Azhure: I’m back.
Year 1393 in Manegia
With another explosion destroying the magical roots blocking their way, Ronald and Joshua dashed through the natural corridor all while hooded figures, different from their robes, were chasing them from behind, throwing knives, daggers, and even magic at the Court Wizards.
But one thing in particular in this chase was Joshua carrying Emilia on his shoulder.
“Joshua!” Emilia grunted as she repeatedly hammered Joshua’s back with her fists. “Put me down!”
“Yeah, I don’t think it’s a good idea to do that here!” Joshua argued, tightening his hold on her as he twisted his body just enough to let a throwing knife nearly brush his ear. “Not when your clan’s out to get us!”
“Well, of course, you dummy!” Emilia spat. “You just broke into our base and kidnapped me!”
“And for a good reason too!” Ronald panted, having a less than ideal physique for running, stating his piece as calmly as possible – while turning his upper body and stretching his hand behind him – when…
DING DING PSHH
…all three Court Wizards’ emotion suppression broke, which led to a much bigger and thicker [Barrier] Ronald formed behind their backs blocking the multiple knives and spells they couldn’t dodge in such small space.
“And what, pray tell, that good reason is!” Emilia snapped back, lifting her head to Ronald.
On top of Court Wizards’ running high emotions amplifying their Orders to the strength more than they mean to, hence the necessity of the suppression to save maneg in battle, they’re not even using [Telepathy], shouting their angst for all the enemies behind their backs to hear instead.
“Oh, I don’t know!” Joshua sarcastically said. “Your family’s about to chop your head off for being a Co- with us!”
It was only a miracle the three remembered not to spout out Otherworldly Court terms in this situation, even if Joshua almost blurted it out.
“I had it under control!” Emilia argued.
“Then why were you all teary-eyed and getting beheaded when we crashed the party!?” Joshua asked rhetorically.
“Besides, it’s pretty obvious when you waved us off with an ‘It’s just family business, Chubby Boy!’ something bad is going to happen!” Ronald added as he turned around again and…
BOOM CRACKLE CRACKLE
…erupted huge flames behind them, blocking the assassins from following and view as the Court Wizards ran into one of the many branching paths they’re running into.
“Well, I…!” However, whatever retort Emilia was about to give fell short in her throat. “I…” Or rather, she had none left.
Emotion suppression off.
“…Had enough?” Joshua calmly said. Having gotten far away from the assassins, he crouched down and let Emilia rest her back behind the roots.
“…Yes,” Emilia sighed as she pulled her knee to let her forehead rest on it.
“Well then, we should catch our breath here,” Ronald suggested, sitting on a convenient seat made from the roots sticking out in the labyrinth. “The assassins must have guessed the wrong corridor since our suppressions off.”
“But seriously though, how do you navigate through this place?” Joshua complained as he rested his back against the wall. “It’s a freaking maze made out of mother nature here!”
“Really?” Emilia perked up. “Well, I guess you’re right,” she chuckled. “Even I had trouble getting my way around here.”
They went like this for a full minute. Then, after another brief silence, one of the three finally spoke up.
It was Emilia.
“…I am a Willows of the ‘Willow Tree,'” she started her story. “Born into this family, I trained all my life to be the roots which shape this world underneath, to guide it in the shadows. Even though I was the odd one in the group, I still tried my best.”
Then, Emilia lifted her hand…
…in which a simple droplet of ice maneg appeared above it.
“Then, I became a Court Wizard and suddenly, I was not guiding my own world but others as well.” Closing her eyes. “But, I guess I got too excited over it when it made me a double agent, according to your world, and my family didn’t like it.”
“No sweat…” Joshua muttered.
“No kidding,” Ronald grimaced as they looked back at the corridor where her clan didn’t follow them into.
“So well,” Emilia continued. “Long story short, my clan wanted to punish me for it and as a Willows I must oblige. So, even if I must see the scorn from my own relatives, I… I had to return to face the consequences for-”
“And you’re a Court Wizard too,” Joshua interrupted. With Emilia wordlessly looking up at him, he continued, “as you said yourself, a Court Wizard safeguards worlds and we have to sacrifice our time, effort, and personal life for it.
