Chapter 2

A few minutes later...

"Ugh..."

Naruto slowly woke into consciousness, the forest unfolding before his eyes.

He tried to get up— suddenly, he realized that something was coiled around his neck.

It was a leather black whip commonly used for torturing. What is this thing, Naruto thought as he tried to take the whip off with little to no success.

"You finally woke up, you peeping-tom pervert."

The whip around his neck tightened.

"I didn't knew you were into this kind of thing Young Maiden. If I knew I would have fled this place which is apparently a lair of an indecent young maiden like you."Naruto coughed as the whip tightens up on his neck.

The scarlet-haired young girl – Claire Rouge, stood above him with her hands on her waist. She gazed down at Naruto with a raised eyebrow then she was blushing red because of what the blonde young man said.

This time, thankfully, she was not naked. She had changed into an adorable school uniform. It's pattern was of black lines on a pure white field. This was the Areishia Spirit Academy's uniform.

A ribbon decorated the front of her uniform. A talisman was sewn in the place where a button would normally rest. Between the gap of her knee-length stockings and her pleated skirt, her beautifully slender legs stuck out brilliantly. Tiny ribbons tied her crimson hair on both sides. This was the so-called twin-tail hairstyle. Judging from her still-wet hair, it seems that Naruto had not lost consciousness for that long.

Keeping Naruto's neck bound tightly, Claire puffed up her small chest.

"N-N-NO! I DONT HAVE THAT KIND OF INTERESTS! AT LEAST BE GRATEFUL THAT I DIDN'T KILL YOU OUTRIGHT!" Claire yelled to the bound young man

"That has to be a lie. You definitely intended to kill me, Oh no! where have I gone wrong for God to burden me of meeting someone like you." Naruto pleaded to an omnipotent being while kneeling. Claire twitched her eyebrows because of what the young man was saying.

"You should really be thankful. If I had been serious, you would have been in cinders by now," Claire calmly stated trying to calm her self down from turning the blond into charcoal by pinching the bridge of her nose.

She just said something quite sinister really calmly, Naruto thought as he manage to loose the whip from his neck unknowingly from Claire who was still pinching the bridge of her nose. Naruto opted not to anger his red haired companion any further. Or unless he would like to be meeting the Old Hag in cinders

By the way, cinders are the soft ash residue that is left behind when firewood is incinerated.

"I beg for your forgiveness, spare me from becoming cinders. After all, I helped you!" Naruto pleaded not really meaning what he said but for Clair it was enough.

"Well, yes, I am a fair woman of noble rank, so I'll give you credit for your help. Even so, you are a higher grade than an average pervert, so you are a high-grade pervert," she snapped

"Again i am just an observer not a pervert my dear young maiden" Naruto corrected Clair, "By the way, isn't nice that someone wanted to observe you since no one would like when your almost non existent breast is so small like that"

"You...you touched my breast! So I have breast!"

Recalling what happened, Claire's face suddenly turned beet red and futilely defended that she indeed has breasts.

Seeing such a reaction from her, Naruto had an idea.

...This girl, could it be that she is that kind of person? Is she an M or S? More likely S if the whip is of any indication. Still she is an interesting person.

"So it seems that my young maiden is the type of pervert that has a hobby of whipping men." Naruto teased Claire nonchalantly. Completely forgetting that she is a princess maiden.

"What!? That is not true! I'm not a pervert!" The response was immediate as Naruto expected. Claire shook her head and her cheeks instantly became bright red all the way to her ears. The blonde was emboldened more to push the matter to her further. Regardless of whatever result of him being in cinders or ash. Worth it.

"Then do you enjoy being whipped?" Naruto slyly continued as expected of great trolling skills handed down to him by the great 'Dusk Witch'

"Wha...what..are...you..saying?" Claire's eyes spun as steam puffs rose from her head. She is unsurprisingly flustered.

Oh, as I expected, Naruto smiled bitterly, This girl is really, really innocent. But she has alot of potential, now how will we cultivate that potential.

Most likely it wasn't only Claire that was this innocent. After all, Areishia Spirit Academy is a school where Elementalist princess-maidens are gathered. Only pure maidens are capable of exchanging feelings with the spirits from Astral Zero. Among those princess-maidens, those who retain enough divine power to command a contracted spirit are girls from the lines of kings or lords of ancient and honorable families whose Elementalist blood has been strengthened through the marriages of many generations.

To maintain the purity of their bodies and hearts, these girls are raised in environments that are completely separated from contact with males starting in childhood: the so-called elite education for Elementalists has no place for men. Therefore, all the girls attending the academy are super innocent princesses who are unaccustomed to dealing with men.

