For as long as he knew, she was with him his whole life.
When he was alone, she was there.
When others struck him, she shielded him.
Sure, she left him at one point. But hey, that was normal school kid stuff and she came back.
But he knows that can happen again because of who she is. So, he worked hard, becoming strong himself, strived to make every day full of effort.
So that he may stand beside her.
Great, just great.
Owen recalled his entire day, or rather the entire week before this whole mess happened.
After Ronald Bell flew off from the airport, he felt the presence of a hostless Maneg Soul flying about and landed on Alicia. So, he started showing up at the front gate to escort Alicia instead of slumping his cheek on the table in class. And because he did it on a whim, he can’t explain it to Alicia inquiring him about it.
Four days later the thought of telling her mom about the Maneg Soul finally crossed his mind. But Irene already suspected it and he affirmed it. She told him to watch over her daughter and to only tell Ronald via [Telepathy] when the Maneg Soul fully merged.
And then it was the day of his grandma’s funeral and Alicia got kidnapped.
Fortunately, Ronald’s overprotectiveness of his daughter made it easy for Owen to track her down.
But unfortunately, Owen, aside from the first two, with his big brain decided not to fight the kidnappers with Orders. And that resulted in him getting stabbed thirteen times, and the skinny kidnapper probably missed his vital organs on purpose.
Then suddenly, the Maneg Soul had successfully merged with Alicia and she burst into flames, burning the rope tying her. She then pounced the skinny kidnapper with her hands covered in fire maneg, burning the guy’s face and frightening the big kidnapper to release him.
And for some reason, she did all of that while screaming really loud, but it did spare him from the fourteenth stab.
And here he is today.
Considering what happened, this pointless endeavor has to be let go.
Getting up, he instinctively used [Coat] to plaster his wounds with ice maneg. Slowly, Owen felt the lumps of ice forming on each stab wounds he has. Again, there was no sense of chill since he’s always cold, but only the searing pain that was still there.
Then, he looked toward the skinny kidnapper approaching Alicia who was knocked to the wall with the intent to harm her.
Owen knew that he has to stop him.
“Thanks, Alicia. I’ll take care of the rest, for real this time.” Getting up, Owen thought he might as well thank Alicia and assure her that it’s going to be alright.
Follow as I Order, attach to big kidnapper and skinny kidnapper…
Two trails of light blue motes that only Owen could see came out of his Maneg Soul and each latched itself onto the two kidnappers.
…do not absorb heat onward…
But first, this step was declared. It wouldn’t do if they were killed from the Order itself.
…form 10 cm thick layer on entire body except head…
Then, a decimeter-thick layer of ice grew from all over the kidnappers’ bodies up to their necks. It froze the skinny kidnapper as he moved and the big kidnapper in the middle of getting up from the ground right in their tracks.
…repeat last step, repeat last step, repeat the last step…
Finally, he uttered the same step over and over which only made the icy prison denser and last longer. And Owen kept doing so until he’s satisfied.
“Wha- What the hell is this!?” the skinny kidnapper shrieked, registering the ice forming around his body, pausing him like a photo of a man walking.
“I-I don’t know, boss!” the big kidnapper said, his cold bondage left him in an awkward position.
Now then, Owen thought as he proceeded to the next step; scaring the living hell out of them.
Emotion suppression on.
“You won’t be getting out of it,” Owen announced in a cold flat voice. He would have cringe for saying that but his suppression prevented such a feeling, at least until it was off.
“Wha, y-y-you did this?” the skinny kidnapper muttered in pure terror. “H-How are you still alive!?” After all, he was stabbing the boy a few minutes ago.
Rather than telling the skinny kidnapper verbally, the Ice Court Wizard merely showed his back.
“Wha, what are you!?” the skinny man exclaimed with shock. The big, who had already seen it, seemed lost for words.
“[Rapier].” Ignoring him, Owen uttered one word.
