“My little girl!”
“Eek!?” Alicia yelped as her head was pulled into the darkness. It felt soft and there was the smell of shampoo that she was all too familiar with.
She had finally got back to her home after visiting Owen’s grandmother’s grave when someone suddenly embraced her.
“Oh, I am so glad you are safe!” Alicia’s mother hugged her tightly. “I almost lost my heart when Liam told me you were kidnapped. Thank you, Owen, for saving my daughter.”
“Eh, you’re welcome.” Owen shrugged.
“Irene,” Alicia’s father, Ronald, called. “Perhaps you should release our daughter before she suffocates.”
“Oh my! You are right.” And Irene, Alicia’s mother, lifted her head from her cleavage.
Why does my mother have such… maturity when I have not developed at all, Alicia internally complained as she gasped for air.
Glancing past her mother’s shoulder, Alicia could see Liam, her old driver, with a bandage on his head, sobbing his eyes out. She could also see all the other mansion staff she grew up with, looking behind the walls.
“Young mistress!” Liam cried, blowing his nose with a handkerchief. “You’re safe! Oh, forgive this old man for his incompetence. I should have turned those ruffians away when they asked me for directions! I’m such a fool…!”
“Okay, okay.” Alicia tried to calm the elderly driver down. “It is alright, I am safe now.”
“Oh, thank you, young mistress. You are too kind.” Liam bowed down profusely. He turned to Owen. “And thank you, Owen. For saving the young mistress,” he said, and he received a shrug from Owen.
“Liam, you will get dizzy.”
“Apologies, young mistress. I’ll take my leave immediately, excuse me.” And he turned to the staff, in a butler fashion. “Everyone, chop-chop.” Clapping his hands. “We must prepare our lords’ nightly supper.”
And the mansion workers dispersed.
“All right.” Once Irene composed herself, she turned to the boys, demeanor changed. “Owen, Ronald, is my daughter a Court Wizard now?”
It was decided that the discussions about the Otherworldly Court will be out off until dinner. In the meantime, Alicia went on her usual routine that was interrupted when she returned home.
Taking a shower, she thought about that healing magic Russel did on Owen as she was cleaning off the dirt on her body. She scuffled a bit towards the skinny bald man that did those injuries to Owen.
Putting on her casual nightwear, Alicia remembered the uniforms the operators on that circular room worn, a baggy hooded robe which color she could not identify due to lack of lighting. Quite an odd choice considering what manner of technology they are operating.
Setting up her school books for tomorrow… she realized that she had lost her bag after her kidnapping, but then she saw it beside her desk. Well, she did saw the family limo that was hijacked by those kidnappers parked in the garage.
Speaking of those kidnappers, Alicia wondered about the voice that sounded into her mind, that powerful voice that compelled her to ‘take its flame’ which granted her the power to fight those kidnappers and save her childhood friend that tried to save her. Well, Owen did freeze the kidnappers in the end when she was knocked out.
And what was that name Owen said? Ah, Court Wizard.
And she paused.
“I really can not stop thinking about it…” Alicia muttered, slotting her books into her red bag.
“So tell me, father,” Alicia asked, pausing her motion of cutting her supper. “Why did you never tell me about this? About the Otherworldly Court, Court Wizards, and everything else.”
They are now in the dining room eating dinner prepared by the chef. Tonight’s menu was grilled sirloin as cow meat was discounted in the supermarket.
Owen was invited too, with some insistence from Alicia herself.
Everyone was silent when Alicia finally started what was left off in the other world.
Her father, Ronald, stood there silently. Putting his knife and fork on his plate, he folded his hands and said, “It’s… because of the nature of being a Court Wizard itself.”
“Why is that?”
“Well, it is not… the best kind of job.”
“Is it because it is dangerous?”
“…No, not really. We, Court Wizards, don’t go down and directly fight. Rather, we operate in the shadows. Doing subtle changes that impact the events of a world, but we can go public if we need to. However, it is how we do such changes is what I don’t want you to go through.
“I know it firsthand and it’s a rather sensitive subject for me, so forgive me for not wanting to tell you my experience.”
In other words, the Otherworldly Court is the secret organization type that made its members do horrible things to preserve the world, or in this case, worlds, that her father would rather not talk about.
“I don’t want you to be a Court Wizard,” Ronald continued. “But I can’t stop you. And I’m not talking about how you are a Court Wizard now.”
“Then what is it?”
“Hmm… Call it fate if you will. There is no stopping us from leaving the Otherworldly Court, but no matter what, you will still get involved in the Otherworldly Court, one way or another. Heck, I’m supposed to be retired by tradition, but came back from time to time.”
“And it also pertains to why I never told you of this. Simply knowing the Otherworldly Court heavily increasing the chances of becoming a Court Wizard.”
“Is that why you never told me?”
“Yes, and please forgive me for never telling you this.”
“We do not want to shoulder the burden of a Court Wizard,” her mother explained. “I know what your father has gone through.”
“I see,” Alicia rolled her eyes. “I understand, it is alright, father, mother.”
“Thank you, my little girl.” Irene smiled.
“Now then,” Ronald continued. “We will move on to the next topic.”
Ronald laid his fork down and presented his left hand facing up.
And a tiny red flame appeared on his hand.
It then twirled around, resembling a tornado.
“…Aah~” Alicia gasped in awe. The flame was real and its movement could not be a simple trick, her father could definitely not perform magic tricks.
