Voice: Gee! What took you so long this time!?
Azhure: A combination of being on a trip after uploading the last sub-chapter, my writing sessions getting interrupted, helping with my dad’s job (designing phtml files that are used to print pdf reports on the web along with migrating psql databases), going to the dentist, my parents looking for a car for me to drive to college now that online classes are over, and just burning out.
Voice: Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! What!?
Azhure: Oh, and I also took my time reading previous chapters as these next few sub-chapters are summarizing the lore of Spiri Raia thus far. Hopefully, I didn’t get anything wrong. This sub-chapter is about the history of how spirits came to be in one go, as well as what happened after the cliffhanger in the previous sub-chapter. Hopefully, I don’t miss anything. Enjoy.
Voice: By the way, read the note after this sub-chapter! It’s really important!
“Aqua told us she’ll explain everything herself,” Layla quipped as if Aqua had expected this would happen. Scratch that, the greater spirit definitely knew this would happen and prepared accordingly.
“Well, she’s not here now,” Ronald said annoyedly. “So you tell us what you know.”
“We promised Aqua not to tell ourselves,” Layla then excused.
“Yes, yes,” Neptune furiously nodded.
“Hm, this is getting nowhere…” Ronald sighed.
At this point, Owen was having none of it, what with the spirit purposefully avoiding mentioning his father. “Dammit! My dad’s missing for five years and I finally found him here, while all of that is going on!” He swung his hand to the ongoing siege before glaring at the spirits. “And now you guys are being tight-lipped about it!? You need a better excuse for that.”
“Uh-oh! He’s angry!”
“Now is not the time, Voice,” Alicia shushed the pixie.
“Uhn…” Rin looked around nervously.
“…Huh, first time see him pissed off like that,” was what all William said.
“Owen, I know their reluctance to speak is infuriating,” Ronald tried to calm Owen down, but his tone was the teapot calling the kettle black. “But they’re not going to start talking if you scare them like that,” he reasoned, having experience with the spirits scared of Court Wizard.
“…No, it’s okay,” Layla replied, earning a glance from Ronald. “I can explain.”
Owen looked at Layla indignantly. “Out with it,” he demanded.
“Okay, we have no excuse for hiding this from you and you have every right to be angry about it,” Layla began. “But sometimes, knowing things now than later can be harmful, especially when you don’t get the full picture. When you only know the first part of the story and acted on it, you might regret jumping to conclusions once you found out the second part too late.
“And with the delicate situation of this rebellion and your father, we don’t want you to make a fatal mistake without knowing the whole story that can only be conveyed by Aqua and it can’t be now.”
“…” With that explanation alone, it put Owen in a retrospective. It made sense because, ‘A lot could have been avoided if we had just known.’
“So please believe us that we have the best intention for everyone involved despite what we are seemingly doing,” Layla pleaded. “You may hate us for it, but please, let this slide for now until the time is right for you to know. We promise by our pride as water spirits that you will know the truth soon enough. If Aqua doesn’t tell in the end, then we’ll go against her word and tell you however can, okay?”
“Please, don’t be angry,” Neptune said with his puppy face.
“…Fine,” Owen accepted, backing down for now.
“Right,” Layla smiled. “You won’t be disappointed!”
“Hm, you really have matured a lot, Layla,” Ronald complimented. “Aqua has chosen her heir well.”
“Ehehe!” Layla rubbed the back of her head bashfully.
“He’s stalling for time,” William deadpanned as it was his turn to be ticked off while lounging in the lobby of the former Illyer territory Bell Branch with the other Court Wizards and two named spirits who longer have the desire to stay hidden.
As the two spirits were rather uncooperative, the Court Wizards went to the former Illyer territory Bell Branch to seek answers from the manager as it was safer than going straight into the rebel camp. But as clearly what was going on now, the manager too was not being helpful.
The receptionist lady flinched as she set a tray of refreshments (which was tea, as always) on the low table the Court Wizards surrounded. “M-My humble apologies, mister Trust…” she tried to calm William awkwardly. “T-The manager needed time to formulate a proper explanation f-for our misconduct.”
The Air Guardian, having none of it, something Owen understood with his partner, glared at the receptionist. “He better be,” he sternly warned.
“..!” Layla flinched.
“Hii…!” Neptune shivered in fright.
“Uhn…!” Rin whimpered, also feeling the tense air generated by the Air Guardian, no pun intended.
“Y-Yes, sir!” The receptionist bowed in fear, clearly wanting to get away right now.
At least she’s being honest, Owen thought.
