Azhure: Looking back, I noticed that Irene’s personal maid was named Mia when there’s another Mia from Alicia chapter 13. So that’s two Mia’s and two Albert’s, both being maids and royalty respectively.
Voice: Wow! What a coincidence!
Azhure: You don’t have to make it so sarcastically. Though in hindsight, I’ll have to use the same name multiple times. Might extend to the Court Wizards.
Voice: And have a Merry Christmas! Even though we’re totally late on that!
“I just remembered, Layla,” Irene called while laying on her bed, catching the greater spirit candidate’s attention. “I heard that the greater spirits fought with other spirits at their side, is that true?”
“Yeah,” Layla, floating about lazily, answered. “We lend lady Aquarius our assistance in her battles, much like how your spirit art can be answered by multiple spirits, increasing its power. Except, lady Aquarius can call us from great distances to gather around her whereas you humans are stuck with whoever’s nearby.
“She also blacklists the meanies so we know we shouldn’t answer their spirit arts at all. And obviously, we would never answer spirit arts meant to hurt her, thus making her ‘immune’ to water spirit arts. Other spirit elements wouldn’t dare attack her either, or it’s war!
“And that’s what makes her the greater water spirit!” As she explained this, she slowly rested her hands to her waist, describing the greater water spirit’s dominion with pride.
“I see, so when lady Aquarius had the skirmish with the first Court Wizards coming to this world as you witnessed before, you fought with her as well?” Irene asked.
And with a pause, Layla’s expression turned into a frown, realizing exactly what her namer was asking. “Yes, I did lend lady Aquarius my assistance in that skirmish.”
“How was it then?” Irene asked next, curious about the whole affair that she got up from her bed. “You said that they were able to stand against lady Aquarius, but how was your experience?”
“Well, I guess you would wanna know how good they are, seeing those guys are helping your family and all,” Layla sighed, her glowing blue body resigning from this development. “For starters, I think they’re holding back.”
“So they’re much stronger than lady Aquarius!?” Irene exclaimed, connecting Layla’s statement to the previous.
“Oh, but lady Aquarius’ holding back too,” Layla quickly explained. “She didn’t gather all of us to fight them from the start, after all.
“When I said we went toe-to-toe, lady Aquarius gathered more of us bit by bit as the Court Wizards upped their game in response. That puts us in a stalemate until one of them explained themselves.”
“I see… Is there anything else?”
“Well, on a personal note, I found the whole fight revulsive.” Suddenly, Layla’s tone became sour. “Like, it feels they’re ripping their own souls to fuel their spirit arts, it’s disgusting.”
“Huh? What do you mean?” Irene raised her eyebrow, not getting what the greater spirit candidate said.
“It’s best that you don’t understand,” Layla said in a flat tone. “And forget I said it, that’s just me grumbling.”
Year 1397 in Manegia
In his office, Allister, the duke of Illyer, was doing some paperwork concerning his territory as he has the events of the breakfast a few hours ago in mind. Everyone else has retreated to their usual routine.
The revelation was quite the shock, it was something out of a dream that he had to pinch himself to confirm that it wasn’t, and only now he got the time to calm down and think about it.
“But it still seems too good to be true…”
Recalling the conversation after the meeting, his wife was right that the whole ordeal sounded from a fantasy, and the sentiment was shared in the household.
“We can provide you protection from whatever Van throws at you and even sabotages to his schemes if the opportunity arises,” Ronald explained.
After all, he had essentially been offered security from prince Van’s attempt to take him down by people calling themselves Court Wizards (who looked human enough) claiming to be from a group from another world called the Otherworldly Court and even some assistance in getting prince Albert crowned king by their end on the grounds of preventing a war.
So Allister has the right to be skeptical of the whole claim.
“Hm? What is the matter, Neptune?”
WHOOSH CRACKLE CRACKLE
But their demonstration, and poor Neptune and Layla’s irrational fright, and the latter’s encounter with another group of Court Wizards held the bizarre revelations ground.
Speaking of the named spirits, “Are you alright now, Neptune?” Allister spoke softly, caressing Neptune’s bald head as spirit rested it and his arms on the duke’s right side of the desk.
