Azhure: Literally the night after I finished exams, I got Covid – my entire family got it, in fact.
Voice: But you’re good now, right!?
Azhure: Yeah, by the time this Memory’s uploaded, we all recovered.
Year 1418 in Manegia
…lower temperature to -200 Celcius, thus is my Order, [Deep Freeze].
Two abnormally large rabbit-like creatures with their snouts drenched in blood jumped at the Owen, attempting to maul the white-haired boy to death with their sharp claws and teeth. However, the Ice Court Wizard already had that covered as he ordered his maneg to take away the heat of both of these monsters to the point where they were simply immobile glass sculptures sailing past his cloak harmlessly.
And like glass sculptures, they immediately broke into many red pieces as they crashed into the hard dirt floor, meeting their ends to Owen’s [Deep Freeze].
“…” Owen looked impassively at the gory bits he left behind.
Emotion suppression lifted.
When Owen had finished his short training under Ronald’s tutoring at the beginning of his Court Wizards days, he was titled a ‘New Wizard.’ Then, when he developed [Deep Freeze], his original Order, he became a ‘Wizard’.
“…repeat last step, repeat last step.”
CREME~ CREME~ CREME~
Upon Catherine’s Progressive Order and the releasing of a finger, the wooden dummy planted in the Training Ground was encased in a crystal blue layer that seemed to grow thicker and thicker. Eventually, the growing stopped to create a decent ice sculpture made of pure ice maneg.
“This is [Ice Layer],” Catherine explained to him. “Your father’s original Order.”
If the demonstration of the Order didn’t catch Owen’s interest, knowing who invented it will. Owen looked at the frozen dummy silently before turning to the Ice Guardian, “And how did you know my dad’s Order?”
“Well, he showed it to me himself. He is my mentor, after all,” Catherine explained with a smile. “Technically, Ronald could have shown it himself to you earlier, but then it would not have been an [Ice Layer],” she further explained with a chuckle. “So, I decided to do it myself.”
As Owen recalled from Ronald’s lesson, one Order made with a specific Element in mind can be used by other Elements, but it’ll either work differently or be a dud. So the Fire Court Wizard ordering [Ice Layer] will just immolate the target to death.
“I see,” Owen nodded. Looking at the encased dummy again, which has its imprisonment slowly slipping away, he had an idea. “Hey, Master Catherine. I wanna try something.”
“Hm?” Catherine raised her eyebrow. “Sure, go ahead.”
As Catherine non-verbally ended the Order early – Owen almost forgot that was possible -, Owen silently formulate the words in his mind before performing it out loud, figuring he might as well let Catherine hear it.
“I order you, attach to object I touch, coat object I touch,” Owen began as he places his hand on the dummy’s head. “Lower object temperature to…” he paused for a moment to figure out a number.
He had heard something about liquid nitrogen capable of freezing objects to the point they can shatter or something, so he might as well try to emulate that. Recalling its temperature, just to be safe, he round it down to, “minus two hundred degrees faren… celcius,” while fumbling the units at the same time – why did Ronald insist that he had to use the metric system? “Thus is my Order.”
Upon releasing his hand, Owen’s maneg shot out to the wooden dummy, wrapping itself around the dummy to make it reminiscent of his father’s Order. However, unlike his father’s Order, the maneg did not become thicker but just stay like that.
CREME~ CREME~ CREME~
But something WAS happening.
Once the Order was over, Owen and Catherine both looked at the Order’s handiwork.
“Oh my,” Catherine softly muttered. “It is very cold to touch…” she said, despite Ice Court Wizards’ fake tolerance to the cold, as she placed her finger on the dummy before retracting it.
Owen, on the other hand, was interested in one thing and toppled the cold dummy over.
“..!” Catherine wordlessly gasped.
As if it was made of glass, the wooden dummy was splintered into pieces, sprawling all over the ashen wasteland. As Owen hoped for, his Order had made the dummy cold enough that it’d be very brittle.
“Incredible…” Catherine muttered in awe, looking at the remains of the wooden dummy. Then, remembering something, she turned to Owen and said, “you know, I believe your father told me this was what he tried to achieve first.”
“Eh?” Owen reacted. “Dad did?”
“Yes,” the Ice Guardian nodded. “When your father mentored me, he always mentioned wanting to create an Order such as this, but he was never able to do so. In the end, he settled for [Ice Layer],” she explained. Giving a small clap, she continued, “so it is quite impressive you were able to do it, Owen. Good for you!” while smiling.
“I see,” Owen uttered.
Owen later called his Order [Deep Freeze] because it sounded cool and he still believed it was. Much later, as he found not to need the Time Interval, he might as well cut the cost by reducing the number of steps to two by cutting off the coating step as he found the lowering step already covering that part.
“So you can do it without touching the Beosts, Owen?” A voice came from the side.
