All Alicia could see was a very lush forest. She could barely see the horizon with how tall and dense the trees are.
The only thing she could make out was the ice-blue mountain… no, the volcano in the middle of erupting but was completely frozen mid-way.
“I see you are here, Alicia, Owen,” Aqua said. James, Jill, Richard, and Rose were in the chamber as well. “Good, we can start the briefing. And since Alicia’s new here, I will go over with details you guys already knew, is that fine.”
None had any objections whatsoever.
Satisfied, Aqua blared up the projector and showed a topside view of the landscape of a world in which one thing to point out was the ice-blue mountain-like area and the only large area of water south from it. Curiously, the picture was cropped in a circle.
“This is Beohar,” Aqua began, directing her explanation to Alicia. “The land inhabited with humans, half-animals, and dangerous beasts.” Zooming to the icy mountain. “And this was the world where Owen froze this volcano when the emperor of the empire of Palras tried to erupt it to destroy the kingdom of Vulgis.
“That also meant that the people of Beohar publicly know about us, mostly for that frozen volcano which was since then called the Frozen Volcano of Vulgis.”
She then moved the view of the world to the dense forestry where the only clearing was one long road. “But anyway, the mission today takes place here in the forest pathway connecting the human Palras empire and the half-animal Vulgis kingdom.”
It was two weeks after her first mission in Kaomagi, now she has stepped foot in the second. That said, she didn’t sit by idly during that timeframe.
The week before.
“Right, we’re gonna need to test whether you can use [Telepathy],” Owen said. “Try using the first method.”
“Alright then.” Alicia straightened out two of her fingers and placed it behind her earlobe.
Then, directing her focus to Owen’s Maneg Soul’s signature. She said the name of the Order, for each Maneg Souls have memorized it since it was born, [Telepathy]. Incidentally, because it was memorized, the steps for this Order was lost as no one bothered to record it.
‘Hello?’ Alicia said in the [Telepathy] to Owen. She felt a trickle of her loyal maneg leaving her.
Then, Owen did the same gesture as she did.
‘Yeah, I heard it clearly alright. Turn it off.’ (Owen)
Releasing her fingers, the loyal maneg returned to Alicia in that instant.
Explaining this to Owen, he concluded, “Looks like loyal maneg works just as fine. Alright then, we should try the second way just to be safe.”
“Right.” Focusing her mind and on Owen’s Maneg Soul again, ‘do you receive this message? [Telepathy].’ Then, the same amount of loyal maneg left her Maneg Soul and came back in a fraction of a second.
‘Yeah, I got it.’ (Owen)
“So I assume I can use [Telepathy] just fine?” Alicia asked.
“Yeah, seems like it.”
Your sleeve got stuck, Alicia!
Turning her head to her right, under her mask, Alicia saw the part of her brown-robe that got stuck to a twig. Unplugging it, she mentally thanked Voice, Thank you, Voice.
The week before.
“Here you go, Alicia.” Aqua presented a folded brown robe with a dull grey hockey mask on top of it to her.
“What is this?” Alicia asked as she received it.
“The attire that you are supposed to wear on missions. The mask and robe cover your identity. The color is the same for everyone so that the enemy will have difficulty knowing which one is which.
“We did not have the size ready for you so you were given the cloak and its mask that was for ceremonial use.”
“But Owen used his cloak when on the mission you gave us.”
“Oh, Owen just doesn’t like wearing it. He would use every opportunity to use the cloak instead.”
Brushing through the trees, the Court Wizards made their way to the only road in this forest. Fortunately, no vicious beasts attacked them on the way, as expected of the safest route.
There they could see a carriage flanked by dozens of so guards in full armor. What’s peculiar about them was the animal ears, tail, and fur they have visible even under the protection they wore.
“On a brief note, you know what a beastman is, right?” Aqua asked.
“People with animal ears and tails, correct?” Alicia answered.
“Good. Here, we universally call them ‘half-animals’ which I already said before.” Aqua continued her briefing. “Right, let me rehash, the Palras empire, a human nation, was at war with the Vulgis kingdom, a half-animal nation in which the Palras emperor did something which caused the volcano in Vulgis to erupt which Owen froze, revealing us to the world of Beohar. Soon after, the war ended.
