Azhure: I had burnouts. Anyway, I got mid-term exams next week so stay tuned.
Voice: Oi! That’s my line!
“Well then, let’s continue,” Ronald said before pointing at the paper. “I’ll go to the last part first.”
Oh, (rank) (element) spirit/s (or/and given name/s of spirit/s), lend me your (relevant noun for precision)!
“After notifying the spirits that you want to request,” Ronald explained. “You tell them that you want that request, asking them to lend their spirit arts.” Tapping the last words inside the parentheses. “Specifically, you describe what kind of spirit art you request with a noun and it can be more than one.”
“Uhn? So is it like asking for their power?” Rin tilted her head.
“Well, ‘power’ is the common request, the default choice even though there are plenty others to choose from,” Ronald chuckled. “Anyway, once you’ve completed your request, you then have to put how the spirit arts should be performed at the forefront of your mind. The spirits will then tap into your mind to read what request you want and performed it to the best of their abilities.”
“So you have to imagine it really well?” Rin asked.
“Yes, the better you describe it in your mind, the more accurate the spirit art will be,” Ronald nodded. “What you put in your mind is what the spirits need and as I’ve said before, the request is simply an invitation allowing the spirits to read your mind.”
“Ooh, so that’s the spirit arts system Aqua and the others created?” Rin concluded.
“Yes, that’s the gist of it,” Ronald confirmed. “Of course, the request has to be a verbal chant since spirits won’t enter your mind you do.”
“Hey! If spirits just probe your mind anyway, then what’s the noun for if it ain’t just power!?”
“Well, I’m glad you asked Voice. I did just gloss over it, after all,” Ronald quipped at the pixie even though she already knew the answer from the briefing. “While it seems unnecessary to have multiple choices for the noun with how the spirits read your request, there is something useful when you do so; having different words for your request allows the spirits to learn to associate them with your requests.”
“Oh?” Rin perked up.
“Even though spirits lack imagination, it does not mean they cannot learn to have one,” Alicia said with a smile.
“And with centuries worth of nouns and requests, from a single deviation spirits can know the type of request you want before they even begin to read them,” Ronald continued. “Furthermore, if it is your imagination that has a few holes, the spirits can fill those in with past experience. For example, if you request spirits to lend their ‘beauty,’ then the spirits will know you want spirit art with aesthetics in mind and can even give a greater output than you’d think of.”
“Uh-huh! And I don’t even need to read what lady Irene wants to know about her requests!” Layla bragged with her fists to her waist.
“Yes, and that brings to a more advanced form of it,” Ronald nodded. “If you request with the same spirits many times enough, it will not be necessary for them to read your mind for your request as they can just see the context of your request along with your choice of word and recall the type of request you asked previously.”
“Hm, now that I have heard it again, that does sound like Memorized Orders,” Alicia remarked. “Does it?” she asked everyone else.
“…Eh, it kind of does,” Owen blinked before muttering in realization.
“Memorized Orders work with repeated usage of the same Order that’s given a name until the Maneg Soul remembers the Order with just the name alone,” William made his analysis. “Spirit arts do the same with its noun but because of that limited pool, the situation at which the request is made acts to increase that pool as well. I guess they do work similarly.”
“Wow! What a coincidence!”
“Yeah! Yeah?” Neptune nodded in agreement with Voice before realizing he doesn’t even understand what the Court Wizards are talking about.
“Uhn, that’s interesting!” Rin praised the parallels.
“Hm, if we’re going that way,” Ronald scratched his chin. “Then even spirit arts have their version of Vague Ordering.”
“Oh?” Rin raises her eyebrow at the mention of that term. “Isn’t that…?”
“Yes, it is the method of ordering using loyal maneg where you do not need to use the stricter ordering system and instead simply convey what you want ‘vaguely,'” Alicia explained, being familiar with it as “it is what I use after practicing the traditional way since I have only loyal maneg I should take advantage of it.”
“Ooh!” Rin cooed.
It’s true that for the first couple of months Alicia strictly gave Orders like everyone else did to at least know the basics but once that’s done she can get vaguer with her Orders. Welp, the one that knows you the best is yourself, Owen mused as loyal maneg was the Court Wizard’s actual soul, they themself.
“Indeed,” Ronald nodded. “And in spirit arts’ fashion, it is by the agreement of the requester and spirit that they drop the formalities that they achieve this. The formal chant is, after all, just a formal way of doing it. As such, the requester can even revert to how early practitioners request spirit arts but with a simpler explanation that the spirit will know what to do specifically.
“Speaking of which.” Ronald turned to his daughter and said, “I believe you can request spirit arts, Alicia.”
“Huh?” Alicia blinked at her father’s sudden proposal. “I can request spirit arts?”
