This took a little while because I took more caution in what I was typing down (jeez, people actually get all anal about small details). Also, I’ve hardly been on my laptop for the last couple of days. Taking care of all the poll comments also eats a bit of time since I actually read them. And then for some reason, the prologue is actually quite a bit longer than I expected.
As a side-note though, don’t worry about needing to go back and re-read the chapters (when I get around to fixing them up) if you’re not one for details. I paid special attention to every sentence I thought could possibly be connected to the plot.
Enshrouded in dense fog, <Astral Zero>’s thicket.
(—As expected, it really makes you nervous. Assaulting a stronghold, that is.)
Kamito silenced his breathing as he pushed through the tree branches.
His Elemental Waffe <Terminus Est> was also in a dormant state with her presence perfectly hidden. Solo stealth activity was Kamito’s foremost specialty.
The small spirit ore fragment in his hand lit up weakly and out came Claire’s whispering voice.
Utilizing the spirit resonance phenomenon, it was a spirit ore for communicating. Its effective range wasn’t very large, but it was much more difficult to detect compared to using spirits.
“The reception is bad. Your voice is breaking up.”
“Right……it’s because the <Barrier>……been strengthened……”
Then suddenly……the spirit ore gave a sound that pained the ears, and its light faded.
“So we won’t be able to contact each other from here on, huh……”
While sighing, Kamito placed the now-useless spirit ore in his pocket.
Though saying that, not being able to use it meant that he had entered the inner reaches of the enemy team’s <Stronghold>.
(At the signal, take out the enemy team’s commander in one go—)
Kamito licked his lips and readied his hand on <Terminus Est>’s hilt.
The <Blade Dance>’s real battle — the last day. The ones <Team Scarlet> had chosen as their target were representatives from the same Areishia Academy, <Team Cernunnos>.
Taking into consideration the number of <Magic Stones> they needed to advance and the enemy’s battle strength, Claire had proposed attacking a stronghold.
Attacking the heavily reinforced <Stronghold> would be very disadvantaged for the invaders. But in order to reach the finals, they had no other option but to follow through with it.
Just then, a showy explosion occurred far away.
He wondered if Claire and the others had entered into a battle with the enemy’s main force.
Taking that as the signal, Kamito came out of hiding.
(—A long battle in enemy territory will be bad for us. We need to settle this in one push.)
While Claire, Ellis and Fianna acted as bait, the attacker, Kamito, would crush the stronghold’s center — that was Kamito and the others chosen tactic this time.
They had fought <Team Cernunnos> before in the academy ranking battles. Back when the team consisted of only two people, Claire and him, they had been severely beaten by the druid captain’s <Beast Swarm Spirit>.
But such strong ritual magic required a lot of time. If they defeated them before it completed, it would be their victory.
(That ritual magic should be gathering the <Earth’s Pulse> in the center of the stronghold.)
In other words, if he crushed the center with lightning speed—
(—That will decide the battle!)
Avoiding detection by the guardian spirits patrolling for invaders and bypassing restriction or other fatal traps, Kamito advanced in a straight line.
Countless dull thorns flew from all directions but each was shot down by ice arrows.
It was the covering fire of Rinslet who was concealing herself far away. She had been a sharpshooter to begin with, but participating in the <Blade Dance>’s real battle had truly leveled those skills up to sniper.
She was a partner Kamito could trust his back to.
Avoiding the three <Driads> protecting the barrier—
Tens of seconds after the signal, Kamito reached the center of the stronghold.
The sight just up ahead.
A watchtower-like shrine stood there surrounded by giant sacred trees.
Upon the altar, a noble girl wrapped with white rope was in the middle of a ritual.
She had shining golden hair and glassy ice blue eyes.
The girl who lived in the spirit forest and had been taught the secret techniques of the first spirit contractor.
“Jeez, I knew you’d come, you ruffians!”
The girl temporarily interrupted the ritual and glared down at Kamito.
Kamito furrowed his brows.
(Don’t tell me they read my approach?)
But the <Beast Swarm Spirit> summoning ritual was not yet complete.
The protection spirit contractors were also engaged in battle with Claire and the others. It was already too late for them to return even if they realized about Kamito’s invasion.
Suddenly, chains sprung from the ground and seized each of Kamito’s legs.
What had caught onto Kamito’s legs were shining <Shackles>.
It was an Elemental Waffe he remembered seeing.
