——Heretic Alliance. That's a gathering of dissidents of both the outside and inside alike, it's a patchwork organization so to speak.
Just like 'alliance' in the name suggests, it was just a group that cooperated only because their interest were matching, they all had different philosophy, beliefs and their own objectives.
The organizations that discovered the existence of Heretic Alliance always criticize them.
There's no way such an organization would be established. Even if it was, it wouldn't be able to last a long time, it'll easily collapse and it can't be a dangerous group.
It was recognized as a full-fledged organization in the generation during which Mineshiro Kazuma was its leader.
"As expected, it's impossible to call in everyone, but two teams have come so that we can show you what kind of organization is it."
Sitting cross-legged on the chair Nagaru spread out her hands.
The place 35th platoon was in now, was AntiMagic Academy's student council room... or so it seemed. Eighteen people including 35th platoon have gathered inside of it.
There was 35th Test Platoon wearing green AntiMagic Academy uniforms, still fresh in our minds red uniforms and a group in white we saw for the first time.
All of them were young, at a glance it was obvious that they aren't adults.
People in the red clothing were familiar, whether it was their faces or clothes.
"...Takeru, those guys."
Mari whispered to Takeru.
"Yeah... its the bunch that was with President when we came back. If I'm not wrong, they were seventh squad... Kanaria, you should know more details right?"
"...hmph. I did cooperate with Eliza, but I don't know anyone in Pureblood Party."
Kanaria folded her arms and faced sideways, she didn't even try looking at the bunch she wasn't interested in.
Ouka, Usagi and Ikaruga also fought against Pureblood Party in battles defending the border, killed their comrades and had their comrades killed as well. They weren't calm inside and naturally started to glare at them.
Takeru spoke with them only once, so he didn't know what kind of people were they.
He watched their captain with mixed feelings, probably noticing his line of sight the leader-like man in red clothes looked towards Takeru.
When their eyes met, Takeru hid his steep expression in a hurry.
The boy with reddish-blond hair had shapely features, but he seemed like a moody person.
"Okay, I'll quickly introduce you〜. These red people are Pureblood Party's seventh student squad."
Nagaru turned towards the seventh student squad on the right.
"Just like Kusanagi-kun and the others they came to Heretic Alliance's home base just recently. Kusanagi-kun, Mari-chan and Kanaria-chan knows them right?"
Takeru nodded awkwardly.
That's when, captain of the seventh squad took a step forward and shown a salute of Pureblood Party.
"I'm Magical Academy West Side Pureblood Party's seventh student squad's captain, Sage. Things happened and I didn't say my name before."
Sage said so with a sophisticated tone and behavior, then looked at Kanaria.
She felt the line of sight and immediately glared at him.
"Although you probably know Pureblood Party's philosophy, we're dissidents. I would like it if you understood that we have no intentions of spreading the philosophy of the current pureblood system. Since we're temporarily forming an alliance, we will not impose our philosophy on you. Whether its demihumans or humans without magical power, I want us to think of each other as equal comrades. Fellow heretics, please take care of us."
"That is all."
After he finished speaking, Sage stepped back briskly. He glanced at Takeru only once and made a small nod before immediately turning away.
Takeru noticed what was Sage's intention.
Surely, in order to lessen their alertness he made an explanation as he introduced himself.
At the very least Takeru has become less wary. There was no one who wouldn't understand what Sage said.
"Yup, be friee〜nds kai. So, next〜."
This time Nagaru tried to turn towards the left where the people in white clothing were, but suddenly a heavy, loud *thud* has resounded.
One of the people in white clothing took a step forward and at the same time hit the ground with a spear she held.
It was a girl with tied up, long black hair. Unlike other people in white clothing, she wasn't wearing a robe, but something like an armor.
"——God's Embers, sixth miko guards' captain, Mikado Yuzuho."
With completely condescending attitude the girl identified herself as Yuzuho.
At the same time Ouka raised a surprised voice.
"God's Embers...? President, did you even include such a bunch in the alliance?!!"
When Ouka beside him loudly spoke, Takeru nervously pat Ikaruga's and Usagi's shoulders.
"H-hey, what's 'God's Embers'...?"
"............Kusanagi, as expected you are dumb."
