Azhure: Weeks ago, for some reason, my Patreon page got un-launched because I had no patrons since creating it. Well, I managed to relaunch it just yesterday, so it should work now. Anyway, enjoy.
For years it was always the Willow who did the necessary. Now was time for the Ruzic Bell to do the same.
It took a good couple of seconds for the frontmost bandit to realize that he had been set ablaze. With his blade sinking into the ground, the burning bandit screamed, stepping back while shaking his body violently in an attempt to douse the fire before falling over.
His fellow bandits, naturally, were taken aback, startled by the sight of their comrade rolling his body on the grass in flaming agony.
“A-Aah! W-What in the spirits just happened!?”
“E-Egor just burst into flames!”
“D-Did he do that? He pointed his hand at Egor. Was that a spirit art that bastard used!?”
“No! There are no fire spirits here! Besides, we didn’t even hear him say a request. He must be using a talisman!”
“But did you even see him use one?”
Amid the bandits arguing among themselves, the burning bandit, Egor, realized that he shouldn’t just sprawl on the ground and reached his hand to his comrades. “H-Help… me…” he croaked, catching their attention which broke their bickering.
It was the burning bandit’s last cry, however, with none of his comrades moving in to help him in time – much less being able to with the raging fire enveloping him nor say anything else. Ceasing to move, either from the fire or the smoke, the flames vanished into red motes afterwards, leaving behind a charred mess that was Egor over the grass.
And the rest of the bandits can do nothing but worldlessly stare in horror.
1 bandit killed, ??? remain as the state of the battle made it impossible for a headcount.
“By the greater spirits…” A gasp came from behind. Ronald presumed it was from one of Illyer’s knights who had witnessed the horrifying display in front of them.
Taking advantage of the pause on both sides, Ronald took a brief look to his sides while feeling a nudge behind his foot. He found three more bandits dead aside from the one he burned. The knights probably fall back after dealing with these men to regroup and not get separated into the enemy, Ronald thought, rationalizing the distance between the knights and slain bandits.
He didn’t start the headcount before the landing since the living bandits were much more important than those defeated by the knights in the battle that has just begun.
3 bandits killed, ??? remain. It’s always a drag to count defeated enemies.
“Everyone! These men are here to help us!” Another shout was heard. It was the duke. “Let them assist!”
And at his declaration, the bandits’ argument started again.
“W-What!? The duke hired a fire spirit art user!? I-Is this what they can do!?”
“Dammit! Talismans are nothing compared to the real thing!”
“Hey! Didn’t we just agree there are no fire spirits here!”
“And we don’t even know if he’s even using a talisman! He might have a named fire spirit with him!”
It’s about time, Ronald thought while maintaining the dull face behind his mask, watching the murmurs of confusion from the bandits. By now, the knights behind him should have already regained composure and move to take out the unknown element entering the fray if the duke didn’t shout.
“Lord Illyer is right!” A knight shouted. By his voice, Ronald deduced that it came from Oswald, the head knight. “They are here to assist us! Focus defending the duke and young mistress while they strike!”
“””Yes, sir!””” The rest of the knights shouted in unison. Aside from the gasp of awe and fright, without not even so much of a “Who are you?” the knights didn’t devolve into the chaos that swept the bandits and quickly adapted to allow the ‘brown-robed figures’ into their ranks, disciplined to the end.
“Sh*t! Forget about it!” a bandit with a black eyepatch yelled, silencing his fellow bandits. “Fire spirit art user or not, there’s only one of him! Just kill him and then kill the duke! So get your asses together!”
“””R-Right!””” the rest of the bandits shouted and steeled their weapons.
And so, Ronald lifted his hand once again, pointing it to that bandit while holding [Emilia’s Right Dagger] in his other hand. He gave his Order.
I order you, attach to left foot of man with black eyepatch, form cylinder 20cm diameter 1cm height, sculpt formation height to 180cm upward, oxidize, thus is my Order, [Burn].
While the sounds of the wall of fire drown it out, Joshua could still tell by the startup noise that Ronald has given his second [Burn] Order which would undoubtedly spook the bandits on his side even further.
And as he recalled, Ronald has yet to memorize it.
WHOOSH CRACKLE CRACKLE
Upon Ronald’s Order, the burnt piece of a log of firewood embedded into the ashes of the Training Grounds flared up the enveloping flame once again. Taking a deep breath, as Ronald verbally gave the Order instead of doing it in his mind, he watched the log burn brightly in a fire that was much bigger than it would normally.
Suddenly, a snapping sound was heard as the log, already short and thin after being abused with multiple uses of [Burn], broke into two pieces with the top piece falling to the ground, escaping the fire as the maneg formation was attached to the bottom piece which was still stuck to the ground.
“Welp, you’re gonna need to replace that,” Joshua remarked, glancing down at the poor timber. “Any signs of memorizing it yet?”
“Hm, let me try.” Ronald looked at the stump of whatever’s left of the bottom piece of the log and ordered, “[Burn], bottom of log stuck in the ashes I see.”
And then they waited.
“…And they said ordering out loud makes it easier to memorize the Order,” Ronald sighed as nothing happened even after half a minute.
“Great, so this makes firewood number what now? Before we go out to get some more.” But Joshua’s question might as well be rhetoric as looking around, the two Court Wizards were surrounded by a lot of used firewood. There’s no way to count them all.
“Hm, I think I get why grandfather had trouble using [Burn] that he created [Burning Fist]. Memorizing this Order costs too much firewood on top of his Maneg Soul not accepting even the most accurate description,” Ronald grimaced.