Although the intermediate spirit has lived for centuries, Neptune’s form as a child still gave him the mentality of one, and he specifically can be frightened easily. Not a good partner to have a sophisticated discussion with.
“Yes… I’m fine, Al.” The kid spirit was still shaken, but otherwise recovered enough to ask, “you know, can they really help us? They said they got limits or something.”
“Even if we have limited action here we can still do that much, and we are allowed to break a few of our rules here and there if we have to.”
“Well,” Allister darted his eyes elsewhere. “Ronald assured me that their restrictions will not hold them back.”
And he recalled Ronald did say that they were allowed to break their self-imposed rules if necessary. So their help was guaranteed to be adequate.
“Okay…” Neptune brooded. “If you say so…”
“However, I still can’t believe they pledged their services to us for little to no return,” Allister uttered.
Yes, and all of that, aside from reaching their goal of preventing the war prince Van desired, was given by the Court Wizards for free.
“What about those tax reduction thing?” Neptune asked.
“Oh, but do you mind a little bit if you give Bell Conglomerate some tax reduction?” Ronald casually said.
“Dude.” Joshua deadpanned at his partner, unimpressed by his nonchalant-ness.
“Ah yes, Ronald did ask for that ‘small’ demand as he claims it,” the duke chuckled at the memory. “Probably from his own volition if his tall friend’s reaction was anything to go by. That boy was still a merchant at heart.”
As for the tax reduction, in the end, they settled for a thirty percent cut. To be fair, he already added that exchange to the table, to begin with. Anyway, it at least helped him give a sense that he was giving something to Ronald’s group in return for their seemingly completely voluntary service.
And Allister’s mind wandered to the offerer himself. “But hmm… Ronald Bell, huh?” he muttered his name.
“He’s still scary,” Neptune huffed.
Again, the duke still does not understand what made Ronald and his associate Joshua so terrifying to the two named spirits or all spirits barring the greater in that manner.
What he knew of the heir to Bell Conglomerate from the meeting was that he was young, around his eldest daughter’s age, that much was obvious. But the duke saw no naivety in the young man’s eyes, but he still has a bit of green in him.
Well, kids do need to grow up anyway, he thought. Ronald must have been sent here to have experience as he was just old enough to inherit his father’s company – the duke was in the same boat as him except he had to lead an army. He tried to do the same for his daughter Irene though he ended up not giving his daughter a chance to speak during the negotiations.
Now, thinking about it, the notion of sending a fresh young man for the alliance talks so that it doubled as his training when the other party was an experienced duke does seem like this Otherworldly Court was making light of the situation despite their aim to prevent a war.
“But we still need all the help we can get, Neptune.” Allister sighed at the spirit he named. In the end, he was still in a pinch in the succession war with all of his colleagues leaving his faction. No matter how absurd these Court Wizards were, he needed every new ally he can get.
Hah… He sighed again, internally. He was not suited for politics at all.
“Huh?” Neptune raised his eyebrow as they overheard the maids talking near the office door. “What are the maids talking about?”
“Must be about Ronald and Joshua,” Allister guessed. “They could not get enough of it.”
Now, in such important talks, it may not be wise to let the servants know about it, but he had initially thought it would be fine seeing as Van would know about his alliance with Bell Conglomerate sooner or later. But with how it actually went, it may have been a mistake after all.
“At the very least I told them to keep this between themselves,” he continued. “I would like to conceal them from the second prince as long as possible.”
And in inclusion, to never mention the Otherworldly Court in their letters to their relatives. And as he knew each and every servant personally for years, he was sure that none of them would betray him.
After a while, the sounds of gossip died down and with his paperwork done, Allister stretched his arms and stood up. “Shall we go, Neptune?” he said as he went for the door. Neptune followed suit.
CLINK SLICE CLINK
“You know, I hope that my explanation about us is alright,” Ronald said in concern as he put the last piece of meat to his mouth.
After searching high and low, well… not really, the Bell Branch manager found a restaurant, a relatively new experimental one which was managed by him, that could serve lunch in the morning.
It was semi-fancy but not a diner for upper-class citizens, rather it was for the common folk to have a taste of what it’s like to eat in high standards – there’s a huge sign in the front entrance saying they can dine here. Of course, the menu was still pricy compared to other restaurants to cover the upkeep which was not much to Ronald’s liking.
