Azhure: Got a lot of college projects. Anyway, enjoy.
Name: Joshua Ruze Age: 47 Sex: Male Species: Human World: Kaomagi Earth Element: Ice Element Color: Light Blue Cherished Armament: Emilia's Left Dagger (dagger) Rank: Grand Wizard
“Is this real?” Ronald muttered in disbelief, supporting himself on the desk. He looked to John, the oldest west Transporter Room operator. “Is Joshua truly in Spiri Raia?” he pressed, pointing at the screen.
“Yes, Ronald,” the old operator nodded his head. “It’s not an error, Joshua’s signature is found in Spiri Raia.”
“Dad…” Owen muttered.
It was mere days after Alicia had made her decision, and just as Alicia and Owen were about to enjoy summer break, the dimly lit circular Transporter Room had called them, dropping the bombshell that it had found Owen’s father. They had dropped everything and transferred back to the Otherworldly Court along with Alicia’s father after he had caught wind of this.
“Is that so?” Ronald said in a hopeful tone. “Then where exactly did you find him?”
“Here,” John pointed at the map of Spiri Raia. “In Kirash.”
“Kirash? That is where mother is from, correct?” Alicia asked.
“Yes. It is,” Ronald looked back to his daughter. “Hm, to think Joshua’s right under our noses. If it isn’t fate, then it must be a cruel joke, having us in a wild goose chase.”
“Hey! Aqua’s in charge of the place, right!? How come she didn’t get a peep of him!?”
At Voice’s close-enough accurate remark, it got everyone’s thinking to high gear again. “Is Aqua in the chamber?” Ronald asked.
“No,” John shook his head. “She’s in Spiri Raia since yesterday – transferred from the east wing.”
“Hm,” Ronald scratched his chin. Looking to the operator, “how did you pick up his signature, again?”
“We detected large volumes of ice maneg acting out on Joshua’s Orders,” the operator reported. “…Along with a high number of humans dying en masse.”
That fact almost went forgotten in the prospect of Joshua being found. Now, they were reminded of the awful implication that arose from this information. Joshua not asking for a transfer when the monitors clearly showed he can give Orders did little to dispel suspicion.
“Impossible,” Ronald immediately shook his head. “Joshua wouldn’t do that.” He turned back to see his daughter and Owen. “There’s a reason we both agreed to prohibit you two from killing,” he said, but with sad eyes to Owen, “but I suppose that couldn’t last forever.”
Owen and Alicia, meanwhile, can only look dejected.
“I’m fine. It’s just, this makes the first time I killed.”
And I’m not really fine after that, Owen looked back. Glancing at the downcast Alicia, because it made Alicia…
“Hm,” Ronald sighed. Turning to the operator, “then, has Aqua said anything about this?” he inquired. “It’s her territory. There is no way she could not notice this.”
“We have received no updates from her either, even though sufficient time has passed since we detected Joshua for Aqua to inform us of her findings,” the operator shrugged.
“Was she on a meeting with the other greater spirits?” Ronald questioned.
That’s kind of what happened before, Owen noted. According to Ronald’s story, Aqua was away when the burning of the Illyer mansion occurred. Whether that was anticipated by the former and current Kirash kings remained to be seen. If Aqua hadn’t gone out, then it would have… He banished the thought, knowing the obvious if the other way had happened. But for this situation, however…
“Not that I know of,” the operator shook his head.
“Hm,” Ronald hummed in deep thought, looking down at the desk. “Have you sent any [Drones] there?” he asked, looking at the operator.
“Not yet,” the operator shook his head. “We thought to tell you this first.” Not to mention getting visuals from another world took lots of resources.
“Is there any news from Arnald, Kirash’s Bell Branch manager?” Ronald then asked.
“Let me check,” the operator said, checking through the database. Finding the answer, he reported, “as far as the Branch manager was concerned, it was business as usual in Kirash,” with a shrug.
“And yet the death of many people in Kirash does not happen so suddenly,” Ronald retorted. “Are there any rebellions forming recently? Or maybe a plague?”
Checking again, the operator replied, “No, not at all. Just the ones at the beginning of king Van’s reign and there are no epidemics.”
“And Aqua would have told us anything strange happening in her territory,” Ronald rubbed his chin. “In other words, there is nothing that would warrant all of those deaths short of a natural disaster…” he trailed off.
“None of that either,” the operator shook his head, knowing what Ronald was going to ask.
“Well! Ain’t that just suspicious as heck!?”