Finding Claire's unexpectedly easy-to-spot weakeness, Naruto had the thought to play a prank on her.

From a kneeling position, Naruto looked up at the embarrassed bright-red face of Claire.

"Th—then, there is something I have meant to say since I woke up." Naruto playfully stammered. Slyly smiling like a fox to his prey.

"Wh...what is it, you pervert?" Claire replied warily. Indeed Claire needed to be wary of this fox

"I can see your panties from this angle."

"Fuwah!" Tears began to float in her crimson eyes. Claire hastily pressed down the fringe of her skirt with both hands. Naruto was

"You...you saw it?" Claire sniffed.

"Only a glance and you are, quite unexpectedly, a very daring girl. Your panties are the same color as your hair." Naruto bluffed.

"You...you lie! They are not red! They are white, white!" Claire shouted.

"Ah, so they are white." Naruto nodded sagely as expected of the great trolling skills of riling up people no matter what the situation.

"...Eh!?" Realizing that she had been tricked, Claire bit down on her front lip—

"U-Uuuuuuuuuh~" Claire started to cry.

At this sudden unexpected reaction, Naruto panicked. "No, you're the pervert, a dirty Ojou-sama, who reveals the color of her own panties", he had planned to say to tease her more but, as expected, he was starting to feel guilty and like a bad person well not really, in fact he felt more like stopping there since the girl fell extraordinarily from an old trick in the book.

Taking the chance while Claire was still crying, Naruto removed the whip from around his neck.

"My bad, I went a bit too far with my prank. Sorry." Naruto stood up and placed his hand on Claire's head. Claire stopped crying, and looked puzzled. "It is my fault that I saw you naked while you were bathing. I have also touched your breasts as well. However, those actions were not intentional. Please believe me."

"Wha-what..."

Seeing the truth of his words in his eyes, Claire could not help but to avert her eyes. From being irritating to sarcastic and now he is gentle? Those were the things that running on Claire's mind when Naruto said it.

"...What-what is this? If you are not a pervert, then why are you here?"

A question that is not the easiest to answer for Naruto. This forest is under the jurisdiction of Areishia Spirit Academy, known as the «Spirit Forest». There would be no reason for a man to be in the grounds of the academy. Even if he was not a pervert, the fact that he was where he should not be could not be contested.

"I was summoned by Greyworth." Naruto told Claire truthfully reverting back to his neutral demeanor.

"Greyworth...the academy Director!?" Claire questioned suspiciously. Indeed, why would the Director summon a male to the academy?

"I'm not lying. Look, here's the evidence." Naruto continued. He took out a letter from within his coat. The letter was signed by the renowned academy Director. It was also stamped with the emblem seal that symbolizes the five great Elemental Lords.

"Is that, the first-rank emblem seal of the Empire!?" Claire cried out, shocked. The first-rank emblem seal is produced by sealing spirits with a special technique into a seal. This seal is rated as the highest among the emblem seals issued by the Empire and is said to be completely impossible to counterfeit. Of course, it is something that is rarely seen but as a Elementalist, Claire could certainly tell that it was the real thing.

"It seems to be authentic. But why would the academy Director call a man to the academy?" Claire asked.

"Well, for the answer to that question you'd have to ask Greyworth, the old hag. Being summoned was troublesome for me, too." Naruto sighed as if it was very troublesome for him.

"'That...that old hag!?'" Claire's face stiffened.

The Dusk Witch, Greyworth, is a greatly respected individual by princess-maidens who aim to become Spirit-Knights. It is also said that she is as popular in the Ordesia Empire as the Strongest Blade Dancer, Ren Ashbell. Even after she retired a decade ago from the Twelve Knight Generals, the most elite force of Spirit-Knights known as the «Numbers», her legendary status as a Witch is still one to be feared and revered to the highest degree.

Well, for me, she is nothing but a nightmare, Naruto thought as he tucked the letter back into it's pocket. "Greyworth is an old acquaintance of mine. I came all the way here but the academy ground is extremely large and so I have lost my way."

Areishia Spirit Academy's grounds is incredibly vast. After all, besides the academy-town at the foot of the hill it also includes the entire spirit forest that surrounds it.

"Could it be that you were misled by the spirits in the forest? That's so lame." Claire snickered.

"...Yeah, that's how it is, I lost my way in the road of life." Naruto solemnly nodded while smiling as if he had achieved something far greater than anything in the world.

Existing in various locations of the continent, spirit forests connect with Astral Zero through Gates. These forests are inhabited by the spirits that have wandered into this dimension. Most of the spirits have no interest in humankind and as such are harmless. There are also spirits who enjoy playing pranks; they deliberately mislead travelers who stray into the forest. Naruto was confused by the spirits' whispers and went deeper and deeper into the forest, therefore losing his way. Not to say that he is great at losing his direction.

