Azhure: A bit short, hence an Interlude (and because the Court Wizards are absent), and I’m kinda burned out, so I’m taking rests here and there while writing in-between. Also, I have college work.
Voice: So apologies for all the future delays in advance!
“Dear, please…” Allister pleaded with a sad frown. “I still have work to do…”
“Absolutely not!” Marisa, his wife, expressed firmly as she dangled on his leg, soiling her wear on the floor. “I am not letting you go after what just happened!”
“Hah…” Allister sighed, gently tugging his leg so as to not drag his wife across the floor in a comical fashion. “This is just like when we were children…”
Everybody else could only stare with their jaws open.
“I… did not expect that sort of… behavior from you, mother,” Elaine, the younger daughter of the duke, said dryly as she sat on the couch with her fiancee, prince Albert.
After the near-successful poisoning of the duke and the subsequent clinging of the duchess, three of the Illyers now rest in the living hall. Neptune was there too, resting on the mother in question’s lap with his eyes shut, as his namer was with the Court Wizards.
“Yes, madam Illyer,” prince Albert added in. “It was quite… unexpected.”
“Forgive me, dear,” was Marisa’s reply, almost chuckling even. “It reminds me of how close your father is to death when we were still engaged. I could not help but to make sure he was okay.”
“Ah, duke Illyer did say something like that when you were children,” Albert realized.
“Yes,” Marisa nodded slowly, reminiscing a melancholic past. “When we were young, Allister often found himself in harm’s way; whether we spent time together as children, going about his day-to-day life, or practicing spirit arts with Neptune here.
“You know he was a clumsy one before he matured into an intermediate,” she explained as she caressed the intermediate spirit’s bald head. “And even though he had grown, he is still quite the baby.”
“That he is,” Elaine chuckled at her mother’s remark about the spirit. “So you grew overly concerned with father because of that?” she then asked.
“Yes, but I did not become so… clinging to him when he runs into his near-death at first.” Marisa rolled her eyes for a bit, reminiscing for what caused her erratic behavior in regards to her husband.
“Ah!” she recalled. “It was around a year after I was introduced to him as my betrothed. At that time, I viewed him as the boy I am to marry and nothing more.
“We were in a carriage en route to this city after Allister visited mine when a bunch of ruffians ambushed the carriage and abducted me.”
That reminds me of lady Irene’s/sister’s predicament, both betrothed thought, recalling a similar tale. Marisa had quite the episode when its news came back home.
“I was told they were from a rival household but not much else,” Marisa explained. “But anyway, as I was being dragged away along the pathway of a forest, it was Allister who came to my rescue, chasing after me on a horse he was too short to ride, alone.”
Definitely lady Irene’s/sister’s predicament, both betrothed confirmed.
“I was fully conscious when it happened and was perplexed by his actions,” Marisa continued. “We had only known each other for a few months and yet he went out of his way to rescue me, especially the prowess he had as a child and he had only named Neptune half a year prior.”
“Ah, yes, it was quite the news when duke Illyer became the first to name a water spirit in decades,” Albert mused. “Anyway, I believe the duke did not leave the confrontation unscathed?”
“Yes,” Marisa nodded sadly. “It was against three men and Allister just barely managed to defeat them, mostly thanks to Neptune able to perform his arts properly unlike the practices I have watched before.
“But Allister did not sit back and let Neptune fight alone, he also went into the fray with what little sword practice he had using a sword that was too large from him.”
“And he was injured from it,” Elaine concluded with a frown.
“Severely,” Marisa added, caressing Neptune’s head. “It was only fortunate that Neptune here is particularly adept in healing wounds from the blade, though not much else.”
She rolled her eyes, sighing, “And I could never forget what he said to me after all of that…”
“W-Why would you go so far to rescue me!?” young Marisa cried, kneeling with her hands on the ground as she watched the child spirit mending the large gash over his namer’s torso. “You are even hurt!”
“It is fine. Neptune may not be great in combat, but he sure is a great healer,” young Allister, sitting on the ground with his hands supporting him behind his back, replied. “What matters is you are safe.”
“Yup! Yup!” Neptune, the spirit he named, smiled as he healed his namer.
“B-But even so, we have barely known each,” Marisa softly mumbled, tears flowing in her eyes. “You… you-“
“But we will be given time,” Allister interrupted with a smile. “But we will not be if something ever happened to you.”
“..!” And the young girl could only look at him with widened eyes.
“…but that was also when I started to fall in love with him,” Marisa smiled, cupping her cheeks with a blush.
