Year 1402 in Manegia
“We are about to arrive at Bell manor, sir Ronald, lady Irene,” Liam, the former coachman, reported, stopping the car just in front of the intersection.
“Noted,” Ronald nodded.
“Okay, Liam,” Irene replied.
“Hm,” Ronald rubbed his chin. “I believe this is the fourth year since you guys are here.”
“Oh?” Irene raised her eyebrow. “Come to think of it, yes, it is.”
“A lot has changed since, hasn’t it, sir?” Liam remarked.
“Yeah. For one, you no longer push the brakes too hard,” Ronald casually stated.
“Erk…!” Liam cringed. “In my defense, guiding a horse is a lot different than being on the steering wheel.”
“At least he has become better,” Irene pointed out.
“Thank you, my lady,” Liam smiled.
“Yes,” Ronald closed his eyes. “He does.” Thankfully, since normally I’d have to prepare not the break my nose, he smiled wryly, remembering every time his body jolted forward thanks to the former coachman trying to translate his medieval driving skills to modern ones.
“Oh!” Irene pointed out to the window. “It is one the knights!”
On the other side of the street, Ronald can see a police officer that he recognized as one of Illyer’s former knights. The knight-turned-officer was writing a parking ticket when he noticed them and gave them a wave.
After waving back, they passed through the intersection. “They’re doing pretty good,” Ronald commented.
“Yes,” Irene nodded. “I heard Oswald had gotten a promotion recently.”
“Again?” Ronald muttered. “That’s pretty fast.”
“Indeed, young Oswald was always a hard worker,” Liam said. “It’s what made him the head knight at a young age.”
“I see,” Ronald nodded. “Speaking of promotions, I believe Albert also got another one recently as well.”
“Really? That is great!” Irene lightly clapped her hands. “I have not seen his highness and Elaine since they have moved to that apartment for quite some time. I wonder how Maria is faring?”
A few years after the Illyers moved into Kaomagi Earth, before this year, the former prince and his fiancee, Elaine, Irene’s younger sister, finally tied the knot and have since moved out of the Bell mansion and lived together in a high-end apartment where they recently had their baby daughter, Maria. It helped that Albert was able to finish his Kaomagi Earth education in record time and landed himself a lucrative starting job in the Conglomerate.
“I’m sure they’re doing fine, our dear prince’s a good job,” Ronald cooed. “Your father, on the other hand, has an unexpected yet unsurprising one.”
It was said that the older you are, the harder it was to adapt to new technology, maybe. Anyway, the aging duke and duchess had trouble fitting into modern society compared to the younger generation. Eventually, they found a calling in this brave new world they would spend the rest of their lives in.
“Father had always trained the knights himself even until his current age,” Irene explained. “Mother is the one who taught me and my sister our basic education. It is sort of a tradition in our family for the parents to teach their children instead of hiring a tutor.”
In the end, Allister became a PE teacher in a local elementary school along with his wife being a math teacher.
The duke being a warrior pretty much subjected his students to pseudo-knight training which was still just as harsh according to his former knights, giving him a reputation just as you would expect. The students in that school ended up ruing the day of the supposed fun subject.
Allister’s wife, Marisa, on the other hand, received a much better welcome. She was very patient when teaching as Irene recalled and often tried to make subjects interesting to learn. She was very much loved by her students despite teaching one of the most hated subjects.
“Speaking of teaching, I believe my dad is planning to build a school,” Ronald remarked.
“Oh?” Irene perked. “That is new.”
“Well, we’re a conglomerate. We always branch out to other fields,” Ronald explained. “Though by the looks of it, the school won’t be finished after I inherit the company so it’ll eventually fall into my lap.”
“I see, then you will get lots of work in the coming future then,” Irene chuckled.
“Pretty much,” Ronald playfully sighed.
“Sir, my lady,” Liam spoke up as he slowed the car down. “We have arrived.”
“Oh, we are home now,” Irene quipped.
Immediately, the gate guards, Clint and Alexa, opened the gates to let the car in. Even after four years the gates still showed signs that it was rarely swung open for decades – the Bells used to enter through the smaller entrance. Even the black car showed its age even after being fixed.
“Anyway, the bowling arcade was quite entertaining,” Irene said as Liam drove the car into the garage. “I hope we can go there again sometimes.”
