Azhure: I wanted to upload this chapter before I go on a trip tomorrow, I’ll still be writing since I write on my smartphone but I upload on my laptop which I’m not bringing.
Azhure: Anyway, a while back, I decided to un-launch my Patreon page as I’m no longer able to upload chapters as consistent as book ‘Alicia’ so I don’t feel like I should ask for monthly donations.
Voice: Not that you got any Patrons, anyway!
Azhure: Also, at that time, I finally discovered SociaBuzz, the monetization platform in Indonesia, much to my embarrassment, and made a page. I’m Indonesian for those who don’t know. So, I’m keeping my Ko-Fi page for overseas donations alongside my SociaBuzz page for local donations.
Azhure: Also, I’m putting the links for both my Ko-Fi and SociaBuzz pages at the end of every chapter from now on. I won’t go back and put the links in previous chapters, that’s too tiring when I upload on multiple platforms.
“Be safe!” Alicia’s mother told them.
“We will, mother,” Alicia assured her.
Today was the day the Court Wizards were to transfer to Spiri Raia to seek answers behind Owen’s father’s disappearance and the unknown event that’s brewing in that world, one that the Fire Guardian seemingly attempted to hide. Owen, Alicia, Ronald, Rin, and William stood in the circle, ready to be transferred.
“You’re coming with us?” Owen blinked.
“I have… a gut feeling I should at least be there,” William insisted. During the preparation to transfer to Spiri Raia, the Air Guardian showed up when he was supposed to enjoy summer vacation and declared his intention to join. “While I haven’t joined you on missions as often these days, I felt I should on this and I don’t know why.”
Being the Air Guardian, William has to eventually participate in missions less frequently as time went on. After all, a Guardian like him was the one giving the missions – again, Guardians only participate in missions by the availability of Court Wizards, then the Court Wizard fitting for the mission; or if the Guardian has to stretch their legs. And so, when in the early days, Owen and William practically stuck together, the former began to outpace the latter in mission counts bit by bit.
“Really?” Owen said skeptically.
“…Probably because we’re partners I felt I should join finding your dad,” William found an explanation, more or less. It made sense, though, that Owen’s partner should witness what Owen had spent the last five years for.
“…I see,” Owen muttered in understanding. “Sure, why not?”
As the rest of the Bell-Illyer-Kirash clan finished their goodbyes, even though they’ll be joining the Court Wizards once they got the situation settled, the operators wasted no time getting to work.
“Setting coordinates to the Kirash kingdom on Spiri Raia,” one of the operators said, typing away transfer jargon.
“Confirming maneg exchange of all Court Wizards present,” a female operator reported.
“Final checks underway,” another operator said.
“Preliminary procedure completed, beginning transfer,” John, the senior operator, commanded.
And the kaleidoscopic light bathed the circle, engulfing the Court Wizards to another world.
“Owen, what did Will mean that you are partners?” Alicia asked.
“Oh, it’s because we’re both mentored by your dad,” Owen easily explained. “It’s an informal thing, but because we’re stuck together with your dad on a lot of missions after the mentorships are done, we’re pretty much still a team.”
“I see…” Alicia nodded in understanding.
“Uhn!? So does that mean big sis Alicia and I are partners!?” Rin exclaimed at the implication. After all, Alicia and Rin were still under Owen’s mentorship, and also their respective Guardian’s.
“Pretty much, yeah,” Owen confirmed.
“Uhn!” Rin grunted excitedly.
“Yay! We’re buddies!”
Owen refrained from mentioning mentors and juniors can also be considered partners, for reasons he’s unsure to admit.
Year 1421 in Manegia
As the rainbow light died down, the Court Wizards were greeted with the sight of a new world. For Ronald, it was a trip down memory lane.
“So this is Spiri Raia…” Alicia gazed in fascination at her mother’s homeworld.
Being the water territory of Aqua, elements of water were evident even though it was ironically landlocked. For one, there were lots of puddles and shallow water on top of the usual rivers dotted throughout the vibrant grass plains benefitting from all the water. The hallmark of this was the great pond (though it was big enough to be called a lake) of Kirash where a comparatively small island sat inside near the edge upon which the capital of Kirash stood.