“We call this power ‘maneg’ and what gave us this power is called a ‘Maneg Soul’.”
Maneg Soul… father did say this in that world.
“I will have Owen explain in detail later, like how Maneg Souls work. But what I want you to know is that Maneg Souls… alter our mind.”
“Alter our mind?”
“Oh, but don’t get the wrong idea. It’s not in a bad way. Maneg Souls only hypnotize us in two things. The suppression of our fear when confronted in danger, allowing us Court Wizard for level-headed judgment. The second is to easily bond with other Court Wizards, friendship essentially.”
That does not sound bad at all.
“Now then,” Ronald said. “Even though we always ended up going back, we thought it will be good for each of us to give ourselves a reason for staying. But you don’t have to find it now, most of us only have the reason months after service. I’m telling you this to let you know.”
“Then what is your reason, father?”
“Er… Family tradition.”
Ronald cleared his throat “It started from the founder of Bell Conglomerate eighty-six years ago, he was a Court Wizard too. At that time he was pretty much penniless, and so kept on being a Court Wizard as he doesn’t have anywhere to go.
“He went to many worlds, learning values and hardships along the way. He learned a lot, especially marketing which is how he came back here and started the Bell Conglomerate and build the company into success in a single generation. Afterwards, he decided to make it so every time a descendant of the Bell family becomes a Court Wizard, they do the same as him.
“But, family tradition was the initial reason I stayed. But eventually, I have discovered even more.”
“I-I see…” Alicia smiled wryly. So that’s how Bell Conglomerate came to be? Her family must’ve been deeply rooted in the Otherworldly Court.
She glanced at Owen quietly eating his meal and got curiosity the better of her and asked, “Then what is your reason to stay, Owen?”
Pausing, Owen took his time registering his childhood friend’s innocent remark. Putting down his eating utensils, he answered one word, “Dad.”
“W-What?” Alicia widened her eyes.
“I’ll… explain,” Ronald interrupted. “Joshua’s a Court Wizard too, we were even partners back in our day. It was eight years ago, we were minding our business when a rupture suddenly appeared and whisked him away. We have never found him since.”
“Ah…” So that was how Owen’s father, Joshua Ruze, was missing? “But then couldn’t he just used telepathy magic or something?” Alicia asked. “I saw Owen do it.”
“Erm… it’s not so simple.” Ronald rebutted. “You see, if a Court Wizard travels to another world not with what Otherworldly Court uses, the Transporter Room that brought you in, that Court Wizard will lose his power temporarily and will find it difficult to recover it, very difficult. Also, there are also additional penalties to it that you would rather not hear.”
“Really?” So for eight years, Owen’s father was stranded in who-knows-where without any means of contact?
“But nevertheless, he is definitely out there somewhere. We have a system that allows us to know that he is alive and I have been searching for him until Owen became a Court Wizard. Since then, I gave the task to him as he should do it as my longtime partner’s son.”
“I see.” Alicia turned to Owen. “Have you have any luck finding him, Owen?”
“…Not really. Right now, I’m just going to random worlds and ask around where dad is.”
“Well then,” Ronald continued, moving on from the subject. “I still haven’t explained all that you needed to know, such as how bad the administration the Otherworldly Court has.”
Really? Alicia mused, how bad could it be?
“I will not ask you about joining, you have to. But, I will ask you this.” Alicia noticed that her father started to speak sternly. “While being a Court Wizard doesn’t mean you will risk your life, it isn’t all fun and games. But, will you still stay in the Otherworldly Court?”
With that declaration, Alicia looked over the facts.
A Court Wizard does dirty work in the shadows that her father would rather not want her to do. Maneg Souls, the thing that granted her ‘fire magic,’ gives subtle mind alteration that would suppress her fear in the midst of danger and makes her more friendly to other Court Wizards.
Glancing at her mother, she was unusually silent in this whole manner. By intuition, she sensed that her mother had longed accepted the fact that her daughter might become a Court Wizard, yet a hint of sadness
And so, she decided to ask a question.
“Owen, how long have you been a Court Wizard, searching for your father?”
“…Five years. Since grandma died.”
So for five years, her childhood friend has been searching for his father, right after his grandmother passed away. That also meant that he had been a Court Wizard since he was eleven, since primary school.
And I never knew about it…
It’s decided then.
“All right,” Alicia declared. “I will do it.”
Granted, she was also curious about the world(s) that her childhood friend got into. Also, she could help him find his father, like she always did since young.
And whatever that Owen had to do could not be that bad, right?
“I see…” Her father sighed, rolling his eyes. “Then I will welcome you to the Otherworldly Court.”
“Thank you, father.”
“Oh, please be careful, dear.” Irene suddenly hugged her daughter again. “I do not want my little girl to be hurt.”
“M-Mother, it is too tight!”
And thus, Alicia Bell became a new Court Wizard into the Otherworldly Court.
“Dear,” Irene called her husband, releasing her daughter out of her hold, a bit. What was it that she wants?
“Yes, I know,” Ronald replied.
“Hm? What is it, father?” Alicia asked. Glancing at Owen, he looked like he knew what was going to happen and simply rolled his eyes.
“Well, my daughter,” Ronald begin. “It’s… about your mother.”
“What about mother?”
Taking a deep breath, her father dropped this, “Your mother is from another world, and a former noblewoman at that.”
“…I see. Wait, what!”