Azhure: College exams are coming up.
Voice: Stay tuned again! But seriously, Azhure! You’ve only published twice after the last hiatus!
“Catherine’s dead,” Zekie, the Lightning Guardian, answered with a lumped throat. His gloved hands pressed against the desk with holograms to support him. “Sacrificed herself to save Alice.”
“No…” Rose closed her eyes sorrowfully. “She was so young too…”
“Dammit,” William cursed, palming his head in frustration with one hand and clenching the edge of another desk with the other. “Just as she helped me open up, she…”
Owen winced in metaphorical pain at the loss of his Guardian, hanging his head low. “How long until she gets out of there?” he asked the operators.
“Right about now, sir.” One of the operators answered.
The rainbow light died down in the dark Transporter Room. On the wooden-looking transfer circle lay a little girl not even double digits in age with platinum blonde hair wearing a white and blue dress for winter. However, that white and blue dress had its chest area in red.
“Alice…” Owen voiced in a concerned tone.
The little girl, Alice, opened her eyes. She lifted herself up and looked around her surroundings all the while tears fell from her eyes.
“Owen…” she muttered. “Where is my mother…?”
“What’s going on with Alice?” Owen asked as Gabriel, the Life Guardian, stepped out of the infirmary, pulling the strands of his long blonde hair that were over his shoulders behind him.
“Is she okay?” Rose asked in concern.
“I will be blunt, princess Alice is the new Ice Guardian,” Gabriel stated without a shred of doubt. “The scans confirmed it.”
“How the hell did that happen?” William quipped, pushing himself from the wall he leaned on.
“Is it whatever Catherine did to save her?” Zekie inquired.
After transferring her out of Kaomagi, Alice was immediately brought to the infirmary to be tended to her needs, what with the glaring chest wound. However, as Gabriel was checking up on her, a rather sharp item from the cabinet fell off from being too close to the edge and almost hit the young girl if not for the Life Guardian’s timely intervention… and some healing Orders. Having a gut feeling from the incident, he had her checked on the Maneg Soul scanner which brought them to the situation right now.
“I believe queen Catherine had used an obscure and ancient spell to revive her daughter. It is the only method that I know of from the library in the cathedral,” Gabriel explained. Being a pope of a major religion in Kaomagi, he’d have access to vast resources the common man couldn’t. “As to how she had known how to cast it we will never know.”
“And what is that spell she had used?” Zekie pressed on.
“It is a spell passed down by the late human deity that allows one to save someone from death by transferring their own life force to them,” he answered. “A vast oversimplification ignoring the implications, but know that princess Alice is still herself.”
It only took a moment for the other Court Wizards to disseminate that information.
“So it’s that kind of thing,” William scowled with venom. “As expected of that self-righteous prick.”
“And given the nature of Maneg Souls, it isn’t far-fetched that Catherine’s Maneg Soul went along in the transfer and with it the Mother Soul,” Zekie concluded.
“And the evidence pointed to that,” the Life Guardian nodded. “As it stands, princess Alice is now the seventh Guardian of the Mother Soul of Ice.”
“Damn,” the Lightning Guardian cradled his head. “Mother Souls only goes after someone around Will’s age at the very least, she is far too young to be a Guardian.”
“Agreed,” Gabriel nodded sadly. “Furthermore, unrelated to her age, there are also some problems with princess Alice’s Guardian status.”
“Problems?” Rose asked. “Is it dangerous?”
“…Does it have to do with her almost dying just now?” Owen made his suspicion.
“Indeed,” Gabriel nodded. “Although princess Alice’s status as Ice Guardian is undisputed, given the nature of how she obtained that title…” he took a deep breath. “The Ice Mother Soul does not see her as a worthy vessel.”
“…That, logically makes sense,” William muttered.
It does. Like normal Maneg Souls, Mother Souls choose their Guardians but Alice was never chosen to be one. Previous Guardians certainly didn’t have the say in who would be their successors and Catherine did just that by technicality. The Ice Mother Soul, being sentient, wasn’t happy with that.
“Then what would that mean for Alice?” Zekie inquired. His words were tense as all the Court Wizards knew this was uncharted territory. Potentially dangerous uncharted territory.
“One, I am afraid princess Alice would not enjoy the same powers we Guardians possess,” Gabriel stated with his eyes closed and arms crossed. “This will render her the same as ordinary Court Wizards.”
