Five, Twenty-three, and Twenty-five Years Ronald’s Collection’s Chapter 2: Background Checking a Duke

Azhure: I only plan 3-4 Memories. I assume you read Alicia, so the last Memory will occur before rescue.


“But may I ask, why would you want information about duke Illyer before meeting him?” the manager asked. “He is a wonderful man, I cannot imagine him being corrupted.”

“Hm?” Ronald raised his eyebrow. “What makes you say that?”

“Well, you quite literally told me to ‘find any dirt on him’.” The manager deadpanned.

“And that’s because, mister Arnald, there’s a chance that he might secretly be doing dirty stuff while ya’ll are not looking,” Joshua casually stated, taking his hood off to get a better look at the parchment.

“Yes, yes,” Ronald nodded, reading his share of the parchments.

“Please don’t address our lord as if he were some crook,” the manager sighed. “I can see why you Court Wizards view nobles very badly, but not all of them are bad.”

“We know,” Joshua replied. “But most of them are, we barely find anyone who remembers what the word noble even means! And those that do are usually dead, either in wars protecting those very corrupt nobles, or get murdered by their machinations for being too good and honest.

“Besides, once they’re no longer needed, they’re pretty much cancer by that point.”

“Now, I do not know what cancer is,” the manager commented. “But it can’t be that bad?”

“Well, from what we’ve seen so far,” Ronald said. “They would often ride on their past bloodline’s achievements and abilities even though they don’t even inherit it. And they use underhanded means to bar common folk with actual skill, thereby shooting the whole nation in the foot.

“And you have certainly seen many gifted people or those who have worked very hard overlooked by the high society. After all, they work here.”

“Yes, and they have led this Branch to success and improved their lives, including myself,” the manager sighed. “And I can’t deny that duke Illyer has wasted their potential.”

Ever since five years ago, the manager has been recruiting talented people that they themselves never knew they had it and grew the Branch with guidance of Ronald’s father’s guidebook. And now, they have finally caught duke Illyer’s attention, having many properties in his territory.

“So in conclusion, good nobles die, so they gotta be at least shrewd to survive,” Joshua said. “So we gotta check if Illyer could potentially do nasty stuff behind our backs, ’cause we’re gonna reveal ourselves to the only aristocrat that’s backing the first prince, whom we’re rooting for,

“Since the other prince’s a battle-hungry arse looking to conquer the water territory. And our edict says that it’s better to have multiple nations with cordial relations than a single ruler that’s destined to become tyrannical.”

“Wait,” the manager stopped. “So the reason to contact duke Illyer is to pledge support to get prince Albert to the throne?”

“Oh right, we didn’t tell you that,” Ronald facepalmed. “And yes, we do intervene in political matters because an unhappy world is a destroyed world. Even if the world is in balance, if its inhabitants are living horribly under the yoke of an iron fist, it might as well be dead. So at least, we try to make everyone live good lives, though we can’t help everyone.

“Incidentally, we do mark a world as ‘destroyed’ in that case, but recoverable, unlike an actual destroyed world.”

“I see,” the manager muttered. “And that was an interesting philosophy too.”

“True,” Joshua added, looking at the parchments.


“May I ask, the Otherworldly Court surely have nobles within the ranks, right?”

“Hm… Yeah, kinda. But usually, they’re fallen nobles, before or after being recruited, and more or less jump on the bandwagon.”


“Right, by this report,” Ronald began. “Allister al Illyer, the current head of the Illyer family. With the rank of duke, his major accomplishment was his victory against odds with the invading Fichs empire.

“Domestically, his territory was by far one of the most prosperous in the kingdom despite doubling as the first defense against any Fichs invasion. The people in his territory generally liked him.”

“And apparently,” Joshua added. “His eldest daughter, Irene ir Illyer, named a greater spirit candidate, which was not surprising since the greater water spirit has always liked the Illyers. Though there was never an official debut, so it’s still a rumor.” He turned to the manager, “naming a spirit here is basically contracting them, right?”

“…Yes,” the manager confirmed. “Although it isn’t the appropriate term, the spirits are not bound to the person who named them. But they do tend to be loyal to them.”

“And currently,” Ronald continued. “He is the only noble that supports first prince Albert al Kirash and openly expressed dislike of the second, Van va Kirash.”

“So he’s supporting an entire faction?” Joshua commented. “Damn, he’s gotta be that powerful then.”