“Actually, all of us can,” Ronald admitted. “How spirit art works meant that your Fantasy Law shouldn’t matter. It’s the spirits that do the heavy lifting, you just need to convey your thoughts,” he explained. “Oh, but we Court Wizards do need to tell our Maneg Souls not to block mind reading from the spirits though. You, meanwhile, will need to take off your necklace or else the disloyal maneg inside will block it since that’s how it works.”
“Ugh! You guys can block mind-reading too?” Layla blanched.
“Scary…” Neptune whimpered.
Owen had no idea how to react to that.
“Please, people don’t like having their minds read, or being subjected to any indirect attacks in general,” William said with a scowl. “You talk as if you like doing that.”
“Uhn? Uhn?” Rin turned her head left and right in confusion.
“Er, it’s not what I meant,” Layla defended herself. “It’s the principles, the principles!”
“Well, even then,” Ronald shrugged and continued. “Whether the request is heeded is still ultimately up to the spirit regardless of what you are. It’s more of the ‘who’ question, after all.”
“Yeah! Even though I gotta be civil with you, I’m still not making spirit arts for you!” Layla spat. “Oh, but if it’s you Alicia it’s fine,” she mellowed at Alicia with a blush.
“I see,” Alicia chuckled. “Then I will look forward to working with you.”
“Regardless,” Ronald moved on to the topic. “Even if the spirits won’t answer our calls directly, we can still use talismans.”
“Uhn? What are those?” Rin asked curiously.
“They are like Catalysts,” Ronald explained. “They are used to store spirit arts for later use. The difference with Catalysts is that the only medium used is paper due to their practicality and they can only be used once.”
“Yep! Aqua told me fae can inscribe spells in grimoires and activate them, so as spirits we can still do that too,” Voice added. “Humans just need to request spirit arts like usual but then tell us to store it on talismans.”
“Yeah! I do it a lot with Al!” Neptune exclaimed.
“And much like Catalysts, they can be used by anyone,” Ronald continued. “All you need to do is invoke the talisman and the spirit art inside will be cast without further assistance from spirits.”
“Oh?” Rin noticed the last bit Ronald said.
“Naturally, spirit arts only work if there are spirits nearby, not to mention their element,” Ronald explained. “Oh, I should also mention how we fit into the equation.”
“Uhn? We?” Rin tilted her head.
“Well, as you know, the reception of spirits towards us are… less than favorable, even after Aqua became the Fire Guardian,” Ronald explained. “And by less than favorable, I mean showing abject fear towards us.”
“Well yeah,” Layla scowled. “Your fractured souls are basically eldritch horror to us spirits. Seeing our greater spirit becoming one of you is the world coming to an end.”
“Yeah!” Neptune agreed.
“Is that so?” Alicia smiled wryly.
“I’m not exaggerating,” Layla deadpanned. “Oh, but you’re still better though, lady Alicia.”
“Ehehe…” Rin chuckled nervously.
“Anyway, that sort of fear combined with other factors has caused spirits to be… reluctant to perform spirit arts around us as they try to avoid our line of sight,” Ronald continued. “Do remember spirits are aware we can see them pass their invisibility.”
“Don’t remind me,” Layla frowned.
“That, of course, means that in a battle against a spirit art user, we would have the advantage as the spirits around would be too scared to cast spirit arts for the user,” Ronald explained. “Why, I do recall in my younger years passing by a Spirit Bard and ruining his show.”
“Spirit Bard?” Rin repeated the name.
“It’s a job title that involves spirits, the naming convention starting with ‘Spirit’ and a normal occupation,” Ronald explained. “A Spirit Bard is a bard that uses spirit arts to complement his performances but I digress.”
“And don’t think all of us are gonna chicken out seeing you guys!” Layla warned. “We’ve toughened up since seeing you for the first time!”
“That’s right!” Neptune nodded in affirmation
“So anyway, aside from our mere presence,” Ronald continued to the finish. “Talismans are useful in places bereft of them or of different elements than you wanted.”
“So you can use water talismans in places without water spirits?” Rin concluded. “Like in other territories?”
“Yeah, there’re rules about that,” Layla interrupted. “You can use talismans in other territories but not all of them.”
“Remember that spirits get weakened when exposed to opposing elements,” Ronald reminded.
“Oh!” Rin realized.
“Exactly,” Layla nodded. “Basically using fire talismans in these parts is totally illegal and vice versa. Something like ice talismans is still fine but fire? Absolutely not!”
“True, but that doesn’t stop fire talismans being smuggled here illegally,” Ronald mused.
“Urgh! Don’t remind me!” Layla groaned. “That’s one problem I’m gonna have to deal with every day when I become a greater spirit. Humans keep trying to bring fire talismans into the water territory even though they know we hate it and their kingdoms clearly outlaw them. Seriously, I know it’s for solidarity but keep. The. Fire. Out!”
“What about me? My Element is fire,” Alicia then asked curiously. “So is father.”