“Now, the Vulgis kingdom has sent an envoy for a peace treaty which is why we are here today. Last week, we have received a message from the Palras Bell Branch which the whole thing was weirdly relayed through the communicator Catalyst, that can only send a dozen or so words at a time, instead of a physical report. But that will be addressed later, the message was that some Palrasian noble has sent his men, who we dub them as ‘bandits,’ to attack the envoy which is today.”
“So we are trying to stop them then,” Alicia deduced.
Confirming their position, the Court Wizards retreated and moved on ahead of them, making sure that not so much as a rustle was made.
“Correct,” Aqua nodded. “And also, the whole thing needs to be concealed from the envoy.”
“Huh? Why would we need to do that? Do the people of Beohar already know who we are?” Alicia asked.
“Well, first of all, we have protocols in missions called the Rules of Engagement. And the first rule is let no one witness you should you not belong there, pretty straightforward. The second reason is due to the tension between humans and half-animals there.”
“Why is that?”
“Humans and half-animals in Beohar hate each other. In fact, it may be our intervention in their war which pushed the peace treaty to even happen. So if the envoy was to so much as to know that they should have been attacked, the treaty may fail before the talks even started.”
“So the reason that the noble send those ‘bandits’ is that he hated them?”
“Yes,” Aqua nodded. “The reason could be chalked up to simple discrimination.”
“It is quite barbaric,” Jill commented. Richard nodded with her to which the female knight frowned in red.
“Anyway.” Aqua turned to Will. “Will, you take it from here. You planned the mission, after all.”
Will perked up, stared at the Fire Guardian silently before saying, “…Fine.” He then cut to the chase, “we’re gonna go ahead of the envoy and quickly kill the ‘bandits’ before they even ambush them.”
“Remember, we need to kill them quickly lest the envoy reaches us,” Rose reminded.
Of course, Alicia knew that this would happen. If anything that she got from the conversation in the evening, she knew that killing people was necessary for the Otherworldly Court’s ideals. That said, the other part of her didn’t like it, much less wanting to do so. Also, it unnerved her that Will of all people would casually plan the killing. But fortunately…
“As your father, I absolutely forbid you from kill anyone, same goes for Owen. I will not let you take that burden.”
However, she still has to watch others kill. This was something not even her father could do anything against it. For one, as she has heard, Crea, who was a complete pacifist, frequently works with Hanz, who essentially was a ‘shoot everything that moves’ type of person.
As Alicia pondered about it, she felt maneg poking into her Maneg Soul.
Ladies, the ‘bandits’ are just up ahead. Use [Thermal Scan] to confirm their positions. (Aqua)
It was a [Telepathy] from Aqua, all the way from Manegia through the monitors of the Transporter Room.
“Aqua will be at the Transporter Room, monitoring the location of the ‘bandits’,” Will continued.
“I detect fifteen heat signatures,” Jill reported. What Jill did was giving an Order called [Thermal Scan], it scans for heat signatures in a radius with its maximum range depending on Efficiency. A specialty of the Fire Court Wizards. “They are in a five by three formation.”
[Thermal Scan] 50 meters.
Alicia did the same Order and, in the dense forest, could see three red marks on her vision side by side. Each mark indicated that it was actually an overlapping stack of five marks, meaning there were fifteen marks in a 5×3 formation as Jill had said.
“Alright then, I will take six of them, you take on the other six,” Rose turned to Alicia. “You will incapacitate the remaining three. We will need to interrogate them.”
Rose and Jill both lifted their right arm. Particles of loyal maneg began to converge under their hands.
In Rose’s hands, a long pole half her height with a red spearhead on the tip. A red cloth with a very intricate design covering most of the pole. The other end where Rose held the weapon was crooked like a cane.
In Jill’s hand, a spear with a fiery design on the pole. About the same height as its wielder. The spearhead is in constant flame.
These are called Cherished Armaments. Loyal maneg involuntarily possess objects that bear significance towards the Court Wizard, before and after becoming one. It wraps and modifies the object to become battle-worthy, another way to protect its vessel. They are stored within the Maneg Soul and can be called upon at any time.
Because Cherished Armaments are objects of significance, it is named after the reason it is important to the person.
