“—What was that, stupid, stupid, stupid Kamito!”
With her hair standing on end, Claire ran through the castle’s hallway.
She wiped the large tears forming in her eyes with her sleeve.
—Has nothing to do with Claire.
Those words replayed in Kamito’s cold tone over and over in her head.
(I’m not trusted by Kamito……)
She became very sad when she thought that.
—Onee-chan, what do you even know about nii-sama?
That assassin girl had said that to Claire.
(That’s right, I know nothing about Kamito……)
Her heart hurt. The inside of her throat was painful.
What is this feeling, she wondered.
(……Why won’t you tell my anything?)
She stopped running, wiped her tears and then trudged along.
The girls in dresses turned to look at her with puzzled expressions.
(……That’s right, the dance is tonight.)
The truth is that she had been anticipating it since yesterday.
Along with the new swimsuit, she had also prepared a new dress.
(It, it’s not like I’m wearing it for him or anything……)
Claire quickly removed the image of Kamito’s face from her mind.
(But I wonder what kind of face he’d make if he saw me in my dress……)
While zoning out and thinking about that kind of thing, her face grew red.
(Wh, what am I thinking. I already don’t care about that Ka, Kamito!)
While she was biting her lip.
Suddenly a heat wave came from below her as a hellcat clad in flames appeared.
“……What’s wrong, Scarlet?”
Claire asked while leaning over.
“Do you want a snack? I have canned tuna at the room.”
Scarlet shook its head.
And then she noticed the silver chain shaking in Scarlet’s mouth.
A silver cat pendant.
The present that Kamito had bought for her birthday two weeks ago.
It looked like it had been taken out of the jewelry box where she had placed it.
“Wh, what is it, jeez……”
Claire took the pendant into her hand.
The first birthday present she had ever received from a boy.
She had been truly happy at that time.
She held the pendant to her chest like a treasure.
“……That’s right. That back there was also partially my fault.”
She sighed as she patted Scarlet’s head.
(……I can only become honest when I’m not in front of him.)
“……Where did that Claire go?”
Kamito was traversing the maze-like castle in search of Claire.
……Rather, he was completely lost.
Whatever the case, the original structure was a completely strange design from the mythical age. With the repeated alterations over the course of several hundred years, the hallways stretched out in every which way to form a maze. All of the room looked the same, so it threw off one’s sense of direction.
(……With this kind of thing, not getting lost would be strange.)
With the sun setting, the ceremony drew closer.
(I should return to my room. We might just miss each other, after all.)
And Kamito came to a halt.
In the middle of the hallway was a garden complete with a water fountain.
“Ohh, that’s amazing……”
His gaze was drawn in by that beautiful sight.
Countless flowers were growing and small light spirits gathered there.
The water gushing from the fountain was filled with purity.
(This might be where princess maidens purify themselves.)
While thinking that, Kamito drew closer to the garden.
The light spirits floating in the air ran away like newborn spiders.
Near the water fountain were five stone sculptures.
The images of five Elemental Lords that controlled Astral Zero.
A warrior wielding a blazing sword — fire spirit king <Volcanicus>.
A boy with kind eyes — wind spirit king <Belphal>.
An iron mallet-wielding giant — earth spirit king <Lode Gear>.
A woman hugging a water jug to her chest — water spirit king <Iseria Shivod>.
An aged man with a scale and bishop’s staff — holy spirit king <Alexandros>.
Those that bring prosperity or hardship to all of humanity, the kings of all spirits.
Of course, the spirits did not actually look like their sculptures.
The images here were simply representations of what people imagined their qualities to be when put in human form.
“These are also relics from the mythical age……”
They were magnificent sculptures. At the very least, they were not not products of the last several hundred years. Kamito didn’t possess much knowledge about historic ruins but he knew that much.
The stones used were not just normal stones either. Valuable spirit crystals had been used.
Getting close and looking,
Kamito saw something out of place.
The five sculptures which copied the likeness of the spirit kings. Beside them was—
With nothing remaining above the knees, another sculpture was there.
That was something that was completely foreign to the garden.
(……Why is this thing here?)
The tragic appearance of the sculpture with only what was below its knees remaining. It hadn’t been removed afterward, so it was obviously an important ancient legacy.
