Azhure: I ended up making a lore dump for Spiri Raia. The next chapter should be the actual talks.
“Wait, so you can make yourself visible to me, but not to someone else even if we are both looking?” Irene inquired.
“Yep,” Layla said, floating lazily in the air. “Right now, me and Neptune only let ourselves be seen by your family and the servants. Oh, and the prince too, quite an honor for him.”
“Yes, I recall neither princes ever named a spirit.”
“Yeah, they can chant spirit arts and the spirits around will perform it, but they’re never gonna let themselves be seen by them willy nilly.”
“Then why reveal yourself to me?” Irene asked. “Or any spirit revealing themselves in general.”
“Well.” Layla hovered to the window, looking out to the vast lake of Kirash. “To us, it is the greatest honor to be named by a human. In fact, we even reserved our first reveal to the human whom we seek to be named from.”
“Ah,” Irene noticed. “Now that you said it, I recall only named spirits were normally seen.”
“Yep,” Layla nodded. “After we’re named, we’ll be less reserved to hide ourselves just like how I and Neptune were now.”
“Does it strengthen you in any way?”
“Nope,” Layla shook her head. “If it did, every spirit would’ve been named already.”
“Then why is it so important, then?”
“Because,” Layla looked back at her namer. “When you’re born, you have your parents to name you. But we spirits never have someone to name us, lady Aquarius didn’t. When we’re born as a lesser spirit, it’s just… ourselves.
“And we saw how you humans-“
But the spirit was stopped by Irene’s finger to her lips. “I believe I understand,” Irene said, gently rubbing Layla’s cheek. “The naming is just a formality, what you really wanted, what all spirits wanted, is a relationship.
Having a friend, be in a family, or simply to be with someone, right?”
“Yeah, even though we spirits are together, we never felt any sort of kinship,” Layla uttered, holding Irene’s hand caressing her so that she would not let go. “In the days when I’m just a lesser spirit following a bigger one along with a dozen others, it never… clicked.
“Even when I became the spirit and having lesser spirit following me around, I had no feelings for them. And eventually, those lesser spirits promoted and splintered off.
“Then, as an intermediate, I often watch humans going about with their lives together, smiling, laughing, being in each other’s company. I also watched the spirits I knew with their namers, they looked happy. And I wonder if I will never have that joy.
“I really thought that would be my fate as I became a worthy candidate to succeed lady Aquarius until I met you.
“And that’s why,” Layla declared, letting go of Irene’s hand. “Even if it’s just a name to be with you, lady Irene, I’m still keeping it. Even if I were to succeed lady Aquarius and inherit her name, I’m still keeping Layla – I’ll just be called Layla Aquarius.”
“I see,” Irene said. “And I guess you would not want to be in a bad relationship either, correct?”
“Yeah,” Layla nodded. “We’ve seen our brethren in that spot. It’s a good thing lady Aquarius herself told them to just leave them. And from their experience, we learned not to pick randomly. But admittedly, since we want to keep our first reveal, we had to judge character from just looking.”
“Then why choose me?” Irene asked. “Is it because lady Aquarius favored our family?”
“No!” the spirit denied. “Lady Aquarius’ liking to you only encourage us to answer your chants and not the other if you were to fight another water spirit arts user.
“But…” Layla went silent, then continued, “I do admit hovering around your household for a couple of generations. But all the heads seemed to get the fact that they’re blessed over their heads, my instincts tell me not to mingle with them. Ever.”
“Ah yes, I do recall that we had not named a spirit for a couple of generations. And our family’s power was gradually diminished as people thought the greater water spirit no longer favored us,” Irene said. “But that changed when father named Neptune. Together, they led the charge and pushed back the Fichs, singlehandedly regained our former glory.”
“Uh-huh, there’s a reason lady Aquarius liked your family to begin with, and your father finally reflected that quality she saw in the first head.”
“But that does not explain why you wanted me to name you.”
“Because I saw you just like me. Even though you’re in a loving family, living in comfort as a rich girl, you looked like you never enjoy it. Especially with your former fiancee, prince Albert.”
“Both of us felt we were never meant to be together.” Irene shrugged. “And we both know how he had feelings for my younger sister instead, so it was easy.”
“I still can’t believe you can say that so casually,” Layla shooked her head slowly in resignation. “But regardless, that made you even more alone. And you don’t even go out and make friends, or what you nobles call connections, with other girls your age. You don’t even go out of the city, no doubt thanks to that Van.”
“Yes, father even insulted prince Van in public and told prince Albert to just come to the manor,” Irene added. “And my interactions with the people of this city, whenever I strolled in the city, was mostly formal, that of between a duke’s daughter and commoners.
“Yes, I do feel lonely too. The only time I ever interacted with my family Father was too occupied with the succession war, mother only has time to teach me and nothing more – she needed to support father -, and Elaine, well…”
“Yeah, best to leave the lovey-dovey couple be,” Layla muttered wryly, remembering prince Albert and her namer’s sister, Elaine, acting like they were already married.
Irene chuckled. “I guess so,” she said. “Anyway, I too thought I would live like this forever, at least until I got a new spouse and prince Albert becomes king, but that seems unlikely. Father tried to downplay it, but I can tell that we seem to be losing.