And that capital was in disrepair as it was besieged from all three bridges connecting it to the rest of Kirash as well as from the waters. Well, they couldn’t see the state of the great pond enough with all the tents and smoke coming from the capital.
“Hm, looks like we know what happened here,” Ronald mused darkly as his daughter had her sightseeing abruptly ended.
“Oh my…!” Alicia gasped.
“Uhn! Is the city being attacked!?” Rin exclaimed.
Owen and William, on the other hand, only stared grimly at the source of it all.
“I highly doubt it’s the Fichs,” Ronald analyzed. “Even though Allister’s no longer ruling his county, the message sent to Van by Aqua’s great sea works both ways to the Fichs emperor as well.”
As Owen understood it, Aqua being the first greater spirit to break neutrality and act like a deity angered over a screw-up of mortals had a profound effect on the people of Spiri Raia. Now knowing the greater spirits can be angered not just by infringing territories, along with the display of their wrath beyond simply telling their spirits to tell the offending humans attempting to request spirit arts to shove it, people have begun to be more conscious of trying not to piss off the spirits.
And that meant not going to war when Aqua forbade it with a literal ocean.
“So it’s a rebellion,” William concluded. Aqua only warned against a war between Fichs and Kirash, nothing said anything about a civil war in the latter. “And it’s succeeding.”
“Thanks, captain obvious!”
“The question is, how did this go under our noses?” Ronald pointed out. “That siege must have gone on for some time. There is no way Aqua couldn’t have noticed this nor the Bell Branch in that matter.” Rubbing his chin, he concluded, “this is very suspicious.”
“Um, what does that mean?” Alicia meekly asked, having a sinking feeling.
“Uhn…?” Rin fidgeted uncomfortably.
“I think it is,” Owen said in a low tone, not liking where this was going.
“They’re hiding it from us,” William cut to the chase. “And I bet it’s been going on for much longer, a siege like that can’t be planned overnight.” Turning to Ronald, “mister Bell, you said spirits here eyes everywhere, right?” he asked.
“Yes,” Ronald nodded. “Unless the place is marked with a ward, which even then is just a suggestion, spirits can go and look wherever they please, so long as it’s not filled with objects of opposing element like fire to water spirits in this case.”
“Then there’s no reason for Aqua not to know. Even if the rebels littered their base with fire to ward off water spirits, the fire itself is something to report,” William concluded. “And even if the Bell Branch doesn’t notice it, they should’ve reported the siege going on right now.
“They’re going behind our backs.”
“..!” Alicia also flinched, much to Rin’s worry.
“Hm…” Owen exhaled deeply. He does not like this feeling.
While what Aqua was possibly doing was concerning, for the lack of a better term, the Bell Branch also doing it was even more so for the three young Court Wizards from Kaomagi Earth. Just weeks ago, they had to deal with the Palras Bell Branch manager Norman betraying the Court because of his hatred for the half-animals in Beohar along with the sh*tshow, with no safer word to describe it, that followed.
So for this to seemingly happen again was bringing up unpleasant memories to the three of them, and recent too. Owen especially after witnessing that day in the Bell Branch manager’s office.
“It was not a foolish wish, but a wonderful one! Why can you not forgive them already!”
“Forgive them! To those beasts that did nothing but torment to us!?”
“Do not say that they were the only ones that did nothing but torment us! Even we are not innocent in that! Can we not just set aside centuries of conflict with each other and move beyond it!?”
“Never! And you’re just a noble brat who never knew what it’s like to have everything taken away by those vermins!”
Owen shook his head at the fresh, explicit memories as Ronald excused, “Well, most spirits are still mentally juvenile.”
“Even little kids know something’s wrong when they see it and tell it to their parents,” William deadpanned and then paused for a moment. “…Most little kids,” he rephrased. “But still plenty of kids,” i.e. spirits, “to give the report.”
