Year 1398 in Manegia
First Greater Water Spirit Aquarius of Spiri Raia, commonly referred to by her fellow Greater Spirit as Aqua, observed in abject absentness the ashes of the Illyer mansion before her.
“I still cannot believe this…!”
“How could this happen!?”
“Lady Aquarius save us all!”
Perking at the last statement in the crowd shrouded in shock and disbelief, said lady Aquarius seamed through them in intangible form.
Even I cannot fathom either every time I see it for myself, the greater spirit thought in somber.
She phased through the front gate, sealed off by troops from the Kirash capital in its deformed state, and entered the scorched garden, where Kirash officials had concluded their investigations leaving herself with the numerous fountains that spouted water no more.
Then, Aqua turned to the Illyer mansion once again, a splinter of its former glory. How could this happen? she repeated that question from the humans as she once again saw the few wooden beams still standing charred black among the burnt rubble with no piece on top of another, though one of them was about to snap, again.
A little over a week ago, Aqua had confronted the greater fire spirit, Ignatius, otherwise called Ignis, about the many fire talismans from his domain finding their way into hers, a great breach in the territory.
Now that’s not to say she doesn’t get along with the greater fire spirit. After all, she and the other greater spirits were comrades fighting the cursed dragons and after their subsequent triumph, reformed the world into Spiri Raia, shedding their flesh along with the rest of the fae, becoming spirits. That alone united them for a lifetime.
However, that doesn’t mean they invade each other’s spaces so casually for while they were unified in mind, their incorporeal physiques were not. It was an ugly revelation, that the destruction of their physical bodies into spirits was the final curse, the last spite, laid by the dragons meant to fracture their unity that led to their triumph.
So naturally, Aqua and the other christened ‘greater spirits’ sought to get the last laugh by keeping their unity through their biologically incompatible diversity. Even though it ended up in drawing borders and generally not minding each other’s business, they were able to keep the tentative civility between territories.
To emphasis this, Aqua and Ignis chose to share a border even if it meant causing the most friction, especially with the newborn spirits nowadays developing a natural disdain towards their neighbors which worried all the greater and older spirits to no end.
However, that also meant that any friction between territories wasn’t caused by spirits as they mainly stick inside each territory. Rather, it was the humans.
Humans, Aqua thought, slipping through the wreckage. Rarely living past a century yet able to advance the fastest. Capable of creation and destruction, peace and war. Intelligent yet still make foolish choices. Living contradictions indeed, it is no wonder they have survived the scourge.
They were the only other race left after the war with the cursed dragons. Having aided the greater spirits in that great battle, they have since settled in the territories, becoming the dominant presence of Spiri Raia.
They were able to abide by the greater spirits’ rules quite well, only limiting inter-territory interactions with trade, diplomacy, and other peaceful activities while keeping their war tendencies from reaching beyond their territories.
Keywords: beyond territories.
And that’s not even talking about the trading part where talismans occasionally smuggled through the cracks despite Aqua and the other greater spirits clearly forbade their trade which was what she had to discuss Ignis with.
Again, she was doing it civilly with Ignis, the usual, inquiring the many fire talismans making their way into her territory and telling him to find whoever’s responsible and tell them to cease while she does the same on the buyers when water spirits suddenly barged into their meeting with looks of pure horror.
“Young spirits these days do not go near borders, much less barging our meeting with such terrified looks,” Ignis narrowed his red eyes on the blue spirits who looked like they had run themselves ragged. “What is happening?”
“I will ask.” Aqua approached the water spirits. “What is wrong, little ones?”
“Illyer mansion! Illyer mansion!”
It was incoherent and scattered. But as both greater spirits listened on, they soon had the picture.
“Is the Illyer not the family you blessed, Aqua?” Ignis asked with widened eyes.
“Yes, they are,” Aqua said in alarm. “I need to go!”
The night before Aqua had her meeting with Ignis, the Illyer mansion was burning down. She couldn’t believe what she had heard, but the desperate cries of the water spirits were genuine.
So that was all the fire talismans were used for, huh? Aqua pondered, metaphorically sitting on top of a broken pillar before standing up again. She had at least heard one instance from her junior water spirits, they were not the best explainers, of fire talismans being used against the Illyers almost a year ago. She really should have inquired it to Ignis by then instead of ignoring one or two of them slipping through like always.
She rushed to the Illyer mansion as fast as she could, but by the time she got there, it was too late. There was not even a lick of flame for her to douse.
Curses! Aqua raged inside her, kicking rubble though her foot simply phased through it. To think they would so brazenly do this under my nose…!
Few days after the disaster, Ignis returned and had given his report. As it turned out, the fire talismans were smuggled into the Fichs empire before making their way to Kirash. At first glance, it may seem that the Fichs were responsible for the burning, they have reasons to do so, but Aqua knew better than to place all the blame on them.
