To think of it, Takeru didn't have much experience in being depressed.
Or to be precise, he always immediately bounced back whenever he felt like that.
It was obvious that he was overdoing it. He was raised to be that way, so it was natural for him to force himself.
If one was to sum up the teachings of Kusanagi Double-Edged style, it would be "overdoing things".
Doing unreasonable, impossible things as it was natural.
That was why Takeru didn't know.
How does it feel to have a heart broken.
The location he was in was the home base of Heretic Alliance, the roof of the building imitating AntiMagic Academy. Under the sky of what was a part of mythological world, Takeru stared into the distance.
On the other side of the cracked-up sky there was just darkness.
He had no idea what was the identity of the darkness on the other side nor had any interest in it.
And yet, for some reason he felt like he was about to get sucked in by it. He was attracted to it as if it was saying "it'll be easier if you just come to this side".
Takeru closed his eyes and got down on one knee on top of the building's roof.
The reason he was alone here was because he wanted to organize everything in his head.
Saving Kiseki. That goal of his didn't change, he intended to go through with it.
『"That's not Kiseki's wish, but Onii-chan's wish... isn't it?"』
『"How was it? Feel hurt? Can you understand Kiseki's feelings a little?"』
Kiseki didn't wish to be saved.
The salvation he thought of and salvation Kiseki wished for were in opposition.
He left the AntiMagic Academy and entered Heretic Alliance, he fought only thinking of saving his little sister. Together with newly made comrades he invaded Alchemist's First Research Facility and thought his wish would finally come true.
And yet——his outstretched hand was brushed away.
That single word wouldn't leave his head.
What should he do, he had not a single idea at the moment.
Before he talks with his comrades, he has to think by himself. Thinking so Takeru prepared two days in order to think by himself. Of course, there was no way he could find a clue or resolution during that time.
He managed to organize things in his head, but he still hasn't found a way to solve the underlying problem.
He couldn't find a method to make Kiseki accept his wish.
Feeling weight on his back, Takeru slightly opened his eyes.
"No one knows what's ahead, behind that sky."
The voice suppressing its intonation more than usual was that of Heretic Alliance's leader, Hoshijiro Nagaru.
She came to the roof before he realized and appeared behind him.
"You can see the cracks in the sky but you can't grasp the sense of distance, right? No matter how much you close onto those cracks and the darkness, you can't reach it. Even though this world is so small, it's a mystery."
Nagaru sat down back to back with Takeru and quietly put a cup with coffee beside him.
"Recently you hardly drink or eat anything〜. That's no good〜 you body won't hold out."
As Takeru still remained in a slump, Nagaru soundly scratched her head.
"Sorry. It's my fault. I should have planned it better and have discerned that."
"That's not true. The reason the operation had failed was because I didn't understand Kiseki. The operation went well... it's not President's fault."
He spoke with a hoarse voice.
"Any and all of it went well. With help of many people I have reached there. Other than me, everyone did their best. I was just disqualified as Kiseki's older bro... that is all."
Nagaru sighed lightly and pushed on Takeru's back a little.
"Will you quit? That's also an option. It's fine if you all don't fight. You guys... no, you were hurt enough. You've fought plenty. Even if you quit here, no one is going to blame you for it you know?"
Hearing her gently speak, Takeru immediately shook his head.
Still facing down and very weakly.
"I won't give up. No matter what I'll make her happy, I told her that."
"But... I can't find it, a method to save her... a method to be saved by her."
"Do you mean releasing Kiseki-chan from Hyakki Yakou's curse? Or maybe rebuilding your ties with her? If you mean the former, then there's still a possibility remaining. There might be no 《Install》 charms left, but Inquisition should be storing Mephistopheles' real body. If we get that body and extract magical power of the 'Devil' property we'll be able to make 《Install》 instant charms."
There was a method left. There was a possibility.
Even though he heard that fact, Takeru was still depressed.
He knew the reason.
He realized that the problem no longer lied there.
"...Heretic Alliance's Banshees are searching for Mephistopheles' body on the other side. Since a valuable magical property dwells in that flesh it's unlikely they disposed of it. The problem is creating the instant charm and forcibly using it on Kiseki-chan. As long as Kiseki-chan doesn't want it, it won't start... that's what worries you, isn't it."
Takeru clenched his fist tightly.
That's right. Even though there was a way to save her, it couldn't be done.
Kiseki's rejection was beyond Takeru's imagination.
Acknowledging Takeru's salvation as something that isn't a salvation for her, Kiseki rejected him. In the end, Takeru only thought of saving himself, seeing through her brother's ego, Kiseki decided to stick to her own.
It could no longer be restored.
That's why, there was no longer any choice but fight.
He won't kill her. There was no way he could. Killing Kiseki would be synonymous with severing his own life.