And perhaps in an attempt to divert the increasingly sour conversation or just out of curiosity, Alicia spoke, “Speaking of spirits, we have yet to see one. Are they not everywhere as you said, father?”
Well, it worked. “With exception to our usual transfer points in Spiri Raia, Alicia. The spirits caught on that we tend to transfer to the same set of locations and steered clear of it,” Ronald explained. “Even though Aqua has become one of us, they are still uncomfortable with us.”
“I see,” Alicia nodded in understanding. As Ronald told them before, the Court Wizards whole existence scared the spirits of Spiri Raia with how they clashed with the local Fantasy Law.
“Uhn? Why are the spirits uncomfortable with us?” Rin asked in confusion, having not been told of spirit lore before.
“Huh? You guys are!?”
The Court Wizards found themselves interrupted by a voice from behind. What they found was a floating girl with glowing blue skin and long, wavy hair around the older teens’ age gasping in surprise. Beside her was a similar floating, blue-glowing skinned, bald-haired boy around Rin’s age adopting a similar expression.
The younger Court Wizards only need to remind themselves of Aqua, change the greater spirit’s glowing skin to blue, and figure out that these two were spirits. For Owen and Alicia, stories from Alicia’s family nearly matched these two spirits’ descriptions to two names.
“Layla? Neptune?” Ronald called them out first. “Is that you?”
“It is you, sir Ronald!” the female spirit, Layla, exclaimed, pointing her glowing blue finger at him.
“It’s sir Ronald! Sir Ronald!” the other spirit, Neptune, flustered in surprise.
“Haha! I figured we’d meet you first,” Ronald chuckled as he approached the spirits as if to hug these body-less souls. “I believe it’s been two decades since we saw each other, and by the looks of it, you two have changed a lot.”
“Why, of course!” Layla crossed her arms with a smug. “Aqua has made me her heir!” she said proudly. “Neptune here has also reached candidate status to one day succeed me as I succeed Aqua.”
“Uh-huh!” Neptune smiled noddingly.
“Hm? I already know that a long time ago,” Ronald said confusingly as if the greater spirit heir expected him to be surprised. “We still keep in touch with each other, no?”
“Er, yes. We do…” Layla rubbed the back of her hair with embarrassment.
While the older Court Wizard and two spirits were chatting, the peanut gallery was having a conversation of their own.
“Ooh!” Rin beamed with excitement. “So those are spirits!”
“They’re glowing blue!”
“Yes,” Alicia nodded. “And I believe the girl is my mother’s contracted spirit, Layla, and the boy is my grandfather’s, Neptune,” she identified from the stories told by her parents.
“Uhn?” Rin tilted her head in confusion. “They’re your mother’s and grandfather’s what?”
“My mother’s side of the family was originally from this world, a ducal household called the Illyer,” Alicia explained to the black-haired girl as she was not informed of this before. “After the king of this country burned down the Illyer mansion, my father and Owen’s father rescued them and have been in Kaomagi Earth ever since,” she explained in an abridged way. Pointing to the two spirits, “those spirits were contracted to them.”
“Whoa~!” Rin gasped in awe.
“And Alicia’s mom’s spirit also happened to be Aqua’s successor as greater spirit,” Owen commented. “Also, I remember they’re not contracted spirits and more about the naming or something.”
“Cool!” Rin gushed in excitement.
“…So that spirit will take over Aqua’s job?” William eyed Layla over the distance carefully. “Hm, at least she looks like she won’t freak out seeing us, probably because Aqua’s a Court Wizard.”
“Uhn?” Rin looked at William in confusion. Again, she hasn’t been informed of the whole spirits in Spiri Raia scared of Court Wizards.
“And… Huh?” Layla finally noticed the other Court Wizards on these plains. “These guys are?”
“Ah, yes! I almost forgot!” All of the sudden, Ronald rushed to Alicia, went behind her, and patted both of her shoulders under her robe much to his daughter’s surprise. “I like to introduce you to my and Irene’s daughter, Alicia!” he exclaimed with a proud face.
