Azhure: I decided to try to upload Memory chapters before the main Chapters from now on. Also, writing this is hard on top of the numerous college projects I have to do.
“Uuh…!” A little girl, who could be no more than four with a long platinum blonde hair and a pair of ice-blue eyes, whimpered as she hid behind her mother’s dress.
What scared her was a boy more than twice her age with similarly shaded white hair and light-blue eyes. The colors were so similar to the girl’s that they could be passed off as siblings. However, it was certainly not the case since Owen was an only child.
And that’s because mom died giving birth to me, Owen thought as he looked at the little girl only for her to dig her head deeper into her mother’s clothes. And why is she afraid of me? he wondered as he continued to stare holes at her.
“Well, Master Catherine, this is Owen Ruze. Joshua’s son,” Ronald, who was beside him, introduced him to this Master Catherine.
She was a mature woman in her thirties wearing a crystal-blue dress fit for winter and has the same shade of eyes as her daughter as well as her long hair tied to a braid resting on her shoulder. Again, she and Owen looked similar enough to be a mother and-
Why am I thinking that? Owen stopped himself from finishing that thought.
Seeing Owen in his turmoil, Catherine immediately spoke, “Hello, dear. My name is Catherine Es, Guardian of the Ice Mother Soul.” Stepping to the side to reveal her daughter much to the little girl’s dismay. “This is my daughter, Alice.” Looking at her daughter with a warm smile. “Now, no need to be shy, Alice. Say hello,” she said.
The little girl, Alice, fidgeted as she faced Owen nervously. “H-Hello…” she meeked out.
“…Yo,” Owen awkwardly waved his hand in response which seemed to work as Alice gradually left her mother’s shadow, allowing him to see the ornate white dress she wore.
Smiling, Catherine asked the boy, “So, you are Joshua’s son?”
“Yes,” Owen nodded, looking at the Ice Guardian, not thinking much about it.
“I see. Well, I know your father,” Catherine revealed.
“You do?” Owen raised his eyebrows.
“Why yes,” the Ice Guardian nodded. “He is the one who showed me the ropes when I became the Ice Guardian. He has been very helpful to me.”
“Okay…” Owen muttered. So his father had mentored one of the leaders of this place? He doesn’t know what to think of it since he hasn’t wrapped his head around the whole ‘Guardian’ thing from Ronald.
“And,” Catherine continued. “He also told me a lot about you.”
“…” Owen prompted to go on.
“But, I would like to go straight to the most important… topic, for the lack of a better term,” Catherine said otherwise. Her words were much slower than before as if she was trying to convey a sensitive topic, especially at the end. “If it is okay with you?” And that just confirmed it.
Is it about dad? Owen suspected. It fitted the current context, though he wondered why she wanted his permission to talk about it when she just did so earlier. Shrugging internally, he agreed, “Sure…”
“I see,” Catherine nodded her head. “Well then.” With her daughter still by her side and Ronald watching, she said, “Joshua had also told me about your mother… that she passed away when you were born.”
“…Huh?” Owen blinked. He did not expect this.
“While I was mentored under your father, he would often lament your… lack of a mother in your life,” Catherine explained. “He often worried leaving you alone while he was in the Otherworldly Court, that you would have no presence of two parents.”
“True,” Ronald confirmed. “When your father does normal office work, he was always the first to leave.” He turned to Catherine. “I imagine it’s the same when he finishes a mentoring session with you, Master Catherine.”
“Yes,” Catherine nodded. “He always seemed to be in a rush to go home.”
“I see,” Owen muttered. Come to think of it, dad’s always trying to hang out with me every chance he got. So it’s because of that…
“But then, he disappeared into the Rupture,” Catherine continued with a sad tone. “Leaving only your grandmother to take care of you.”
“But grandma died,” Owen said, causing others to flinch with how he said it so nonchalantly. “Then I froze her grave.”
“Oh! It is not your fault, dear!” Catherine stepped forward and held Owen’s shoulders. “I will not say I know how hard it must have been for you to experience all of that. But even so, as a mother myself, I would like to help you lift your burden in any way I can, if it is alright with you, dear?”
This was a different feeling to Owen altogether as he stared at Catherine’s gentle eyes. It wasn’t the feeling when his father was with him, nor was it the feeling when Alicia helped him. It wasn’t the feeling of his late grandmother taking care of him or any other feeling either.
It was the feeling of a mother.
“Um…” Alice mumbled with uncertainty as she approached Owen and patted his shoulder in his pondering, clearly not knowing what to do after the display her mother did.
And honestly, neither did Owen. When Ronald confessed how his father disappeared, the younger Ruze made it his point to find him no matter what. But now, he had a feeling that his quest to find his father will become much more than that.