Takeru was seriously hurt by Usagi who said he was stupid.
"God's Embers is the largest unofficial religious group in the modern times. It's an organization that was born after Buddhists and Catholics have been weeded out. After gods have been recognized not as a subject of worship but as magical organisms, it's a bunch that started preaching about a more significant and sublime existence. Originally it was a gray-zone organization, but Inquisition's governing has made it certified black. It was quite a rampage so you must have seen it in news, right?"
"I-I've no clue... in my place there's no TV."
Ikaruga and Usagi sighed deeply.
That's when the God's Embers captain has shoved the point of the spear at Ouka's neck so fast it was almost invisible.
One could realize immediately that she was very skillful spearsmanship user. The speed of her rush in was abnormal. Even Takeru would have trouble avoiding it without using Soumatou.
Soundlessly Yuzuho thrust so far she almost touched the skin on Ouka's neck and glared at her. Ouka was unfazed, she coldly looked down on Yuzuho.
"We are apostates just like you, but we have no intention of getting along with users of black magic. We do not care what kind of actions you are undertaking, but if you insult the apostles of the embers I shall cut your head down."
"It's not an insult but vigilance. Inquisition burned its hands on you for a long time. Being told to partner up with you bunch all of a sudden is impossible. I won't let you say you forgot about the indiscriminate terrorist attack two years ago."
"That was something extremists have done. Our true believers do not sacrifice innocent general public, even if they are atheists. Please rest assured, we have no intentions whatsoever of partnering up with barbarians. We are going to act freely by ourselves."
Both of them have went "hmph" at each other and returned back to their spots.
...that seems like it'll be a huge pain in the ass.
Takeru felt his mood turn heavy.
"Okaay〜, then next, Kusanagi-kun."
Being suddenly called by name Takeru panicked.
Not good, I can't think of anything.
For the time being, Takeru nervously moved in front.
"Eh, umm?! Uhh, I'm AntiMagic Academy 35th Platoon's captain, Kusanagi Takeru! I'm good at swordsmanship and I can't do anything else. Even in school my performance was poor, aha-ahaha, I'm a dropout. Also, uh, um... my hobb〜"
Losing his calm completely, Takeru acted all fidgety scratching his cheek and patting his clothes unable to settle down.
He was grabbed from behind by Mari, Usagi and Kanaria, then pulled back.
"Why on earth are you doing a self-introduction for classmates...!"
"Despite usually naming yourself pointlessly cool, why does it end up like this in a critical moment. Be more dignified, c'mon...!"
"That now wasn't good! We are being completely underestimated! Good-for-nothing Takeru...!"
The three got angry at him, causing Takeru panic further. Next to them Ikaruga was bending over holding her mouth trying to endure laughter and Ouka put a hand on her forehead and looked up to the heavens.
Gods' Embers Yuzuho looked towards him in a ridiculing manner and Sage closed his eyes not moving a budge.
Takeru made a cramped up smile, thinking he should conclude it and raised one hand.
"N-nice to meet you all! I-if possible, l-let's get along."
...even he himself thought it was a horrible ending and slumped, depressed.
Why of all things this 3-way struggle. It wasn't that the other two managed it well, but the three groups were each other's enemies.
Doing it well all of a sudden was impossible.
However, Nagaru probably thought of this. Heretic Alliance was that kind of organization in the first place. Her ability to put together an alliance was immeasurable.
"That'll be meeting face-to-face done. ——Yup! It seems like everyone will do well!"
...he got anxious. Nagaru made a broad smile and raised her forefinger.
"Ah, you think I didn't choose suitably? There's a reason why I have gathered these members〜."
If there wasn't any, that would be a huge problem.
The three groups mutually wary of each other focused on what Nagaru said.
"All three teams here have different objectives. Your philosophies are different and your beliefs don't match. Buy you see〜, even if you have different objectives your direction is similar."
Nagaru rotated on the chair with a twirl.
The objective of three groups are similar? Takeru didn't think so.
On one hand there were pureblood sorcerers that are part of an actual world power, Pureblood Party. On the other there was a group of people believing into a god no one has confirmed to exist, fanatics who are trying to spread their teachings.
