Five, Twenty-three, and Twenty-five Years Ronald’s Collection Chapter 3.1: Meeting the Duke – Contact

Spiri Raia

Year 904

“Lady Irene, please wake up!”

“Hnggh?” Irene ir Illyer mumbled uncharacteristically for a noblewoman as she woke up and looked at the window to the outside. “It is very early in the morning, what is it, Layla?”

She looked to her right to see a petite girl, who looked thirteen years of age, who has a glowing blue body, the spirit whom Irene named Layla. Despite her looks, she was a genuine greater spirit candidate – she had just matured into one. But even then, it was not every day that one would name a greater spirit candidate, her father named an intermediate spirit which was already impressive.

In fact, never in the reign of the first greater spirits has any human name a spirit who could be their successor until her! At least, that’s what the history books tell. There were named greater spirit candidates, but they got theirs when they were in their previous evolution with their namers already pass away by the time they have matured.

Perhaps it was the blessing of the greater water spirit Aquarius who favored her family that she was able to name Layla.

“You got a meeting, remember!?” Layla chastised, putting her hands on her waists as if to give a lecture.

“…Oh, right!” Irene exclaimed.

“Exactly, now get up, you lazy bum!” And Layla pulled her namer’s blanket from her. Irene simultaneously jolted out of bed.

CREEK

And on cue, the maids came in.

“Young mistress,” her ‘personal’ maid said. “We’ll get you dressed shortly.”

“Right,” Irene said. “Thank you, Mia.”

“Our pleasure,” the maid, Mia, replied.

With two other maids besides the one who spoke to the noblewoman, they began to dress up their lady.


Going through the hallway with Layla by her side, Irene was outfitted in a formal blue dress that complemented her bright blue eyes.

“Good morning, young mistress,” a young maid bowed as Irene passed through.

“Good morning to you, Tia,” Irene replied.

“Yoohoo!” Layla revealed herself, doing a peek-a-boo.

“Eep!” the young maid made a cute noise being surprised which amused the greater spirit candidate.

“Please do not mind her, she is how she is,” Irene apologized. “Continue with your work.”

“Y-Yes, young mistress.” The young maid bowed again and scurried off.

“Layla, please do not scare the new maid,” Irene chastised the named spirit.

“It was fun!” Layla shrugged.

“Hah…” the noblewoman sighed. “On the side note, I recall Tia was Mia’s younger sister, correct?”

“Yeah,” Layla nodded. “Their parents must’ve been really lazy naming their kids!”

“Layla…”

“Anyway,” the water spirit continued. “That’s a pretty dress you got.”

“Oh, this?” Irene twirled her outfit. It was a beautiful blue dress with embroidery that made a tribute to the greater water spirit, the hue matched her bright blue eyes.

“Yep, never seen you wear that.”

“Well, I suppose I never had the chance to wear this. Our meetings with prince Albert has always been casual and I only strolled in the city and that is it, this dress is not appropriate for that and .”

“Oh yeah, you never even went to the capital since your dad won’t let you near that ‘big bad wolf’ who’s apparently the second prince.” Layla made a wolf impression as she said this.

“Yes, and it was quite childish for father’s part,” Irene chuckled. “And speaking of father, he told me to wake up early to prepare for whose meeting again?”

“Uh… some merchant named Ralph Arnald.”

“Ah, yes. He is a merchant behind Bell Conglomerate. I have seen a couple of establishments under that name in the past few years in this city, so father wanted to meet him for a partnership of sorts.”

“So he’s pretty important?”

“Yes. With our family being the last pillar for prince Albert, father is hoping for the most successful merchant in our territory for his support and also to make sure prince Van does not get him.” Irene continued.

“And why did he have the meeting early in the morning again?” Layla asked.

“Father is very busy. I suppose he could only squeeze it to this time frame, so he thought to treat the guest breakfast as well. Also, father wanted to give me experience in these sorts of things seeing as I would take over as the head of the family.”