"Anyway, I'm really glad that I met someone. It would not be fun to become a victim of the forest. Which way should I go to get to the academy?" Naruto asked.

"Which direction...I shall tell you that it takes two hours to get to the academy from here by foot," Claire replied knowledgeably.

"That would be a long walk indeed" Naruto muttered while holding his chin in a thinking manner.

If he was to walk for such a long distance by himself he would most likely once again be tricked by the spirits. Since there was a student of the academy present, he had thought that the academy was closer than that.

Hmm? Why was this girl taking a bath at this kind of place? Naruto wondered.

Today is indeed a bit hot, nonetheless, instead of coming all this way, there should be showering facilities inside of the academy. There are only girls in the school so there would be nothing to be embarrassed about.

Naruto asked this question of Claire. Claire dug her hands into her wet twin-tail hair and tried to comb it.

"I was here for the purification ritual for a spirit contract. Being a spring next to a shrine the water here has the highest of purification qualities. You do know that spirits like a woman who has a pure mind and body?"

"Spirit contract?" Naruto mused.

The moment he heard those words, a throbbing pain came from the back of his left hand, which was covered in a leather glove. Naruto grimaced from the sharp pain.

"A bit further into the forest from here there is an ancient holy sword in a shrine. Rumor has it that a powerful «Sealed Spirit» is locked away there. Since the founding of the academy not a single princess-maiden has successfully formed a contract with it. It surely sounds like a very proud and noble spirit," Claire said.

Sealed spirits: they are not the normal spirits that reside in Astral Zero and move into this dimension. Among the ranks and types of spirits, there are some who are sealed into weapons or armor by powerful, ancient Elementalists. Most of these sealed spirits have brought about terrible disasters to humankind and are dreadful beings called Djinn or Ifreet by ancient societies.

Of course, they are not meant to be employed by Elementalists. Those strong Elementalists of the past sealed these spirits in weapons or armor so that they could never be summoned ever again and deal more harm to the world around them.

"Don't tell me you plan to form a contract with a sealed spirit?" Naruto said amused.

"That's right! Do you have a problem with it?" Claire retorted.

"No, nothing though it would be too dangerous if you don't proceed with caution."

"Hmm, you seem to know a bit about sealed spirits even though you are not an Elementalist. I am quite aware of the dangers, but I need a powerful spirit no matter what," Claire muttered, biting her tightly closed lips.

Seeing her determination in her expression, Naruto snapped back on the lecture he had on the tip of his tongue.

"Don't you already have a contract with that flame spirit? That is also a powerful spirit, isn't it? Won't it be fine if you just raise it instead?" Naruto asked curiously.

A flame spirit is not very rare, but there are only a handful of Elementalists who can control a fire spirit and be capable of using elemental waffen in the whole Empire. On another note, Elementalists whom have formed a contract with multiple spirits are so rare that they are an extreme minority. Discord between the contracted spirits can cause deterioration of the balance of divine power. Without enough talent, one would not be able to control them.

"Scarlet is an important partner. But—" I need more power—. Claire calmly shook her head. "-I have a goal. To achieve it, I must have a strong spirit."


Claire's fluffy crimson twin-tails swung back and forth over her back as she led Naruto deeper into the forest. Although Claire's leather loafers looked quite difficult to walk in, Claire was a well trained Elementalist; her steps were light and lively.

"Here it is," Claire muttered.

Her well-proportioned feet stopped walking. With her hands on her hips, Claire looked back at Naruto with a glare.

"Why are you following me, you pervert-peeping maniac?"

"Without your guidance I don't know the way to the academy. As I have said several times, I am not a pervert-peeping maniac, I am an observer. My name is Naruto, Uzushiromiya Naruto."

"Fufufu, what a weird name. Are you from Kuina?" she replied.

Kuina is an empire in the eastern region of the continent. It is said that Kuina's language, culture and the relationship between people and spirits largely differ from that of Ordeshia.

"No, I am not from Kuina. I was born on a far-away, remote island in a very small village."

Naruto intentionally obscured his own statement. Certainly, he wasn't born in an island country in the east, not to mention that land contained all of his unwanted memories.

"Your name also has quite a unique taste, Claire Rouge." Naruto hinted.

"Do not call my name in a friendly manner," Claire snapped. "Anyway, my name is a strange name."

"Really? I think it is a nice name. Befitting of your red hair."

"Wha-what are you saying, st-stupid!"

Claire blushed, suddenly turned back around and briskly walked in the direction she had indicated earlier.