“Apologies, miss, Will doesn’t like it when someone blatantly attempts to disrupt our operations,” Ronald consoled the receptionist while also silently doing the same for the rest of the staff hiding behind the backdoor in fear of the Air Guardian’s wrath.
Alicia eyed Owen, silently asking, Is that true, Owen? to him with [Telepathy].
Pretty much yeah, Owen replied in kind.
“I-I see…” the receptionist replied uneasily as she picked up the empty tray after the Court Wizards took its contents and hugged it tightly to her chest.
“You can go now,” Ronald shooed her lest William got more pissed.
“R-Right, mister Bell!” the receptionist bowed and scurried back to her post.
“Well then,” Ronald turned to everyone. With a cup of tea in hand, he diverted the ever so tenser air with a, “while we wait for the manager, let’s re-familiarize ourselves with this world.” Turning to Rin. “And one of us here had yet to be informed as well.”
“H-Hai,” Rin nodded bashfully, reverting to her mother tongue. During the preparations to go to Spiri Raia, Rin had gone back to her world for her preparations, so there wasn’t a chance to brief her about Spiri Raia beforehand.
“It’s nothing to be a shame of, Rin,” Alicia consoled Rin, patting her back. “Not knowing about this world beforehand.”
“Yeah,” Owen nodded. “Besides, it’s not like we can keep track of everything.” Though it’ll definitely prevent a lot of tragedies like what Layla said…
“True, the Sea of Worlds thought a perfect memory doesn’t need to be commonplace,” William added which sounded like a gripe, sipping his tea. “Also, it is imperative that we are on the same page.”
“And I’ll help explain the finer details about us,” Layla offered. “Aqua has taught me everything I need to know,” she explained. It made sense since she’s going to replace Aqua.
“Me too!” Neptune joined in.
“Yes, do help. I’m only reciting what’s on history books plus a bit of what I know myself,” Ronald admitted.
“Uhn! Thank you, everyone!” Rin smiled ear to ear.
“Right then, we should start now. I believe we should begin with a little history lesson.” As the Bell Branch was conveniently devoid of uninvolved bystanders due to the current rebellion making merchants nervous to work, after wetting his throat with tea, Ronald began, “before year zero in Spiri Raia, the spirits used to be a race with flesh and blood collectively called the fae.”
“…Uhn?” Rin blinked. She wasn’t expecting that.
“Surprising, is it not?” Alicia remarked, drinking a mouthful. “That the spirits used to be different races.”
“And the spirits’ previous forms were races you are already familiar with and there are various kinds of them. There are nine types of fae each holding one element of this world,” Ronald continued before reciting, “the earth spirits were dwarves; nature spirits were dryads, flora only; fire spirits were salamanders; air spirits were sylphs; light spirits and dark spirits were light and dark elves respectively; ice spirits were barbegazis and; lightning spirits were raijus.”
“Hey! Some of them aren’t even fae!”
“Yes, some of them aren’t considered fae in our world’s mythologies. It’s another of those inaccuracies in a different world,” Ronald shrugged. “Actually, I can’t even think of a fae equivalent for some of them.”
“And you haven’t even mentioned the water spirits!”
“I was saving it for last,” Ronald explained calmly before turning to the water spirits. “Finally, the water spirits were undines.”
“Undines…” Rin repeated. “Aren’t those…?”
“A water nymph that becomes human when they fall in love with a man,” William explained, likely reciting it from the internet. “But is fated to die if that man is unfaithful to them.”
“Eeh!” Rin exclaimed. “Is that true!?”
“Er, I don’t think Aqua has ever taught me about that,” Layla said with an unsure tone. “But otherwise, you’re right. I may not have been born undine, but I can still feel our lineage flowing through my soul.”
“Me too!” Neptune added.
“Now that you mention it, you do have body parts resembling one,” Alicia said as she looked at the water spirits in detail.
“Yeah! Kinda like Master Miriel!”
Owen took a look for himself, noting the fin-like ears hidden within Layla’s hair and appendages on the back of her elbows along with her slim build making it easier for her to move through the water. It was the same with Neptune.
“Oh! Aqua also has that too!” Rin realized.
Recalling his memories, Owen did remember Aqua having fish parts. It must be the red water orbs around her that were distracting.
“Something to know every day,” Ronald mused, taking another sip. “Moving on, well… long story short, the world before Spiri Raia was suffering under the yoke of cursed dragons, and the fae fought against them.”
“…E-Eeh!?” Rin exclaimed in surprise. First, the spirits were formerly known as the fae, now dragons. It was out of place for Spiri Raia today.