“Mhmm,” Layla hummed. “Since prince Albert’s smitten with your lil’ sis.”

“And father did not mind transferring our engagement to Elaine seeing as she fell in love with prince Albert too. Me and prince Albert were never an item anyway.” Irene sighed, “honestly, I do not know how they fell for each other but it just happened.”

“Aye, and those they’re being lovebirds in public too!”

“Fufu,” Irene chuckled at the greater water spirit candidate’s antics as they were nearing the dining hall.

“Speaking of prince Albert,” Layla continued. “He’s here, right?”

“Yes,” Irene nodded. “Father planned to surprise the guest with his presence, to get the meeting straight to the point.”


“Well, at least you got a good excuse to wear that pretty dress,” Layla remarked.

“Yes,” Irene looked down at her dress. “And it does feel right as well.”


CREEK

With the house servants opening the door for their young mistress, Irene and Layla entered the dining hall.

Sitting at the dining table, there was her father, Allister, in the middle of the right side of the table, her mother, Isabelle, to his right, and her sister, Elaine, one seat to his left along with prince Albert beside her. Floating above her father was a glowing blue boy below ten in age, the intermediate water spirit her father named.

“You look sleepy, Elaine,” Albert commented to his fiancee.

“Well, I had to wake up early to properly dress up for this occasion,” Elaine replies.

“Does it really take long to wear your dress?”

“Good morning, father,” Irene greeted, unknowingly interrupted the lovers’ conversation. “Mother, sister, your highness.” She looked up to the intermediate spirit, “Neptune.”

“Hello,” Layla waved her glowing blue hand lazily.

“Ah, good morning, Irene, Layla” her father, Allister, was the first to greet back.

Afterwards, the others exchanged their greetings before Irene sat between her father and sister.

CREEK

And on cue, a butler came in from the other door. “Sir,” he said while bowing. “Ralph Arnald of Bell Conglomerate and his entourage are here.”

“Right on time,” Allister mused. “Let them in.”

“As you will, sir,” the butler replied and stepped away from the entrance and opened it wide.

CREEK

Behind the door, they saw the elderly man in a rather nice suit fitting for a merchant, but it was his companions that interested them.

The one to the merchant’s left was freakishly tall, might be the tallest man they have ever seen along with his exotic white hair of a foreign yet fine cut and a pair of ice-blue eyes.

He wore a hooded cloak with the same shade as his eyes which he took off and hanged it on the hanger himself, despite the butler prompting to do it for him.

Under the cloak was an odd grey themed clothing, Irene does not recognize the design, she knew the fashion of other territories and this does not ring any bells, no pun intended.

The other man to the elderly’s right was at a reasonable height, about as tall as prince Albert. With a contrasting combination of dark red hair of a similar hairdo and deep blue eyes, he looked pretty young, about the same age as Irene.

He too wore a hooded cloak, except it was red in color which its shade does not match his hair. At the same time as the tall man, he took it off and hanged it beside the light blue cloak, also ignoring the butler who was supposed to do it for them.

Again, similar to the white-haired man, he wore a similar strange clothing, but in the same shade as his hair and in a slightly different design as the grey clothing. It fit him rather nicely but it looked very old as if it was passed down from generation to generation.

Also, Irene felt something she has never felt before looking at the dark-red haired young man.

“Uuh…”

Banishing her thoughts of him, Irene looked back and was surprised to see Layla shivering, with her expression showing genuine fear.

“Layla,” Irene whispered to her. “What is wrong?”

“T-Those two guys,” Layla stuttered. “T-They’re… dangerous..!”

“Huh?” Irene raised her eyebrow. “What made you say that?”

“…I can’t tell you,” the water spirit quipped.

“Huh?” Irene blinked.

“Hm? What is the matter, Neptune?” Allister whispered.

“Scary…!” Neptune said, completely spooked.

Turning to her side, Irene saw that the child-sized water spirit too was terrified before the young men in front of them. However, they could not ponder further as the guests had seated and it would be rude to talk amongst themselves further.