There was no way but to forcefully make her acknowledge it.
Pointing his blade——against his little sister.
But is that really for the best? If he forcefully takes Kiseki back, will she accept his wish?
What if it solves nothing?
"Honestly speaking, there's no time to worry remaining. Currently, Kiseki-chan is in Inquisition's headquarters. And, out of her own will she is helping Inquisition. Now that the war has begun, Kiseki-chan is used as a weapon by Ootori Sougetsu. As long as that man exists, it can no longer be avoided."
Heretic Alliance's enemy are the individuals that affect entire world by themselves.
Perhaps, the time when they attempted to break out Kiseki from First Research Facility was their final chance.
Thinking that the worst result was his own fault, Takeru felt tightening in his chest.
"Unless we do something with that white head, we won't be able to save Kiseki-chan or stop the war. As long as he exists, no matter what we do he'll outsmart us... that's what I feel."
The priority target was Ootori Sougetsu.
Thinking of it, every time something happened, that man was behind it. A smile that didn't let anyone discern his thoughts appeared in Takeru's head, making him feel unspeakable anger.
Nagaru sighed tiredly and entrusted her back to Takeru's.
"You're the only one who can save Kiseki-chan. She might have rejected what you said, but even so, you're the only one she listens to."
These words weighted heavily on Takeru.
"What to do with her is up to you. Of course, I can decide on what to do instead of you too."
"I'm still the boss〜. I intend fulfill my responsibilities."
He thought of what orders Nagaru could give.
Forcibly restraining Kiseki, ordering Takeru to persuade her, these were orders she could give.
The reason she didn't do so was her consideration of him.
Still facing down, Takeru stood up.
"——I'll decide on Kiseki's matter. Please let me decide."
"I'm sorry for being selfish. I'll definitely make a decision. This time for sure, I'll do it when I stand in front of her."
He didn't have a firm objective, Takeru filled his mind with determination alone.
However, there was no meaning in remaining in slump.
There won't be any progress unless he acts.
"Nothing will change even if I think about it. Right now, I... we'll do whatever we can."
Takeru raised his face and turned around towards Nagaru.
Nagaru stood up as well, she was already facing him.
When he said that, Nagaru's hair had swayed in the wind and she squinted.
"Actually, the situation on the magic side has become very suspicious. A large-scale battle still hasn't begun in old Japan, but it's a matter of time... Europe Shelter seems to have decided to join the war regardless of whether it's East or West side."
"?! Master and Mother have decided that?!"
Takeru recalled that Orochi and Mother Goose were among Heretic Alliance's enemies.
"Those two have taken a neutral position. After all, when you were returning from Magic Academy they went as far as to contact me. However, they definitely aren't our allies... I don't know what's their goal, but it's not changing the world and not saving the world. 'Rewrite the world.' is what the two have said."
"Yup. To me, these words sound like something very dangerous. That's why I didn't think of them as allies and when I heard they decided to go to war, my thinking changed to confidence. Those people will surely make their move soon."
"If possible——I want to take down Ootori Sougetsu before that."
Nagaru seemed serious as she stared at Takeru.
"That's why, I want you guys to look for something on the other side. The location is further behind the border... further behind the Grey City... the Critical Point."
Critical Point... while Takeru wasn't knowledgeable on the Sanctuary, he heard it's a place even Inquisitors are forbidden to approach.
"Heretic Alliance is lacking in personnel〜...Sage-kun and Yuzuho-chan with others are on a different mission now. It's a dangerous place, but I want your test platoon to go there alone."
Critical Point was truly the closest area to the Sanctuary, the Akashic Hazard... in other words, the place in which "Void" magical property is rampant, it's said that it deprived people of their lives if they took a single wrong step.
Although Akashic Hazard no longer spreads, the safe zone and danger zone transitions like a wave. A place that seems safe can kill people with a wave of magical power that comes a few minutes later.
"What are we looking for in there?"
When Takeru asked, Nagaru folded her arms in front of her chest.
"The Heretic Alliance's ex-leader... that is, Ouka-chan's father Mineshiro Kazuma hid a document in there. The information for which Mineshiro-san was killed for immediately after quitting Inquisition, was hidden in the Critical Point."
Hearing it was the information for which Ouka's father was killed, Takeru opened his eyes wide.
Nagaru pressed down her hair fluttering in the wind.
"We won't know what's in there unless we find it. But I can guess what is it. In the document's Mineshiro-san left behind, most likely——"
And, staring at the darkness behind the cracked-up sky she said.
"——Ootori Sougetsu's secret was written down in there. If we find it, there's a possibility of stopping this war."
The man who was the beginning for Takeru, Ouka and the others.
AntiMagic Academy's chairman, Inquisition Board's chairman——Ootori Sougetsu.
This time, Takeru's and others' battle had become one for the sake of learning who was he.