Azhure: This is the first half of this chapter. The next half will come next week.
Azhure: Writing the second half is hard.
Voice: I see…
Alicia recognized the similar interior architecture of the Bell Branch’s lobby.
However, it was quite unlike the previous. No groups of merchants in the lounge discussing market prices over tea; no lines of job applicants of all age and gender waiting for their turn; and no mob around the bulletin board looking for the best one-time contract work or be the ones posting it.
There was only the female receptionist over the counter who immediately noticed the Court Wizards’ arrival.
“Good morning and welcome to Bell Conglomerate,” the receptionist greeted. “May I help you?”
Here goes. In front of the receptionist, Alicia braced herself to make the request but…
Would you like me to take over for you? (Rose)
…No, this is something I should do.
And Alicia spoke, “We would like to see the manager.”
“I’m sorry, but the manager is too busy.” The receptionist bowed, “I’m afraid he is unable to meet anyone right now. Would you like to set a future appointment?”
“No, we need to see him now.”
Alicia pulled a white handkerchief out of a hidden pocket within her red dress. It has the symbol of the Otherworldly Court: the scale over the spear and shield.
For worlds that the Otherworldly Court introduced themselves to, it was always in a way that it made them an object of fear to its denizens – ironic, considering the Otherworldly Court’s goals. So the handkerchief was better than saying it out loud.
“..!” The receptionist blinked upon looking at the cloth and then her face became pale.
In a moment of silence, she quietly uttered three words.
“Everyone… come out.”
STOMP STOMP STOMP
Out of the back door came a dozen or so rough-looking men and women in light metal armor. They held estoc, spears, axes, crossbows… any weapon that would serve hunting Beosts.
While Beost hunters primarily hunt, well, Beosts, they also often become mercenaries. And these mercenaries now surrounded the Court Wizards.
Owen instinctively went in front of Alicia. “Stand back,” he whispered to her.
If these brutes didn’t blatantly show the manager’s treason, then what the receptionist girl said next will.
“F-Forgive me…” she weakly muttered. But, it seemed that she did not want any part of this, but was probably forced to of something. “But the manager ordered us to not let you meet him… and let you go either.”
It appears that Norman had a feeling that we would come for him. Forgive me, Alicia, but it seems our fears are true. (Rose)
Yes, despite all the hopes that Rose proposed during the short walk to this place, and perhaps also what Owen had said last week, for the first time, a Bell Branch manager had betrayed their trust.
“There’s always the probability for everything, it has to happen once.”
And remembering what Will said earlier sickens Alicia further.
Ceh! And Celery Stick has Trust in his name! Hypocrite!
Even Voice was upset. Though didn’t the pixie mocked his name when meeting for the first time?
What… should we do?
Nevertheless, something must still be done.
We confront the manager and we don’t have time to waste with them. (Will)
“Everyone,” the receptionist announced.
Upon her signal, the mercenaries brandished their weapons as they approach the Court Wizards. Alicia took a step back and then realized.
She had startled. And that meant the suppression was not on and that meant she was not in any present danger.
And that was probably because of the sharply concentrated distortions in the air around Will. While Alicia could not sense the air maneg, she can definitely tell that an Order was taking place.
Master Will, please do not kill them. They are still Beost hunters, it would not do good to reduce their numbers. And no maiming either. (Rose)
Fine. Owen. (Will)
Got it. (Owen)
Accepting Rose’s logical reasoning, the distortions around Will subsided.
Instead, a huge gust of wind expelled out to the encirclement. The mercenaries were violently flung all over the place, crashing into the wall, the lounge, the bulletin board, etc. thrashing the whole place. And by the sound of it, the impact wasn’t so soft either.
“W-What… just… happened…?” One of the mercenaries muttered weakly.
Suddenly, Owen knelt down and smacked his bare hand on the wooden floor.
Then, twelve trails of light blue seeped out of his hand. In a linear route, each trail seeking out the mercenaries. It was slow, but Alicia suspected Owen purposefully did so, including the floor slamming, so that all could see it.
“Wh- What in the Mist is this!?”
To the first mercenary the trail touched, who was blown away only a few meters to a wall, blue crystals grew out of his armor. It invaded other parts of his body.
“I-It’s… c-cold…” he muttered.
And his muttering dawned upon others a new knowledge. It was not a crystal.
It was ice.
And soon, the ice covered his entire body save for his head, encasing him in an uncomfortable prison.
Others could only gasp in the horror that befell their comrade. Never before such phenomena have ever been encountered in their work. Some may have fought against Ice Dragons in the north with their ice breaths, but from a human kid? The only time they had heard such a thing was two years ago when…
“H-He’s the boy who froze mount Vulgis…”
And that was the only answer the mercenaries could accept.
Two years ago, the then-emperor of Palras sought to erupt mount Vulgis through dropping a special ore into its mouth. But some human boy literally froze the mountain as the lava spurted out like a fountain.
Then, the group the boy belonged to revealed themselves before Beohar, stating its plans for this world and spelled the fate of the former emperor. And that group was…
“Y-You want us to fight t-these… C-Court Wizards!?”
“W-We waited here for months for this? T-This isn’t what I signed up for…”
“D-Daddy… I don’t wanna die…”
“Well,” Will faced the receptionist, who was cowering in fear but still maintained professionalism. “Can we see the manager or not?
“Or will you try to stop us yourself?”
“H-He’s in the office…”
“Well then,” Will looked to his fellow Court Wizards. “Let’s go.”