Claire Rouge — obviously the name is a pseudonym.

Most of the students attending the Areishia Spirit Academy are the young ladies of noble families who have been trained as potential Elementalists since childhood. However well-versed he was in the noble families, Naruto had never heard of the Rouge family. Claire was hiding her noble family name. She must have some reason to do so, but Naruto had no intention to delve deeper.

Everyone has some secrets they want to hide, Naruto thought. Naruto glanced down at his left hand covered by the leather glove. Even I have mine, too...

Claire kept walking through the forest. Naruto quickly moved to follow her swaying crimson twin-tails. Losing sight of Claire inside the forest now would only bring trouble for him later. Naruto was well-aware of the dangers of spending a night inside the «Spirit Forest». He knew it on first hand experience

"Is that dress the academy's uniform?" Naruto asked.

"Yeah." Claire nodded coldly as she kept moving.

Areishia Spirit Academy uniforms are pretty sturdy and can also serve as a protective garment. They have undergone spirit blessings and have the added effect of raising sacred attributes. The uniform could also function nicely as a ceremonial dress for contracting with or summoning spirits.

"What, are you saying that it doesn't suit me?"

Naruto shrugged his shoulders. "No, it suits you gorgeously," he answered. "Honestly speaking, I am charmed by it."

Fine feathers make fine birds; Naruto planned to mock her with caustic words such as those, but the uniform did fit her so perfectly that Naruto couldn't help but to compliment her.

"Wh-Wha-What are you saying!? Stop being an idiot!" Claire stammered cutely.

*Kaatsu* Claire blushed deep red, while *Pyun-Pyun* waving her whip around in agitation. Of course Naruto evaded it gracefully.

"What a fiery young maiden. Could you please calm down." Naruto requested.

"Wasn't it because you said some weird thing?"

"What I said was weird? I simply spoke the truth! I got it, I understand, so please stop pulling out your whip for every little thing. I won't compliment you from now on."

Phew, if I didn't need her as a guide...but what a bothersome young maiden. Dodging the swinging whip, Naruto sighed in his mind.

The shrine that held the holy blade stood quietly in a clearing in the forest.

Claire easily removed the ward that forbade entry and stopped walking, then turned to Naruto.

"From here onwards it will be really dangerous, so, as a commoner, you should stay away."

"If you know that it's dangerous, why not stop?" Naruto asked.

"As I was saying, I need to contract with a strong spirit." Claire calmly shook her head and stepped into the shrine.

Disregarding her warnings, Naruto followed her. As for coming all the way, it was true that he needed a guide, but more importantly he was just worried about Claire. She is after all interesting on his books

Still all, "sealed spirits" were the strongest of the strong and at the same time have a wild nature. They prefer destruction and chaos; given the chance, they would even murder the Elementalist that employs their power.

They are not something that can be managed by humans—that is why they have been sealed away.

Being only sixteen years of age with such an innate talent for wielding a spirit, Claire might as well be called a prodigy. However, if by any chance, she was to release the sealed spirit and fail to control it, what would happen?

Although she was just a girl he met by chance, Naruto couldn't leave her alone. He simply can't since he'll just lost his way again if ever he leaves her here.

"Why did you follow me? I cannot guarantee what will happen to you." Claire warned.

"Don't you have the absolute confidence to tame it?" Naruto answered while smiling slyly as if mocking Clairr.

"Of-Of course I do!"

"Then there's no problem if I come along." Naruto shrugged his shoulders, prompting Claire to turn away from him.

"...Suit yourself."

The inside of the shrine was misty and dark and had a heavy atmosphere. Claire frowned slightly at the smell of mold mingling in the air.

Flames, let there be light.

A tiny fireball immediately formed from Claire's fingertips; a basic spirit spell that draws on the power of a Flame Spirit. The flickering light of the fireball dimly illuminated the walls of the shrine. The shrine looked like a cavern filled with stalactites.

The sword was at the innermost area of the shrine.

"That is the sword that the sealed spirit resides in?" Naruto muttered. Claire nodded quietly in confirmation.

An unsheathed sword was standing hilt-up in a huge stone. It was an undoubtedly an antique which was most likely hundreds of years old but it had no rust on its length nor dents on its edge. Delicate ancient runes were engraved on the flat of the blade, radiating a dim blue light.

"A sword that has existed from even before the academy was founded, «The Sacred Sword of Severian»," Claire muttered reverently.

"The Sacred Sword of Severian? The one that slayed Demon King Solomon?" Naruto asked inquisitively.

Demon King Solomon commanded seventy-two powerful spirits, brought chaos and destruction to the continent and was the only recorded male Elementalist in history.