“Yes, little Rin, there were dragons,” Layla nodded in confirmation. “Never met one myself, but Aqua has told me just how cruel they are: treating humans and fae like cattle; razing villages and settlements for fun; hoarding treasures they robbed from others; basically cursing the land with their arrogance.”
“Yes, they’re very evil people,” Neptune summed it up.
“Hence their name ‘cursed dragons’,” Ronald added, sipping his tea. “Well, actually it’s not an expression. There’s really a meaning behind the ‘cursed’ in their name.”
“They can curse people?” Rin suspected, cupping her drink.
“Yes,” Layla nodded solemnly. “Aqua told me that one time, she and the other eventual greater spirits saw a cursed dragon dropped on a human village, cursed the villagers to attract wild beasts wherever they go, and told them to fight to the last villager for the dragon to undo the curse while tacking another curse to encourage them to do it, just for kicks.
“The last villager standing was a young boy whose older sister killed herself to save him and the dragon watched in amusement as the boy was eaten by wolves attract before lifting the curse. Aqua and the others couldn’t do anything as they were afraid the dragon might notice them.”
“That’s just messed up!”
“That’s horrible!” Rin exclaimed, horrified by the tale.
“Indeed,” Ronald nodded sadly.
“..!” Alicia, meanwhile, flinched, not because of the story as a whole, but by the fate of the young boy as Owen suspected.
Ever since the mission in Manegia, where Alicia was almost killed by a splinter of the wolf-type Maneg Beast causing Voice to go berserk, the young teen has developed a fear for canines, wolves specifically. Owen could’ve sworn she even felt uncomfortable around puppies as she didn’t even want to pet them during one dog charity event.
If I has paid attention to her while fighting the wolf Maneg Beast, Alicia wouldn’t have that trauma, Owen lamented, thinking of what could have been avoided.
“…” Back to the situation, on the other hand, William only showed indifference on the matter. Having known him for five years, Owen confidently knew William wasn’t being insensitive. In the simplest terms that Owen could describe it, it was William’s life experience that he saw the story as a dime in a dozen and that mulling over it would be useless.
As to how William came to that mindset at such a young age Owen doesn’t want to bring that back up now. Especially since I don’t like it at all.
As for Owen himself, the story tugged his heartstrings. It was very unfair what happened to them, all for an amoral dragon’s sick entertainment. He wished it had ended differently, that the boy or even the whole village was saved, but he did not express such feelings publicly as there was no meaning to it.
It was probably a sensitive topic for Aqua to discuss openly – Owen at least had never heard of this story before. The greater spirit probably had to tell it to Layla as her heir.
So is this why Aqua is… uncomfortable around Blaze and Luna? I remember how she looked towards Luna at tea parties. (Alicia)
Probably, Owen internally replied to Alicia’s [Telepathy]. As Owen began to hang out in the fire chamber more frequently since mentoring Alicia, he noticed ever so subtly the greater water spirit’s negative attitude towards the resident dragon-morph twins under the care of the Life Guardian, Gabriel. Even if they’re not the same, centuries of bad experiences with dragons in Spiri Raia were hard to get rid of.
And they’re good kids too, Owen thought sadly. Luna can be seen as shy at times, but she can be very assertive and knew how to rein in her rambunctious brother. While hot-headed at times, Blaze was a good kid at heart and a good brother to his sister. Seriously, they’re children. It was only because of her Maneg Soul that Aqua didn’t express outright disdain for them.
“It was this tyrannical reign that humanity and the fae decided enough was enough and banded together to end the dragons’ oppression,” Ronald then moved to the next chapter. “And this war against the cursed dragons was led by the fae who would eventually become the first greater spirits.”
“Uhn! So Aqua led the fight against the dragons!?” Rin exclaimed in awe.
“Indeed,” Layla nodded, trying her best Ronald impression. “Each future greater spirit took it upon themselves as the rallying banners of the war, adopting names derived from their ‘nicknames’ they’ve had in their younger years.”
“Uhn? So Aqua’s nickname comes first?” Rin tilted her head in confusion as to what the greater spirit heir meant.
“Yep!” Layla nodded. “The fae did not need names, we can identify each other no problem. Aqua and the other eventual greater spirits once saw a group of children having nicknames with each other and thought to have one themselves too.”
“So ‘Aqua’ becomes ‘Aquarius’?” Rin asked.
“Correct. Same with the other future greater spirits, just ‘Aqua’ probably wouldn’t be impressive as a banner, so she had to ‘upgrade’ it for the war,” Ronald nodded. “But, as you know, Aqua still maintains her actual name for those close to her.”