It’s at this point Voice knew, she finally let that part of Irene’s daughter sink in. And in an overly dramatic fashion, she fell to her knees, her hands slammed down, and her head hung in despair, all while she was still mid-air.
“Curses…” Layla softly muttered.
“Uhn?” Rin tilted her head in confusion.
“Well then, now that we have gone over the basic spirit art request,” Ronald continued. “We’ll go over the very last part we haven’t discussed.”
He hovered his hand over the paper and placed his finger on the last parentheses in the middle, ‘(or/and given name/s of spirit/s)’.
“Uhn? Isn’t this just calling for which spirit to request?” Rin tilted her head in confusion.
“Yeah, the thing is, we don’t have names,” Layla said. “Much like when we’re fae, we can identify each other no problem, unlike you humans.”
“…Oh! I remember you mentioned that before,” Rin recalled. “But you have names, Layla, Neptune.”
“Huh? Oh!” Layla blinked before realizing it. “Why that’s because lady Irene’s the one who gave me my name. Lord Allister named Neptune.”
“Uh-huh!” Neptune nodded happily.
“Oh! Is that your contract with them?” Rin remarked.
“Um, no,” Layla flat-out rejected.
“Huh? Really?” It was Alicia’s turn to be confused.
“Hm, it seems we are in a misconception with the naming of a spirit even after all this time,” Ronald remarked. “It’s alright, even the people here hold the same false impression until some time after they have named a spirit or if you’re me, had your wife drill it into your head,” he chuckled at the memory.
“Mother did?” Alicia wryly with a hint of shame.
Well, to be fair, all the times Owen heard Alicia’s mother telling stories of her life in Spiri Raia when he got invited over dinner did give the impression it was a contract. Even Ronald when he briefed them seemed to imply that as well. Probably because naming a spirit not meaning a contract was already common sense to Ronald that it slipped his mind that everyone else doesn’t.
“Well yes, but before we get to that, there is something from our history lesson that I haven’t told yet,” Ronald said. “As you know, spirits are nameless as they do not need it to identify each other. But what of us humans who need it, how had they addressed spirits for their arts then?”
“They give them names?” Rin tilted her head.
“Precisely,” Ronald nodded. “Humans started to give spirits names to identify them apart and to the spirits who never had names before? Well, the effect is certainly more than just intrigue.”
“What kind?” Rin asked.
“Hm, it’ll be more accurate if Layla takes it from here,” Ronald replied nonchalantly before handing reins over to the greater spirit heir.
“Gee, way to dodge responsibilities,” Layla sneered before turning to the crowd. “Well, I can’t speak for the first spirits transformed from fae, I’m not part of those bunch but it’s probably the same. Well, the thing is, after we become spirits we’re no longer born. As far as we’re concerned, spirit art energy converges to poof us out of thin air or some other reason.”
“Uhn? So you don’t have parents?” Rin asked sadly.
“Technically you could say our greater spirit is our parent,” Layla replied. “But that’s beside the point because even then we still don’t get names after we’re ‘born’.”
“Me too,” Neptune said downcast.
“Then we see how you humans call each other with your names and felt we want them too,” Layla then continued. “But we don’t have any idea how to name ourselves and besides, you get your names from others but even then, we don’t know how to name each other.”
“So you asked us to give you names?” Rin asked.
“Many young spirits are curious seeing it being all the rage among our seniors,” Layla explained. “But those same seniors also told us not to pick random humans to give us names willy-nilly and that we should save it until we found the ‘one.’ Many of us wouldn’t get it at first but we took their advice nonetheless and so it was, us spirits wandering about, waiting and finding for the right person to appear.”
“Is that how you met my mother?” Alicia inquired.
“Mm,” Layla hummed while nodding. “I was alone when I appeared as a lesser spirit. Sure there were other lesser spirits beside me but they were just that, others. Even though we were ‘born’ at the same place and at the same time, we never felt any connection to each other. Being the aimless wisps that we are, we followed the trail of more mature spirits while even more mature spirits would come and teach us the world of Spiri Raia, spirit arts, and most importantly, the naming by humans.
“Taking their advice to heart, we kept ourselves concealed from those with flesh and blood granting them spirit arts but never let ourselves be seen by them nonetheless. Even as we evolved to the next stage and broke off to form our followers of lesser spirits, we still make sure to hide until we find the human to get our names from.
“Once I became an intermediate spirit, I would often watch the humans going to and fro with their lives together, smiling, laughing, just being in each other’s company. Then I watched the spirits who got their names with namers looking happy and that’s when I realized what the naming is all about.”
“Uhn? Oh!” Rin exclaimed.
“So that is what Aqua meant by it,” Alicia widened her eyes in realization.