(If I recall, it was used by the ones who attacked Mille Bassett — <Guilty Snatch>!)
“—Hmm, it looks like you let your guard down, male spirit contractor.”
The ones who arrived from the forest behind him were three girls wearing uniforms that had were red with a single white line.
It was the uniform of the Holy Empire of Lugia’s representatives, the <Sacred Spirit Knights>.
“……Hey, what’s the meaning of this?”
Kamito groaned with a sour expression.
“You mean why the <Sacred Spirit Knights> are cooperating with <Team Cernunnos>?”
The ones to advance to the finals in <Tempest> were only the four teams with the most <Magic Stones>. Excluding those who didn’t really know what to do in the middle stages, the chance of teams in the latter stages allying was low.
“It is to redeem our stained honor, male spirit contractor. We won’t allow you, who smeared the name of the <Sacred Spirit Knights>, to pass into the finals!”
“Even if we cannot receive the honor of victory.”
“For the sake of the wish Luminaris-sama has held for three years!”
The girls glared at Kamito with loathing.
(……I see. In any case, they’ve put aside advancing to the finals and come to crush me instead, huh.)
Kamito sighed internally.
It appeared that defeating two of the spirit contractors from their team in the midst of protecting Milla Bassett had earned their hatred.
The large and prominent Holy Kingdom of Lugia had sent three teams to this <Blade Dance>. He wondered if it was a decision made with the conviction that it was fine to become a sacrifice as long as the favored <Paladin> Luminaris Saint Leisched’s team made it to the finals.
While they had sent out three teams as well, this was their difference with the Areishia Empire representatives who were competing separately.
“……And isn’t this completely a personal grudge.”
“Say what you will. Before we face the Principality of Rossvale in front of the crowd, we will wipe clean here the disgrace of defeat we suffered!”
The three from the <Sacred Spirit Knights> moved at the same time.
Kamito tried to sever the <Shackles> with his divine power-filled sacred sword but—
It was repelled while giving off sparks.
(……Est’s output isn’t rising!?)
Despite putting in the maximum divine power he could, the sacred sword’s brilliance was still weak.
(Kuu, this truly is the center of a <Stronghold>. The strength of the sealing barrier is on a different scale……)
It wasn’t just that his divine power output wasn’t rising, his body also felt extremely heavy.
The powerful barrier protecting the center of the stronghold was harshly wearing down Kamito’s strength.
Even if <Terminus Est> was of the most powerful class of Elemental Waffe, if the contractor couldn’t supply divine power, it was just a regular weapon.
It was impossible to sever <Guilty Snatch> in this condition.
(Three skilled contractor, with a time limit added to boot. This is really rough, as expected—)
As he cursed in his heart, he readied his <Demon Slayer>.
“Come, Giant Spirit — <Grendel>!”
Following the shackles contractor, another female knight summoned her contracted spirit.
What appeared from thin air was a giant-type spirit with sharp claws.
The giant bent its repulsive features and charged at him with a howl.
The waving claws that seemed to gouge even the air. Kamito’s <Terminus Est> barely stopped that one attack — however,
(……He’s too heavy……!)
Kamito grit his teeth.
If he stayed in the <Sealing Barrier> for too long, his strength would be exhausted.
His opponent was a power-type spirit that excelled in attacks utilizing physics. At this rate—
“Fufu, looks like this is the end, male spirit contractor!”
An instant. On the right arm of Kamito whose movements had stopped, yet another shackle was put on.
“……Two Elemental Waffen at one time!?”
“—Seems you let down your guard. <Guilty Snatch> is an Elemental Waffe that consists of shackles for both the wrists and ankles.”
The female knight poured scorn on Kamito who clicked his tongue.
The giant spirit’s claws dug mercilessly into the torso of Kamito who had lost freedom over his limbs.
Kamito’s body was easily blown away and smacked into the wall behind him. The mental damage from the spirit’s direct attack and the physical damage taken from crashing into the wall assaulted Kamito at the same time.
While grimacing from the intense pain, Kamito thought doubtfully.
This is the interior of a deep forest. Up until just now, there shouldn’t have been such a thing.
And as if to answer Kamito’s—
From the ground rose successive large stone walls, encompassing him.
It only took a very few seconds. The completed form were giant ramparts arranged in a circle.
“Fortress spirit <Isengard>’s Elemental Waffe — <Great Wall>.”
The third female knight muttered in a cold voice.
“With this, you can’t escape.”