“Yeah, ’cause punching the ground is totally free than describing your Maneg Soul the bottom of everything else,” Joshua said sarcastically.
“But you can also attach it to the head and have it sculpt downwards,” Ronald pointed out.
“Seriously, even I’m not that stingy.” Joshua deadpanned at Ronald’s witty remark.
“But still, memorizing this Order is really hard,” the Fire Court Wizard complained. “This has been going on for months already and my Maneg Soul still show no signs of memorizing [Burn].”
“But then again, Court Wizards don’t memorize Orders, unless it’s very basic,” Joshua explained. “And that’s because…”
“”…one, Court Wizards keep modifying Orders, specifically the parameters after the first step or it gets recorded as a new Order. And two, we Court Wizards have high thought process thanks to our Maneg Souls, allowing us to form Orders in our minds faster.””
Anyway, if Joshua didn’t have his suppression, he would have made a snide remark like “Where did all that bravado of yours go?” jumping into the wall of fire and all, and point out that the talisman they used was much more powerful than Ronald’s ‘spirit art’.
But then again…
“Yes, I get it,” Ronald huffed in an annoyed tone. “And besides, even you use Memorized Orders.”
“Which makes both of us,” Joshua smirked, “alongside her as well…” before saying in downcast.
…that feeling would come first.
With his emotion suppression banishing the thoughts that infiltrated in, Joshua silently looked at his adversaries huddled together. The bandits on his side were completely on guard, training their weapons at him defensively at a distance.
“Grr…!” One of the bandits there growled. “Damn you, Ice Spirit Mercenary!”
While he wasn’t this ‘Ice Spirit Mercenary’ the bandit spoke of, Joshua still performed something similar to one in the field between for them to make that conclusion: the three bandits who went ahead and attacked Joshua all but their heads encased in thick ice and their necks slit from left to right with blood from it trickling down the maneg formation that preserved them holding their swords in a charge.
6 bandits killed, ??? remain.
“Welp, might as well practice my Order,” Joshua said before approaching the remnants of the firewood test dummies.
“Hm? Is it [Ice Layer]?” Ronald recalled. “The one you surprisingly find not to consume that much maneg.”
“Yep, after figuring out the right and most efficient wording, I proudly call it the Order I made on my own while you only put a few kinks to your grandpa’s Order,” Joshua leered his eyes down at his junior.
“Well, I still got the Wizard rank out of it, so it still counts.” Ronald shrugged. “Anyway, [Ice Layer]’s the Order that covers enemies in ice, correct?”
“Uh-huh, and I can even freeze them while they’re moving. And since it’s a formation, it’s not gonna shift or fall over once it’s made no matter how fast the poor fella’s going – the momentum will just bite them back. If it doesn’t, then that’s what the lock Command’s for,” Joshua chuckled. “So once it sticks, it’ll look like they’re playing a twisted version of red light green light – their postures can get hilarious sometimes.”
Stepping over the corpse of a bandit slain by the knights before he and Ronald got here, Joshua slowly approached the living bandits, passing by the slit bandit who was encased in ice maneg while still in the air, literally floating – though not a problem for Joshua with his stature. There were three more bandits the knights killed before Joshua got between them.
10 bandits killed, ??? remain.
“Gh…!” One of the bandits scowled as he and his colleagues uniformly stepped back as Joshua stepped forward. “Stay back!”
Looks like they think I need to get close to them, Joshua thought. They weren’t spirit art users, so they wouldn’t exactly know how it worked except through pure observation. A poor observation.
While the display of trapping their comrades in ice then slicing their throats while they couldn’t lift a finger in the middle of the hellfire where, that people do know, ‘ice spirit arts’ couldn’t be made didn’t strike much fear into the bandits’ hearts, it did make them stand back warily with no intention on getting the jump at Joshua.
And that’s exactly what he wanted. Because…
“You should practice too,” Joshua said to Ronald. “Ordering on multiple targets.”
With duke Illyer telling off his knights, with the head knight Oswald giving his blessings, and the bandits doing absolutely nothing, no one will interrupt one of his longest Orders yet. With blood still on [Emilia’s Left Dagger], the Cherished Armament he held, Joshua silently chanted, starting with the bandit constantly grunting at him.
I Order you, attach to man with pink eyes and man with scar on left cheek and man with…
WHOOSH CRACKLE CRACKLE
CREME~ CREME~ CREME~
Watching the scene on two sides before him, Allister al Illyer, the duke of Illyer, the war hero of Kirash, a loving husband, and a father to two daughters has his view of the world shattered yet again. But it was to be expected and simply enforced the proof that these young men, Ronald Bell and Joshua Ruze, really were from another world with their own otherworldly powers.
After all, Allister of all people should know that fire spirits never wander into Aquarius’ domain and Ronald could never smuggle that many fire talismans into the water territory when they can only be used once, rare as only the most adept spirit art users can make one, and mostly forbidden to carry into other territories of conflicting elements. The duke himself wouldn’t let people carry fire talismans that could weaken water spirits in his territory, and yet Ronald consumed the bandits in flames one by one as if he had many at his disposal.
And Joshua? Well, Allister doesn’t need to say anything else if the unmelting ice was anything to go by, much less the ‘ice talisman’ being able to be used in the first place – talismans suffer under conflicting elements as much as spirits do; and ice spirits especially hated fire, much more than water spirits.
“…how they fight looked deceptively and underwhelmingly powerful, whilst their… lack of intent unnerved me…”
…it looked like he still knew nothing of them for what he saw threw everything he had discussed with his head knight out of the window.