Inside a dim room, the gathered people sat on their knees breathing face-to-face.
The light of the flickering lamp in the center of this windowless room was unreliable. If someone were to sigh, it would readily abandon its job for certain.
“… Everyone is gathered here, huh.”
Ten people were gathered in all. Amongst them, an elderly man who looked to have seniority confirmed this while looking around slowly.
Milifaire watched this from a place that was a little ways apart from the circle.
It was a first experience for Milifaire to attend a meeting where the organization’s managers gathered like this. Normally, the matters decided upon at this meeting came down to Milifaire at another meeting. Important decisions were made before she knew them. But this time was different.
“Still, the numbers have been reduced quite a lot.”
Someone muttered this quietly. There was no need to ask what they meant.
The other day, commencing from a corner of the royal palace, the names of members of the anti-saint faction was posted throughout town. The moment they realized they’d been had was already too late. The organization collapsed all too easily and quickly. Those who were caught and those who gave themselves up followed one after another, and a miserable situation descended on the organization. Also, the morale that had risen extremely high was brought low. People, who had lost their nerves thinking there was no way to attack the royal palace in this state, appeared and those who left the organization continued to increase every day.
Who exactly was it that passed information to the royal palace.
For Milifaire, she didn’t know what to do with her anger.
They had tasted a hardship due to betrayal once before. It was during the plan to attack the saint.
Milifaire had thought that plan was close to perfect. A man, serving as one of the saint’s bodyguard, had come to their side. Wasn’t his name Neisan? He too was also made to experience wandering between the boundary of life and death due to the past saint. She didn’t know how he was able to get into the pocket of the saint but, thanks to that, the information they obtained was remarkably better and they were even able to obtain the absolute secret information about her traveling outside incognito.
The place the saint had gone to was the orphanage where she was born and raised. At first, they planned to attack the orphanage where the children were – Milifaire shuddered when she heard that later – but because the saint moved to a graveyard they quickly altered their plans accordingly. They used one of their young members well, even used the grave keeper, and reached the point where they were one step away from being able to assassinate the saint. That plan, where everything had gone so well due to the activity of the anti-saint faction, would probably never happen again in the future.
However, that plan of attack, the success right before their eyes, all turned to nothing.
They were betrayed by the man who should have changed sides to them– no, looking back now, he probably hadn’t changed sides to the anti-saint faction from the beginning. It was all a mistake to let their guard down at the accuracy of the information he brought and his actions. However, on the other hand, according to the results of his past that they investigated thoroughly, there was no mistake that he saw hell due to the saint. This was nothing more than an excuse but she could only think he was mad to still follow the saint’s side.
Anyway, this time they had to taste the same regret again.
The royal palace’s way of doing things was quite nasty. But maybe they had to be like that to be fine with folding up around that Saint Celiastina.
–Just what we want.
Milifaire remembered Ghada, the one who managed the anti-saint faction, muttering that.
They would show the king and the saint that their feelings weren’t so minor as to give up at this extent. Milifaire had nodded firmly at those words of his. Yes, from the start they didn’t think about leaving something behind. Even if all their information was leaked, or all their weapons were taken and they were made unarmed, their goal was unchanged.
“Let’s hurry and confirm everything.”
A quiet but well-heard voice entered Milifaire’s ears and she came to her senses.
In the center of the circle, Ghada sent a strong gaze towards her. Milifaire received that and tightened her own expression.
“We will move our plans one day earlier and carry out the attack tomorrow… I will say this plainly, we have no chance of winning. I don’t think we can even scratch the saint’s face. However, we will show them our will. It is with that resolution that we will all unite together and attack from the front.”
The men nodded in silence.
“But Milifaire is the only exception.”
Ghada added that and, for the first time, the air in the place wavered.
“It is the wish of the person herself, and I have allowed her to act separately.”
“Wish of the person herself? What do you mean.”
The flustered men looked between Ghada and Milifaire’s faces.
“I have said that we won’t be victorious, but we will do everything that we can. This was a decision for that sake.”
If there was something she could do, then she would carry it out with all her strength. Instead of Ghada, Milifaire began to tell everyone the plan she came up with herself.
The meeting ended and Milifaire and the others exited the room one by one, leaving space in between. On the surface this building was a brothel and it’d be suspicious if a large number of people exited.
With the appearance of a woman in that store who had just finished working, Milifaire stepped into the deserted back alley and nearly screamed when her shoulder was suddenly grabbed from behind. When she turned back after swallowing down that almost-scream there was the familiar face of Jin.
“What the, don’t surprise me!”
“Hey, Milifaire. I’ll be going with you tomorrow too.”
“… What did you say?”
“Ghada has accepted that too. Nothing will change much if one person becomes two people.”
“Will it be inconvenient if I’m there?”
“That’s not it at all.”
There Milifaire suddenly showed a self-derisive smile.
“You think I’m going to lose my nerve and run away? You and Ghada.”
“Ghada trusts in you.”
Milifaire looked up into Jin’s calm eyes as he stood right beside her. A rather chill wind blew through the narrow alley. It was a night where the moon shone brightly but, in the long shadows cast by the tall buildings, she couldn’t see Jin’s expression very well.
“Hey, where is that hatred of yours born from?”
Jin, uncharacteristically, asked that in a tone as if he were talking to a young child.
“… What do you mean.”
“I’ve always thought this since the time I heard about your past. Aren’t you– just under the impression that the hatred your brother must be holding is your own.”
Milifaire squeezed the baggage she had in her arms tightly. The slight tremble in her hands was no doubt due to her anger against Jin.
“Are you… insulting me?”
“I’m only saying what I feel. Even I don’t think you’ll lose your nerve at this point and run. But if you have to face your brother tomorrow… I’m thinking that I don’t know what’ll happen at that time.”
Milifaire opened her mouth to refute that immediately, but in the end she couldn’t say anything. Were these feelings not her own? Was she just convincing herself?
–That was… impossible.
Milifaire told herself that.
No, it was nothing to tell herself. At any rate, Milifaire was still unable to understand her older brother’s decision. There was no way she could understand his thoughts when he chose to stay as the First Holy Knight and stay beside Celiastina after that event.
This was unmistakably her own anger and her own hatred.
She would make that clear when tomorrow came and when the time of the raid came. It would be nice if that moment could come as quickly as possible– Milifaire thought that along with a strange impatience.
Beyond Jin the glowing moon rose high in the sky. Even though it was probably the last moon she would look up at, it released a light that was cold in all respects.