It was said that the one that slew the Demon King was the sword of Severian.

"Idiot, there's no way that's the real thing." Claire stated like she was amazed. "A Sacred Sword of Severian stabbed into a stone can be found everywhere in the Empire. Some remote villages even have one for the revitalization of the village. Anyhow, even if it is not the real deal, since it is a rune sword, there might be a powerful spirit sealed in it."

"...Indeed. Certainly, the real thing would not be in such a place..." Naruto finished.

Claire walked towards the sword determinedly.

"Hey..."

"You stay back." Claire snapped as she gestured to Naruto who had been approaching. Claire clenched the hilt of the holy blade.

"Don't strain yourself."

"...Got it."

Naruto decided to watch over Claire from the edge, where the light barely reached. The sealed spirit might be provoked by the presence of more than just one person. A heavy silence filled the surroundings.

"...Let's do this, Claire Rouge." Breathing deeply, Claire murmured to herself. Her voice trembled a bit; it seemed that she was nervous after all, Naruto noted.

Oh Noble Spirit Sealed in Ancient Holy Sword!

Thou Shall Accept Me as Thy Master and I Shall Be Thy Sheath!

From her cherry-red lips flew a fluent incantation for a contract ritual in spirit language. Her crimson hair stood on its ends. A crashing wind started to swirl inside the shrine.

Holding his breath, Naruto watched her intensely with his single eye. Once the contract has been spoken and the spirit recognized Claire as its master, a spirit seal would be engraved somewhere on her body. The contract vows would then enter their conclusion. As he watched, a dreadful gust of wind swept through the shrine.

"...hmm?" Naruto raised an eyebrow.

Claire was unfazed, however, as she calmly recited her contract vow.

Dazzling light radiated from Severian's holy blade in her hand.

I can't...believe it, She was exchanging a contract with the sealed spirit!?

Preventing himself from being swept by the wind, he 'stick' the sole of his shoes to the ground.

From the holy blade stabbed in the stone came an overwhelmingly tremendous amount of divine energy. If Claire was an average Elementalist, she would have already passed out.

"Thrice I Command Thee, Exchange Vows With Me!"

Claire's vow reverberated inside the shrine in that instant.

*Clink!*

"Pulled-Pulled out. I pulled it out," she said.

"...I don't think so."

Brandishing the sword she pulled from the stone at her feet, Claire exclaimed her joy. However, in the next second—

The ancient runes engraved in Severain's blade suddenly shone violently!

"...huh!?"

Claire involuntarily released the blade from her hand—

The holy blade thrust itself back into the ground. With a flash, it blasted itself into bits.

"Kyaaaaah!"

A short shriek flew, then Claire collapsed onto the ground.

"Claire look at me! Are you alright"

Naruto was emerged quickly on Claire's side checking for any injuries. Despite him having only 3 things that he react frequently, he isn't so ignorant enough to ignore what is happening around him.

"Wha-What? What exactly has..."

Claire held her temple and slowly got up, then looked around restlessly.

"My-My sealed spirit?"

"Wait, I...can sense something terrible," Naruto warned.

Sweat was flowing intensely down the back of Naruto's neck. His face was showing the seriousness of the situation as he felt as he looked up at the shrine's ceiling. Near the rock ceiling was the sword, swinging while floating in the air.

It's not the shattered holy sword. However, it was a rough steel blade that looked very sharp.

"Is that the sealed spirit of the sword!?" Claire asked.

"So it was of the «sword spirit» class. Looks like it is rather irritated," Naruto replied.

"How do you know so much? You are not even an Elementalist!"

"It is plain to see. No matter how you look at it, that doesn't seem to be someone who pledges allegiance to his master. Moreover, it might attack us because of irritation"

"...Umm, indeed so." Claire meekly nodded uncharacteristically.

The floating sword slanted, pointed its tip downwards and suddenly became motionless.

Then—

"Get down!" In that instant Naruto pushed Claire down to the ground. A buzzing sound of an insect almost grazed his ear by millimeter and continued past.

"Wai-Waa-Wait, where are you touching me!? I'll turn you into cinders!"

With her face deeply red, Claire beat on Naruto's chest repeatedly.

"Calm down, I'm thinking of how to deal with this troublesome situation." Naruto released Claire and moved his body away, and looked in the direction that the sword spirit had flown to.

Fragments of rocks fell down with clattering sounds. The shrine's stalagmites had been cleanly sliced off.

"It is remarkable to be able to release a spirit of such rank—" Naruto looked with half opened right eye towards Claire. "...but the spirit has completely gone berserk."

"Shu-Shut up. The-The taming of it starts now."