And their own, previous affiliation was an organization that branded those two groups heretics and hunted them down. He thought they didn't overlap anywhere.
"We Heretic Alliance don't have a principle like pure blood, faith or weeding out magic, we have no concept that is the pillar of our existence. If I were forced to name something it would be 'status quo and stability' as the philosophy of our activities. That is why I have accepted those who were previously enemies. The criteria of acceptance aren't based on organization but on the individuals."
Individuals... in other words the individual's human nature was emphasized on.
That must have made the organization way too unstable. There was no future for an organization without a concept. It shouldn't hold well without a theme, concept and planning.
"Those three teams have their own personal circumstances unrelated to their organizations. None of you have joined the Heretic Alliance for your philosophy or your organization. It might seem like that on the surface, but underlying that there's a different purpose."
Hearing Nagaru's words, Takeru looked at the palm of his hand.
Personal circumstances... certainly there were some.
35th Test Platoon didn't move for the sake of Inquisition's philosophy in the first place. From the very beginning Takeru worked for money and for his little sister, Ouka for her revenge, Usagi because of her family circumstances, Ikaruga left the Alchemist and looking for her own place she came to Inquisition. Kanaria came over to meet with Ikaruga. Thinking of that, 35th platoon's team was just as Nagaru described it.
...for comrades, and for my little sister... is it.
Can it be that the other two teams were the same? He glanced at Sage's and Yuzuho's complexion. Sage quietly dropped his line of sight at the ground and Yuzuho glared at Nagaru.
"Your objectives are an important factor that can lead to preventing the war from growing worse. Just like our opponents are individuals affecting the world, your individual activities are consistent with our philosophy. That's why it's not a federation but an alliance."
Nagaru stopped the chair's rotation with her legs and made a firm expression.
"Currently, what's in the center of this world's huge vortex aren't organizations but individuals. In other words, individuals trying to change the world. Having the intentions of individuals cause a war is a dreadful thing, is it not."
With serious expression she continued to talk.
It's not even dictators, it's the speculations of individuals that move the world. Not just the countries, they pull the entire world in it. Takeru knew of a person like that.
"Inquisition's Ootori Sougetsu, Valhalla's Mother Goose, Alchemist's Suginami Suzaku... those people are our enemies. If we don't prioritize stopping those people, this world might perish."
Takeru's heartbeat has sped up.
He couldn't hide his surprise seeing Mother Goose was included among their enemies. Certainly, Nagaru should have been in contact with Mother Goose... or rather, with Orochi.
Speaking of which... I don't know what's their objective... they said they are going to stop the war, but is there something else...?
He felt a buzz in his chest. While Takeru trust Orochi as his swordsmanship teacher, he didn't know him that deeply. It was because he was a person who didn't speak of himself much.
In case of Mother Goose it goes without saying.
"I gathered you all this time because I want these three teams to attack a certain facility."
Hearing those words lacking calm, a shiver ran through everyone on spot.
While they thought Heretic Alliance was a completely non-combat organization, it was very abrupt talk.
Nagaru crossed her legs and clapped.
"——I'll have you guys to take down Alchemist's First Research Center. For the three teams gathered here that location should be of highest priority, you have business to do there don't you."
Mari, Usagi and Ouka looked towards Takeru, Ikaruga and Kanaria who grimaced strongly.
Takeru grit his teeth and clenched his fist. Pupils in Ikaruga's wide-opened eyes shook strongly, Kanaria hit the palm of her hand with a fist, full of fighting spirit.
The folks from Pureblood Party and Gods' Embers reacted in the same manner.
"I intend to prepare other forces as well. That's why it's okay if you leave the suppression to other personnel. I don't mind if you do what you're ought to do in that place."
Nagaru looked towards all the people in the room, then folded her arms in front of her chest.
"I promised you that I'll definitely help you out, right. Leave the political problems and post-processing after the operation to me and other people on top, you don't need to think of anything, you can go full reckless to save those you want to save."
Then she made a slightly bad-natured smile.
"No need for compensation. Your objective——will turn into Heretic Alliance's result after all."
...fu fu fu.
And so, Nagaru gloated with a scheming smile, but because of her childish appearance she didn't look the part.
