Azhure: Exams are canceled, so I am back writing.
Azhure: You good, Voice?
Voice: Just go on with the chapter…
“Father, why is trust so important?” young Alicia asked.
Her father, Ronald, who was sitting on the couch pondered at his daughter’s question before putting his mug and newspaper on the table.
“You see, Alicia,” he said. “Trust is a very important company. A seller cannot sell anything if people don’t trust his products. Even if our Bell Conglomerate has to start over, the trust we have before will let us grow again. Because people trust us and would gladly help.
“And to earn trust, we give our trust to those who work for us. We give them freedom on how they should carry out the job given to them and trust that they will do their job well.”
“Like father trusting Owen being with me?”
“…Yes, just like that and Owen trust us back.”
“Alicia!” young Alicia’s mother, Irene, called. “Time for your lesson!”
“Okay, mother!” she turned to her Ronald. “Excuse me, father.”
As young Alicia skipped away, Ronald sighed. “I want to be called ‘papa’ though…
“Still, I hoped that she wouldn’t have to deal with someone who breaks our trust. But that is wishful thinking…”
“Don’t worry, Alicia, your dad’s pretty damn good at picking the right people. I haven’t seen any managers backstabbing us.”
Was what Owen said during the mission last week. Sure, he probably said it to cheer her up and Alicia appreciated it. But now, those words might be false.
“Owen,” she asked once no bystander near enough would hear in the bustling streets of the Palras empire’s capital, the others needed to conserve their maneg (i.e. the ten percent limit which included loyal maneg in the percentage) as this will be a long mission. “Will he really betray us? Betray the trust my father gave to him?”
“This is the Bell Branch manager in the Palras empire capital branch, Norman,” Aqua pointed out the picture of an early middle-aged man.
“We suspected that this man has been working with the noble that sent those bandits on the Vulgis kingdom’s ambassador three months ago.” She tapped her glowing red finger on a different photo that contained the face of a woman. “It is because his secretary, Lei, who reported the ambush and the manager’s actions. And so, we have been investigating this case until now.”
“…I don’t know,” was the only thing Owen could say.
The Bell family of businessmen and women prided in their trust that they put on others, so you can expect how Alicia would feel seeing especially a Bell Branch manager to commit to a betrayal like that. And also potentially did something to the other manager.
“But why though…?”
“There’s always the probability for everything,” Will said, “It has to happen once.”
“What are you saying?” Alicia asked.
“That’s his thing,” Owen answered for her, kicking a marble that rolled to his feet in the same direction it came. “His philosophy is that if it rains at least seven times a month, it will rain seven times whether it’s spread throughout the month or compressed into a single week.”
“It’s inevitable,” Will continued. “Even if your dad picked poor people so that they would be indebted to him to not backstab him.”
She couldn’t refute that. Even Alicia suspected that her father only picked those who had troubles, like Davis, and thus would be loyal. Personally, she has mixed feelings for it. On one hand, it is quite manipulative of her father to do such though it might be necessary considering the true objective for the Bell Branches. On the other hand…
“However,” Rose interrupted, skipping over a puddle. “You can not deny that they have led better lives because of that.”
Yes, it was as Rose had said.
But the worst part is that when they throw it away. Like the Bell manager, they will be confronting now.
“Do not fret now, Alicia,” Rose said calmly as if she knew what the Bell heiress was thinking. “There is still a chance that he is not and the secretary simply misunderstood.”
“And what happened to the secretary?”
“Well, she is still alive when we last checked on her, correct?”
“…Whatever.” Will shrugged as he shoved aside a tall sign in his way and put it back in place after passing it. “Shouldn’t have said that…” he mumbled quietly so that none could hear it.
As the Court Wizards are three streets away from their destination.
“Owen,” Alicia asked. “Why would he work with the noble…?”
“Well… It may have something to do with his hatred towards half-animals here.”
So it was just plain discrimination? All because of differences?