“I can, Crom, but it’s a bit pricier though…” Owen commented, turning to the side to see a young man in Palras Steel armor, an armor made from an alloy of various metals in this region called Palras, resting his bloodied sword, also made of Palras Steel, on his shoulder. “Might stick to tapping them.”
Also, he had to describe in quick detail what those rabbit Beosts, as the locals called them, looked like for his Maneg Soul to register them which made it more of a hassle, hence Court Wizard preferred not to have to describe things. Still, Owen needed some live practice of that from time to time.
“Okay… Then why not try casting freeze traps or something?” The armored young man, Crom, randomly suggested. “Or are those even more expensive on your reserves or whatever?”
“Eh, usually those things expire before anyone steps on them, so it’s even more of a waste,” Owen shrugged. Ronald told him unless it was on a Catalyst he’d be better off ordering those kinds of Orders like caltrops, right behind him as an enemy’s chasing after him.
SLASH SLASH SLASH SLASH SLASH
“And I presume William is done over on his end?” Crom then remarked.
Based on the shrieking of one more rabbit Beost, “Almost done,” Owen concluded before going to the Air Guardian’s location with Crom following suit.
A vicious rabbit lunged at a black-haired boy in a brown robe only for it to have its head chopped off with a concentrated blade of air maneg from the boy, his original Order which he has yet to name, making Amelia reconsider her self-imposed job as an archiver. The head of the Beost unceremoniously rolled off to Owen’s feet as the white-haired boy emerged from the bushes.
“Hey, Will,” Owen called William by his nickname, carefully taking his step among all the bloody corpses of rabbit Beosts. “You done there?”
Judging by the lack of emotion suppression, “Yes,” William nodded.
“Whoa! That’s a lot of rabbits,” Crom gaped at all the rabbit Beost carcasses. “We can have lots of rabbit stew from these, unlike the ones over there.” He pointed his sword to Owen’s rabbit Beosts, all in unappetizing pieces.
When Ronald had finished mentoring Owen and Will, he had pretty much left them to their devices. Unfortunately, the strain of being the richest businessman in the world(s) has always taken the time of said businessman being a Court Wizard trying to find Owen’s father.
So when Owen became a fully-fledged Court Wizard, the quest to find his father fell to him. Problem was, there was little to no lead as to where his father could be at the other end of the Rupture, forcing Owen on a wild goose chase hopping from one world to the next on a lookout for his father while completing missions for the Otherworldly Court on the side which brought him to Beohar today…
…having stew with meat from monster rabbits.
“Here you go, Owen,” Crom said as he handed the boy a bowl of rabbit Beost stew.
“Thanks,” Owen took the bowl and began to eat its contents. Monster rabbits were still rabbits.
Pouring another bowl from the pot, Crom then gave it to William, “Here you go, William.”
“I’m not eating that,” William immediately refused as if he’d already intended to do so from the start. He took an empty bowl and went for the ladle in the pot. “I’ll just eat the vegetables,” he said as he carefully pick the foraged vegetables that were tossed into the pot.
“…Okay, suit yourself,” Crom backed away in confusion and just eat the stew himself.
“…So,” midway through the boys eating, Crom struck up a conversation. “Do you not have the Black Mist from where you came from?”
Otherwise known as the Mist of No Return, the Black Mist Crom was referring to was the enveloping black clouds seen over the horizon surrounding the edges of the known world of Beohar. And apparently, as Owen heard, it also meant Beohar was flat.
“Uh, no,” Owen answered after swallowing. “We don’t.”
“Huh, can’t imagine the world without it,” Crom commented in interest, stirring his bowl. “How about the Beost?”
Looking at the stew they were eating, Owen replied, “Eh, we don’t have the Beost, but the wildlife is kinda like the Beost, just a lot smaller and don’t attack people just because. Oh, and Beosts like dragons don’t exist altogether.”
“Huh, you guys must have had it easy then,” Crom spoke in amazement as he scoop up a spoonful.
However, at that statement, William glared at the Beoharian without saying much. Crom, of course, was unnerved by the Air Guardian who was gripping his bowl tightly.
“Just because we don’t have Beosts or the Black Mist doesn’t mean we don’t have our problems,” Owen explained, both for William’s predicament and his own, as he take a spoonful.
“…I see. I apologize for making presumptions,” Crom said in a repentant tone, also taking a bite out of his stew. “I’m guessing you guys don’t have Half-Beosts either?”
“No, we don’t,” Owen shook his head.
“And am I right to assume just because your world only has humans doesn’t mean you all get along?” Crom then suspected.
In this instance, it was William who spoke, after downing a weird-looking plant. “We don’t. People will always find something to hate in other people because they think that’s the only way for them to function as a society; always having an enemy to band together against.”
It was not brief nor was it a very long explanation, but it must have struck a chord within Crom who almost dropped his spoon. “…I see, it really puts a perspective with the war we’re having right now,” he muttered, to which the Air Guardian blinked.
In this world of Beohar, there was an empire called Palras and a kingdom called Vulgis. Palras was an empire of humans and Vulgis was a kingdom of Half-Beosts, Beohar half-animals. Right now, Palras was an empire at war with the kingdom of Vulgis.