And in Owen’s hand, his favorite maneg creation was materialized. He had spent a lot of time designing it and then have his Maneg Soul memorize it so he wouldn’t have to say every decoration step meant to increase its lifespan. He recalled when he was making a new design, Master Alice came by but tripped over the carpet and was almost impaled by his [Rapier].
“Now then.” Owen lifted his rapier of ice parallel to his body. “You have tried to kill me, so you must be ready to killed too.”
And Owen pointed the tip to the skinny kidnapper’s neck, touching it. A trickle of blood seeped out which showed how deadly the crystal-like weapon is.
“W-Wait! Wait!” the skinny kidnapper pleaded. “I-I can-”
“The dead should not speak,” Owen interrupted him coldly and he pulled his [Rapier] back for a swing.
“N-No! No! Plea-”
He knocked himself out.
Of course, Owen didn’t actually kill him. After all, it would be bad if Alicia woke up to find her childhood friend had murdered the kidnappers on top of freezing them. What he did was simply grazing the skinny kidnapper’s burnt cheek.
However, that did not destroy the illusion for the big kidnapper that Owen had killed his boss. In combination with Owen’s speech, the rapier had still whipped away some blood away to give the impression that the skinny kidnapper’s throat wad cut.
Factoring the angle at which the big kidnapper was looking meant that he wouldn’t know that it was just the cheek. Now, all Owen needed to do was to walk to the big kidnapper linearly to keep it hidden. And that he did.
“M-M-Monster!” the big kidnapper shrieked, convinced that his boss was dead.
“…Is that all you can say?” Owen asked the rhetorical question. His fellow Court Wizards had been given better or worse insults. “I’ve been called much worse,” he continued, but that was a lie as he hadn’t be called anything lower than ‘monster’ yet.
“P-Please! Spare me! I-I have a-”
“This monster doesn’t discriminate.”
And just like the other, this man went out cold.
And the feeling of embarrassment spread through him like a sour taste in the mouth.
You have tried to kill me, so you must be ready to be killed too; the dead should not speak; this monster doesn’t discriminate?
Why did I say all of that like some edgy anime protag? Owen thought while palming his face. If Alicia heard this, he would perish from embarrassment.
But still, that went better than expected.
If the kidnappers weren’t scared to unconsciousness, he would probably have to drop a huge chunk of ice on top of them or something. It was a good thing they don’t have guts.
Now that this whole mess was dealt with, all Owen needed to do was to wake up Alicia and he froze.
For he has realized something; how is he going to explain all of this to Alicia once she wakes up?
Looking behind the carnage he had caused, Owen plunged himself into the depths of his mind.
Let’s see here, two guys frozen from the outside with their head spared like a Yin Yang fish. Not an exact analogy and disgusting but whatever.
Both of their faces are slashed with my rapier but are still alive. I just need to explain to her that they’re not dead. No point keeping her from freaking out, if it’s the blood on their faces then it’s the ice.
The skinny kidnapper’s face was grilled but that was on Alicia. And Owen turned to see the unconscious Alicia with the back of her two hands resting on the floor still bathed in fire maneg.
Wait, her hands are still burning.
Now that was unusual. Even out of instinct by the fully merged Maneg Soul, a simple one-step coating command class Order should have expired already. Well, at least she will be more inclined to believe what he will have to tell her if it still persists.
In any case, I’m gonna need to show her my [Coat]ed back and convince her to come with me to the Court. Then, I can go to the infirmary. Hopefully, Russel’s not on duty.
That guy’s really annoying.
As there was nothing else for him to ponder on, Owen steeled himself for what’s to come. He approached Alicia sleeping with her back on the wall. She had hit the back of her head too hard but from experience, Owen was sure that she’s fine.
Welp, here goes nothing.
“Alicia.” Owen grabbed both of Alicia’s shoulders and shook her lightly. “Alicia,” Owen called her name again. “Oi, wake up!”
“Wha? Uhn…” Alicia groaned as she came to belligerently.