“……A fortress spirit. One of the earth attributes, huh.”
Looking at the walls many times his height, Kamito groaned.
A spirit the same type as that Velsaria’s <Dreadnought>. It had the worst compatibility with the sword spirit Est.
Because of the difference in their ranks as spirits, at full power it would be possible to destroy them, but that would be difficult right now with Est not being supplied enough divine power.
“Since it seems like there’s a concealed excellent sniper in your team.”
It seemed they were also aware of Rinslet who was hiding within the forest. With this level of solid ramparts surrounding him, he could not expect Rinslet’s covering fire either.
(……I’ve been trapped. As expected of a top-class team.)
Kamito smiled wryly on the inside.
They had completely seen through <Team Scarlet>’s tactic that centered around Kamito.
It wasn’t that he had been looking down on the <Blade Dance> representatives. Even still, there may have been a little carelessness in the corner of his mind.
This time’s <Blade Dance> was a team battle. Teamwork would overpower invididual ability.
“……Though I should have already understood that long ago.”
—He had come to learn the complete opposite of what he’d been taught during his time at the <Instructional School>.
You have nobody like an ally.
Trust in nothing but your own strength — that.
It seemed that warped training was much more deeply embedded in his heart than he had originally thought.
The giant spirit <Grendel> thundered out a joyful roar.
He could not move his limbs that had been bound by the <Shackles> satisfactorily.
At that time. A girl’s voice calling Kamito was faintly heard.
(……The communications <Spirit Ore>!?)
Since he had step foot within the <Sealing Barrier>, the communications should have ceased but—
(Don’t tell me, is Claire nearby?)
With a realization, he raised his head — and,
“What the heck!?”
The <Great Wall> user had their eyes open with shock.
The circular arrangement of ramparts surrounding him.
That single portion was scorching red hot.
It was an unbelievable degree of heat. The solid stone wall rapidly melted.
And then, the next instant.
“Goddess of ice and snow, by that frosted hand, crush my enemies — <Icicle Hammer>!”
A giant helical pillar of ice burst through the stone wall in one go, crumbling it into fragments.
Outside the smashed ramparts—
The young girl with an ice bow prepared was smiling calmly.
Shining platinum blonde hair. Emerald pupils filled with elegance.
“I’m here as well.”
Next to her, a beautiful girl with red hair and Flame Tongue in hand, Claire was also there.
“Impossible, my <Isengard> was destroyed!?”
The fortress spirit contractor girl let out a shaken voice.
Flame attribute and ice attribute — it was crumbling that utilized the difference in temperature between these two. It had even destroyed that Velsaria’s <Dreadnought>, this combination attack from the Raven Class pair.
“Looks like you’re having a hard battle. That’s not like you.”
To Claire who was shrugging her shoulders, Kamito replied with a wry smile.
He had never thought they would come rushing this quickly.
His ojou-sama partners had also experienced the real battle of the <Blade Dance> and leveled up greatly.
Kamito readjusted and gripped his <Demon Slayer> tightly.
(……I wonder what this is. Just by having my companions nearby, I also become so—)
There was no sense of losing. It didn’t matter how much of a disadvantageous situation it was.
—There was no reason, he was just sure of it.
“—Sorry. It’s our turn now.”
A fearless smile rose onto Kamito’s face.
In response to that vigor, the <Giant Spirit> before him gave out a cautious roar.
“A b, bluff! However many reinforcements there are, this is the center of a <Stronghold>. Their contracted spirits’ strength also can’t be used sufficiently—”
“I wonder about that?”
A dignified voice came from overhead.
The shadow falling from directly above. The one that entered Kamito’s raised vision, wrapped in a gale and gliding in sharply was the ponytailed princess knight.
Held in arms was the black-haired queen.
“You are my sword, you are my shield—”
With her eyes closed, Fianna began her spirit language releasing chant in midair.
Light particles were born from thin air and a rapier decorated with elegant ornaments appeared in her hand.
It was not just an ordinary rapier. That sword was surely the Elemental Waffe of the royalty’s guardian knight spirit.
“Bearer of infinite light, cleanser of darkness—!”
Instantly, Ellis nose dived to the ground in a heartbeat and let go of Fianna in midair.
Skirt fluttering, Fianna landed next to Kamito. Keeping that momentum, she plunged the tip of her rapier deep into the earth!
“That name is — <Save the Queen>!”
The noble and clear voice shook the atmosphere.