Just then. Something floated into Kamito’s mind.
(The true shrine frmo the ancient age’s true shrine……)
Along with the five spirit kings, there was one spot that was unnaturally missing something.
(Est whispered something back then……)
They had been in a hurry so he had missed it but……
“If I remember……”
“—The one erased in the following age, Darkness Spirit King <Ren Ashdoll>.”
Suddenly from behind came a voice—
Kamito immediately spun around.
A beautiful girl with black hair clad in a dress the color of darkness stood beside the water fountain.
She had a teasing smile. Gentle twilight pupils.
The one he’d been searching for — the girl he always wanted to meet was right there.
“For someone searching for a cat, you look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
She smiled and walked towards him with light steps.
Kamito was frozen still. He simply stood with his eyes wide open.
The girl of darkness came before Kamito and stood on her tiptoes.
“You’ve really grown. Even though you were about as tall as me back then.”
Kamito returned from the shock.
“Don’t make such a scary face, Kamito.”
A gentle and sweet voice that lured one into sleep.
It hadn’t changed. Not a single thing, not even that harshness from three years ago had changed.
The seal on his left hand heated up like it was burning.
(……Why are you making that kind of face!)
—Who are you?
—Why are you throwing my heart into chaos using Restia’s form!
The truth is he really wanted to shout those things to the girl before him.
Those accusations stuck in his throat.
……I know. She’s the real Restia.
No matter what form she took, there was no way he could ever mistake her.
The girl who had been the first light for Kamito who had closed his heart.
She had stayed by his side and granted him warmth and peace.
Kamito strongly chewed his lip.
Three years ago, he thought that would never change.
He had no idea why she had changed like this.
Possibly, something had broken when she made her <wish>.
(Three years ago, I—)
Just what was the wish requested of the spirit king.
He had many things he wanted to ask.
And many things he needed to ask.
Kamito opened his mouth while still slightly lost.
The darkness spirit tilted her head in a lovely manner.
“That military spirit that attacked the flying ship, was it your doing?”
“Those were <her> orders. It wasn’t me.”
Restia replied with that and sat down on the broken sculpture.
With her feet together and resting her chin in her hands, she possessed the beauty of a fallen goddess.
“Is that referring to the fake Ren Ashbell?”
“She’s not a replacement for you, Kamito.”
Restia smiled gently.
Just like one would use when warning a young child.
“She is also a true Ren Ashbell.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m sorry, but I cannot reveal that to the current you.”
Restia silently declined her head.
“……Why did you appear before me now?”
“To warn you.”
“Your past is trying to destroy what you hold dear.”
“—The <Instructional School>’s orphans, huh.”
“Yes. Muir Alenstarl is ignoring <her> orders and rampaging on her own. Well, it seems like <she> is closing her eyes on the matter though.”
“Why is Muir targeting us?”
“Isn’t that obvious. Because her beloved onii-chan was taken from her.”
Yes, Muir Alenstarl had not shown any signs that Kamito was her target.
If he was, there would be no way she would have overlooked him when he couldn’t use his Elemental Waffe.
Claire was a superior spirit contractor. Rinslet and Ellis as well, and Fianna was contracted to a powerful knight spirit.
But even though they were spirit contractors, they were still normal girls.
They were ojou-samas that were gentle, not honest, and liked black tea and sweet candies.
(But the orphans from the <Instructional School> are different—)
Like Kamito had been—
They were existences that had only been brought up with knowledge on how to wreak havoc and slaughter.
That was not blade dance for the sake of enjoyment — it was only for war.
The world the noble ojou-samas from the academy lived in was completely different.
Even if they were Blade Dance representatives, there was not a chance they could win in a battle.
“—I won’t allow that to happen.”
Kamito gave a small groan.
Claire, Ellis, Fianna, Rinslet and Est—
“I will definitely protect my companions.”
“I wonder if you can?”
Restia put her fingertip to her lips—
“The orphans from the <Instructional School> are like the past you. I don’t think you can stop them when you had a hard battle against the likes of Jio Inzagi.”
“It doesn’t matter. I will protect them at the cost of my life.”
“Hmm, I’m a little jealous.”
“—That’s why, I will protect you as well, Restia.”