“It is more complicated than that,” Rose interjected. “I suppose you have not known the full story of this world yet. I believe this should be a good opportunity to talk about it. After all, there is no one that dares to come near and eavesdrop.”
True, because right now, Owen and Will flanked their group of four. Alicia doesn’t know why but she had to admit that her childhood friend projects an icy aura and Will simply looked like he would straight-up murder you if you come too close.
As such, the crowd made way for them as if they were aristocrats (though the girls are technically former noblewomen) escorted by their bodyguards. But it did turn any unscrupulous individuals away as the Court Wizards are not wearing the brown robe now as it would only make them stand out so they were wearing what Rose had made to match the surroundings. But to Alicia’s opinion, the clothing they donned only made them stand out even more.
Rose was very into fashion designing. She wouldn’t settle in with the same ‘generic’ medieval outfits like what the people in the capital of Palras are wearing right now: white shirts with brown pants and jacket for men, a long dress of similar color scheme for women.
Both Alicia and Rose wore matching form-fitting red dresses that covered them top to bottom with strings on the back to tie them fit though exposing their skin. However, Rose’s dress was specifically designed to accentuate her… maturity despite eating a lot.
Owen and Will had a simple shirt and leggings with color according to their Element color with hardened leather breastplate and shoulder guards making them looked like the escorts for the two (former) noble ladies.
Adding their unique appearances, a lot of people will naturally get attention to such a group, especially with the drop-dead gorgeous vampire whose hair was pure white with porcelain skin and a body that is well developed. So it was somewhat a good thing that Owen and Will acted as a ‘repellant’.
“Alright.” Alicia nodded.
And so Rose began her monologue. “In the world of Beohar, vicious beasts called ‘Beost’ roamed the land. From giant carnivorous rabbits to vicious dragons-”
“Wait, carnivorous rabbits?” The red-haired girl quipped. She turned to Owen, thinking that he might know something relatable to it. “Are they like?”
“Yeah,” Owen said. “Like in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Except they’re way bigger and have huge claws and teeth. Oh, they also have horns on their head.”
“I-I see…” Alicia cringed
What kind of Fantasy Law this world has?
As Owen made that remark, Will seemed to fidget his mouth a bit but turned away with a shrug.
“Moving on,” the vampire continued. “These creatures set themselves as the rulers in the already harsh wilderness, thus sequestering humans of places to refuge even move.”
“So is that why this capital is very large? I mean, it is larger than any other capital I have seen.”
“Correct. Because of the Beosts, people had resorted to focusing their population into one or two areas. The empire of Palras had a vast territory but that was a formality as most of it were occupied by Beosts.”
“I see,” Alicia pointed her finger over the walls of the capital. “I have been wondering, but what is that black wall over the horizon.” And towards the horizon, it was as if a curtain was covering the blue sky in utter darkness unless you turn your head more than forty-five degrees upward. She didn’t notice this before in her first time in Beohar, the area she was transferred to was of tall and dense forestry that she couldn’t see it.
“People here called it the ‘Mist of No Return.’ It is a black mist that surrounded the land of Beohar in a perfect circle.”
“A perfect circle?”
“Imagine if you take the map of this world and you draw a circle on it using a compass. It is like that.”
“Incidentally, Palras is in the middle of the map whilst still being able to see the Mist. This indicates that the world of Beohar is flat.”
Uh-oh! I think something bad’s gonna happen, Alicia!
“Well then.” Ignoring Voice’s weird remark. “Has anyone tried to going into it?”
“Yes, there were people trying to venture into the Mist, but none of them ever returned, hence its name. The moment the person’s body fully entered the Mist, they disappeared despite being a step away out of the Mist. Some had tried tying a rope to the person and enter the Mist.”
“And the rope was cut off?”
“Precisely. And since then, no one has ever tried entering again. However, Beosts also tend to avoid the Mist so people built settlements near the Mist.”
“That will certainly risk curious children but I suppose it was warranted.”