Jill’s Cherished Armament is the treasured heirloom of the Speris, masters of the spear. Because of this, it is called [Speris Heirloom], rather generic, to say the least.
Let us go. (Rose)
Emotion suppression on.
“We are almost at the position. The other group should arrive by now.” One ‘bandit’, who was in the first row, said.
They were composed of five sword and shield wielders, five spearmen, and five archer maintaining somewhat a formation of 5×3 in that order, inside a dense forest. They were dressed in a green cloak and their equipment was of high quality, making the word ‘bandit’ inaccurate to describe them since actual bandits wouldn’t have that good of equipment. But it was necessary to kill those animals.
“Once the carriage arrives, we strike.”
However, just as the ‘bandit’ finished saying that, he noticed a single brown-robed figure in a mask that covered their entire face. They were standing right between them and the road.
“Huh? Who are you?” The ‘bandit’ demanded. He took note of the brown robe and spiraled in his mind as he tried to recall what it represented for he should have known about it.
The brown-robed figure, however, simply brandished a red spear with a burning spearhead.
The ‘bandit’ widened his eyes, “No, you can’t be-”
A flash of red interrupted him as he finally realized who the brown-robed figure was. Dodging the sparser trees as it was closer to the road, it went towards his group at an angle, then from left to right by their necks at an astounding speed.
SLASH SLASH SLASH SLASH SLASH
Five heads rolled the ground. The flame of the spear cauterizing the stump, preventing blood splurting the greenery.
Jill had ordered [Eject] to quickly dash to their left flank and then again through them while beheading the first row with her spear.
10 ‘bandits’ left.
She was not done however, she ordered a [Javelin] and threw it to the chest of one archer in the back row. The archer fell down, dead.
9 ‘bandits’ left.
The ‘bandits’ were not given time to react as Rose imbued her parasol with fire maneg and launched it straight to the second row of ‘bandits’. The burning parasol pierced through the second row by their torsos like butter leaving only a gruesome charred remain.
4 ‘bandits’ left.
Rose quickly dashed to the nearest archer, called back her armament, and stabbed the archer in the chest before swiftly retreating. The archer had no time to react.
3 ‘bandits’ left.
I order you, coat set trigger left hand, coat set trigger right hand, coat set trigger left foot, trigger: on contact attach form hollow sphere 50 cm diameter, do not transfer heat, oxidize inner hollow sphere, thus is my order, [Burning Fist].
Coming right up!
Alicia set her hands and one foot in flames.[Burning Fist] could be said to be a unique Order, after years of modification to the Order, passed down through the Bell family of Court Wizards. This Order was something that Alicia’s father taught her.
Where ‘coat’ is the command to wrap maneg to a part of a person or object.
‘Set trigger’ which goes with ‘coat’ marks this step to activate a ‘trigger’ step on contact with part imbued with ‘coat’.
The ‘trigger’, ‘attach form’ sphere x diameter was the unique step that makes the individuality of [Burning Fist].
Fire is the rapid oxidation of a material in an exothermic chemical process called combustion. The conversion of oxygen into carbon dioxide releases energy which causes fire to be hot. Fire maneg is an Element of maneg that emulates oxidation by eating up real oxygen in the environment to light itself on fire. By default, fire maneg oxidize moderately, the command ‘oxidize’ makes them oxidize all available oxygen in its vicinity, the opposite of the command will make the fire maneg into a lump of rock as it doesn’t oxidize.
‘Attach’ cause the hollow sphere to become attached to the point of contact.
But the thing is, [Burning Fist] is a lethal Order. It’s supposed to attach fire maneg to an unfortunate soul and burn them to death. So Alicia modified it.
Instead, punching someone in the face would create a spherical plane attached to their head that follows the head movement and oxidizes all oxygen inside into carbon dioxide and also the oxygen coming into the sphere. Also, the hollow sphere is commanded to not transfer heat so it would not burn the ‘bandits’.
As a result, the victim would fall unconscious due to lack of oxygen. Putting more steps by adding more ‘coat trigger’ to other body parts would prolong the effect and risk of death by suffocation if it lasts long. Though in Alicia’s case, it would last indefinitely so she would have to immediately return the loyal maneg.