"You..." Naruto was stupefied by her silliness, but he was in no situation to quarrel with her. How can someone be so stupid and silly at the same time in this situation?

The spirit sword released a chattering noise while flying back towards them. Inside the shrine they couldn't move freely and even their range of sight was restricted.

Naruto grabbed Claire's hand and stood up. Touching each others' soft skin made Naruto's heart flutter a bit but he did not show any reaction on his face.

"Hwaah."

"Stop making such cute reactions at every little thing. Let's flee," Naruto said admitting that Clair was truly a cute girl.

"Wha.. whaa. whatt.. Cute.. what, me? Kyaa!"

"Let's run outside!"

Naruto grasped Claire's hand while they both ran in the direction of the shrine's exit.

The spirit sword did not immediately chase after them. Maybe it has not yet completely awakened. With this opportunity they might be able to run away.

The moment they were out of the shrine, the flash of the sword grazed in front of their eyes. Naruto's cut forelocks fell and danced in the breeze. The spirit sword let out a tremendous roar, decisively knocking down the surrounding trees in succession.

"How troublesome. What a wild spirit, just like a certain princess I know," Naruto sighed but remained looking at the sword which was floating eerily in air.

"Alwa-Always, you're noisy..." Feeling slightly awkward, Claire deliberately coughed, then stood up. "What a rebellious child...I'll give you a proper spanking later."

Her pair of crimson eyes were burning with a fierce determination, yet somehow she said some lines of provocation. Rolling up the fringe of her skirt, she then took out the leather whip coiled around her thigh, hitting it hard on the ground. Naruto's heart skipped a beat at the brief sight of her white underwear, but he said—

"Do you have a death wish? Your opponent is a high level sword spirit." Naruto asked seriously seeing the situation isn't favorable for the girl. It was a different case for him however.

"It will be an easy victory. Amateurs like you please stay back!"

"Where do you get that kind of confidence? You'll be killed if you fail. Isn't it far better if you escape now."

Claire shook off her head, quite confident with her skills she rejected Naruto's idea. "No, you escape yourself. I will absolutely make this spirit mine."

"You, for what reason— do you need a strong spirit that badly?" He asked inquisitvely

"...You will never understand." Claire averted her eyes.

"I need...power, I need a powerful spirit that will not lose to any other spirit!"

Guardian of the crimson blaze, keeper of undying hearth!

Now's the time to abide by the blood contract, come forth and do my bidding!

Claire recited the summoning spell of her "Flame Spirit". A crimson flame surged and she was engulfed by an intense heat.

"The hunting begins, Scarlet!"

Together with scorching flames a red Hell Cat appeared. Instead of fur, it was blazing with scarlet-colored flames that were wrapped around the beast's body.

Is that the real form of her flame spirit!? Naruto wondered looking at the duo.

Indeed, she was not all talk. She truly is a prodigy.

For a spirit to be manifested in beast form is proof that it is a high ranking spirit. Scarlet might just be an affectionate name, perhaps it was not the true name of the spirit. Without a doubt, it was a high ranking spirit that carries a true name.

Claire wielded her whip, the hell cat growled with a frightful roar and then rushed towards the sword spirit. Dancing sparks scattered and the atmosphere trembled at the roar of the beast. The floating spirit sword spun towards the Hell Cat, cutting the trees in its way.

"Scarlet, go get it!"

In response to Claire's shout, the Hell Cat leaped. High above the floating sword it jumped and its sharp blazing claws swung down at the sword. With a high pitched shrill sound, intense sparks scattered from the contact and the spirit sword dropped to the ground.

Claire ran at the same time. It was not a fatal hit. The spirit sword rose and flew back into the air in a split second, rolling over itself while drawing an arc in the air.

The flame spirit chased after it, trying not to let it escape. Roaring loudly, it made a great leap again.

Violent sparks scattered once again. Claire struck hard at the ground with her leather whip, slowly pressing forward against the sword spirit. It looked like the leather whip was not meant for battle, rather for signaling instructions to the spirit.

At the fierce attacks of Scarlet, the spirit sword's movement stopped— At that instant,

"Eat this!" Searing Fireball!

Claire released a huge fire ball from her palm.

Fireball is a high level fire spirit magic spell that uses ultra-hot flames and can terribly burn up the object of its ire, leaving it completely traceless and unrecognizable. The spell's power is determined by the Elementalist's own divine energy and the contracted spirit's strength in combination.

The released fireball drew an arch in the air, then exploded in a blast that even Scarlet was caught in. The shockwave of the explosion knocked down the trees in the immediate surroundings and fallen tree trunks radiated from the explosion center.

What a show of power... Naruto thought. As he shielded himself from the flying stones that were blown into the air by the spell, Naruto noticed the power exhibited by Claire.