“Girls,” Owen called for the two female Court Wizards getting absorbed into their conversation. “This way.” He pointed at the road to the right from their perspective. There was a signpost that has the arrow pointing to the right labeled ‘Bell Conglomerate’ in Palrasian.
“Oh,” Rose gasped. “Thank you, Owen. The Bell Branch should be that way, correct?”
“Very well.” Rose turned to Alicia. “Now then, let us talk about the crux of this mission before we commence it.”
“It is about the half-animals,” Alicia guessed. “Correct?”
“Yes, as you have seen some of them in our mission here three months ago, humans in this world also coexist with half-animals that called themselves ‘Half-Beosts’.
“It was said that their birth was the result of the intermingling between humans and Beosts.”
“Well, that is what the humans are saying.
“Anyway, it was because of their similarities to Beosts that humans are afraid of them.”
“So it was because of their appearances then?”
“That was only one of the reasons. Contrary to popular belief, it was the Half-Beosts who struck first.”
“We will not be able to cover the whole story in time, but the point is, throughout history, both races had gone to war, killing, raiding and taking away their loved ones. So you see, Alicia, the Half-Beosts were not innocent either.”
“So then the reason that Norman would work with the noble to stop the treaty was because of his deep hatred for Half-Beosts for what they did to him?”
“Yes, that might be it.” Rose nodded solemnly. “Maybe he and the noble had lost their loved one to Half-Beosts in the past, there was a war recently.”
“Actually,” Owen interrupted. “His son, Crom, was killed by Half-Beosts in the recent war, where I ended up freezing the Vulgis mountain. I knew the guy and… he was Lei’s boyfriend.”
“And maybe because of that,” Rose continued. “They were not willing to accept some treaty that swept everything the Half-Beost did to them under the rug, to just forget everything just like that.”
True, even Alicia knew that it is hard for a person to forgive someone who had done wrong greatly against them. Especially if they killed your child yet not knowing who specifically, so you would naturally pin the blame on their whole race.
“But would Lei not also hated the Half-Beosts for killing her lover?” Alicia asked.
“No,” Owen denied. “Crom’s supportive of peace with Half-Beosts, Lei would’ve still kept Crom’s wishes. Hence what she did three months ago.”
So unlike Norman, Lei was still conscious of Crom’s wishes to attain good terms with Half-Beost, even if they killed him, thus, getting pass her hatred, did what she thought was right in accordance to Crom’s strive.
“But regardless, that does not change the importance of this mission to ensure that this opportunity to mend the relationship between the two races does not fall,” Rose concluded. “Any questions?”
“Then what is the relationship between Half-Beosts and Beosts?” Alicia inquired.
But instead of answering herself, Rose turned to the Air Guardian. “Care to explain, Will? You looked like you wanted to say something.”
The black-haired boy walked along the dusty road silently before slightly rotating his head to the girls.
“Half-Beost considered their Beost counterpart like a human would to a monkey, except the monkey went out its way to make the life of the human miserable. Beosts are still hostile to Half-Beosts.
And the name Half-Beost was supposed to be a derogatory given from the humans. But for whatever reason, they liked the name and took it as a symbol of pride or something.”
“And there you have it,” Rose said.
And the Court Wizards continued to their destination.
“We’re here.” Owen said as the Court Wizard stood in front of the building with a sign saying ‘Bell Conglomerate’.
This is it, Alicia thought. She did not felt time passing as she was engrossed in discussing Beohar lore with Rose.
Here goes nothing, Alicia!
“Well then.” Rose patted her dress. “Let us enter.”
In the midst of the treaty between the Palras empire and the Vulgis kingdom, the first step towards peace between humans and Half-Beosts, the Otherworldly Court will now commence the first mission to ensure that the little spark of harmony will not be extinguished.
Azhure: Next week will be a rewrite of the very first chapter. The reason was that it no longer holds as a foundation for this book.
ps. Wash your hands.