“Well, there were others who did back prince Albert,” the manager said. “But over the years, they have either switched sides or mysteriously fell. It was only last year that duke Illyer became his only supporter.”

“I see,” Ronald uttered.

“Yeah, definitely has nothing to do with Van pulling the strings,” Joshua commented sarcastically as he held the letter duke Illyer sent to the manager. “Anyway, it says here duke Illyer wants to invite you to his manor, praising you for this Branch’s prosperity and would like to talk over a cup of tea.”

Tossing the letter back to the desk, Joshua continued. “Pretty obvious he wants to drag you into the succession war which suits us just fine.”

“Yes,” the manager nodded. “I believe he did. He has to shoulder an entire faction by himself, I’m sure he wants to gather allies within his reach.”

“Well, looks like this is all you gathered,” Ronald stood up, his partner followed suit. “Anyway, we’re gonna go out and see this ourselves.”

“What!?” the manager exclaimed. “Then why ask me when you are going to investigate duke Illyer yourself?”

“No no,” Ronald replied. “Your intel is helpful, but we still need to confirm it ourselves. Also, we want to investigate any deep secrets the Illyer may have, something you cannot find.”

“I see, I suppose you have some reason to be as cautious as you can be,” the manager sighed. “Well, on a side note, I see you both have rid yourself of that bizarre haircut the last time we’ve met.”

“Yeah, we’re just going with the trends in our world,” Joshua shrugged.

As the two Court Wizards were about to reach for the doorknob, the manager continued, “Also, Ronald, you have grown into a fine gentleman indeed. Lost a few pounds too.”

“Guh!” It was as if a figurative arrow struck Ronald’s head much to Joshua’s amusement.


When it comes to gathering information, the most cliche place would definitely be the tavern.

CREEK

Passing through tables of daylight drunkards, Ronald and Joshua went to the counter where the bartender was cleaning a spotless wine glass.

“Your order?” the bartender asked.

“The house’s recommended food and drink,” Joshua answered. “Oh, and my friend here doesn’t drink, he doesn’t like the taste. Also, make mine light,” The last statement was to cover the fact that Ronald was still a minor without much fuss.

“Really?” the bartender looked at Ronald incredulity. “Shame, drinks here are really good, ya know?” he muttered as he turned around, shouting at the cooks in the kitchen the order.

SWOOSH

Afterwards, the bartender pulled out two wooden mugs, went to a collection of tapped barrels, filling one with some alcohol and the other plain water. Then, he went back to the duo and placed the drinks in front of them. “Other than booze, I only have freshwater,” he said to Ronald.

“Good enough,” Ronald said.

As the Court Wizards… well, just Joshua enjoying his drink, the bartender struck the conversation first. “So, you’re travelers? Where from?”

“A faraway land,” Joshua simply replied.

“Right, I’ll leave it at that.” The bartender continued. “And what makes you come to this place?”

“Well, we heard about the lord here being favored by the greater water spirit,” Joshua answered.

“Oh! So you’re interested in lord Illyer, eh?” the bartender grinned.

“Yes,” Ronald nodded. “Can you tell us about him?”

“Of course!” the bartender exclaimed. “Now strap in folks, this will be a long afternoon.”


JAB JAB JAB

“Hey, wake up,” Ronald hissed.

“Gah!” Joshua gasped.

“Uh…” the interrupted bartender mumbled. “Was he asleep?”

“Yes,” Ronald answered. “He dozes off easily.”


About half an hour, the bartender finally concluded his preach about the greatness of duke Illyer, which was mostly what the Court Wizards have read on the parchments, and then the food arrived. He put the food in front of his patrons.

“That is quite the tale,” Ronald perked, taking the first bite. “But it sounded too good to be true,” he continued, swallowing first.

“True, true,” Joshua added.

“Yeah, we get that a lot.” The bartender shrugged. “But believe me, he ain’t like the other sh*tty nobles plaguing this kingdom.”

“Well,” Ronald uttered. “We will be the judge of that.”

“Also, another,” Joshua interjected, lifting his empty mug.


SHIING

“Ei, the old man’s back,” Joshua remarked.

At the rooftop of a building owned by the Bell Branch which overlooked the Illyer mansion, Ronald and Joshua spotted a pair of floating black orbs floating in their direction. Then, nodes of light maneg shining different colors broke off bit by bit, revealing an Asian man in his forties wearing the same brown robe.