The pixie has a point. The signature of his father’s Orders in tandem with lots of people dying on the greater water spirit’s territory with said spirit in her territory not telling the Court anything about it and even the Bell Branch manager’s not noticing anything either? That seemed like foul play.
“Hm,” Ronald sighed in defeat, supporting himself on the desk. “I suppose we’ll have to go down there ourselves.”
“Oh?” Alicia raised her eyebrow. “So we are going to Spiri Raia?”
“Of course!” Ronald turned back and nodded. “Joshua’s finally found after all these years and I’m not going to sit out as you two go find him. Also, it’ll be a good excuse to finally bring you two to Spiri Raia.”
Come to think, I never did go to Spiri Raia, Owen thought, recalling all the worlds he had went through for the past five years.
“Do you hear that, Owen?” Alicia turned to Owen excitedly. “We are going to find your father!”
I could’ve found dad earlier if I had just went there, then he… But what’s done was done, so Owen gave a little smile and murmured, “Yeah…”
Of course, they didn’t transfer to Spiri Raia immediately – preparations were needed. And given that Aqua’s in the target world, Alicia and Owen conventionally ended up in Alice Es, the young Ice Guardian’s chamber. Alicia’s father went back to Kaomagi Earth to tell the rest of the Bell family of the news.
TAP TAP TAP TAP CLICK
“Mmm…” Alice hummed in frustration. Her short legs swung back and forth as her hands barely reached the keyboard from the swivel chair raised to the maximum height she sat on. That said, it was not just the physical struggle, she hasn’t recorded missions frequently.
“Um, are you sure you do not need help, Master Alice?” Alicia asked from the ice-themed couch with Owen beside her watching the platinum-haired girl struggling on the computer.
Voice was on the low table, munching on cookies.
“No! I got this!” Alice raised her hand in a stopping motion.
“Alright, if you say so…” Alicia sighed.
“Besides, I need to get used to this,” Alice continued as she looked to be button-mashing the keyboard. “I rarely get to fill in a mission report.”
“Is that so?” Alicia cupped her cheeks.
“Gulp! You don’t do that a lot!?”
“I do not,” Alice shook her head. “Granted, I have only been a Guardian for about three years, ever since…” Strangely, the young Guardian fell silent and her fingers stopped moving upon mentioning her recruitment.
“Um, Master Alice?” Alicia nudged.
“Oh! Sorry,” Alice snapped out. “My… mind went blank for the moment,” she excused. It sounded solemn though.
“…I see,” Alicia said with a sad look, deciding not to press further.
Right, the reason why Alice’s the Ice Guardian despite the Ice Mother Soul not accepting her, Owen thought sadly. After Alice’s mom, Catherine. Master Catherine, our…
“A-Anyway!” Alice spoke up, realizing and trying to break away from the awkward moment. “So, uh, this mission is about finding your father, huh, Owen?”
Perking up to all the topics she could use, though he supposed it’s the most relevant in this situation anyway, Owen went along, “Yeah…”
“Then what is your reason to stay, Owen?”
“…literally why I’m staying a Court Wizard.”
With Alicia also turning to him, Alice gave him a solemn look. “I see,” she muttered. Typing away, she continued, “remember when mother brought me here in one of her visits and met you for the first time?”
“…” Searching through his memories, Owen recalled such an event, when he was introduced to Master Catherine for the first time. It was coincidentally one of the frequent times the previous Ice Guardian brought her daughter, who was not even a Court Wizard yet, to work. “I do…” he replied. “You were hiding behind your mom when we met.”
“Hmm!? Why’s that!?”
“Well, he looked scary back then,” Alice pouted. “You had that chilly look that was way worse than Es kingdom’s winter storms, Owen.”
“Eh? Really?” Owen blinked.
“Yes, really,” Alice nodded harshly.
“But Owen is a sweet boy though…” Alicia frowned.
“Ugh,” Owen rolled his eyes. “Can’t help it, I was on a one-track mind of finding dad, can’t think of anything else.”
“Oh right, that,” Alice had almost forgotten the reason she stroke up the conversation in the first place. With the other falling silent again, she continued, “I remember mother telling me about your father, Owen.”
“About dad?” Owen repeated, raising his eyebrow.
“For one, mother said your father was very tall,” Alice said, gesturing one of her hands up.
“And yet this guy’s a Short Cream!”
Ignoring Voice’s remark, Alice continued, “And, well… he is the only Ice Court Wizard I have yet to meet. As the Ice Guardian, well… I would like to meet him.”
