Toaru Majutsu no Index:Volume14 Prologue
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Prologue: An all-too-gloomy church. Bread_and_Wine.
Terra of the Left.
He was in St. Peter's Square, an elliptical plaza 240 meters in width, a water fountain stood a little to the side of its center. Terra was lying on his back against the fountain's edge, silently looking upon the starry sky.
In the sparsely-lit plaza, his face was unseen. Only his silhouette was wrapped up by the gentle darkness, and served as a kind of a veil.
A soft "glub" sound echoed.
It was not from the water fountain.
Held in Terra's right hand was a glass bottle containing cheap red wine. While neglecting the use of a drinking glass, every time he brought the bottle to his mouth, the alcohol within made waves along with a "glubbing" sound.
However, an alcoholic restlessness could not be felt from Terra's body.
If one plainly saw Terra's face during the day, he would have thought he saw a homely, alcohol-laden man, one not unlike a face from excessive overwork.
"Drinking again, Terra?"
The low voice of a man was heard.
Terra, still lying down on the water fountain's edge, turned his face towards the source.
Standing there was a fellow member of God's Right Seat, Acqua of the Back. A man clad in blue golfing wear.
Beside Terra was an old man dressed in magnificent vestments.
He should be the most powerful in the Vatican, but with two God's Right Seat members gathered, some mysterious presence was hiding among them.
As Terra wiped off the drooling red liquid from his lips with his arm,
"This is my replenishment for now— for the Blood of Christ."
"Bread and wine. The structure for a mass."
"My angel, Raphael, represents earth, so partaking in the earth's harvests and blessings to replenish my strength is quick and easy."
Though meant to be a serious response, both Acqua and the Pontiff sighed. Their glances fell upon Terra's feet.
There were emptied bottles scattered about.
Looking at the labels stuck on the bottles, Acqua said as he shook his head,
"Cheap wine. Not even worth considering in tourist rip-off stores. For you to use the name of God's Right Seat, you should be collecting better brands."
"Please stop it. I can't understand the flavors of those alcohols. Those are mere tools for ceremonial use and talking about luxuries is impolite to a true drunkard."
Hearing Acqua and Terra's exchange, the Pontiff interjected.
"...As a shepherd for the followers, I wish you to refrain from blatant drinking."
"Oh, dear me, getting reprimanded is rare."
As Acqua laughed in a low voice.
"For my part, I was bound by necessity as part of the service; but then it seems someone knows quite a bit about alcohol brands and flavor for a person not bound like me, right Acqua—?"
Glared at by the Pontiff, Acqua fell back a bit.
Unlike the other members, for some reason, only he did not ignore the Holy Father.
"A corrupt mercenary's tastes... That, too, is necessary in the battlefield."
"Ha ha, so Acqua's a hoodlum eh—. I can now say that we're the bad kids different from the pious believers."
The Pontiff grimaced at Terra's light-hearted comment.
He was likely wishing that he need not work with these ilk.
And then the Pontiff surveyed the great plaza that could hold 300,000 people,
"But then, I, the Pope, and you two of God's Right Seat are gathered out in the open without a decent guard.
Perhaps we should head inside for our meeting. The guards would have frothed mouths if they saw what we were doing."
"We're alright here. The spiritual binding effects of the Croce di Pietro still hold." As Terra drank on the wine, he looked up at the night sky,
"The unpleasant skies are spreading out. Countless barriers colliding and conflicting as they float like auroras. Magically shooting through these barriers will be difficult."
From the start, if one not bound by limits could unravel the system of every magic, calculating workarounds and countermeasures was possible. That compilation was the grimoire collection Index Librorum Prohibitorum that the Church of England was so proud of. It too was important on the battlefield.
However, as a result of the multiple barriers protecting the entire country in a complicated union with over ninety percent of the Vatican's structures possessing Christian significance, only Index could analyze them; not even the supreme leader the Pontiff could fully understand them.
Even if they spent a long time cracking the complicated codes, if the patterns in the passwords changed every second, the old solution would completely lose its significance. Far from keyhole-shaped, even the numbers change, so master keys could not be made.
Because it was impossible for anyone, including the Pontiff, to exhibit clear control over them, the multiple barriers surrounding the Vatican had so far rejected all types of analytical magic.
He placed the emptied wine bottle on the fountain's edge.
The cheap wine he brought into sacred ground was, for now, finished.
Terra slowly arose and he lightly stretched his back,
"The replenishment for the Blood of Christ is over; it is nearly time for me to go-"
Upon hearing those words, Acqua slightly raised his eyebrows.
"You're going to use that?"
Terra lightly smiled.
He likely understood it from the tone. Feelings of distress rose within Acqua.
"You're complaining about using civilians eh, Acqua?"
"If it's killing one another, it is better to leave it to soldiers enduring on subsistence."
"Haha, an aristocratic opinion. However..."
Terra pleasantly widened his smile.
"...for us, the Roman Catholic Church, numbers are our greatest strength. 2 billion is a huge advantage. To be especially unwilling to use this is unnatural. Academy City's total population is 2.3 million. Surely a literal difference in numbers, in this case."
"War is decided by the quantity of goods and people, eh? How uncivilized. It feels like I am witnessing ancient warfare here."
"It's really the simple answer. It is something that has remained unchanged since antiquity—"
Terra, looking up at the barrier-covered night sky, said so. He should have been drunk on alcohol but his manner had not changed at all.
"We, God's Right Seat, are imperfect, but through this mystique we lead the people."
He widely spread both his arms, stood on one foot, and quickly turned around towards Acqua,
"And with that, let us lead the frightened lambs as we please. I am the shepherd... they will be like the children who disappeared while enthralled by the flute."
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