“But most importantly, we have to stay alive to do all of that no matter what.”
“Indeed,” Ronald nodded.
“Sure,” Joshua continued. “You were forced to into the position, but so are we and all of us, and that is fine.”
“I know,” Emilia pouted. “But they’re my family, the only place I belong. So-”
“And we Court Wizards are your family too, as well as a place where you can live in. At least that’s what Rose always said,” Joshua cut her off.
“If you can’t stick with your family who told you to present your neck just because you didn’t visit them for too long, then you can at least stick with us. Your duty as a Willows? Well, ain’t a Court Wizard the same job with a few extra steps?
“Besides, I’m also your mentor and I’ll be damned if I let my juniors hurt.” Pushing his back from the wall, Joshua then stretched out his hand to Emilia. “So, don’t go throwing your life just because you have to,” he smiled. “Can you at least do that?”
“…” And Emilia sat there, wordlessly absorbing everything Joshua said. “I see…” In the end, she simply rolled her eyes and smiled, and took his hand to which he helped her up. “Thank you…”
“Now then.” With the heartfelt encouragement finished, Ronald stood up from his seat with a ponder, “how do we get out here? We are stuck deeper into this place and your clan is pretty much everywhere out for our blood-”
Suddenly, the three Court Wizards heard a snap and jerked their heads to its source.
She was a young girl, half the height of Emilia whilst sharing the same hair color but tied in pigtails. She was wearing the standard cloak of the Willow Tree with the hood lowered and looked nervous as she held the roots along the wall-like railing.
Now, they would’ve felt their emotion suppression reactivating at the sight of one of the assassins of the Willows, breakage or not, but it didn’t.
What does this mean? Was Ronald and Joshua’s shared thought. This kid/girl is not here to fight us? And there were much shorter assassins chasing after them earlier.
Emilia, however, was a different story.
“A-Ashe?” she widened her eyes.
The girl, Ashe, simply beckoned them with her hand and said, “Big sis, misters, this way!”
It was nothing short of a miracle. Ashe, Emilia’s sister from the same mother, somehow found them and led the Court Wizards through a hidden route the other Willows never knew.
Then, arriving at the light at the end of the tunnel, the Court Wizards simply climbed out of the willow tree one by one, all without running into one of the other Willows.
“Stay safe, big sis,” Ashe smiled.
“You too, Ashe,” Emilia smiled back, watching her sister retreating back into the willow tree.
“Thank goodness your sister is there to guide us out through a secret tunnel,” Ronald sighed in relief. “We would’ve never gotten out of there.”
“Yeah,” Joshua agreed. “But more importantly,” he turned to Emilia, “now you know there are still some of your family who still cared about you, right?”
“Yes…” Emilia gently closed her eyes, putting her hands to her chest. “Yes, you’re right.”
“In that case, you might be able to reconnect with them,” Joshua suggested. “So don’t give up on your old family just yet!”
“Yeah!” Emilia nodded with a smile.
“What do you mean destroying my entire clan!?” Emilia shouted, banging the stand in front of her as she faces the leaders of the Otherworldly Court before her.
It was another day in the Otherworldly Court when suddenly, Ronald, Joshua, and Emilia were called into the discussion for the next mission the Guardians (who showed up) were having.
There, they broke the news of their intentions to Emilia as she was the one who was really being called which brought the discussion to this development.
“Exactly as we said, young lady,” Isaac Brzask, the fifth Ice Guardian and the only Court Wizard who kept his aristocratic title thus far sans a certain vampire, firmly stated. “Which is why we are sharing this matter with you.”
Pressing down the cane with a dawn gemstone on top which complimented the similar-colored suit under his light-blue cloak, Isaac narrowed his old brown eyes matching the color of his combed hair to his direct Ice Court Wizard subordinate with a stiff look on his wrinkled face.