“Ah, Daisuke, you’re back,” Ronald said. “What have you found?”

In the Otherworldly Court, there was always one Court Wizard who’s whole thing was about stealth, and Daisuke Fujiwara was that Court Wizard.

As a Light Court Wizard of a modern world, he found out that the light light maneg emitted could be dispersed as the rainbow of colors that made the white color. Using this fact, he made an Order which covered his entire body, baring his eyeballs lest he wished to be blinded, in light maneg each shining different colors with appropriate brightness that constantly change to match the environment.

Essentially, he achieved some form of [Camouflage] which was also the name of the Order. As to how that worked, who knows…

“Only tax reports and such,” Daisuke reported, presenting his smartphone, a piece of technology that will come in a few decades to Kaomagi Earth as long as the Bells weren’t tempted to make it now, which showed shots of the various documents on a desk. “And they all looked legit, no signs of embezzlement or anything, apparently.

“Checked whatever secret rooms or basement they have, they only got traditional escape tunnels and confinement rooms with no torture section in sight. Somehow, they’re empty and have no signs suggesting it’s been used for quite a while. Though considering the second prince’s finished with everybody else, it’ll get filled pretty soon.

“Other than that are whatever goes into getting the first prince on the throne which doesn’t scream underhanded for some reason.”

“I see, so he’s relatively clean in his house,” Ronald nodded. “Well, you can go back now, just print the documents or something for us to review it.”

“Right then,” Daisuke pocketed his phone. “With this, I can retire now.”

“Oh?” Joshua raised his eyebrow. “And what’re you gonna do after that?”

“Well, you know,” Daisuke said. “Finally realizing my dream of building a school.”

“Right, you always say you wanna make a school,” Joshua commented.

“I see,” Ronald replied. “Well, my father has plans to build one too, though it looks like I will have to finish it.”

“Huh, what a coincidence,” Daisuke muttered. “Considering it’s you Bells, you’ll definitely make a cheap one.”

“Oh please, we don’t cut back on service and products, and we don’t make them overly expensive either, just the appropriate price,” Ronald retorted. “Profit is profit, no need to be greedy or you’ll lose it all.”

After the exchange, Daisuke said his farewells and headed towards the same spot where the other two Court Wizard transferred into Spiri Raia. Ronald and Joshua continued onwards.


Night on the third floor of the Bell Branch.

“Haah…”

“Hm…”

“So, do you believe us now?” the manager said, clasping his hands together with a smile.

Throughout the rest of the day, Ronald and Joshua went on a wild goose chase trying to find any incriminating signs that duke Illyer was like any other noble. Well, the results were not promising, at all.

“Now don’t go plural on us!” Joshua snarked, slightly exhausted. “There’s got to be someone other than the second prince’s lapdogs dissenting Illyer.”

“Is there?” Ronald asked, also out of breath. “We even tried scouring around the slums except there aren’t any. We even asked the children, making us look suspicious with our uniform – the guards almost arrest us -, and they still answered the same!

“What’s more, they all sound so genuine! They took great offense if we accuse them of being indoctrinated or brainwashed by spirit arts which there isn’t any evidence of it!”

“Well damn straight!” Joshua groaned.

“Now then,” the manager said calmly. “Will you proceed as planned?”

“Hah… Fine,” Ronald resigned. “We’ll be back next week. In the meantime, we’ll discuss with the Guardians on how we’ll approach Illyer.”

“I see,” the manager nodded. “Best of luck in the oncoming week for the both of you.”


Name: Daisuke Fujiwara
Age: 45
Sex: Male
Species: Human
World: Rakarok-Earth World Merge
Element: Light
Element Color: White
Cherished Armament: ???
Rank: Duke

Orders

[Camouflage]: cover set trigger entire body except eyeballs, disperse, trigger: upon position change scan color and intensity of first contacted object except air and body perpendicular to all angles of maneg, save scan to each perpendicular back surface part of maneg from contacted surface part of scan, emit saved color, change intensity to saved intensity.

Note: it’s usually used as a Progressive Order to keep supplying maneg and due to no changeable variables, it can be used as a Memorized Order. Incidentally, the Order specifically said to not cover eyeballs, so the Order covered the eyelids allowing full camouflage when the Court Wizard closed their eyes.


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