Incidentally, as the guests had taken their seats, the two water spirits immediately ducked, hiding behind their namers.


Minutes before the encounter, walking through the corridor filled with a bunch of paintings that would never be in the mansion of the Bells, Ronald once again readjusted the tie of his suit under his cloak while the butler guided him, Joshua, and the Bell Branch manager.

Haven’t asked, but looks pretty old. (Joshua)

Hm? Well, it’s passed down from my grandfather. Still in good quality as well.

Huh, never thought I’d see a kid being proud of hand-me-downs. Can’t you just buy a new one, like how you made me buy my own suit? It’s your idea for us to look all fancy and stuff. (Joshua)

Oh please, the money you get from missions came from us. So technically, I paid for your suit.


CREEK

Damn, they’re all blondies, even the prince who’s there too. (Joshua)

As the butler opened the door wide, the Court Wizards met the Illyers and prince Albert face to face. As Joshua said in [Telepathy], the father, the mother, the eldest daughter, the younger daughter, and even the prince all share the same shade of blond as their hair color.

Looking towards the eldest daughter, as Ronald took off his cloak and hung it on the hanger, unaware of the butler trying to help him do it, he spied the water spirit behind her who immediately shivered in fear.

And the rumors about the eldest daughter of the house naming a greater spirit candidate was true, though she looked like she just became one.

Pretty much… Though, weirdly, she and that other spirit behind duke Illyer recognize us. Pretty sure they only know us by our robe, not that I wear it so those spirits last week probably assumed I’m a Court Wizard too after seeing you. Or is it because we made eye contact? (Joshua)

Hm… If I recall, spirits here can sense our souls, correct? Father mentioned how the greater water spirit commented that their souls are incomplete yet at the same time it is. Probably so they could discern good and bad people to get named by.

Now that you mentioned it, yeah. Though it could be eye contact since they’d obviously know if they were seen when they’re supposed to be hidden and that means us Court Wizards. (Joshua)

Yes, and there aren’t any humans with mystic eyes or anything that lets them see spirits that made themselves hidden. So they should conclude that it’s us when they’re spotted.

Yeah. And by the way, is just the greater spirit candidate your spotting? (Joshua)

Cough, cough. None of your concern.

The boys ended their mind conversation as they seated, noticing the two water spirits ducking behind their namers.

Taking a good look at the eldest daughter once more, he noticed how she looked sleepy, not like Joshua, but just lacking sleep in general. Well, judging by her attire, she must have woken up early to get dressed up like a little kid by her maids.

But really though, what are you staring at? Assets? (Joshua)

None. Of. Your. Business.

Anyway, it was fortunate that early morning in this part of Spiri Raia was before noon in their world, so the breakfast duke Illyer invited them to was lunch for these Court Wizards and not to mention they didn’t need to wake up at crack dawn.

And duke Illyer started first, “Thank you for coming, mister Arnald. I am the head of this ducal house, Allister al Illyer.” Gesturing his hand to his family, “this is my wife, Marisa, my eldest daughter, Irene, and my youngest daughter, Elaine. And the young man beside Elaine is…”

“Albert al Kirash, first prince of the Kirash kingdom,” the prince finished for the duke. “A pleasure to meet the most successful merchant in this city.”

“I see,” the manager simply nodded, as if it were natural. “A pleasure to meet you as well, your highness.”

“…Right,” Albert replied, raising his eyebrow.

He totally expects the manager to look all surprised. (Joshua)

Yes, good thing we knew beforehand.

“Ahem,” Allister coughed. “In any case, might you introduce these fine young men are?”

Showtime. (Joshua)

“Ah, yes,” the manager cleared his throat. He first gestured to Joshua, “this man here is Joshua Ruze, a good friend to,” then to Ronald, “this gentleman here who is the heir to the Bell Conglomerate, Ronald Bell, son of Alan Bell, the owner of the company I work for.”


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