“How romantic!” Elaine praised her mother’s story, clamping her hands in a prayer.
“Right?” Marisa smiled at her youngest daughter.
“I see,” Albert nodded in understanding, ignoring the rosy atmosphere. “However, you imply that the duke had not brushed the edge of death for a very long time until today. What happened?”
“Oh… yes,” Marisa replied, her looking like she did not appreciate the interruption. “It was around the time your older sister was born that we noticed his bad luck seemed to have run out.
“Neptune had already become an intermediate and stopped accidentally hitting his namer a long time before then so that ruled him out.”
“So sister brought father good luck then?” Elaine supposed.
“Maybe,” Marisa tilted her head. “But if I have my speculation, it may have happened before Irene was born.”
“Then when was it?” Elaine inquired further, leaning her body forward.
“Perhaps after the war with the Fichs,” Marisa answered with no hesitation.
“”The war?”” Elaine widened her eyes. Even her fiance got a reaction.
“While your father really did drove off the invaders with only a third of their size,” Marisa explained. “Some of the stories were… embellished.”
“Like every accomplishment, even if do not mean it,” Albert commented, crossing his arms.
“Yes,” Marisa nodded sadly. “I am sure you all know Allister was never the commander of the Kirash army, in the beginning, rather his father, your grandfather, Marisa.”
“And he, unfortunately, fell in battle,” Albert said in a low tone.
“Which caused the other nobles to flee, with their troops which caused the disparity. Cowards,” Marisa spat. “And the rest degenerated into petty squabbles until Allister took over.”
“And that was when father drove out the Fichs with what army was left?” Elaine asked.
“Yes,” Marisa continued. “And while your father had gloriously defeated the Fichs, that was not all there is to it.”
“Because like head knight Oswald’s father who had slain even more adversaries, each Kirash soldier must defeat at least three enemies before falling themselves,” Albert stated grimly. “No matter how much of a tactical genius duke Illyer was for his age, he was still wholly unprepared to take the commander’s position. And this is before spirit arts even came to play.”
“Ah…!” Elaine gasped, already knowing where this was heading.
“While the triumph over the great enemy was achieved, it was paid with the equal amount of losses in return,” Marisa narrated. “As for your father, he came home quite soaked with the blood of his enemies… and his own.”
“I see…” Elaine said in understanding. “You must be very relieved to see him back then,” she said, not questioning her father’s possibly grave wounds when he returned to her mother since he was still alive and well even after the poisoning.
“Indeed, it was the most worrying of my life,” Marisa smiled warmly. “My heart nearly stopped when the news of his father’s demise came, it graved me of the wellbeing of my fiancee.
“I cannot ever let go of him when he finally came back safe and sound.”
And the couple had the image of a young soon-to-be duchess Illyer bearhugging the still-bloodied and exasperated young duke while further soaking him with the fountains of tears from her eyes.
“So imagine my horror when Allister came close to death again after all these years,” Marisa concluded. “Thank the greater spirits that man in the white coat was able to cure him.”
“Yes,” Albert rubbed his chin. “As I recall, curing poison is nature spirits’ domain and only a few water spirits can do it which Neptune is not.”
“It was nothing short of a miracle,” Elaine commented.
“Yes,” Marisa nodded. “If sir Ronald and sir Joshua never approached us, I fear the worst might have happened.”
“Well, I think it might have happened much sooner than later if not for them,” Albert pointed out.
“…Yes, I suppose so,” Marisa reluctantly agreed.
“And you really cannot imagine it, right?” Elaine spoke. “That people from other worlds exist and came to help father, help us, to ascend you to the throne, Albert.”
“Yes, it is quite an eye-opener in that breakfast,” Albert nodded. “The Otherworldly Court, huh?” he uttered, saying its name here wouldn’t hurt anyway. “I still cannot believe that there exists such a benevolent group. One who would aid us,” he sighed.
“Yet they do, and we ought to be grateful to be fortunate of them,” Marisa said. “One might consider it to be the greater spirits’ blessing.”
“But we are blessed by lady Aquarius right, mother?” Elaine pointed out.
“Fufu,” Marisa chuckled. “Yes, I suppose it must be her blessing.”
“Well, in any case,” Albert rolled his eyes. “With them, I am sure nothing terrible will occur.”
“Truly!” Elaine smiled at her future husband, the future king who also smiled lovingly back at his future queen.
Soon enough a maid came into the room, bringing them a tray of freshly brewed tea, unpoisoned this time.