Such power was not one that would normally be in the hands of one so young.

Inside the swirling fire, the Hell Cat's figure reared. Naturally, the Hell Cat cannot possibly be harmed by a blazing fire because of its base nature.

The spirit sword hovered motionlessly in the air. It seemed that it had not received any damage either. Naturally, Claire didn't think that she would bring down a high ranking spirit with just spirit magic, but she should be able to get its attention.

"Scarlet!" Claire exclaimed.

The flame spirit's claws attacked the spirit sword again. Its scourging hot claws could melt normal iron steel. If its opponent was an average spirit, it would be instantly eradicated. However, the spirit sword quickly moved to intercept the claws and the attack was stopped by the steel edge of the blade.

In an instant, the strange sound of metal-on-metal scratching reverberated in the trembling atmosphere.

"Tsch! How irritating! Come forth Kagutsuchi!" Naruto irritatingly called the power of a spirit. However it can't materialise as quick as possible leaving him standing there waiting for the spirit to awake from its slumber. He summoned it just to make sure nothing troublesome happens to him or Claire. He is far more concerned on getting to academy in one piece and could careless of what happens to Claire. But he wouldn't let her be hurt if he has a say on it.

On Claire's side however after receiving the full impact of the sound, Claire's face distorted from pain and she crouched down.

The spirit sword had released a weird sound and then transformed. Its shape changed from an average long sword to that of a huge bastard sword in a flash.

"What!?"

Claire's flame spirit took an unexpected strike, it couldn't avoid the big swing of the large sword. The Hell Cat's body was severed into two and it vanished into the void together with its flames.

With only one hit, Scarlett had lost the strength to manifest in this world.

Isn't this thing in a completely different league from her? She should really choose whom she fight for and it seems that it has finally completely awakened. What a very troublesome situation Naruto thought, then glanced at Claire—

Claire had collapsed on the ground, and her stunned blank eyes were fixed upward at the void where the flame spirit had disappeared.

Having finished off the flame spirit in one swing, the spirit sword aimed its next attack at Claire.

The huge bastard sword flew at the crouching girl—

"Claire!" Naruto shouted, and started to run. Without reason, his own body just moved before he knew it.

"Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!"

Diving in front of Claire, A sheathed Nodachi 12ft in length materialized just on time to stop the bastard sword from slashing Naruto and Claire into two pieces and thwarted the sword far away from the two.

The Nodachi is black over all with exception of its pommel, hand guard and leather grip which both are gold. The scabbard itself has gold embroidery over it showing its majestic form even if it is sheathed.

"You are a very troublesome spirit, Let's dance shall we?" Naruto callously said doing the 'come hither' with his right hand while the other holding the scabbard of the nodachi.

The sword without a second thought tried to stab the blonde but he merely deflected the sword's attack flow to his left using only his one hand. He didn't see the need to pull out the nodachi from its scabbard most of the times but he'll make an exception for this situation.

"Come sword spirit! Let's see how can you fair against the fastest sword!" Naruto made a run towards the Bastard sword at the same time his hand was holding the hilt of the nodachi.

The bastard sword didn't deny his invitation and attempted to bisect the blonde however before it can even perform the said action the nodachi was already drawn out of its sheathe showing the world the yellowish golden blade that only seen in a flash intercepting the sword mid-swing then returned back to its sheath. Such skill in sword was only seen as a miracle since drawing the sword of its kind and length requires god like speed execution without errors. An ungodly amount of power and speed unleashed in a single slash, eliminating anything that stands on its path.

*KLANG*

*KLANG*

*KLANG*

The bastard sword futile attempts were always thwarted by the golden Nodachi which is repeatedly being sheathed and unsheathed to meet its counterpart, stopping it from executing its attack by hair's breadth. A skill unmatched unlike any other. Truly a terrifying but beautiful show of skill of its wielder. The most noblest show of skill that is only seen on other blade wielder. Ren Ashbell the Strongest Blade Dancer.

On the other hand, Claire was utterly stupefied of what Naruto was doing. He was able to stand toe to toe with a fully awakened sword spirit. Add to the fact that he was winning against it! She didn't know how but what she knew is that, Naruto will be able to subjugate the Holy Sword in no time. Without a single shred of a doubt. She was awed by his skill in sword despite of how unusual it is, so fast so beautiful that she was mesmerized by it. She watched the fight unfold in front of her as the two almost equal opponents battle it out for supremacy. The bastard sword who posses an almost unrivaled power and the other an unknown young man who had the unmatched fastest sword skill that he declared. If one were to see this fight, it would go down to the books for just a mere show of skills and power that rivalled the Blade Dance competition itself.