For the past four years, Ronald and Irene have been doing what they always did in the single year in Spiri Raia together but with a new twist. Instead of just a private tea party, they were able to go out in the city; dining in restaurants, shopping in malls, watching in theaters, and most recently, going to a bowling alley.
Of course, Ronald shamelessly pinched his wallet but everything was higher quality than everything in Spiri Raia so Irene had yet to adjust her sense of values. However, that didn’t detract one thing.
They were dating.
Even though Ronald and Irene never made it official, everybody could tell they were fond of one another, all the way back in Spiri Raia. Their constant going outs reinforced it.
“Before that, there is something I want to say,” Ronald said under the afternoon sky. “Meet me at the top balcony after we are done bathing.”
“Man, the traffic’s really bad here. Should have taken the other road,” Joshua groaned at the red light again, putting his car on neutral. He turned his head to the seat beside him. “How are you holding up, Willow?”
Strapped on the other seat was a petite lady in light clothing with a flowery brooch hanging on her light-blue hair. She looked a bit tired, a product of sitting in the car for so long, but she wouldn’t pass out because of it though.
“Y-Yes, I’m fine, sir Joshua,” Willow muttered, stretching her arms downwards. “The doctor said so, remember?”
“Yeah,” Joshua tilted his head in a shrug. “But still, it’s the principle of things.”
While a certain unofficial couple went out to have fun, Joshua and Willow went out to help with the latter’s health problems which involved seeing doctors, going to hospitals, having physical therapy sessions, and even attending yoga classes. Even now was no different, just another of her scheduled checkup.
“I know,” Willow sighed. “But thank you for worrying about me,” she smiled.
“You’re welcome,” Joshua replied as the traffic light turned green.
“You know,” Willow spoke up. “It’s been five years since we’ve met.”
“Eh?” Joshua perked as turned into a converging pathway. “Yeah, it’s been a long time, huh?”
“Yes,” Willow nodded. “And I still feel like it was yesterday when I almost dropped the tray only for you to catch it. I was actually frightened with every step with the tray as those bandits threatened me to poison the drinks which I didn’t do.”
“Right.” Joshua made a turn. “So those guys told you to gut the duke instead.”
“Yes,” Willow smiled melancholically. “And I would have done a grievous sin if not for you stopping me.” Looking at both of her hands, specifically her wrists. “Though it really hurt when you gripped me.”
“Eh, sorry about that,” Joshua smiled wryly.
“It’s alright, it’s all in the past,” Willow shook her head. “After all, you did save my orphanage afterwards, but…”
“…” With a trail off like that, Joshua was all but not expecting anything pleasant.
“Well,” Willow decided to explain. “After years living here, I have learned the culture of this land, and after hearing stories of your exploits I had realized one thing.”
Taking a deep breath and exhaling, Willow asked, “When you came to save my orphanage, that was the first time you have killed, isn’t it?”
Stopping at another red light, Joshua merely sighed and said, “It… has something to do with her.”
“Who?” Willow blinked before realizing. “Oh…”
“She’s the one who’s doing all the killing while Ronald and I just sit in the sidelines like chicken,” Joshua continued. “…We were too ignorant of her pain until it was too late.”
“I see…” Willow lowered her head in downcast.
“So, at that time, I agreed with Ronald to start killing as messed up as it sounds,” Joshua groaned. “But, we did it to try to understand her.”
“…How was it?” Willow asked, pressing her lips afterwards.
“We felt absolutely horrible and swore to ourselves to never let our future kids do the same,” Joshua deadpanned.
“Oh…” Willow sobbed, no doubt feeling guilty for leading Joshua to this. “I-”
“But, I wouldn’t regret it,” Joshua then interrupted. “All of it was done because we wanted to and it was worth it. Sure, we didn’t get our original objective but at least we were able to protect the Illyers to the end and get to live together in here Kaomagi Earth.”
As Joshua slowly stopped the car in front of the Bell mansion gates, where the gate guards Clint and Alexa were there to greet them, Joshua turned to the maid to say, “And most importantly, I get to meet you.”
“I see…” Willow blushed. Closing her eyes with a smile, she then gave a “thank you…”
“You’re welcome,” Joshua smiled back as he unlocked.
As Willow opened the door and was about to step out, she stopped.
“What’s wrong, Willow?” Joshua asked, naturally confused.