In that moment, a beam of light surged forth from the end of the sword and drew a magic square formation around the two.
Turning a space within it’s effective range into one’s <Territory>, it was an unequalled Elemental Waffe.
“Kamito-kun, with this—!”
Kamito nodded with vigor. With the cancellation of the enemy team’s <Sealing Barrier>, divine power surged through his entire body like a raging gale.
“I’m counting on you, Est!”
Kamito supplied <Terminus Est> with the full might of his divine power and the sacred sword’s blade gave off a fierce light as if to dazzle the eyes.
The <Guilty Snatch> that touched the blade’s edge was severed with extreme ease.
The <Shackles User> female knight gasped with an expression of disbelief.
“As expected, they couldn’t analyze an Elemental Waffe that was just awakened.”
Claire, Ellis and Rinslet also swiftly gathered into the constructed <Territory>.
A complete turn of the table.
“The glorious <Sacred Spirit Knight> have, to a second-rate team like you……”
At that time, the ground shook monstrously.
“……This is bad, the <Beast Swarm Spirit>’s summoning ritual is activating!”
At Claire’s words, he turned around with a realization.
On the other side of the fallen stone walls — directly beneath the shrine, a gigantic magic square formation was shining.
The <Druid> girl was standing above the tall wooden platform with arms spread open as she chanted the spirit language summoning.
“Kamito-kun, my <Territory> will only hold out for a few minutes more!”
Fianna said in an impatient-sounding voice.
Yes, this was her Elemental Waffe, <Save the Queen>’s sole weak point.
For use in real combat, the time limit was just too short.
“—Got it. We’ll decide this in one go!”
Kamito dashed ahead with the shining <Demon Slayer> in hand.
Claire, Ellis and Rinslet also followed shortly after.
“……Kuu, protect the shrine, <Grendel>!”
Before Kamito and the others’ eyes, the giant spirit had blocked their path.
It swung its arms that were like giant trees and attacked them in a half-crazed manner.
“Fuu, here I go! Freezing fangs, pierce — <Freezing Arrow>!”
Rinslet stopped and nocked an arrow, then fired her ice arrows blindly.
Drawing a gently sloping arc, the intense downpour of ice fangs.
Each ice arrow that landed formed a pillar of ice which obstructed the giant spirit’s incoming hand.
“—O wind, blow wildly!”
Ellis sweeped her <Ray Hawk> and shot out blades of wind.
The wind blades tore through the the ice pillars, becoming a fearsome storm that devastated.
<Ice Storm> — using their properties when they collided with each other, a combination attack.
The giant spirit’s large frame was sliced to shreds by the ice blade storm, being eliminated within an instant.
“Damn, seize my enemies, O <Guilty Snatch>!”
The cornered spirit contractor turned once again to Kamito and released their <Guilty Snatch>.
“I won’t let you!”
Claire’s Flame Tongue easily repelled the chains, then continued on to mow down the enemy.
“—Thanks for the help.”
Having received his teammates’ support, Kamito made a beeline for the shrine with a sprint.
Ahead of him, this time numerous stone walls appeared.
“—O <Great Wall>, ambush my enemy!”
Fortress spirit <Isengard>’s Elemental Waffe. Different from the circular ramparts just before, perhaps because of the way it seemed to only concentrate on blocking the enemies ahead of it, the walls’ thickness seemed to have multipled.
However, Kamito did not stop running. Just like that, he plunged towards the stone wall.
“With this kind of thing, there’s no way you could stop my Est!”
The <Demon Slayer> held in both his hands give off even more dazzling light.
Kamito brandished his sword and the stone wall before his eyes—
Crash. Crash. Crash. Crash. Crash. Crash. Crash.
“……No way, a sword spirit is destroying a fortress spirit!?”
With each time Kamito swung the sword, successive rubble from the stone walls danced in the air.
That was a scene that exceeded commonplace spirit contractor general knowledge.
Kamito, who had become a gale and arrived directly beneath the shrine, kicked off the ground and rose into the air.
“Ellis, I’m counting on you—”
“—Heroic wind, grant thy blessings upon this warrior — <Syphid’s Feather>!”
The gale that Ellis produced enveloped Kamito and pushed him to the top of the shrine in one go.
The <Druid> girl opened her ice blue eyes very widely.
Kamito pierced the floor with his <Demon Slayer> that was giving off light.
“Sorry. We must absolutely continue onto the finals.”
With that, the shrine was split cleanly into two halves.