However despite of the pounding that Naruto was giving the sword spirit it seems that there is no end to it. The bastard sword showed no signs of breaking or chipping from his attacks. He needed to finish this fast.

...No choice but to do this!

Oh Noble Spirit Sealed in Thy Ancient Holy Sword!

Thou Shall Accept Me as Thy Master and I Shall Be Thy Sheath!

Sweat rushed down from his forehead as he started to recite the incantation for spirit contracts, one which he had sworn to never utter again. He let the spinning tip of the sword pierced the skin of his palm. Red blood gushed intensely from it. Claire was wide eyed from what he is doing

...Guh!

Crushing amounts of divine energy swirled around him, the gravel and dirt surrounding them whirled up from the strength of the wind. He endured the pain coming from his wound since, he knew that if he fail here, Claire, who was behind him, would surely be cut in half. The nodachi dispelled into golden pyreflies as he poured all his divine power on his wounded hand.

Thrice I Command Thee!

"...No way, a Spirit Contract!?" A surprised sound came from Claire's throat.

Naruto's heels sank into the ground. The sound of his breaking bones resounded underneath his scalp.

Exchange Vows With Me!

Withstanding the terrible sharp pain, Naruto finished the last words of the contract ritual.

Instantly, the body of the spirit sword radiated with a pale blue light.

What!?

Intense flashes of light and thunderous sounds crashed into his brain.

Then, he lost consciousness.


He slowly opened his eyes and found Claire Rouge's face in his vision. Draped onto his face was her twin-tailed hair.

It seemed that she was shouting something but he couldn't hear it clearly. Probably the sound blasts from the spirit had messed up his ears.

...Looks like I'm still alive.

Wearily lying on the ground, Naruto deeply breathe in. The chance of success against a spirit of such rank was very low, but it looked like his gamble had paid off. Such high ranking spirit without a doubt is very hard to tame.

Raising his eyebrow, he grimaced from the pain that crashed throughout his whole body and raised his right hand slowly.

In his right hand which had been stabbed by the spirit sword-instead of a wound, an emblem of two swords crossing each other had been engraved upon it.

It was the proof of the spirit contract — the spirit seal.

Aah, I did it... Naruto murmured as he stared at the carved seal on the back of his hand.

A sharp sense of guilt bit at his heart. He had broken the promise with her...

However, in order to save Claire, it had been the only method with any degree of success.

Claire noticed that Naruto had woken up; her hands were at the nape of his neck and her face moved closer to his, so close that he could feel her breath. With her clear crimson eyes, she stared at Naruto. Her cherry-colored lips trembled weakly.

"...Why? You're a male. How can you contract a spirit!?"

Naruto did not answer and slowly stood up. Not used to being ignored, the annoyed Claire raised her eyebrows.

"My-My sword spirit!?"

"My bad. Just a moment ago, I contracted with it." Naruto said and showed her the back of his right hand where the spirit seal had been engraved.

"Wha-Whaa-Wha-Whaaaat!" Claire wore a stunned expression with her mouth wide open.

Well, a natural reaction to the situation, I guess...

Naruto felt nothing but off course, he could clearly understand such a response from Claire. Originally, contracting with a spirit was a privilege that was granted to none other than pure maidens.

The history of males whom could contract spirits belonged solely to one person historically. This male brought chaos and destruction to the world and so he was called the Demon King Elementalist.

It would be natural for Claire to fear him, since he was a male who could tap the same power of spirit contracts as the Demon King.

Naruto stood up and quietly turned around.

He did not regret the contract. This was the only way he could think of that would have allowed him to save Claire. Naruto never regretted everything or anything in his life.

Naruto was about to leave without saying a word, but a voice called him from behind.

"Wait, wait I say!"

Turning around, he saw that Claire, with her hands on her hips, was glaring intensely at him.

"You stole...my spirit...take responsibility for it!"

"Huh?" Naruto frowned...It didn't make any sense to him.

At such a reaction from Naruto, Claire impatiently brushed her twin-tail.

"I should have been the one to have obtained that spirit, so I am saying that you have to take responsibility for denying me the spirit."

"Responsibility?"

Responsibility is a very heavy word. Because of that unexpected word, Naruto had become even more confused.

...What was the girl saying? Surely she wouldn't be thinking of him being an M just because he caught the spinning sword with his hand.

"Therefore..."

Claire snapped her whip and then she pointed her index finger toward Naruto.

"You have to become my contracted spirit!"


AND CUT!

So... how was it?

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For any comments and suggestion please! put it on reviews! it warms my heart if some one does review

and yes he has contracted more than 2 spirits during his time in the 'Instructional School'