Azhure: From now on, I’ll mark the main pov character (Owen in this case) in [Telepathy] conversations.
Voice: But I’m still not!
Two words. If it’s any other words, it wouldn’t seem much. For this one, it was all he needed to convey the message. Any more may perhaps even ruin the impact it brought.
Well, as far as Owen can see, it certainly had the intended effect on his father.
“…W-What?” Joshua muttered shakingly and his eyes widened. “M-Mom is dead?”
“Yes,” Ronald nodded sadly. “I regret to inform you that your mother, Matilda Ruze, had passed away.”
“S-Since when?” Joshua then asked, his voice still trembling from shock.
“About three years after you went missing, dad,” Owen answered, falling silent. He looked to the others to see them having looks of condolence before deciding to reveal, “…It’s also when I became Court Wizard.”
“Indeed, with your being missing via a Rupture, it’s only a matter of time before Owen would gain a Maneg Soul,” Ronald continued. “The Maneg Soul fully merging at the time of Matilda’s passing is a coincidence, I believe, but an awful one at that.”
He still remembered the day of his grandmother’s funeral and how he accidentally froze her grave as he awakened to his Maneg Soul – and as he recalled, he doesn’t remember telling Alicia that specific detail and he doesn’t want to divulge it now either. The ice melted off, of course, and it was already a cold day, so it could be said that no harm was done, but Owen still didn’t like it on the principles. Most importantly though, his father wasn’t there.
“Owen…” Joshua muttered, his head hung low. “So that’s why you…”
Owen blinked for a moment at his father’s words before they fell into place. Come to think of it, I don’t think dad ever questioned me being a Court Wizard at this point, he realized. And mister Bell is kinda the same…
When Ronald found out his daughter became a Court Wizard, he was surprised at first. But Owen figured that was more because he never told him about it while he was abroad, and also the kidnapping. Once the initial shock was over, though, the older Bell was surprisingly accepting of Alicia’s recruitment despite the measures he took to prevent that previously.
So that’s it, Owen internally frowned. He supposed that despite not wanting him or Alicia to become Court Wizards, their fathers knew that was something inevitable and took it for granted when they did. So when Owen’s father saw him as a Court Wizard, he didn’t think much about it until Owen mentioned the details of his recruitment. Much like when Alicia got kidnapped before being a Court Wizard.
“Now this begs the question,” Ronald continued. “Why didn’t you come back and instead do whatever you are doing right now, Joshua?” he demanded straight to the heart of the matter.
Joshua sighed, knowing this would happen. Owen looked at Aqua who also had a similar expression cementing her involvement with his father’s situation if it wasn’t already. It only took a few moments later for Joshua to start talking.
“…I’ll start from the beginning,” he began. “After I got sucked into the Rupture, I ended up here on Kirash in the middle of nowhere with my memories scrambled.”
“You’ve lost your memories too?” Ronald quipped with worry.
“No, it’s more like they’re all over the place like a file cabinet toppled over with all of its files scattered to the ground,” Joshua shooked his head. “I can remember some things clearly while others require a bit of a stimulant. Then, there are the likes of two things I recalled that turned out to be the other way around. It’s complicated.”
Owen peeked at Rin and Alicia, who clearly wanted to know the whole memory loss thing but didn’t want to interrupt. It’ll be something he’s going to have to teach them after this was over. Memories are linked to souls, to the containers, and especially to the life force. This was how some dead souls incarnated to sister worlds could still remember their past lives as they were primarily stored in the containers of the souls rather than in the life force lost after death.
For Court Wizards, this meant loyal maneg have their memories. While disloyal maneg has nothing to do with the Court Wizard’s memory, they are still a part of the container that was the Maneg Soul. A sudden loss of all disloyal maneg can jolt the Court Wizard’s Maneg Soul into amnesia like a leak suddenly bursting out. Also, taking the logic of loyal maneg containing memories, Alice also inherited her mother’s memories when she transferred her life force to revive the young girl but that was a story for another time.
“Oh yeah, I forgot to mention my body was totally in a wreck as well, sudden loss of all disloyal maneg and all,” Joshua added. “I could barely move a muscle and it hurts all over the place.”
As the soul’s obviously linked to the body, the adverse effects of losing all disloyal maneg naturally went beyond just memory problems. If damages to loyal maneg can reflect back to the Court Wizard, then so can disloyal maneg even though it was not supposed to.
“Fortunately, I got picked up by a Bell Branch merchant traveling by who’s in the know and dragged me to Arnald’s branch,” he continued. “By that time, I was able to reorganize most of my memories while resting my body.”
“By that point, you would already have recovered enough maneg to make a call to the Transporter Room,” Ronald commented. “Why didn’t you?”
“I still haven’t recovered enough maneg to try calling the operators,” Joshua shrugged. “So instead, I got the local water spirits to fetch Aqua for me.”
“And it was then you convinced her to hide the fact you’re here?” Ronald guessed.
“Pretty much.” He shrugged again.
Owen could’ve sworn he heard William clicking his tongue a few seats away. Knowing him, he definitely did after hearing the blatant shenanigans happening.
“Ah, yes. I remembered the surprise that Joshua was found right in my territory. It could have been a different story altogether had I informed you all first before confirming Joshua first,” Aqua cupped her cheek with a sigh. “I must say, you are just as good at making convincing requests as Ronald, Joshua.”