That would be a terrible loss. As holders of the literal progenitor of Maneg Souls, Guardians will have extra sets of abilities that distinguish them from the rest. How else would William’s air slashes work if not for his Mother Soul commanding ambient air maneg.
That said, it was the next thing Gabriel said that became the heavier topic.
“Additionally, given the incident moments ago, I fear the Ice Mother Soul is attempting to… free itself from being under princess Alice’s guardianship.”
It didn’t take a second to put two and two together.
“Oh no!” Rose gasped, covering her mouth.
“Can it even do that?” Owen quipped.
“With the powers they have, I don’t see why it can’t give you bad luck as well,” William shrugged with a bad taste in his mouth.
“Damn, this is like my faulty suppression but worse. We’re gonna have to watch out for Alice at all times lest she gets into an accident,” Zekie palmed his head. “And I doubt we can maintain that kind of surveillance. Not to mention her privacy.”
“True,” Gabriel nodded sadly. “Leaving her back in the infirmary alone is already a risk enough. I am not sure if the arrangement I left will keep her safe either.”
“Tell me at least her Maneg Soul works just fine,” Zekie demanded.
“It should. The Mother Souls in damaged states should not be able to do anything more drastic,” Gabriel affirmed. “Otherwise, we would have felt antagonistic towards her.”
“Let us hope it never comes to that,” Rose prayed.
“True,” the Life Guardian nodded. “The Ice Mother Soul may be able to interfere with her Orders, but the Maneg Soul should still act for her survival,” he said before gritting his teeth. “That said, we cannot be sure about it as time goes forth.”
“Then let’s hope for the best,” Zekie sighed. “Anyway, how’s Alice now?”
“She should be fine now,” Gabriel assured the Lightning Guardian. “But we should not leave her alone any longer now.”
“Especially when she can hear us talking in front of the door,” William said nonchalantly.
“…Why didn’t you point that out sooner?” Zekie practically hissed.
“When it’s obvious like this, I assume that’s what we’re going for,” William deadpanned.
“He has a point there,” Rose slowly said.
“Alright, there is no time for that,” Gabriel broke up the awkward tension. “We should have one of us talk to her instead. We ought to not overcrowd the infirmary.”
Even though he said that there’s the fact everything in the Court was built to accommodate a small dragon. The infirmary will be far from crowded with a couple of people entering but the principal remained.
“I’ll go,” Owen raised his hand, catching everyone else’s attention. “There’s something I want to talk to her about.”
“Very well,” Gabriel nodded before stepping aside.
Closing the door behind him, Owen looked to the hospital bed to see Alice sitting on it with her head hung low. She appeared to be wearing a white hospital gown to replace her ruined dress and her platinum blonde hair had been tied in a braid.
“Hey… Alice,” Owen awkwardly greeted her, trying to start the conversation.
“…Hello, Owen.” Alice turned her head towards him. Her voice was soft, almost a whisper as she greeted him back. Her pale complexion explained it all having been through a lot.
“Can I sit beside you?” Owen asked as he walked toward her.
“Sure…” she replied, hanging her head down again.
Slowly, Owen placed both hands in reverse on the sheets of fabric behind his back to support himself as he lifted his feet to a tiptoe to sit beside the little girl on the bed.
As Owen did so, Alice spoke, “Mother loved me…” Her voice was strained as if she had a hard time trying to say it.
Owen already had an idea why that was so. “She does,” so he replied. “Your mom has always loved you.”
“Yes,” Alice nodded. “But I… I…!”
Owen gently patted her head as the little girl cried her heart out, letting years of misplaced resentment wash down with tears. The older boy could tell that Alice sorely needed to let it out of her chest.
“I-If only I did not fight with my mother… and went with her…” she sobbed, wiping her tears with her hands.
“It’s not your fault, Alice,” Owen stopped her. “Yeah, you had a fight with your mom, but that’s fine – I also had a few scuffles with my dad.” He looked up to the ceiling, reminiscing a bit. “Heh, now that I think about it, some of them are rather silly.”
“But… if I had not done it,” Alice said. “Then mother would not have to…!”
“No one could predict what happened after that,” Owen stopped her from beating herself further. “If anything, it should have been our job to know it was going to happen and get you out before everything went loose.”
“And well,” Owen continued. “…Maybe your mom did spend a bit too much with us instead of you… So, sorry about that.”
“…Oh,” Alice muttered, looking back down.
He definitely could have framed that better.
Afterwards, they just sat there, awkwardly. Neither Court Wizards could come up with anything else to break the silence. That said, when one looked at them, they could easily be mistaken for brothers and sisters.