“…Right.” Well, he wouldn’t know what will happen for sure. So in the end, Owen could only smile softly.
In the air chamber, Owen was met with a boy around his age with black hair and eyes and a rather skinny complexion. He seemed to be on guard at all times as if there was always something or someone out to get him. Back to appearance-wise, what was interesting was the white muffler he wore on top of wearing a white hoodie as if he didn’t bother the heat.
“This is William Trust,” Ronald introduced him while patting both his shoulders. “The new Air Guardian.”
Oh, there was that too.
“…What?” Owen blinked. Of course, he’s still going to react when Ronald had called him into the Air Guardian’s room earlier to announce the new Air Guardian to his face.
“Excuse me, what!?” William jerked his head to the dark red-haired businessman.
“Why yes, you are the Air Guardian,” Ronald calmly said with a little smirk on his face.
Joy, Ronald decided it would be funny if he’d explained the whole Guardian thing to the new Guardian before revealing him to be the new Guardian when he was supposed to meet said Guardian (Voice: Don’t get confused, now!). Owen had to remind himself that the Bells can be absolute trolls sometimes… and that Alicia was no exception. The horror.
“You’re telling me I’m in charge of this place!?” William shrieked.
“You’re one of the eleven people jointly in leadership,” Ronald specified. “But yes.”
“What happened to the last guy?” William quipped.
“…Passed away not too long ago,” Ronald averted his eyes.
“…Oh,” William muttered, feeling guilty.
Right, Owen was told being Guardian was for life. Because of how it worked, there was no leaving the post. That meant the previous Air Guardian had already died for William to take the title. So getting new Guardians is going to be like this, huh? he wondered.
In his pondering, however, Owen recalled a piece of the conversation not too long ago. “Trust?” he uttered the name.
“I see you noticed,” Ronald said, his hands behind his back.
How could he not? It was a rather famous incident. What happened to the Trust Foundation and more importantly, the Trust family became a hot topic in the media when it occurred. Owen ended up avoiding most networks he usually surfed through as they kept talking about it that he became sick of it, that they so easily gossip about the ordeals the Trusts went through.
I… really don’t like it. It feels really bad, Owen grimaced remembering it. Looking at William, he could only show a look of sympathy to the new Air Guardian.
“…” William stiffened, his eyes narrowing at Owen. Considering what he went through, Owen figured he would be at least cautious about it.
“Apologies for bringing up bad memories,” Ronald apologized. “But we are not here to talk about that, you have my word.”
That said, how did Ronald convince the boy to come here in the first place?
“Really?” William glared at the businessman. “You practically kidnapped me and dragged me all the way here.”
Seriously? Owen cringed. No wonder the black-haired boy seemed ticked off from the start.
“And after dragging you to a different world literally and pronouncing you as one of our leaders, I believe I have no sinister motives,” Ronald calmly countered.
“I thought a leader of a multi-world organization is supposed to be a wise old man?” William retorted. “Not a kid like me.”
“The Mother Souls preferred their new Guardians to have a longer life ahead of them,” Ronald reasoned. “Whatever necessary skills needed as a Guardian are obtained as you go.”
“Then why not elves?” William grumbled. “Or some immortal deity?”
“Unfortunately, the ‘Guardian Maneg Soul’ the Mother Souls create are constrained to only pick hosts with the remaining lifespan of the average modern human, unlike normal Maneg Souls,” Ronald answered solemnly, for some reason. Leaning forward. “There were elves chosen as Guardians, but they were relatively at death’s door by the time they were recruited.” Leaning back. “Immortal beings are out of the question.”
“Okay…” William looked like he regretted asking that which was strange to Owen. Was it the implication that any Guardian whose species was traditionally longed lived they will meet would already have not much time ahead of them?
“Anyway,” Ronald moved on. “I know it’s unprecedented and you have every right to still be suspicious about all of this, but the Mother Soul has chosen you for a reason and none of us have the intent nor the ability to refute your new position as one of our leaders.”
“…” William, however, looked unconvinced.
Sighing, Ronald continued, “…I suppose that’s not a good argument, but I want to say is, none of us have any ill intention against you or one another – we are all looking out for each other. So please, at least give us a chance, okay?”
It went like this for minutes. The three boys in the chamber were standing there not saying anything as the prime responder hasn’t responded yet. Owen could feel the atmosphere getting tenser as it went on.
But, it didn’t take even longer as finally, William answered, “So, basically I own this room?” in rhetoric.
“Until you’re dead, yes.” Ronald quipped, nodding as well.
Year 294 AGP
Year 1416 in Manegia
In the world linked to their world, Ronald led William and Owen as they walked through the Kaomagian countryside. While that would give the impression of grassy fields, that was only true for one side of the view. Behind them, as they marched, they could see a wasteland like the Otherworldly Court’s Training Ground except it was bloody red instead of ash.