“…I see,” Owen muttered. Come to think of it, by the time dad’s gone missing, Alice’s only a year old. And she’s only six when Master Catherine…
“…Sorry,” Alice said in a downcast, noticing how none of her efforts lift the mood. “I guess I made it worse, huh?”
“Do not say that, Master Alice,” Alicia consoles. “You were trying your best.”
“Thanks, Alicia,” Alice smiled, dragging the mouse back and forth.
“Yes, it’s alright,” Owen said in understanding. Turning his head down. “But still, I’m worried.”
With that declaration, the girls’ attention turned to him. As to what Owen was worried about, there was only one thing that matched the current context.
“Is it about the people killed in Spiri Raia coinciding with your father’s Orders?” Alicia asked in concern.
“Pretty much,” Owen nodded.
The chamber went silent with only the sounds of Alice operating the computer being heard. How Owen’s father was detected was a plague haunting Owen’s mind. Who wouldn’t worry if there was a possibility that your father could be a mass murderer?
“I am sure it will not be as we fear,” Alicia assured him, inching herself closer to him on the sofa. “After all, it was our fathers do not want us to kill,” she reminded, as ominous as it sounded.
“I agree. Our… less than stellar first meetings aside, I believe you are a nice person, Owen,” Alice added. “I am sure your father is also nice as well.”
“…Right,” Owen muttered. Turning to Alicia. “But, Alicia, do you really want to come with me to find dad? You already decided to support us from behind, you don’t have to-”
“It is alright, Owen,” Alicia interrupted. “I may have never said it, but I have already decided to help you find your father ever since the night after I became a Court Wizard. Even though I have taken the support role, that will not capitulate my decision.
“And the same goes from my promise with Rin that I will help find her brother.” She moved closer to Owen…
…and patted his head, surprising the short boy as she had never done that before.
“E-Eeh?” Alice was flustered at the sudden show of affection.
“Ooh! How bold, Alicia!”
Ignoring the peanut gallery, Alicia smiled as an older sister would to her little brother. “So no need to feel bad, Owen. After all, we are going to find your father, so cheer up, okay?”
Owen doesn’t know what to say. Part of him felt bad for Alicia insisting on helping in on what was his mission. Ever since that incident with Kathryn, Alicia has stuck with someone like him, even if she became lonely because of it.
But, at the same time, it was because of Alicia’s insistence that Owen was able to get through the toughest moments of his life. When his father went missing, she was there for him and so too when his grandmother died. When Owen became a Court Wizard afterwards and led what was basically a cliched double life, not once did Alicia complain about whatever excuses he made to cover up the Otherworldly Court as Alicia’s father wanted to keep her in the dark for as long as possible.
So really, what Owen should be saying was, “Right. Thanks…” along with a smile on his face.
Letting go, Alicia smiled ear to ear and said, “Now then, let us-”
“Don’t forget about me!”
An eleven-year-old girl with jet black hair tied to a ponytail proudly gazed upon the other Court Wizards, who were caught up in the moment to notice her incoming signature, with her obsidian eyes as she barged into the ice chamber still in her school uniform along with a long cylindrical bag housing her brother’s katana strapped to her back.
This was Rin Fujiwara, the little sister of Haruto Fujiwara who was missing like Owen’s father, whom Alicia promised Rin to help find.
“Aah!” And before Alicia could yelp in surprise, Alice beat her to the punch as the result of Rin’s boisterous entrance caused her swivel chair to roll backward whilst she was leaning towards the desk.
“Alice!” Owen immediately [Eject]ed to the Ice Guardian out of reflex, vaulting over the desk…
…and landed hands first into the wall.
Immediately, Owen turned back and pushed the little girl’s swivel chair back in. “You alright, Alice?” he asked.
“Y-Yes,” Alice nodded meekly, her hands holding onto the edges of the desk for dear life. “I am alright.”
“Uhn, did I do that?” Rin nervously asked after she went in to see what was going on. With the unamused looks from the others at her, she smiled wryly. “Ehehe, sorry…” she laughed sheepishly, rubbing the back of her head.
Azhure: Alicia doesn’t show up in Court only when there were missions for her in the chapters of book ‘Alicia.’ Also, at this point, assume she knows the backstories of various Court Wizards like Alice offscreen. Saves me from a lot of fuss teasing future character stories. I plan to explore Alice’s story in book three, where Will Trust is the main protagonist.