Should I say it, Owen mulled. It had to be broken eventually one way or another. Bah, screw it.
“…Dad told me my mom died giving birth to me,” he said in the bluntest tone possible.
“…” Alice looked back at him with a bewildered face, naturally not knowing what to say to his nonchalant statement.
Yeah, I could’ve said that better, Owen internally cringed. He’s never able to get his words right regarding this sort of thing. Maybe he could if he had more experience with this sort of thing, but opportunities to gain those experiences were hard to come by. “S-So because of that, I never knew her, only from what my dad told me about her.”
“I see,” Alice said. “I am sorry to hear that.”
“It’s alright, I usually visit her grave on her death anniversary which is also on my birthday too,” Owen assured the little girl and then kicked himself internally after realizing it sounded a little morbid. “Yeah, because of that, I never have any feelings for my mom which is why I can say this so casually.
“The only other thing I know from my mom is the flower brooch she apparently had,” Owen trailed off. “It’s still in my apartment after she died. I think dad threw some enchantments on it to make sure it doesn’t spoil ’cause it’s organic and it should’ve been totally yellow by now.”
“Oh…” Alice muttered. “So then, when you met my mother, how do you feel?”
“…Basically,” Owen looked up to the ceiling. “The mother I never had – everyone else definitely felt the same. She got me through after my grandma died while my dad’s still missing.”
“Ah, right. Your father is still missing,” Alice frowned. “He is the one who taught my mother, did he not?”
“Yeah,” Owen nodded. “Your mom told me the stuff my dad did as a Court Wizard. He never told me before.”
“…Mister Bell told me he and my dad promised to each other to not talk anything about other worlds to their kids,” Owen explained. “My friend, Alicia, Mister Bell’s daughter, is still in the dark about all of this. I actually had to hide these things from her whenever we hung out.” And now that he thought about it, he felt bad having to do it every time. The red-haired girl has always been so nice to him and this was what he returned to her.
Hopefully, and hopefully not as he later learned, this would change and Owen could tell her about it.
“Anyway, they were going to tell us if we become Court Wizards,” Owen continued. “But by that point, dad got sucked into that vortex Rupture and mister Bell only told me that after I’m a Court Wizard. Apparently, my grandma knew the truth all along, but she passed away before she could tell too.”
“I see,” Alice muttered in a sad tone. “You miss them too, do you not? Your father and grandmother.”
“Yeah, I do,” Owen nodded. Thinking about it, he realized it wasn’t just her mother, Catherine, Alice had lost, but also her other family members in that incident.
The two kids became silent again, having already said what needed to be said. After enough rumination, Owen decided that it was time to discuss the most important subject.
“Welp, guess you’re gonna be our new Ice Guardian now,” Owen said in the best way he could.
“Huh!?” Alice gasped in confusion as if she wasn’t expecting that at all. “But I-”
“Yes, how you got to be the Guardian is unorthodox,” Owen stopped the little girl, facing her direction. “But that doesn’t make you any less.”
“But even so, I have heard what all of you have talked about outside,” Alice said while facing Owen, aware she was supposed to eavesdrop on that conversation. “What if I am going to be a terrible Guardian when the Mother Soul is trying to kill me?”
“Then we’ll help you,” Owen answered calmly as he got off the bed with a THUD. Turning his back to look at the new Ice Guardian. “Just because the Ice Mother Soul doesn’t accept you doesn’t mean we will too – no matter what it thinks, you are still our Ice Guardian.
“As for the Mother Soul trying to get you killed? Don’t worry about it. We’ll make sure to keep you safe and help you the best we can, that goes for your work as the Ice Guardian. So don’t go dying, alright?”
“Yes, mother gave her life to save me, I promise I will not waste this second chance,” Alice said resolutely before deflating. “But, I heard what pope Gabriel said. What if-”
“We won’t let that happen,” Owen immediately shook his head. “If the Ice Mother Soul’s gonna mess our heads for something that petty, then we’ll tell it to just shove it.
The two were jolted by the door bursting open all of the sudden. Jerking their heads to the source, they saw William with the palm of his hand planting firmly on the door he had just barged open. The rudeness aside, Owen was surprised by the serious look on his partner’s face.
“Owen, we got a situation in Beohar,” William cut to the chase. “And Crom’s involved in it.”
Azhure: This memory is one part of the story. Book 3 starring William will reveal the full context of the situation.
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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