ellis as she cleared her throat.
“That’s right, as expected……right.”
“Bu, but, it can’t be helped if there are no open rooms, right?”
Fianna and Rinslet also exchanged nervous glances.
“……? Of course, we have prepared a separate room for the gentleman.”
To the guiding princess maiden’s words,
“Th, that’s right, of course!”
“Y, yes, it is an obvious requirement!”
The ladies said in high-pitched voices.
“Fufu, that’s a pity.”
“Like that would happen. Having just a lone male in a room of girls, what kind of torture is that?”
Kamito said that to the laughing and smiling Carol with half-opened eyes.
“Then, I’ll be going straight to bed. See you later.”
“Kamito, wait a moment.”
His collar was grabbed as he turned to head for his room.
“We are going to purify ourselves now.”
Purification meant the act of washing one’s body with water in a purifying ceremony. Maidens that were not pure could not use spirits. For that reason, spirit contractors had to constantly maintain a pure mind and body.
“That’s why, that is……y, you get changed and come to the lake as well!”
“Nah, I’m fine. I’ll do it alone later.”
Kamito shook his head in a troubled manner.
“Or rather, you don’t want me to see you in swimsuits, right?”
“Th, that is……”
Claire’s cheeks flushed and she averted her gaze,
“No, not really, i, it’s not that I don’t want it……it’s fine if it’s Kamito.”
Unfortunately, Claire’s voice had been too quiet and he couldn’t hear it well.
……He wondered what that was. Recently, Claire had become inarticulate.
“A, anyway, we’re a team so we’ll be doing the purification together as well!”
This was a command to her slave spirit — Claire said this as her red twintails stood on end.
“Th, that’s right, breaking the team’s unity isn’t good!”
“Kamito-san doesn’t have enough self-recognition as part of a team!”
“Being able to do the purification ceremony together is a sign of trust!”
The three ladies all agreed with each other.
“No, you guys are exaggerating……”
……He wondered why they were fussing over the purification so much.
The maid Carol cleared her throat with furrowed brows.
“To be clear, the ladies simply want to show Kamito their new swimsuits—”
The collective voice of the ladies.
“What is it, exactly……”
Kamito felt troubled—
His cuff was being pulled.
Est, who had returned to human form at some point, looked up at Kamito.
“Kamito, I want to play with Kamito at the lake.”
Being looked at by Est’s mysterious pupils, Kamito gulped.
(I did something bad to Est this morning so……)
It seemed like Est wasn’t mad anymore but—
He felt that he had to do something to compensate her.
Kamito placed his hand on Est’s head and caressed it.
“Got it. Let’s play at the lake together.”
“Yes, Kamito. I’m happy.”
Est nodded expressionlessly.
Kamito turned towards Est and the others.
“With that, I’ll also be doing the purification — hey, owaa!”
“”””Why are you so soft on Est!””””
Four peeoples’ luggage flew to his face.
……It seems like we have no problems with teamwork.
“—Here is Kamito-sama’s room.”
Kamito was led down the hallway to a gloomy room the furthest in.
The room was putrid and had a gloomy air to it. In the corner were painting and sculptures as well as other junk covered in spiderwebs.
“……Is it just me or am I the only one being treated this badly?”
……In Claire and the others’ room, there had even been a fireplace and chandelier.
Rather than a room, this was closer to a storage.
“The <Divine Ritual Institute> decided this.”
The princess maiden cleared her throat.
……It seemed like she was being openly cold towards Kamito.
(……Well, it can’t be helped, I guess.)
The <Divine Ritual Institute> was, like the academy, far removed from the presence of men.
“Does this room not have a light?”
“Yes. Light spirits wouldn’t come near this kind of gloomy room.”
“I’ll open the window.”
“As you wish. However, it may be rusted shut.”
Kamito sighed deeply and entered the box-like room.
He had left Est at the girls’ room so he had to clean the room by himself.
(……Now that I think about it, it’s about time to eat.)
Other than the black tea he drank on the flying ship, he had not eaten anything since that morning.
“Sorry, could I request something light to eat?”
“Kamito-sama wishes for nyotaimori? I apologize but that—”
“I didn’t say that! Just something normal like a sandwich!”
“A nyotai-sandwich……wrapping yourself with breasts……?”
“……I’m begging you, please stop with the nyotai stuff.”
Kamito sighed deeply at the scornful glare he received from the princess maiden.
“This kind of bold swimsuit……is it okay?”
“The knight captain breasts are unexpectedly quite large……”
“Ahn — what are you doing!”
Ellis gave a cute cry at Rinslet fondling her breasts.
In the girls’ room, the ladies were changing into swimsuits from their uniforms.
Smooth, young skin. Bewitching body lines.
They were bishoujos of equally outstanding proportions.
In the corner was Claire who felt that she had lost.
(……Wh, what, it’s not just me!)
……The slightly present chest.
With a pink tip, it was like a budding flower.
(Even though everybody else is growing properly……)
She sighed as she watched the rest of the team getting changed.
The only one it felt like she could win against was Est, but she was a spirit.
(Even Kamito wouldn’t like this kind of small chest……)
While lightly rubbing the slight bumps—
What appeared in Claire’s mind was a scene from two months prior.
The time when she had first met Kamito at the lake in the <Spirit Forest>.
The words he had said when he had seen her bathing naked.
—I have no interest toward’s a kid’s body, he had said.
Remembering it, her cheeks flushed red.
Having a guy her age seeing her naked, that was of course her first time.
(……But thinking about it, it was only two months ago.)
Standing on one foot and slipping on her new swimsuit, Claire sighed.
Only two months.
But ever since she had met Kamito, many things had happened.
The showdown with Ellis at the academy. Fighting the rampant military spirit.
The cooking battle with the newly transferred Fianna. The mission at the mine.
Two weeks ago, they defeated the strongest spirit contractor and gathered five teammates to participate in the Blade Dance.
—Until she met Kamito, she was always alone.
(But I still don’t really know anything about Kamito……)
Dropping her panties on the floor, she sunk into thought.
Even when she had asked about his family on the horse-driven carriage, he had avoided the question.
(It’s not like I want to pry but—)
The thing she still didn’t know about Kamito was his connection with that darkness spirit girl.
She had given Claire the frenzied spirit and been at the mine with Jio Inzagi for the purpose of unsealing the strategic-class military spirit <Jormungandr>.
She was Kamito’s contracted spirit but nothing else was known.
Whenever a discussion about the past arose, Kamito would stay silent.
……She didn’t like that.
(At least tell your master, idiot……)
While hiding her small chest with her hands, Claire pressed her lips together while displeased.