"Aw, no good. My face's tired out."
She immediately returned to her usual carefree look and massaged her cheeks strongly.
With a riding motion Nagaru stood up from the chair and stretched grandly.
"I'll contact you with details on the operation at later date〜. Well then, with that said——I leave the rest to you, Kusanagi-kun."
While saying so Nagaru grasped the knob of the student council room's door to open it.
When finally they were about to move to save Kiseki and he tried to suppress excitement, suddenly he's become the center of attention.
"I think that team members from different powers must have something to talk about〜. In order for it to go well interaction is important right. Inter-cultural communication?"
"Noo, waitt, eh?!"
"I left the prepared tea and sweets on the shelf〜. Use it as you please and get along〜."
Nagaru waved her hand exaggeratedly and left the student council room.
Takeru left behind lowered his hand that had nowhere to go and stood in daze on spot, paralyzed.
"...............dumping it all on me?!"
And of all things she puts me in charge, Takeru lamented.
Putting together a team made up of feuding organizations made her seem skillful... he thought so, but apparently she was a leader below his expectations.
After 20 minutes, naturally, the student council room was overtaken by silence.
Although each team sat down by the U-shaped desk that was installed in, no one attempted any communication and there was a heavy atmosphere in the student council room as if a summit was being carried out.
The 35th platoon has gathered in the center of the long desk. To the left of the platoon there was 'Gods' Embers' guard troop and to the right there was the seventh squad of the 'Pureblood Party'.
The captain of guard troop, Yuzuho glared at the Small Fry Platoon and the seventh squad the entire time and the white clothed members behind her whispered to each other behind her back. Sage from the seventh squad folded his arms and didn't move at all, his members made grumpy expressions.
Caught in between, Takeru from the Small Fry Platoon was glancing on both sides checking on their complexion, becoming smaller and smaller.
Ouka was sitting with a stern expression, Mari was resting her chin on a hand and continued to hit the desk with her fingers. Usagi was fidgeting and repositioning herself on the chair. Kanaria already left from the place and Ikaruga also went out chasing after her.
Takeru really wanted to follow after them, but he wasn't that irresponsible to leave on this occasion.
Ahh... this stomach pain, it's a little nostalgic.
Staring into the distance, Takeru turned pure white.
"...what to do with... this situation."
Frustrated Mari was swearing under her breath.
"Don't just rely on others and think by yourself too."
Ouka sighed and admonished Mari.
"I'm properly thinking about it... in the first place it's that shorties' fault for passing this entire thing on us. It's impossible for Takeru to do anything in this situation, isn't it."
"It might be so but... you really are always complaining. Use your head for something else other than magic."
Grr, Mari got angry.
"You too, isn't it just that all the nutrition went to your breasts and there's enough for your head? Heck, I don't think you've any ideas whatsoever about communication, do you?"
"Ngrr... I'm aware of that without needing you tell me. That's why I'm desperately thinking of it. Also, I don't think you're in position to call President a shorty, are you?"
"?! N-no no, I'm not as short as her...! Well, I might seem short for this platoon but... heck, why are you insulting me in this situation? Trying to unload irritation you have for not being able to resolve this stalemate?"
"You're the one who snapped at me first...!"
The way it grew suggested they won't quarrel seriously, but those two were still the same as usual.
Rather than in the two the problem is me, Takeru reproached himself.
I need to do something. At the very least the members have to introduce themselves to each other. In the important operation cooperation will be crucial.
How do I speak up... and so Takeru was at a loss.
Suddenly, Usagi clenched both her fists and stood up.
All the platoon members were startled. They didn't think that in this situation, of all people Usagi would take action.
Takeru tried to stop her, but was stopped by Mari and Ouka instead.
Nervous Usagi moved in a stiff manner and walked up to the shelf in the student council room. Her legs trembled as she moved her hands. Everyone's line of sight has been attracted to Usagi, she took out teacups from the shelf, put tea leaves into teapot and poured in hot water.
Then she poured steaming tea into teacup and carried them on a tray.
It seemed very uncertain, but Takeru was impressed by Usagi taking action.
Whenever she was in public or when she was sniping, Usagi started to hyperventilate and yet now in this situation she took action by herself to pour tea.