Before Alicia became a Court Wizard, she was taught a variety of martial arts by her father to defend herself against anybody who would want to harm her, Owen was forced to do it too. She had proper training. This was because Ronald had initially wanted to give her a taser or a pepper spray but she couldn’t bring it to school and Alicia herself said that it was too overboard.
In other words, she was ready to fight the remaining enemies with her bare fists.
With three archers left, Alicia jabbed the first with her left hand at the jaw.
Then, a right hook to the second.
Two archers tumbled to the ground with their faces singed. They did not have a sturdy build and the dense forest didn’t allow them a solid footing causing them to lose balance and fell after being struck by Alicia.
Then, the effect of the Orders kicked in. The two archers were soon knocked out due to oxygen deprivation with the burning red sphere being the last thing they saw.
2 ‘bandits’ incapacitated. 1 ‘bandit’ left.
The last ‘bandit,’ being the only one to be able to react to the situation, found himself in the middle of the corpses of his colleagues.
Before he could pull his bow, he suddenly lost his balance and fell down as some brown robbed figure kicked him in the head. Then, he saw red. When he gasped for air, it felt like fire burning his lungs. He fell unconscious soon after.
Loyal maneg, return.
3 ‘bandits’ incapacitated.
The ambush was over. Emotions returned.
Alicia opened her mask, then clasped her mouth with her right hand. Her left hand was pushing against a tree. The sight of the gruesome aftermath almost made her vomit.
“Are you alright, Alicia?” Rose beckoned to her worried at her experience of seeing her friends kill for the first time.
“Y-Yes, I am fine,” Alicia reassured her. “I need to breathe for a little bit after looking at what we have done.”
“I suppose we have done more than necessary,” the vampire remarked, seeing the surroundings.
“True, but we had to be quick or otherwise the half-animals would see us fighting,” Jill said.
“Yeah! That was fast!” Voice commented as she went out of Alicia. “But you broke the surprise! You just stand right in front of them!” she complained.
“I-I am a knight, ambushes are not my style.” Jill excused. Arms crossed and cheeks puffed.
Guys, we’re done here. You? (Owen)
A [Telepathy] came from Owen to all three women. Rose answered it.
“The ‘bandits’ will probably ambush the envoy from both sides,” Will explained. “So we will split up into two groups. One group will deal with the ‘bandits’ on the eastern side of the forest while the other on the western side.”
“Alright, we will need to dispose of these bodies so the half-animals would not see,” Rose ordered. “We cannot do anything with the blood, but at least let them not know they were the blood of their would-be assailants.”
“Eeew!” Voice complained.
“Bear with it.” Jill deadpanned.
“What about these three?” Alicia asked, pointing at the three unconscious men.
“We will bring them to Manegia to interrogate them, the information will be useful to know the exact situation. The Bell Branch did not say who the noble was.”
“Alright, I understand.”
They covered the blood with dirt and brought the corpses over a distance a burned them.
This time, Alicia emptied her stomach.
Thus was Alicia’s second mission.
Name: Rose Bloodlight Age: 221 Sex: Female Species: Sharp-teethed human (Vampire) World: Arknoir Element: Fire Element Color: Red Cherished Armament: ??? (parasol), ??? Rank: Grand Wizard
Name: Jillianis Speris Age: 19 Sex: Female Species: Human World: Irongrad Element: Fire Element Color: Red Cherished Armament: Speris Heirloom (Spear) Rank: Wizard
an: Because Cherished Armaments are named based on the reason that it is cherished, it will pretty much spoil character backstories. So, Rose’s CA’s name is hidden until revealed. Jill’s CA, however, is shown since it’s just an heirloom.
Orders[Thermal Scan] an Order unique to Fire Court Wizards. Scans heat signatures of a specific or range of temperatures and marks them on the user’s vision. Order: Scan heat signature x temperature over x radius.
Each Element has its own version of this Order collectively called [Elemental Scan].[Telepathy] an Order to send a telepathic message to other Court Wizards by focusing their Maneg Soul’s signature. There are two methods for this and both yield different results.
The first was by holding two fingers behind the earlobe and then say the Order name, this will result in the Court Wizard able to transmit the message like it would a phone call.
The second method was to formulate the message before saying the Order name. The message will be sent like a text message.