“…” Owen narrowed his eyes as he locked his eye forward, not wanting to look back at the red field.
Ronald, out of instinct as the only explanation, noticed this and looked back at Owen. “Is something wrong, Owen?”
“Eh? No, mister Bell,” Owen shooked his head. “It’s just that…” he trailed off.
Ronald sighed. “You always have a big heart, Owen, and that is fine,” he said. “But it is also fine for you to make your displeasures known.”
For their first mission, it was mundane, to be honest. Just going to the Bell Branch situated in the town that was the nearest to the red wasteland behind them – though the idea of the Bell Branches itself could only give Owen a deadpan. However, before they could do that, the big red elephant in the room had to be explained first. It was, in part, related to the Bell Branch visit, even if they don’t go there.
And the backstory wasn’t pretty.
Pursing his lips, Owen fessed up, “…Well, I just don’t like how the demons got treated and what they got turned into along with their deity,” which was a response Ronald expected, “but I also don’t like how the First Guardians created the whole cycle in response,” while this was not.
“Why?” And that even got William’s attention. “Feels like people here deserve…” he stopped, for some reason. “Never mind.” Strange.
Even so, Owen still got the context of what William was trying to say and it made sense, but still. “I get that the human deity’s at fault for leading the humans to commit genocide on the demons and murdering their deity. I get that the humans in Kaomagi were still guilty for blindly following the order and that the Lord of Vengeance and his Vengeful Remnants had every right to be vengeful about it…”
Taking a deep breath, Owen continued, “But what the First Guardians did to ‘solve’ that is just too much. Instead of putting the Lord of Vengeance and the Vengeful Remnants to rest, they allowed him to rise every century just to remind humans of their ancestors’ sins on top of the AGP on their calendar while the demi-humans get caught in the crossfire. Can’t imagine how all of this felt to the last remaining deity who has to clean up the whole she didn’t create.”
And naturally, the purpose for visiting the Bell Branch near the Lord of Vengeance’s domain was to collect the report by the manager on how the first town to be invaded by said Lord of Vengeance was faring for the said invasion that will come in six years after that would be the rest of Kaomagi.
“Hm…” Probably caught off guard by how much he ranted, Ronald pursed his lips, almost stumbling on a rock on the road. “I suppose it is understandable, that the… ‘punishment’ by the First Guardians to this world is too harsh, and that those undeserving of it got caught as well.”
William, on the other hand, looked at Owen for a moment before focusing back on the road. “Makes sense…” he muttered.
And if it wasn’t obvious already, Kaomagi was aware of Court Wizards. That said, Owen and company wouldn’t transfer directly into the town because of that. For one, the people of Kaomagi have bad impressions of the Court for starting the cycle. And two, even if they don’t, the secret of the Bell Branches was still a secret, having it be revealed would render them defunct. This was why they still have to transfer far away from the town and travel there incognito.
Also, because they’re traveling in secret except the general populace were informed of the usual garbs Court Wizards wear through oral and illustrations, the boys had to wear generic traveler clothes designed by a vampire named Rose Bloodlight who also provided Owen and William those usual garbs in the form of a brown robe and a ceremonial cloak colored based on their respective Element they can’t wear for this fetch quest.
Shame, Owen felt the cloak was really comfortable to wear.
“Be it as it may, it is what the First Guardians had done and there’s nothing we can do about it,” Ronald stated, never stopping. “We may not be able to change the past, but we certainly can do better for the future.”
“”…”” Owen and William, on the other hand, looked at Ronald silently while ruminating at one of the most generic quotes the Bell had uttered with a straight face.
“Come on, you two.” Ronald, meanwhile, simply beckoned them to follow. “We’re about to reach the town,” he said as the walls of the frontier town were slowly coming into view.
Name: Owen Ruze Age: 10 Sex: Male Species: Human World: Kaomagi Earth Element: Ice Element Color: Light blue Cherished Armament: - Rank: New Wizard
Name: William Trust Age: 11 Sex: Male Species: Human World: Kaomagi Earth Element: Air Element Color: Colorless Cherished Armament: - Rank: New Wizard/Guardian
Name: Catherine Es Age: 33 Sex: Female Species: Human World: Kaomagi Element: Ice Element Color: Light blue Cherished Armament: - Rank: Duke/Guardian
Azhure: I had missed the opportunity to make the joke of Owen and Alice passing off as brothers and sisters early on back in book ‘Alicia’.
Voice: What a loss!
Azhure: Also, William, or Will, did not give his nickname at this point of memory. It’s not like he would when he just got thrust into the Otherworldly Court.