With red face Usagi held out one cup of tea at a time to the members of the seventh squad.
As expected, the folks from Pureblood Party pick the tea up. The female members have looked at Usagi with despise.
Withstanding such lines of sight, Usagi offered the tea to Sage.
Sage had his eyes closed the entire time, but when he was offered tea he opened them.
"...I'm sorry. Thank you."
As soon as Sage was given the tea he picked it up and raised it up to his mouth.
The members of the seventh squad were all shocked.
"Nn... Assam, huh. As expected with the tea leaves from the outside, bathed in pure unfiltered sunlight, both the scent and the depth is different. Preparations seems perfect as well."
"T-that's not the problem! Why would you drink tea prepared by a woman from the outside!"
"It's just tea, and delicious too. What is the problem?"
While his members were confused, Sage raised the cup higher and thanked Usagi.
Following their leader, the members of seventh squad reluctantly raised the tea up to their mouths.
Everyone was surprised and made an unconvinced expression, that was surely because it was unexpectedly delicious.
Usagi's face turned very bright.
I did it, Kusanagi...!
Since that's what he heard when he saw her expression, Takeru raised his thumb in 'good job' gesture. Continuing in the same manner, she brought tea to the members of Gods' Embers.
The members of the guards received the tea from broadly smiling Usagi, and swallowed up by that smile they politely bowed their heads.
Their captain was as she was, but the members seemed surprisingly sociable. And in the end, she gave it to the captain Yuzuho.
When Yuzuho was given tea, she responded with a "hmph."
"——These black magi sure are careless. They didn't even consider possibility of poison being in the tea, it's depressing to think people like that participate in the same operation."
Yuzuho didn't take the tea in her hand and just glared strongly at Sage.
All the members of the guards who were raising the tea to their mouth stopped at once, and regretfully once again put the tea on the desk.
The female member beside Yuzuho nervously tried to stop her from acting provocative, but she lacked courage to do it properly and turned silent.
Provoked Sage quietly drank a sip of tea and opened his eyes.
"Naturally, Pureblood Party are aristocracy. We respect etiquette. Also, even if there was poison in this tea, we know magic that could neutralize it... I have no need to proceed while acting paranoid like you do."
"Neutralizing poison... is it. If you can neutralize poison, that means you can also generate poison right? I see, techniques to be expected of those using black magic. The miracles we are dealing with focus on healing rather than neutralizing."
The conversation between captains has begun. It was good that it did, but the atmosphere seemed bad. Takeru thought he should have joined, but there was no way for him to enter this topic.
"Black magic, is a very archaic phrase. The miracles you are referring to would be recovery magic. We handle that as well."
When Sage said that casually, Yuzuho furrowed her eyebrows.
"...how rude... our miracles manifested are not magic...!"
"You call magic miracles and operative procedures the etiquette, but while the details are different it's the same thing."
"Miracles are gift of faith! Don't lump us together with heretics like you!"
"If we are heretics, then so are you. Also... what are you saying this late, after seeking assistance of an organization named Heretic Alliance."
Sage said that and the seventh squad quietly laughed.
Yuzuho turned red up to her ears and the members of the guard troop have all gotten nervous.
That's when Yuzuho's anger exploded and she destroyed the long table with her spear.
Along with the loud sound, the atmosphere in the room has heated up.
All the members of the seventh squad put their hands on the wands by their waists.
Sage stopped everyone with one hand and stood up.
"At first you told us not to insult your philosophy but... if you continue to abuse us calling us heretics, we will not remain silent."
"These are not insults, it's aversion. If not for sorcerers like you, our devotees wouldn't have been judged as heretics...! It's your, black magi fault that believing in God is being condemned as heresy!"
"That's an extreme accusation. It can be proved that miracles are magic by tracing back to their roots."
"Be silent! You heretics refer to yourself as purebloods and brandish the power and violence! I shall purify your mud-like, dirty blood right here!"
When his blood was called dirty, a shadow appeared on Sage's face.
And, he slowly pulled out the sword-shaped wand he had by his waist.
"...I don't mind if you call my blood dirty, I'm accustomed to it."
A dignified voice that seemed like it came from the bottom of hell has resounded.