“Oh, thank goodness.” Owen sighed in relief. “Are you alright, Alicia?” he continued. She’ll probably ask about her hands or the entire scene I made.
“Y-Yes… Ah! Owen, your injuries! We have to get you to a hospital!”
…Or that. Owen turned around so that she could see his back. “I’m fine, look.” He pointed his frozen back and further explained, “I won’t be dying from blood loss anytime soon and I know a better place to get myself healed.”
Besides, he had worse than this. But thirteen stab wounds to the back does rank in the top five.
“I see. If you say so…” And Alicia gazed down on her burning hands. “Aah!” she yelped, but she had probably realized by then it didn’t burn at all. Then, the fire on her hands extinguished by itself. “O-Owen, what… is this?” she looked at him which inadvertently led her to see what Owen did, “w-what happened here?”
“Uh, they’re only out cold, no pun intended. But I kinda had to scare them a bit.”
“I can see that. You are not the kind of person who would kill people.” What Alicia said was true; as far as he could remember, Owen has yet to kill anyone… since his partner stole all the kills. “But what… is all of this?”
“…Uh, uhmm.” After a moment of silence, Owen could only say one word, “magic.”
“M-Magic?” Alicia queered.
Oh boy, Amelia’s gonna grill me for this. Owen sighed internally but he still has something else to say to her.
But then, the double door made a sound, catching the attention of the two high schoolers. And a bunch of police officers entered the room.
Their appearance was surprising, to Alicia. Also, Alicia and Owen knew the officers personally, especially the chief of police in their town itself, Oswald – both of their fathers were acquainted with him.
“Apologies, the traffic was too heavy so we had opted to traverse on foot,” Oswald said. “But it seems you have taken care of everything, Owen.”
“Huh? Chief Oswald?” Alicia quipped. “Why did you-.” But she instead cycled through the scene that Owen made. “Uh… this is-”
“Oh, don’t worry, young mistress Bell,” Oswald assured. “We are… in this too.”
Owen nodded to her when she turned to him. So she switched her question, “Then how did you all find me?”
“Your father installed a tracker inside your shoe,” Oswald explained. “That’s how we found where you are. That includes Owen too.”
And Alicia stood there silently. “Father…” she said with an eerie tone.
“Hmm.” But before she could say anything else, Oswald found the opportunity to change the subject. “I think I know these people,” he said, looking at the frozen kidnappers.
“Huh, you do?” Alicia asked.
“Yes.” Oswald pointed at the skinny kidnapper, “this man was a doctor but lost his license.” Then he turned to the big kidnapper. “And the other was a hotel owner but went bankrupt, I believe this building was the hotel he had owned.”
“How do you that, Oswald?”
“Well, I have my ways, young mistress Bell.”
[Telepathy] John, I’m requesting a transfer. I got a new Court Wizard recruited. Declaring coordinate.
While the chief of police and Alicia were talking, Owen decided to take the time to send the message. He put his two fingers behind his ears which Alicia saw.
“Hmm? What are you doing, Owen?” she asked.
A few moments later, the bright circle of kaleidoscopic light surrounded Owen and Alicia with the later making a cute yelp.
“Oh?” Oswald raised his eyebrows. “Leaving already?”
“Yeah, gotta bring her there.”
“I see. Oh, do end your magic on these poor fools.”
“Right, I end my Order.”
And the maneg formation trapping the kidnappers dematerialized into ice-blue motes.
“Thank you.” Oswald thanked him.
“Owen,” Alicia interrupted. “I- What is this?”
“Yeah, about that better place to get myself healed, I need you to go there too,” Owen said with a smile.
And now that he thought about it, he remembered that his transfer to there was without his consent. Apparently, it happens frequently.
As the thicker line fully overlapped the thinner one, Owen cleared his throat as his vision was covered in the seizure-inducing visage and said to Alicia.
“Welcome to the Otherworldly Court.”