“We have decided that your clan, the Willow Tree, is to be destroyed,” he coldly stated. “And intelligence suggests that most if not all of them are together in one spot. There will not be another chance to do this.”
“But why, master!?” Emilia cried.
“Yes, it is a tad bit extreme,” Ronald interjected.
“Yeah, can’t you think it through?” Joshua added.
“Unfortunately, my dears,” Gertrude, the dwarf Fire Guardian, spoke. Looking at Emilia, “your clan has proven to be… detrimental to the well-being of your world, Irona, as of late.”
“Yes,” Isaac nodded. “We will spare you the details, but with recent facts that came to light, the Willow Tree has been responsible for the numerous downfalls and tragedies of many kingdoms over the past few decades.
“This ranges from the assassination of benevolent political figures while colluding with the corrupt ones, causing monster outbreaks across the globe, and even triggering upheavals of kingdoms which the people ended better without.
“They have never done such thing prior.” Then, Isaac said this, “and you ought to know it yourself, you three. You all have run into them in the many missions in Irona that never seem to better the world.”
“…Ah!” Emilia gasped.
Year 1394 in Manegia
“You will not get away,” Joshua coldly stated, as ice maneg gathered in his hand, forming a rapier.
Emilia called her Cherished Armaments to her side and Ronald prepared his family’s Order, [Burning Fist].
Emotion supression on.
However, before the battle began, one of the purple-garbed mages hissed at them.
“It’s the traitor!”
“Not only you abandoned us, now you are getting in our way! You damn b*tch!”
“A-Ah!” And it was Emilia who gasped in surprise.
‘Emilia, do you know them? You even broke your suppression.’ (Joshua)
‘They… They are from my clan! From the mage division!’ (Emilia)
The courtroom became silent for a moment as Emilia regained her bearings. Then, with her head down, she only muttered, “They’re my family…”
“And what sort of family would readily execute their own daughter…?” Isaac admonished softly.
“And they used to be good people too…” Emilia continued.
“I know, Emilia,” a voice came from above.
Looking up, it was from a beautiful woman with white hair and red eyes wearing a red dress standing from the audience gallery. She looked down on the discussion with a concerned look.
“Rose?” Emilia muttered.
Rose, the vampire of the Bloodlights and the current longest-serving Court Wizard, simply continued, “I myself had met them before, in one of my first missions when I was but a child. And yes, I can say that they were certainly good people.
“Once I heard they called themselves the Willow Tree because its roots shall spread throughout the world, thereby spreading its hope, belonging, and safety – very much like us on a smaller scale.” Taking a somber tone, “but, not even a century later, those roots suddenly became one that corrupts instead of healing.”
“Then we reform them!” Emilia declared resolutely, a fire ignited in her heart. “Back to the days of old.”
“Denied,” Isaac immediately refuted. “We have considered this before, but how long will that take? Remember, Irona, your world, is in a state of chaos – the longer the Willow Tree entrenches its roots into the world, the worse it becomes.
“And most importantly, can they even be reformed, adulterated as they are?”
“Even I cannot change my family to adopt better ways even after a century,” Rose added in melancholy.
“Then, t-then…” Emilia uttered, stuttering, desperately finding any suggestion to turn her clan’s fate.
“I’m sorry, dear,” Gertrude consoled. “We know this is especially hard for you…”
“…If it makes you feel better, we could spare a few who still have a good heart,” Isaac suggested. “Like you, Emilia, there must be a few more good apples in the batch.”
“…” Emilia wordlessly staring at her direct Guardian’s proposition. Then, narrowing her eyes, she came to an answer, “My sister, Ashe. She helped us escape three years ago.”
“Noted,” Isaac nodded. “Anyone else?”
“…No,” Emilia muttered softly. “She’s the only one I could think of.”
“Very well.” Isaac rolled his eyes.
And in the room full of Spears, this was probably the best outcome.
Name: Isaac Brzask Age: 73 Sex: Male Species: Human World: Alternate Earth Euracia Element: Ice Element Color: White/Black Cherished Armament: ??? Rank: Duke/Guardian