"However——if you defile the pride of my comrades who are in here, I shall not forgive you."
With his eyes stained with anger, Sage took up the wand in form of a short sword.
The seventh squad followed him and also pulled out their wands and entered battle readiness, members of the guard troops also timidly grasped their rosaries.
Sage expanded a brown-colored magical circle and Yuzuho expanded a silver-colored one that had a cross engraved on it.
And the next moment,
They ran out in front to attack each other with their Magical Heritages. As expected, the fight of those two conflicting factions was unavoidable. As long as they were bearing their hatred, the collision was inevitable.
But——in the following instant, there was gunfire and sound similar to glass crumbling.
" "———?!" "
Between Yuzuho and Sage who should have collided, stood Takeru. He grasped Sage's arm who was swinging the sword up with one hand and held Yuzuho's spear's handle stopping it with the other.
Both Sage and Yuzuho had their eyes wide open with surprise. No matter how much the two tried to move their weapons, they wouldn't even budge. As a close combat specialist, Takeru knew how did they use their strength to wield the weapons.
It was easy to stop a short sword by grasping the arm when it was swung up, to thrust with a spear user had to pull it back first so it was easy to stop it as long as he aimed for that moment. To stop the attacks of close range weapon users it was important to suppress the enemy's strength that goes into attack just before it.
One hand was enough.
"Like this, I can take away your Magical Heritages. The reason I'm not doing so, is because I want work well with you."
" "............nghh." "
"...I don't want to dirty your pride as captains by depriving you of weapons."
Sage and Yuzuho looked away from Takeru and towards to the comrades behind them.
The guard troops attack was blocked by Mari's protective barrier and the seventh squad's attack was stopped by Ouka who used Vlad to take down their wands.
Takeru exhaled relieved and grimaced.
"I want you two captains grant me a moment. Order your subordinates absolutely not to fight while we're not here."
" "............" "
"If you do so, I'll move my hands away."
The two, Sage and Yuzuho glared at Takeru who hasn't made a serious expression until now.
The silence has lasted for about 10 seconds and the first one to yield was Sage. Yuzuho was unconvinced, but she too ordered her comrades.
Then in the end, Takeru ordered the same to his comrades and left the three left the student council room.
Takeru took Sage and Yuzuho and they came to the school's rooftop.
Under the sky full of cracks he grandly stretched.
"Mm〜, after I heard we're in a mythological world I couldn't believe it for an hour, I didn't think it would have such a good atmosphere〜."
" "............" "
"Were your comrades okay when they first came here? The pressure is quite high here, one of our members had a mountain sickness after coming. You know, that girl who prepared tea. Her name's Usagi, she had a terrible headache〜 it was tough."
While saying some unimportant things Takeru looked back at the two. Sage had his arms crossed and closed eyes, Yuzuho was looking away.
He smiled wryly seeing the two as usual, then with a "heave-ho" he sat down on the edge of the fence.
"...why did you call captains alone. If you want to talk, that place was good enough."
"...I can tell your underlying motives. You will crush the captains alone and enforce Inquisition's violence right?"
Said Sage with appalled expression and super cautious Yuzuho.
Takeru scratched his cheek and went down to business.
"The reason I called you here, is because I thought there's something we couldn't speak about in front of your members. Well, it's about captains spitting out whatever is on our heart."
"...sorry, but I have no intention of getting along. I respect courtesy, but without a doubt our three factions are like water and oil. Anything other than keeping the exchange to minimum is unnecessary."
"Isn't 'spitting out' quite a vulgar phrase. You want to grasp our weaknesses and use them against us, right? I won't let that happen."
Seeing the two act stubbornly, Takeru narrowed his eyes.
"No, I have no intention of getting along either. I just want to work properly with you, not make friends here."
In fact he thought that it was possible for them to get along, but to do so, more time was necessary.
He thought it was better to convince them this way for now.
"At first President said that we have personal objectives that are overlapping. Each of us should have a goal that involves Alchemist. I want to know what it is."
"...why. What will you do with the knowledge."
"If we know about each other we'll be able to decide whether we cooperate or not, right?"
While saying so, Takeru extended his right fist.