“Yes, she’s very insistent that we do,” Layla smiled wryly, a sentiment shared with Neptune, much to Rin and some others’ confusion. It’s probably because they were very reluctant to call the greater spirit so casually.
“Now, moving on,” Ronald continued. “As for the war against the cursed dragons, well, as you can already guess, the allies succeeded, ending the dragons’ reign of terror.”
“That’ll teach them!”
“Yes,” Layla nodded with the pixie. “It was a glorious battle, according to Aqua. Humans and fae fought side by side, taking on the menaces of the sky one by one with luck, skill, and tenacity until the last dragon fell.
“Aqua personally led a team of undines to trap many cursed water dragons in watery prisons, giving them a taste of their own medicine and drowning them to death!”
“Yep! The dragons didn’t know what hit them!” Neptune exclaimed.
Setting the spirits’ enthusiasm on cursed dragon genocide aside, they were irredeemable anyway, Ronald continued, “But, the dragons’ defeat did not come without a price, and I don’t mean the lives lost in the effort.” Ronald then drank the last volumes of his tea before putting the teacup down. “When the dragons were in their last throes, they unleashed one final curse as an act of dying spite.”
“Does it have to do with the spirits being the way they are?” Rin tilted her head in suspicion.
“Yes,” Ronald nodded. “While it had missed the humans entirely, the curse had corrupted the fae’s bodies, all of them. In the simplest terms, the curse had caused their bodies to be poisoned, slowly killing them to the point where they will eventually go extinct.”
“Oh no!” Rin gasped. “Then what happened?”
“Well, this is the part where it gets complicated.” Ronald cleared his throat before he revealed, “…simply put, Aqua and the future greater spirits came upon the chance to rewrite the Fantasy Law of their world.”
“…Eh? Eeh!?” Rin exclaimed, and rightfully so.
“To a limited extent,” Ronald disclaimed. “Otherwise, they would’ve got rid of the curse entirely.”
Fantasy Laws are what determine how supernatural things work in a world. It governed what sapient species there are, their abilities, what magic system they can harness or lack thereof, everything that’s not scientific. For instance, Rose, being a vampire, wasn’t able to see her reflection in her homeworld Arknoir; in Manegia, there wasn’t a Fantasy Law that dictated it and so, she was able to see herself in the mirror – Owen could tell she was very subconscious of her beauty ever since.
For Aqua and the other greater spirits to rewrite their world’s Fantasy Law was a feat in the realm of deities, or perhaps beyond that. The Maneg System was one of the few entities capable of something like that. Rin having only been a few months as a Court Wizard knew just how big of a deal that was and hearing it again was still just as surprising.
“As how it specifically happened is something that should be left to Aqua to explain,” Ronald continued before turning to Layla. “Unless she has explained it to you in full?”
“Er, even I still don’t get it,” Layla darted her eyes off.
“Understandable, I’ll just go to the end results,” Ronald shrugged. “Well, you ought to know it already.”
One good look at the spirits in this lobby and recalling what the Otherworldly Court called them, it was clear what was rewritten.
“Because the curse inflicted the physical body, the future greater spirits chose to shed the fae of their flesh, becoming body-less souls,” Ronald stated in the Court term. “Known locally as, well, spirits, each ‘greater’ spirits responsible for rewriting the Fantasy Law of the world that was henceforth known as ‘Spiri Raia’ also became the origin for their respective element of spirits.”
‘Origin’ was the informal term for referring to an entity to more or less carry a part of a Fantasy Law (Module, in the near future) of a world. It’s different for each case: some origins carry a ‘copy’ of part of the Fantasy Law (Module) with the world having the ‘main’ one and; some being the sole carriers that when they leave the world, that world will lose that part of the Fantasy Law (Module) while the world the origin entered will gain it.
Owen heard that Spiri Raian spirits couldn’t leave Spiri Raia without their Fantasy Law – they couldn’t survive without it. Aqua, however, can leave just fine as she carried her race’s Fantasy Law and even use her spirit arts unimpeded. Perhaps Layla, Neptune, or any water spirits can be in other worlds if Aqua accompanied them.
Incidentally, origins’ Fantasy Laws were ‘nonintrusive’ as local Fantasy Laws seemed not to mind their presence, like an antivirus determining a foreign program to be safe – perhaps because of its ‘temporary’ nature, unlike the Maneg System that’s more permanent.
“However, they ran into a problem,” Ronald then said, taking the attention of those who listened intently. “Becoming pure souls with elemental attributes caused them to be… incompatible opposing elements, something the greater spirits cannot get rid of.”