The ‘succession war’ going about in Kirash did not escape Aqua’s ear. As there were no more dangers in Spiri Raia other than the other sapient race to themselves, watching humans naturally became the past time of the greater spirits when they have nothing else to do. For Aqua, it was more so when the Illyer family she blessed spearheaded one of the two factions.
Well, ‘blessing’ is a bit of an overstatement, Aqua smiled wryly to herself as began to leave the scene.
In the early days of Spiri Raia, when humans were reforming civilizations in the territories, spirits interacted with them frequently, their fae curiosity still retained within them, and humans, in turn, do the same.
However, humans had trouble differentiating between individual spirits being nameless. Even as fae, it was no problem for spirits as they have always been able to address each other without names, but humans can’t. So naturally, they started to name spirits and that was where the tradition started.
But, it is very peculiar, Aqua thought, parsing through the still distraught crowd once more. That a simple name, neither making us stronger nor increasing our ranks, could be so special.
Aqua and the greater spirits don’t know how it happened. They guessed that the notion of receiving a name after living all their life without one must have struck a chord in the junior spirits.
Whatever it was, there was no stopping it as eventually, it got to the point where spirits started to follow around the human they got their names from, forming a close relationship between them like siblings. Not only that, they also start performing their spells at the human’s request and inspire other spirits nearby to join in.
At first, it was disorganized, humans had to describe what spell they want the spirit to cast. But then, one spirit found out that their race was able to read human minds which understandably set off the humans, so Aqua and the greater spirits stepped in.
What resulted was a formalized chanting system that was just glorified permission for the spirit to invade the human’s mind with whatever adjective to give the spirit a rough idea beforehand. It worked really well as humans now only need to imagine the spell in their mind and the spirit will be able to cast it perfectly.
Thus, the spirit art system, the union between man and spirit, was born.
But ironically, spirits start concealing themselves so they can find the perfect human to name them, Aqua smiled wryly, waving with a nod of understanding at a couple of water spirits who were still at loss at the death of the family who ruled this city, the family she blessed.
While spirits were getting named and get along with humans, one group of spirits were left out on this; the greater spirits themselves.
During the war against the cursed dragons, the greater spirits, the former greater fae, needed a banner to rally everyone under to stand a chance against the overgrown lizards. So, they decided the banner was themselves and subsequently, created names they adopted as a way to identify and remember said banner. And thus, even their unnecessarily long title as greater spirits existed to that effect.
Well, good thing we decided to use the nicknames we had when we were kids, Aqua smiled at the thought. Such memories…
When they were young fae, they once observed human children using nicknames for playing. Being a curious race, the young fae copied the children and came up with their own nicknames; Aqua, Ignis, Ven, etc. Then, in the war, it was extravaganized and used as their banner. As they always did, the greater spirits still used the original to refer to each other.
However, because of this, the greater spirits were never named by humans and thus could never experience the same sort of companionship as the other spirits.
And the greater spirits really wanted that sort of thing. Especially when they can’t be in touch for most of the time anymore.
I will always admit we were envious of the sort of relationship the little ones have, the greater water spirit closed her eyes. After all, I was the one who did the first blessing.
Hundreds of years ago, Aqua paid a visit to the Kirash capital on its little island in the great pond. There, she found a human prince who was being sent to the territory bordering the Fichs empire that wasn’t mountains. Once, the Kirash kingdom was the largest nation in the water territory, but by that point, the Fichs had taken over every other nation until Kirash was left.
The human prince, along with the rest of the royal family, saw the threat that was coming and with his brother crowned king, volunteered to be sent to that territory as its fief lord to make sure it can defend against the ever-expanding empire. This prince became known as the duke of Illyer.
Such brothership, shame today does not reflect that. But, perhaps it was that selflessness I was interested in the Illyer, Aqua reminisced as she saw the gate wall ahead of her. Well, Ignis sure made a fuss about it, but what can I say? I am free as the water, after all.
At that time, Aqua, for inexplicable reasons, appeared before the Illyer as he struggled to manage the vast territory he was given. Understandably, he was shocked to see his patron greater spirit just showing up in front of him.
We are seen as deities in their eyes, after all. Much to our displeasure, Aqua sighed making her way to the exit.
It was fleeting after the initial surprise; from stuttering introductions by the Illyer to casual talks to calm him, then back and forth questions and seeing spirit arts, taking a walk around the developing town that would later become the Illyer city and praising the progress he made, looking off the townsfolk with hopeful smiles on their faces.
Then finally, at the end of the day, Aqua asked the most important question to the Illyer, him being both a duke and a prince.
“Why do you go all the way to this land to protect your kingdom by your own will? Could you not entrust someone else the burden?”
And she would always remember the answer the Illyer gave.