"——I have someone I need to rescue no matter what. But to save that person, I don't have enough strength. I need help other than the platoon's. Don't you have similar circumstances?"
" "............" "
"The three of us should know each other's reasons. With knowledge of your circumstances I'll be able to judge whether I will help you and cooperate or not. You too, listen to my story and decide by yourselves."
Takeru pulled back his fist and joined his hands on top of his knees.
And he began to speak.
About existence he wants to save, various hardships and experiences with his comrades and the destiny he's carrying. He spat out all of it.
His proposal of spitting out everything was just as he told the two earlier. Their philosophy and beliefs, organizations and cultures were different so they couldn't understand each other. For the two to understand each other it was important for the individuals to know each other. Regardless of their philosophy and beliefs, they had their personal circumstances.
It's precisely because each team had someone to save that they have joined the Heretic Alliance. Since they had a common point, if they spoke of it frankly they could cooperate.
That's how Takeru thought.
"——I will save my little sister, then I want a place for my comrades to live in peace. That's why I'm here."
After hearing his way too fierce story, there was a change in Yuzuho's expression. A sentiment... or rather, she looked puzzled by the amount of parts overlapping with hers.
She clearly looked at him in a different manner.
Unchanged from earlier, Sage quietly listened to Takeru. However,
"...after hearing this much of your circumstances, I guess I can't go on without saying mine."
He slightly opened his closed eyes and started to talk about his upbringing and the person he had to save.
"My troop is a squad of dropouts despised in the West Side's Magic Academy. Even if we are purebloods, it doesn't necessarily mean we are talented. Even in the organization dropouts exist."
"...is that so... but you look quite talented to me."
Takeru didn't intend to interject, but still said that.
"The stigma of a dropout doesn't come from whether one is talented or not. In my case, it's because the property I hold is dirty."
"My 'Rust' property reminds people of West Side of rotten blood. My comrades are the same, they have excellent properties but no talent to build operative procedures, excel in all respects yet have low amounts of magical power, hold detestable properties... and so on, they are prejudiced for having such shortcomings. Nevertheless, they tried their best, having pride in their blood. Instead of being spoiled by their pedigree, they did what they could to prove excellence of the purebloods."
Sage indifferently spoke about their position in the Pureblood Party.
Ever since they first met, after seeing how the seventh squad seemed to have overcome struggles, Takeru thought that their story and circumstances would be similar.
It seemed like his hunch was spot on. The position of seventh squad was very similar to that of 35th platoon.
"We tried to make higher-ups learn of our existence and rise up. However, the higher-ups wouldn't admit it and didn't give us a decent position. They forced dark and dirty work on us, as we finished the missions successfully, instead of honor, only stigma has continued to pile up... the reason we haven't turned rotten, was thanks to a single comrade of ours."
Sage, stared at his own palm, then clenched his fist.
"Similarly to me... no, holding an even more unfortunate property there was a comrade, a girl called Ion Stewart. Her property's name is 'Pain'... she had an ancient property that allowed her to share her own pain with the others. She was always full of wounds that were characteristic to it and was despised by everyone. Contrary to that her personality was bright and positive... to the point you wouldn't think it possible for her to be in Pureblood Party."
Takeru guessed that the person Sage wants to save, is surely that girl.
"...during a mission, she remained alone in the outside world to allow her comrades escape. Caught by Inquisition, she has been moved to the Alchemist facility in order to experiment on her body, meanwhile we have returned to the inner world. We requested the higher-ups to let us go rescue her, but were rejected. '"That is the fate of those with dirty blood"... they said."
In the back of his eyes dwelled anger.
"The pureblood's pride is to protect the weak and lead them. And, to never forsake their brethren. West Side has neglected its pride and betrayed us. That is what motivated seventh squad to leave West Side and join the Heretic Alliance."
"In West Side as is now... we can't save our comrade."
After he finished speaking, Sage moved next to Takeru and sat down on the edge of the fence in the same way. Crossing his legs, Sage stared at Yuzuho.
Although Yuzuho had a complex expression, to break the silence she suddenly hit the floor of the roof with her spear.
She looked down on Takeru and Sage arrogantly.
"——I am not a dropout!"
...that's the first thing she said.