“Yes, we water spirits will get weakened in the presence of fire and make it really hard to perform spirit arts,” Layla explained with a strained face as if she spoke from experience. “Only greater spirits like Aqua can shrug it off completely while the rest of us can only resist so much within our ranks.”
“Uhn? How can that be?” Rin wondered before quickly realizing, “is it because of the curse!?”
“Possibly. Perhaps it was the intent of the curse, as the cursed dragons fell under the combined might of humans and all nine faes, they sought to break that unity apart as their last laugh, or perhaps it was just the unintentional side effect of the greater spirits’ attempt to save their kind,” Ronald made his guesses. “Whatever it was, the fae, the spirits, were no longer united in immaterial body along with humanity being the only ones left with flesh. As for their unity, well…” he eyed Layla.
The water spirit darted her eyes away. “…Yeah, I admit the younger spirits are getting more peeved with their opposing neighbors than the older ones, myself included,” she confessed. “Oh, but Aqua very made sure I don’t carry that sentiment when I become greater spirit and that I will do the same to the younglings. She and the older spirits are really worried that the future spirits don’t get along.”
“You better,” William suddenly spat at the greater spirit heir. It looked like he was still upset with the manager’s stunt. “Most great people had everything they’ve built destroyed by their heirs,” he warned, purposefully using specific words to drive it home.
“Yes, it would be very disappointing if you let your personal prejudice ruin everything Aqua and the other greater spirits built,” Alicia cupped her cheeks with her remark.
And that really drove it home, for the lack of a better expression. “Erk! I’ll be sure not to!” Layla smiled wryly.
“I-I’ll help her too!” Neptune chimed in nervously.
“And to better aid that, or, well, as the most feasible solution that could be thought of, the greater spirits had carved up Spiri Raia into nine territories, controlling one each,” Ronald continued. “That way, the spirits of elements have their own ‘comfort zones’ to lessen the chance of conflict between elemental spirits to a minimum.”
“Ooh…” Rin muttered disappointedly. After going through so much together, the spirits having to be separated was upsetting.
“But, in defiance to it, the greater spirit had decided to purposefully choose their territories in a way that each territory have as many opposing neighbors as possible,” Ronald further explained with a contrast. “This territory alone has a major border with the fire territory and that’s not counting the other territories that are incompatible with water, problems arising from it be damned.”
“One of the jobs as a greater spirit is to sort out these problems with the other greater spirit,” Layla added.
“Ooh!” Rin’s face lit up.
“And speaking of it, as beings closest to deities,” Ronald continued. “The greater spirits took it upon themselves as neutral arbiters of their territories, keeping the peace between territories and the balance of humans and spirits as the former began to resettle in the new world.”
As for whether the Bell Branch manager was ready to explain himself or not, the Court Wizards seemed not to be impatient as their unfinished tea got cold being absorbed in the lesson. Owen had mixed feelings about this after realizing they have been in the lobby for quite some time – he wanted to seek answers as soon as possible but Rin needed to know everything about Spiri Raia lest the worst happen. In the end, he listened on.
“But, as the greater spirits became comfortable with their new positions,” Ronald said. “They happen upon a few… interesting interactions between humans and spirits in their territories that will change everything once again.”
Azhure: I couldn’t find a fae for every element, so I had to put non-fae into it. I don’t even know if some of them are even fae, Google doesn’t give me many answers, so sorry about that.
Azhure: So, what you do all think of this sub-chapter? Is it good? Are there any problems with it? Any reviews or feedback is appreciated as long as they’re not plain insults meant to blow off your stress.
Voice: Don’t do that to people! Not even on the internet!
Azhure: But seriously, the only feedback I got (and remember) from all platforms up until this sub-chapter’s publishing are grammar, a few facts I got wrong, measuring units, and something about Alicia’s height which I picked the first result of ‘average female height us cm’ on Google which was around 160 cm.
Azhure: Other than that is the mediocre rating for book ‘Alicia’ on Royal Road which is understandable since I wrote it to shove as much worldbuilding as I can in mind, story second.
Azhure: This book and onwards are the actual stories I want to write with the formula of book ‘Alicia’ on Memory chapters. Still, I feel like the first book I’ve written is a good starting point.
Azhure: I still get occasional praises which motivate me and thank you for that, but please, I want to know if there’s anything wrong with my work like is my banter with Voice cringe?
Voice: …What? Am I cringy?
Azhure: Oh, but the pixie’s staying regardless.
Voice: Yay! I knew you like me!
Azhure: And her dialogue still gets no dialogue tags in chapters. Well, what do you think about that?
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