But again, this was the only restaurant they could eat in at this time and the Bell heir already suggested eating in Spiri Raia and he’s not taking it back nor will he force Arnald to pay for it when he’s just sitting there with a glass of water as they eat, that’s just scummy.
“I mean,” Ronald continued. “Court stuff’s your specialty, I’m only good with the Conglomerate.”
Usually, being the Bell Conglomerate heir, Ronald mostly studied subjects related to it. The Otherworldly Court and Maneg System were relegated to Joshua when explaining the two to outsiders. So taking the rein of both during the talks was a new experience for the dark-red haired boy.
“Eh, pretty sure they get it.” Joshua shrugged and drank his glass of water.
“Yes, mister Bell,” the manager added. “I’m sure the duke understood your intentions.”
“Thank you, we hope you come again another time!”
Coming out of the front entrance, Joshua patted his belly saying, “Alright, I’m stuffed. Let’s head back, Ronald.”
“Yes,” Ronald nodded. “The mission has gone smoothly.”
“I see,” the manager said, coming out the last. “Safe travels, you-”
But the next word never came as both young Court Wizards, who were just joyful for a moment ago, suddenly lost all expressions and jerked their heads in all directions as if in a trance, stopping the manager to a stupor.
Above you. (Joshua)
Ronald then turned his head up to see a black-garbed figure dropping directly above them, brandishing daggers in both hands. But with his suppression kicked in, the Bell heir calmly sidestepped backward just before the mysterious assailant land.
And with the figure stabbing the ground, Joshua jumped in, wasting no time putting his knee to their temple with a BASH. The assailant was knocked to the ground, unconscious as Ronald felt his emotions returning.
“Mister Bell!” the manager exclaimed, having broken out of his shock. “Are you alright?”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” Ronald assured him.
“Who the hell is this guy!?” Joshua put his foot on the attacker. But the bodyguards approached him, offering to restrain the figure in his stead to which Joshua allowed them, releasing his foot.
“…Well, there’s only one plausible explanation.” Ronald narrowed his eyes, looking at his assailant. “Van sent me this assassin to take me out.”
“But how did he know we’re here?” Joshua wondered. Unless…” he widened his eyes.
“The duke is in danger!” the manager concluded, opening the bodyguards’ mouths agape.
“Joshua, head back to the mansion as fast as you can,” Ronald quickly told his partner. “I’ll catch up once we deal with this fool!”
“Got it.” Lowering his center of gravity, Joshua lept off the ground in a dash.
On the surface of his footwear, ice blue dust of maneg burst, propelling Joshua forward in inhuman speed. It was an advanced technique of [Eject] where maneg was ejected from each foot alternatingly to keep it as inconspicuous as possible, something, Ronald was not able to do this which was why Joshua went first.
“Hm? Willow?” Allister uttered at the frail maid who was in front of his office. “What are you doing here?” He did not recall ordering a maid to his office, but here she was standing unannounced.
Adding to his confusion, the duke looked at her in the eye to observe the maid’s mixed expression of guilt, fear, and desperation. Why does she look so-
“…I-I’m sorry!” Suddenly, the maid revealed a knife she hid behind her uniform and lunged it forward, not giving her duke a chance to react.
Orders[Overload] a derivation of [Elemental Scan], specifically [Electricity Scan]. Used to be called [EMP] until Amelia Rickens convinced the creator, Benjamin, that it’s not. This Order, instead of marking the electrical signature of machines to the Court Wizard’s vision, cause it to overloads, destroying the machine.
Usually, Benjamin only scanned for generators and destroyed only those, rendering an entire facility non-functional. Overloading every machine would be a waste of maneg and could potentially make the building more hazardous.
Eventually, this Order was used by other Elements, hence its neutral name.
Order: scan electricity signature above x voltage x radius, increase signature voltage x volt.
Nameless World Under the Ground (abbreviated to ‘NW Underground’)
- NW Underground Human Species Module
- NW Underground Dwarf Species Module
- NW Underground Mutated Animal (Cave Monster) Species Complex Module
- NW Underground Relic Object Module
Azhure: I forgot the Modules for the world above and just decided the Order that Benjamin used to disable the facility back at Memory 3. Earth Base’s Modules are the same as any ‘Earths’.