Takeru stared at her, Sage snorted.
"...however, putting it together, it's true that sixth guard troop's position is weak among the Gods' Embers. I was originally from the first guard troop, but was impressed by the spirit of the sixth miko, Izayoi-sama, then vowed to protect her at the risk of my life."
While Takeru wasn't familiar with Gods' Embers circumstances, since they were a religious organization it was not surprising that they worshiped a miko.
Gods' Embers are one of the few non-authorized religious groups that have survived in the modern times. However, the internal works of it are complex and they aren't monolithic. After the concept of religion was denied, the believers who sought salvation formed a faction. Out of the Inquisition's sight they started to worship a new God. Although it could be said a 'new God', it was the religions that have existed until now mixing together, so it would be better to call it unification of religions.
Inside of a huge organization that was born, there were different ideas on how to revere God and it didn't take long for it to divide.
In order to avoid conflict the pope has divided miko to serve gods, creating up factions.
According to Yuzuho's story, there was few believers of the sixth miko she served, that the faction was small and weak.
"You have all seen my subordinates. They are weak-willed and get swept away easily, they are getting nervous whenever something happens. Their only merit is their kindness. That is why someone as strict as me has to lead them. Even if it sounds arrogant."
It seemed like she was aware of her arrogance. Takeru felt it from the start, but the personality of hers now was somewhat forced.
For the sake of her comrades.
Yuzuho's mouth formed a 'へ' shape and she furrowed her eyebrows, then held the Rosario on her chest.
"It's been three years ever since Gods' Embers have succumbed to Inquisition. Inquisition negotiated with "If you hand over to us one of the miko, we will authorize Gods' Embers religious organization". The council and the pope decided on sacrificing the sixth miko unanimously...!"
The Rosario she held made a metallic sound.
"The sixth miko said nothing just accepting that decision, then she said to the believers seeking salvation not to mind it and serve the God in peace. We too, intended to do so."
However, Yuzuho added and grit her teeth.
"The rebellion against the higher-ups was inevitable. Not admitting that we have succumbed to Inquisition Gods' Embers believers carried out frequent terrorist attacks. They didn't follow the will of sixth miko at all. All they cared about was freedom of religion... they didn't try in the least to rescue Miko-sama who has become a sacrifice, not even a little...!"
Yuzuho wiped the tears in her eyes with her sleeve and looked up firmly.
"Miko-sama is trapped in the Alchemist's first research facility. That's why we came here. I know it's disgraceful to join the heretics even without you telling me that...! But, still...!"
Unable to endure the same any longer, she groaned loudly and turned around. Takeru couldn't understand religion, but he understood just how determined those girls were to come and ask Heretic Alliance for help.
They threw away shame and respectability... yet clinging to the thoughts of wanting to help they came here. There was no way Takeru could laugh at their resolve.
"Our philosophy and beliefs are different, they won't ever overlap. That might be true."
" "............" "
"But, the feelings of wanting to save someone precious to us——are the same."
Takeru stood up from the edge and clenched his fist.
"For fellow heretics, that's all we need to understand each other. After it's all over, we can might return to being enemies. But, when it happens, it happens. Right now, let's move forward at full force. Single-mindedly save those we want to save."
Extending his fist forward, Takeru said.
"——Alliance established. I will help you guys, so you too, lend me a hand."
The wind blew, from behind his swaying bangs Takeru directed his clear eyes towards the two.
Staring at the extended fist, Sage also stood up at the edge.
"Even if we end up facing each other as enemies... is it. I like these words. We will lend you a hand as well."
Sage extended his fist, matching Takeru's.
Then, in the end——
"...I won't acknowledge you. We've been only surrounded by enemies until now, so we're not going to believe you. The only ones we believe in is our God and the sixth miko."
Yuzuho who was turned away, turned back towards them.
"But, it's true that we want strength. We, the sixth guard troop decide to use you. That's why do your best and use us as well."
Arrogant until the very end, her mouth forming a 'へ', Yuzuho extended her fist in the same way the other two did.
Thus, the Heretic Alliance has started to act.
Not going hand in hand nor lend shoulder to each other. They bump their fists and go in the same direction.
In order to raise the signal fire of their respective counter-attack.