Restia’s eyes widened.
Those twilight pupils finally showed unrest.
“—That part of you hasn’t changed a bit.”
She shrugged her shoulders and slowly stood.
She stepped in front of him and—
“I’m happy, Kamito.”
Tiptoed and kissed Kamito.
Kamito froze for a few seconds.
The inside of his head had numbed and become pure white.
Restia slowly parted lips with Kamito.
And she once again whispered into the ear of the dumbfounded Kamito.
“I’ll be waiting, Kamito. For your awakening as the successor of the maou.”
Kamito reached out but grabbed nothing but thin air.
The darkness spirit girl had turned into a black mist and disappeared from in front of Kamito.
Claire stood in the shadow of the hall leading to the garden.
She had discovered Kamito talking with the darkness spirit girl while searching for Kamito.
That darkness spirit girl was dangerous — she had immediately summoned Scarlet but desisted from attacking when she saw him talking with her.
They were like two lovers that had been parted for a long time.
Like that, Claire had missed the timing to come out.
She couldn’t hear the contents of their conversation well from the hallway.
If she wanted to, she might have been able to hear it, but learning about the past Kamito didn’t want to discuss in this way felt like she was doing something underhanded.
Thinking like that, she ended up just watching.
She saw the two kiss.
Tears fell to the ground.
(No way, why are tears……)
She wiped her eyes with the sleeve of her uniform.
(Why, why am I……)
Why was this — her chest hurt.
(……Kamito didn’t hate it. He didn’t resist at all.)
The overflowing tears wouldn’t stop.
Claire ran from that spot and dashed down the hallway.
The floating island <Ragna Ys>’ underground cave within the holy grounds.
A place that nobody other than the <Divine Ritual Institute>’s princess maidens was permitted to enter — currently, there were two sets of footsteps resounding there.
One belonged to an orphan of the <Instructional School>, Lily Flame.
She read the reports to her master in front of her.
“Muir Alenstarl lost Death Gaze in the battle. The country’s military executives are going to be angry.”
“Let them. They’re just a bunch of geezers that only think about how to protect themselves.”
The listening party said so with a merciless tone.
The girl with long black hair that fell to her waist.
Donning a black overcoat with a crimson mask that looked like a fierce god covering her face.
Lily was surprised in the least by her master’s response. Their supposed allies, the Alphas Empire, was only another tool to her to accomplish her goal.
“But Cardinal, the supply of military spirits from now on—”
“Lily, I’ve taught you not to use that name here, haven’t I?”
“I apologize. —Ren Ashbell.”
Lily shivered at her master’s cold voice.
Footsteps resounded throughout the silent underground cave. The radiance of the spirit stone they were carrying reflected off the strange carvings in the wall. It was a mystery why this passage in the underground cave that even the <Divine Ritual Institute>’s princess maidens were prohibited from was known to these two.
Possibly high-ranking princess maidens — also those close to <spirit maidens> could enter without it being strange.
“It seems that Restia has contacted him.”
The crimson mask-wearing girl — Ren Ashbell said.
“Yes. She ignored your order and—”
“That darkness spirit is not a subordinate but an equal in the organization. She has no obligation to listen to me.”
Lily chewed her lip unsatisfied. It frustrated her that the pieces gathered to help her master were moving on their own.
The ones who had sworn an oath to Cardinal — to Ren Ashbell, consisted of Lily alone. Her fellow orphan from the <Instructional School> thought of nothing other than Kazehaya Kamito and she had no idea what that darkness spirit girl was thinking.
“I will be meeting with him as well this evening.”
“Will you be attending the dance?”
Lily asked in a slightly incredulous voice.
“Ren Ashbell was the winner of the previous Blade Dance. There is no way she could not attend.”
“But the preparations for what to wear—”
“I have at least one dress. Though I left the majority to my little sister.”
“You have a little sister?”
There was no response to that question.
Thinking she had upset her master, Lily quickly changed topics.
“Muir reported that he doesn’t appear to have awakened yet.”
“We already have no time to wait for it. If he can’t withstand it, then that was his worth as a successor to the maou — we’d just have to alter the plan.”
“—That won’t do. It’s Muir’s duty to awaken nii-sama.”