“Eek!” Layla squealed in excitement as she practically launched herself to Alicia. “It’s so nice to finally meet you! Aqua has told me everything about you!”
“A-Aqua did?” Alicia stuttered at the assaulting spirit.
“We still exchange status with each other with Aqua relaying,” Ronald explained.
“Yep!” Layla nodded. “But urgh! I’m still peeved lady Irene married an oaf like you!” She grumbled at Ronald. “Oh! But you’re alright, lady Alicia!”
“Er, right,” Alicia sighed. Incidentally, having lived in a household where the staff called her ‘young mistress,’ she’s not perturbed by Layla calling her ‘lady’.
“Oh! And this is Neptune,” Layla then introduced the spirit Allister named.
“Hello, lady Alicia!” The bald young spirit waved his hand as he got closer.
“Hehehe! He’s cute!”
“Hm? Wait, is that a-” Layla looked to Voice before blanching in horror, a sentiment shared by Neptune. “By lady Aquarius! Why is there a piece of your soul floating out of your body, lady Alicia!?”
“Hey! I’m not some piece of a soul flying around! I’m Voice!” the pixie pouted, putting both fists on her waists and stomping the air.
“Aah!” That only frightened Neptune.
“Ergh!” Layla cringed. Taking a closer look she noticed, “now that I think about it, your soul isn’t fractured like the others, but…” while eyeing the other part of Alicia’s soul uncomfortably.
After the initial excitement, the spirits seemed to have reminded themselves that Alicia was a Court Wizard. According to Aqua, spirits can perceive souls including a Court Wizards Maneg Soul that’s a ‘fractured’ mix of their actual soul (loyal maneg) and disloyal maneg. Alicia having only loyal maneg would mean her soul was whole, but the pixie probably made it more horrifying for them.
“Anyway,” Ronald decided to move the conversation. He then presented the rest of the Court Wizards, in descending order. “Meet William Trust, the Air Guardian.”
“Hello,” William unenthusiastically waved.
“Oh, so he’s a Guardian like Aqua?” Neptune asked curiously.
“Yes,” Ronald nodded before continuing. “And this is Rin Fujiwara, Alicia’s partner.”
“Nice to meet you!” Rin smiled with a bow. “You look pretty!”
“Why thank you!” Layla giggled with a blush.
“And finally,” Ronald did the same motion with his daughter only his hands were lowered to Owen’s shoulders. “This is Owen Ruze, Joshua and Willow’s son.”
“Yo,” Owen gave his customary greeting.
“Hello, sir Owen,” Layla greeted, nonchalantly adding an honorific to it. That said, she suddenly became mellow. “And uh… My condolences to your mother…”
“Yes, sorry for your loss…” Neptune said in low spirits, no pun intended.
So it’s about my mom. “Er, it’s alright,” Owen awkwardly said, eyeing some of the others with sympathetic looks. Honestly, he doesn’t have any feelings for his late mother. Bluntly speaking, he never knew her other than she died giving birth to him and from her grave. Even more so like someone who’d barely remember a relative who passed away when they were still very little, his mother was just never a part of his life.
“Right,” Layla cheered up. “So anyway, what are you guys here for?” she innocently asked.
And Ronald answered, “Right. I would like to inquire about the ongoing siege happening to the Kirash capital,” while pointing at the besieged capital. “And of your greater spirit; where is she?” he narrowed his eyes at the two spirits. “I hardly believe she would find this unworthy of her attention and to our being informed of this as the Fire Guardian. Oh, and I might as well inquire about the Bell Branch we’re going to first for its failure to inform us on the matter as well.”
Hook. Line. And sinker. Probably not the most accurate description, but it’s still the best way to describe the current state of the spirits caught off guard. “I, er…” Layla fumbled.
Then, to top it all off. “And by the looks of things, you know something about Joshua’s disappearance, don’t you? You did not mention him at all,” Ronald asked in a stern tone, causing the spirits to flinch which was all the response he needed. “So tell us what you know,” he demanded with a glare.
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Voice: You’ll be seeing these for a lo~ng time!