“Whether you are human or spirit, you always have a longing to have relationships with others,” Ronald said with calm eyes. “For spirits who cannot truly connect with each other, they would soon realize they can do so with humanity. Because humans use names in it, it makes sense for spirits to do the same.”
“And I think that’s what the first spirits felt when they were given names,” Layla continued. “Even as fae we were solitary creatures, Aqua and the other would-be greater spirits were the exception which allowed them to rally us against the cursed dragons. When humans broke us out of our solitude, there was no going back.”
“I see…” Alicia muttered.
To her, what Layla had said struck a chord, seeing the parallels with her own solitude that was broken through the Otherworldly Court and that fateful day. And Owen knew this would apply to him as well.
“That’s why we are very careful about selecting who we wish to give our names from,” the greater spirit heir continued. “After all, we’re going to be with them throughout their lives.”
“And that led you to choose my mother?” Alicia then said.
“Yeah,” Layla nodded. “I… had taken a far longer time choosing my namer, none of the humans I encounter clicked. In fact, there are plenty of spirits who never end up being named. I thought I was too as I became a candidate until I met your mother, Alicia.
“Neptune was there first, being named by lord Allister decades ago, and was with him driving the Fichs off. Even though he lagged behind me by rank, he’s still much older than me in terms of being named.”
“Yep!” Neptune nodded.
“I, meanwhile, can still remember it like it was yesterday. Your mother had just broken up with your uncle, prince Albert, who liked your aunt more. I still can’t wrap my head around how that was so peaceful, I’ve seen similar incidents that go way worse before,” Layla rolled her eyes to the side. “But well, when I saw your mother staring out from her window, I felt she was the one. Call it however you want, but I felt that I should show myself to her which I did and the rest is history.”
“Wow…” Rin gasped in awe.
“Hearing it from you, I can understand just how much mother cherishes you,” Alicia said with a smile.
“Yeah, I really miss your mother, you know,” Layla confessed. “But I’m not sad ’cause I know she’s happy in that other world since she has you, lady Alicia.”
“Yes,” Alicia nodded with a smile. “Of course.”
“I’m still peeved this guy married your mother,” Layla gritted her teeth at Ronald.
“Indeed,” Ronald chuckled, making the water spirit roll her eyes. “There is neither a contract in the naming nor an increase in the capability for spirit art, the naming is just the start of a relationship between human and spirit for a lifetime.
“That said, there are benefits with naming a spirit. They’re not explicit as I said before, but rather the consequence of the importance of the naming. One of them that I’ve explained before being able to convey informal requests with better ease.”
“True, I do it all the time with lady Irene,” Layla admitted.
“Furthermore, spirits with names carry a certain reputation among nameless ones,” Ronald continued. “Traditionally, when one requests a spirit art to a particular spirit, other lower-ranking spirits may be inclined to… help contribute to the spirit art. When it’s a user and their named spirit, they are much more inclined to do so. It is not a ‘power up,’ they don’t have to help but the naming psychologically encourages them to that effect.”
“Ooh,” Rin noised.
“And another effect of the naming culture which as Layla had said,” Ronald continued. “Nameless spirits ended up hiding from humanity until finding the human they wished to be named from as the first human they reveal themselves to. Even after that, named spirits would still tend to allow themselves to be seen only by their namers and their close companions.
“Well, it’s not that we have any problems with seeing them regardless.” He shrugged.
“Ugh! Don’t remind us that,” Layla groaned. “It’s bad enough you Court Wizards ruined so many spirits’ first reveal, it feels like the sacredness of it is violated!” she growled, bashing the table with a BRAK. Although Spiri Raia spirits were body-less souls who can phase through walls, they can still interact with the physical world if they want to, otherwise Aqua wouldn’t be able to type on the keyboard.
“Yeah!” Neptune nodded in agreement.
“Excuse me, everyone,” a voice interrupted the Court Wizards and spirits. It was the receptionist who was giving a bow. “The manager is ready to meet you.”
“Finally,” Will said in an irritated tone whilst getting up from his seat.
“Well, better late than never I suppose,” Ronald commented while also leaving his seat. “Anyway, we’ll end this lesson right here. Now is the time to continue with our mission.”
“Right,” Alicia agreed with her father, getting up.
“You got it!”
“Okay, mister Bell,” Rin nodded, following suit.
It’s time, Owen thought as he stood up and followed the rest to the manager’s office. The spirits, as Owen noticed, were particularly quiet with the arrangement for obvious reasons.
“You know, you sure know a lot about spirits, father.”
“Well, my daughter. When you are responsible for mentoring a greater spirit to be the next Fire Guardian and married to your mother whose family is known for their blessing by said greater spirit, you tend to know too much of these things.”
Azhure: So, what you do all think of this sub-chapter? Is it good? Are there any problems with it? Any reviews or feedback is appreciated as long as they’re not plain insults meant to blow off your stress.
Voice: Don’t do that to people! Not even on the internet!
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