Said a voice from within the darkness behind them.
The one who appeared was the girl with ash grey hair — Muir Alenstarl.
“Muir, what did you do!?”
Lily raised a sharp voice.
“I just played around a little. With those onee-chans that are corrupting nii-sama.”
“……Acting on your own! You used another military spirit without permission.”
“Not anything important. Just the special-use military spirit <Scylla>. Though it was too weak and died. I wonder if I could use a better spirit next time.”
To the Muir who was puffing her cheeks, Lily responded by holding her head in her hands.
Even if it was <Scylla> which wasn’t a pure war class spirit, it was still a part of the empire’s military strength. Those military executives wouldn’t be happy if they heard about this.
“Listen here. That group at the empire won’t be supplying us with military spirits until the Blade Dance really begins.”
“Hmph, we’ve been acting docile well enough.”
“It’s because you ignored orders and lost Death Gaze.”
“I just wanted to play with nii-sama.”
Muir pouted her lips.
“Anyway, behave yourself until the Blade Really really begins. Don’t lay a hand on him until you receive orders—”
Muir tilted her head in wonder.
And the light in her eyes disappeared.
“Hey, Lily, just who will order Muir?”
Shivers ran down Lily’s spine.
Her entire body ran cold with fear. It was like someone was holding her heart in their hands.
“Hey, tell me—”
The spirit seal on Muir’s right hand let out an ominous light—
Ren Ashbell called out to her.
“You are an equal to me in the organization. Nobody will order you.”
Muir laughed with a smile.
“It’s fine if you understand. The only one that can order Muir is nii-sama.”
With Muir’s mood restored, Lily breathed a sigh of relief.
“But this is troubling. I can’t play with the onee-chans without a military spirit.”
“Then why not try using this — <Monster>.”
Ren Ashbell removed her ring and tossed it to Muir.
Muir looked at the ring curiously.
It was a plain silver ring. Thin characters from the spirit language were engraved onto its outer edge.
“The annihilation spirit <Tiamat> — a spirit weapon that was created to fight the army of the ex-shadow spirit king. It was customized by those of the <Divine Ritual Institute>. It can withstand your <Jester’s Vise> well.”
“……You’re giving this to Muir?”
“Use it as you wish.”
“I don’t really understand why. Well, that’s fine, I’ll take it.”
“Muir, military spirits aren’t toys!”
“They are toys. At least to Muir.”
She shrugged her shoulders at Lily—
And licked the ring that now adorned her middle finger.
“—Just a little longer, nii-sama. Muir will remove those meddlesome onee-chans.”
While walking through the dark underground cave, Muir smiled to herself.
When she had been taken to the <Instructional School>, she was only four years old.
Born in a cold village on the borderline of the Empire, she was not of noble blood and yet possessed the ability to contract spirits.
The villagers rejoiced at having borne a spirit contractor and raised her dearly.
And then they brought her before the village’s guardian spirit on her fourth birthday.
They wanted Muir to contract with the guardian spirit so the village would prosper.
But when she made the contract, the guardian spirit ran wild.
The flames that had protected the village now burned it down and the spirit also destroyed itself.
Muir’s power — she had the uncanny ability to drive a spirit mad.
After being cast away by her village, she was picked up by the instructional school—
There, she became a <Monster>.
Her heart was lost, a <Cursed Armament Seal> was engraved on her young body and she was taught nothing but slaughter techniques.
Because of her in-born ability, Muir could never connect with a contracted spirit.
Those days filled with only isolation and massacres slowly carved away her heart.
In the middle of those days — she met with a boy that had been taken to the facility.
“You’re always alone, huh.”
“That’s right. Muir is always alone. The only ones Muir talks with are those she kills.”
“Then I’ll become your friend.”
“Hmph, how stupid. Talking about friends in this place.”
“Then a brother. Muir is the younger sister.”
“……What are you deciding on your own, idiot.”
The first conversation she had with him. It was something he definitely didn’t remember.
“—Nii-sama is Muir’s only.”
When she emerged from the underground cave, the sun had mostly set.
It was about the time the Blade Dance’s ceremony began at the castle.
“That’s why I won’t forgive them. I will definitely get them, those attaching themselves to nii-sama.”