Pondering down, Willow kept this posture for a good couple of seconds. The gate guards were coming to her in concern.
Then, the maid pulled her foot back in before closing the door and turned back to Joshua. “Sir Joshua,” Willow said. “Before I go, I want to say something. I-I think I-”
“Before that,” Joshua interrupted. “I also want to say something to you too, although ough this place isn’t exactly the best to say it, it’s good enough.”
Dressed in casual house wear, Irene peeked out of the balcony door to see Ronald already there, resting his arms on the railing and staring at the setting sun. “I am here, sir Ronald,” she greeted him. “I hope I did not make you wait too long.”
Turning back, “No, you’re right on time,” Ronald replied as he went over to her.
“I see. So, what is it that you want to say to me?” Irene asked. “Especially when in a fancy place such as this.”
Ronald didn’t reply and simply kept going. Once he was right in front of the former noblewoman, he dropped to his knees and pulled out…
“Is, is that a ring?” Willow widened her eyes.
“Yeah, it is. Not exactly saying but showing,” Joshua chuckled as he held out an opened, little red box where a ring with a small diamond engraved to it laid to Willow. “But I digress. Willow, I…”
“…love you,” Ronald confessed in front of Irene who covered her mouth in a gasp. “Will you…”
“…marry me?” Joshua smiled.
Year 1402 in Manegia
Church bells rang as Elaine Kirash, holding her infant daughter, Maria, along with her husband, Albert Kirash, marched down the pathway, spreading flowers from a basket the flower man carried as they went. A bit unorthodox but permissible.
The church doors swung open, revealing the bride-to-be accompanied by her father.
“You are just like your mother on our wedding day,” Allister, in a white suit, smiled at his daughter, wearing the most beautiful gown he has ever seen. “Ready to go, Irene?”
“Yes, father,” Irene nodded under her veil. “Let us.”
Nodding, Allister turned to his other side to see a more petite lady in the same dress as his daughter. “Willow,” he said. “Despite your shortcomings and tribulations, you have grown so much from it. Even though your parents may not be able to watch you in this world, I am sure they are proud of you.”
“Lord Illyer…” Willow muttered, shedding a tear under her veil. “Thank you…”
“You are welcome,” Allister smiled. “And as such, allow me to accompany you to your groom as well.”
They marched along the flowered path, with the servants and former guards of Illyer and all of those who are related to the people in this place at the seats, where at the end of it, Ronald and Joshua were there beside the altar, clad in the finest suits the world has ever seen.
“Ooh, my daughter has all grown up!” Behind the grooms, Marisa, Irene’s mother, squealed. “I was so worried Irene would never find her happiness.”
“I as well,” Alan, standing at the opposite end of the Illyer matron, added.
“Well, I’ll be,” an older man beside Alan stated. Though his hair was greyed, it still held the tinges of its former crimson color. This was Thomas Bell, Alan’s father, Ronald’s grandfather, founder of Bell Conglomerate, and the first Bell Court Wizard. “I would have never imagined my grandson marrying a fine lady from another world if it weren’t for little miss Rose showing up as I was scraping for food.”
“Well, I still can’t believe this is what my son was doing all along,” a middle-aged woman sighed, gripping her purse tightly. Jerking to the current leader of Bell Conglomerate. “I knew your offer to my son when you showed up in front of our doorstep was too good to be true. What’s worse you roped Joshua into that farce.”
“Guilty as charged,” Alan smiled wryly.
“Please excuse my son’s actions, misses Ruze,” Thomas apologized with a chuckle.
“Call me Matilda, dear,” Joshua’s mother hushed. “But still, it warms my heart knowing my son was doing alright with someone to spend the rest of his life with to boot. I was worried for his future ever since my husband died, you know.”
“Oh!” Marisa gasped. “My condolences…”
“It’s alright, dear,” Matilda waved it off. “Besides, this is a happy occasion, no need to be so hung up on it.”
“Yes,” Thomas laughed as if he were Santa. “Indeed.”
You know we can hear you guys, right? (Joshua)
Yes, we are right in front of you. (Ronald)
The two men smiled wryly as their future wives reached the altar where they stood. From then they know, this was the next chapter of their lives.
And they exchanged vows.
Azhure: The next chapter will be the last one for Ronald’s Collection. Owen’s Collection will be next.
Voice: TY for reading ’till now!