This was Owen and William’s current mission, to monitor the current situation of the Palras-Vulgis war because both countries can be considered world powers in Beohar. The rabbit Beosts that attacked them were only a minor interruption.
“If everyone can decide they don’t need enemies, then perhaps we humans and Half-Beost could set aside our differences,” Crom mused.
From an outworlder’s perspective, the Beosts may seem like these vicious monsters pushing mankind to the brink of extinction as kingdoms have their people concentrated in one or two cities for protection in numbers aside from the smaller settlements. In reality, they were just slightly more hostile wildlife, one the people of Beohar simply adapted to, evidenced by the rabbit Beost stew they were having. Not even the Black Mist caging Beohar was anything Beoharians were afraid of. In fact, it was even taken advantage of as a Beost repellant.
So really, neither the Beost nor the Black Mist was threatening enough for humans and Half-Beosts to be forced to unite against.
Crom looked up, into the territory of Vulgis. Owen and William felt compelled to follow suit. There, they can see an imposing mountain that also happened to be an active volcano. This was the famed volcano of the Vulgis kingdom, aptly named mount Vulgis.
“You know, I’ve grown up being told by my father that Half-Beosts are the worst,” Crom spoke. “He told me how Half-Beosts destroyed his village and committed unspeakable atrocities on the villagers. My father hates Half-Beosts because they hurt him.”
While the two Court Wizards listened on the surface, they were conversing internally with [Telepathy], something they made a habit over the years.
Why is his dad the Palras Bell Branch manager when he hates the half-animals here? (William)
I don’t know… Maybe mister Bell sees something in him that we don’t.
That better not screw with us later. (William)
To facilitate the scouting mission, Crom, the son of the Palras Bell Branch manager who participated in this war, accompanied Owen and William as their guide being a Beohar native.
“But,” Crom continued. “After fighting in this war as an imperial soldier and knowing you guys, I found out that we humans were just as bad.”
‘Bad’ was an underwhelming term, as Owen would know. “…Do you regret signing up in the army?” he asked the older man.
“No,” Crom flat-out rejected. “Because even before I found that out, I’ve always rejected my father’s hate for the Half-Beosts. I’ve always felt we should pursue peace with them.”
“Why?” William asked as he was intrigued.
“Well, I think all the talk of hating Half-Beosts is hurting my father,” Crom stated.
“The Half-Beosts had scarred my father to the point he can’t let go of the pain, which then turned to a sense of vengeance and along with it, hate,” Crom explained. “In fact, I remember my father ranting about killing all of the Half-Beosts, not that it would be possible.”
“And we won’t let that happen, either,” William found himself interjecting.
“Which is why I’m motivated to pursue peace even further,” the Bell Branch manager’s son continued. “I probably wouldn’t understand what my father went through since I never experienced it myself, but I do understand that keeping all of that hate is giving him more pain as if it had become a stain in his heart keeping him from moving on.”
Crom put down his bowl to the ground and stood up – Owen noticed they had stopped eating after some point. “And that’s why I fight,” he declared, looking up above mount Vulgis, above the Black Mist. “It’s not much, but if it can put this war to an end faster, the sooner we’ll get the chance to reconcile, however small it may be.
“And if we do make peace, maybe, just maybe, my father can let go of the stain and move on.”
It was very thought-provoking. Neither Owen nor William expected something like that to come out from a man a few years older than them and was lost for words. That to say, Crom’s speech had left an impact on both of them.
“And not only that, it’ll also make a better world for my girlfriend,” Crom then said with a goofy smile.
Neither Owen nor William could decide whether to have their impression ruined because of Crom’s silly expression or not, seeing as it was about Crom’s girlfriend, the Palras Bell Branch secretary, Lei.
“Anyway!” Crom then changed the subject, being in a chipper mood. “I heard something about you guys helping our Bell Branch to develop those rifles one of your friends showed off. I saw it in action myself, those things really pack a punch on the Beosts.”
“…Yes, I remember reading a report on that,” William recalled. Being the Air Guardian, he was privy to such things that blatantly break the Rules of Engagement even though that exception was for the sake of the Beoharians to better fight the Beosts – they’re still a significant threat despite the exposition before that slowed development which Beoharians should’ve focused on surmounting instead of bickering with each other. “Miriel’s in the process of approving it even though she’s the one who demanded it,” he grumbled with the mention of the Water Guardian.
“Miriel is that Half-Beost royalty from the Aqua kingdom, right?” Crom asked to which both boys confirmed. “Man, I never thought someone like her could be one of you guys.”
They kept talking afterwards with lunch getting colder as they forgot to eat it.
Azhure: I remembered saying it before in book ‘Alicia,’ William’s Order and backstory will be revealed in book 3 where he’s the protagonist. I’m still thinking about whether to explain the nickname ‘Will’ in this book or the next, though.