Wait. I have to ask, why can’t mister Arnald make the call with the Catalyst? (Alicia)
Well, I heard ever since Aqua’s a Guardian, everything the Bell Branches in Spiri Raia sends us has to go through her, and they can’t make direct calls with the ten-word Catalyst anymore. (Owen)
Given what the manager had revealed earlier, it was likely that he had doctored the reports he made to make it seem like everything was fine in Kirash. Even if he refused, they will still have to go through Aqua who was in on the plot with his father and the communication Catalyst given to every Bell Branch has long since been dismantled in Spiri Raia.
Speaking of the Catalyst, word on the street has it that Amelia was developing a better version of those Catalysts that’ll remove the need for Court Wizards to go down and fetch the Bell Branch managers’ reports in general. Still doesn’t change the situation in Spiri Raia though.
Uhn? She can do that? (Rin)
She’s a Guardian so she can, even outside of her territory. The greater spirits here always get along and they were on board with the idea. (Owen)
When given the chance to use Guardian privileges to control information outflow from her world, she will. Any sort of authority would be happy to. (William)
That sounds cynical of you, Will. (Alicia)
I’m proud of it, I’ll never regret it. (William)
Uhn? Do the other greater spirits know about the Court? (Rin)
They do, it’ll be hard for them not to when Aqua’s skin color became red from her Maneg Soul or when the first Court Wizards came here sounding the alarms right off the bat. (Owen)
“Anyway, for context, it took some time for Aqua to come and I was for a better part feeling much better,” Joshua explained. “So I decided to take a walk outside of town since I went straight into the Bell Branch coming in and saw the deplorable state it has been reduced to.”
“…That was blunt,” Ronald blinked in surprise. “…But yes, when we entered Illyer town, I did see the atmosphere not being what it used to be from all those years ago.”
“I went and interacted with some of the locals we’ve met before. They’ve completely changed, lost the liveliness they had back when Allister’s still there,” Joshua continued. “The magistrate we got Aqua to place made sure the place didn’t get carved up, but it’s still in a rough spot.”
Uhn? What did your father mean by that, Ruze-senpai? (Rin)
Well, ever since mister Bell and my dad saved Alicia’s mother’s side of the family, it left their territory with no one in charge. They promised to get a magistrate in charge of it so it wouldn’t get split between other nobles which they did… and the details of that is they got Aqua to demand the Kirash crown to do that. (Owen)
Well, it does seem to be the solution that makes the most sense. (Alicia)
“True, the magistrate still came from Van without further input from us,” Ronald sighed. “Effectively putting Illyer’s territory under his hands. Nothing too serious happened right?” he immediately asked before turning to Aqua. “You didn’t conceal anything relating to that, did you?”
“No,” Aqua denied. “I can safely say no great injustice has been done to Illyer’s people. It would have caused further unrest and my further ire if Van did so out of spite.”
A crap solution, but the only one that works. (William)
“Anyway, that was when I decided to start a rebellion and got Arnald to join in,” Joshua concluded. “And by the time Aqua came, I also managed to get her in on the plan. Contrary to what she said, it didn’t take me much effort to convince her,” he smirked.
“At least allow me to save some dignity, Joshua,” Aqua sighed with her head hung low. That said, it seemed to Owen that she didn’t have much shame in agreeing to his father’s plan.
Furthermore, he had the impression the other two spirits would have their image on the greater water spirit shattering with that display, but looking at Layla and Neptune it seemed they had already done so a long time ago. It’s probably what would happen when you get to see the true nature of someone you admire after getting the chance to be with them for a long time.
“And so it was. Arnald used the Bell Branch to tap into the vast merchant network in Kirash to get people disgruntled by Van’s rule to join our rebellion and overall build up the army,” Joshua explained. “Aqua does the same with named water spirits in Kirash but more importantly, making sure you guys don’t know what we’re up to. Well, that is until we started the siege outside where there’s no way you wouldn’t notice the ice bridge I made – the troops should think I used a lot of ice talismans.”
“I still somewhat tolerate ice talismans,” Aqua interjected. “They’re not as bad as fire ones.”
“To think you used my Bell Branches like that…” Ronald grumbled while palming his head. “Were there any missions to Spiri Raia, Will?” he then turned to the Air Guardian. “I can’t exactly read every report in my spare time.”
“…No, there weren’t any,” William confirmed before glaring Aqua’s way. “And now I know why.”
“Oh yeah, Aqua also keeps me updated with the news in the Court,” Joshua mentioned. “That’s how I already know my son became a Court Wizard.” Turning to Aqua with a somber look. “That said, you didn’t tell me about my mom, Aqua…”
“Bluntly speaking, I will not have you distracted with news of your mother’s death,” the Fire Guardian said nonchalantly. “Also, that was for having me constantly leading your son and the others on a wild goose chase while you are secretly starting a rebellion.”
“Which begs the question, why?” Ronald said resolutely. “It’s one thing to start an uprising, why do so in secret and isolate yourself from the rest of us?” Then, he asked Aqua, “Also, the manager I could understand, but why would you even join him, Aqua? Are you unsatisfied with how we settled it with the great sea? Just knowing how different this country has become couldn’t be enough reason to do all of this.”
To that end, both Ice Court Wizard and Fire Guardian stayed at their place silently. The others bated their breath as they waited for their response. Eventually, Owen’s father was the first to speak.
“Tell me, Ronald, what would happen if you guys knew what I’m doing?” Joshua asked.
Azhure: So, what do you 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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