“I really thought that will be my life until you suddenly appeared in front of that very window.” Irene pointed to the arching window, where Layla previously stared outside from it.
“Hm, I remembered it like it was yesterday. At the time, I had just become worthy to be a candidate for lady Aquarius’ title. I saw you staring at this window and after years of floating outside the mansion, I thought, this was it. I don’t know why, but my gut feeling told me that it was the right time to show myself to you.”
“And on that day, I gained a friend for the first time in my life. Layla,” Irene faced the spirit. “Thanks for letting me name you.”
“Your welcome, lady Irene.”
And the human and the spirit felt each other’s embrace.
“I believe the intermediate water spirit boy and the just-became greater spirit candidate girl cowering behind you and miss Irene should know,” Ronald said.
Upon Ronald’s words, the water spirits Layla and Neptune simultaneously dug deeper behind their namers.
“And by your whispers, duke Illyer, lady Irene,” Ronald continued. “They were named Neptune and Layla with the former owning large eyes and the latter a long hair, correct?”
He can see them? Irene thought.
“Don’t forget the boy’s bald too,” Joshua added.
“How can you see them?” Allister asked in a grave tone. “They revealed themselves to us, the servants, and the prince only.”
Her father was right. Layla and Neptune had only made themselves visible to the people of this household only and no one else. There was no way Ronald and Joshua could’ve seen them.
And yet, these young men were able to tell the spirits’ outward gender and physical features.
“Did one of us told you about them?” Allister inquired, tensing the workers of this house. “No, you were able to tell that Neptune and Layla were hiding behind me and Irene respectively.
“Does it have to do with why they were so afraid of you?”
“Yes,” Ronald answered without hesitation. “Though for our part, we don’t know why they’re so afraid of us.”
“Then who, what are you?” Allister asked. His tone was not his usual, it was grim. And the rest shared this atmosphere.
“Well, it’s got something to do with the symbol on our cloaks over there,” Ronald pointed back, where Joshua already stood up and went towards the hanged cloaks.
Pulling it wide, Joshua took his cloak off the hanger and held it high so everyone can see.
When Ronald and Joshua came into the room, Irene couldn’t see what’s on the back of their cloaks, and she couldn’t identify it properly when it was hunged. And admittedly, she didn’t pay much attention to it, she was more interested in the attire underneath it.
But now, she could clearly see a faint snowflake taking up most of the cloak and the bronze lining on the edges. The more emphasized part was the crest in the middle of the cloak, it looked like a shield with a spear diagonally across it and a contrasting colored scale in the middle of it.
“This,” Ronald began. “Is the symbol of our organization, the Otherworldly Court. Me and Joshua are its members, called Court Wizards.”
“The Otherworldly Court?” Allister muttered confusingly.
He looked at the manager, which Irene also did, to find him rolling his eyes and calmly sipping his tea. It seemed he was not planning to interject into his future superior’s bizarre statement.
“Right, it’ll be faster if we show you this.” Ronald lifted his right hand above the table and…
WHOOSH CRACKLE CRACKLE
Fire burst out of his hand, which then twirled around doing a bunch of tricks.
At the same time, Joshua materialized a chunk of ice from his bare hands which he then threw it into the air.
It then dispersed into countless nodes of light-blue. It was a sight to behold as it disappeared before it could touch the table.
“How is that possible?” Allister uttered, dumbfounded. “There are no fire and ice spirits in this mansion, lady Aquarius would not allow it.”
“Really? You are sure there are only water spirits in this place?” Irene inquired.
“Yep,” Layla nodded. “As far as I know, there’s only water spirits hiding in the corners of this mansion and the entire territory.”
“I see. Well, I heard that it has something to do with lady Aquarius’ blessing.”
“Yeah. Some of us might wander off to another territory, that’s how you can sometimes request a different spirit art element. But we’ll never trespass the parts where the resident greater spirit pays more attention to like this place. Who knows what they might do to us if we trespass.”
“Is it that bad?”
“Well, no. But still, you can’t be too careful, right?”
“…Was it related to how you were able to do it without requesting?” Allister deduced.
“Oh, water spirits, lend me your strength!” Concentrating on her imagination, Irene felt the link between Layla and the numerous unseen water spirits around her.
Then, a sphere of water gradually formed in front of Irene. It rose slowly as its diameter increased, Irene also stepped back. Looking to her right, she saw the greater spirit candidate pointing her arms on the water, concentrating.
After it grew into an appropriate mass, it shattered into countless droplets in the air. Irene could see a faint rainbow from it.
“That was pretty good, lady Irene,” Layla praised. “You got the hang of this.”
“Thank you,” Irene said. “I wonder, can you request without verbally saying it?”
“Uh, no. ‘Cause you have to request out loud so we know you want to cast spirit arts. We can’t constantly probe people’s minds just to know if someone wants to chant them, we’ll only do that after we hear it to know what arts you want to perform.”
“I see, that would be tiring and a little invasive to tap into our minds every day.”
And after a brief moment of silence, Ronald simply said this.
“We’re from another world.”