Azhure: Turns out, this is a second rewrite. Well, I still have to add more stuff to make the other rewrites sense.
Voice: Now half of the chapter is in italics!
Azhure: Anyway, I’m not splitting rewrites anymore ’cause rearranging chapters on some sites is a nightmare.
All Alicia could see was a very lush forest. She could barely see the sky let alone the horizon with how tall and dense the trees were. 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 with a smile. 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 the details all of you 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 with the interesting landmarks of note being the ice-blue mountain-like area and the only large area of water south from it that’s still landlocked. 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 Palras empire tried to erupt it to destroy the kingdom of Vulgis.”
“Wow! Short Cream did that!?”
Chuckling at Voice pretending it’s the first time she heard aside, much to the said Short Cream’s chagrin, Aqua continued, “That also meant the people of Beohar publicly know about us with the frozen volcano since then being called the Frozen Volcano of Vulgis.”
“Oh? They know about us?” Alicia blinked at that new information. But she supposed it would be impossible to hide something like an entire volcano frozen solid from the populace.
“Yes,” Rose nodded. “Although it is preferable to only let a few people know about us for smoother operations, sometimes it is unavoidable that an entire world acknowledges us and by extension, other worlds.”
“True, it is quite inconvenient when the whole world watches our every move.” Aqua then moved the view of the world to the dense forestry where the only clearing was one long road. “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 if you can use [Telepathy],” Owen said. “Try using the first method.”
“Alright then.” Alicia straightened out two of her fingers and placed them behind her earlobe.
Then, directing her focus to Owen’s Maneg Soul’s signature, she said the name of the Order, [Telepathy]. Each Maneg Soul has memorized it since it was born as the Mother Souls deemed it too useful to not have it passed down. Incidentally, because it was memorized, the steps for this Order were 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.” Without placing her fingers, she instead focused her mind on Owen’s Maneg Soul. ‘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.
“Yep, 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 the pixie, Thank you, Voice.
The week before.
“Here you go, Alicia.” Aqua presented a folded brown robe with a dull grey mask that looked similar to a hockey mask on top of it to her.
“What is this?” Alicia asked as she received it.
“The attire you are supposed to wear on missions. The mask and robe cover your identity and with the color being the same for everyone, enemies will have difficulty knowing which one is which,” Aqua explained. “We did not have the size ready for you so you were given the cloak and its mask that was for ceremonial use first.”
“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 half-animal is, right?” Aqua asked.
“It is what we call a person with animal ears and tail, correct?” Alicia answered.
“Correct. The Palras empire was at war with the Vulgis kingdom culminating with the volcano erupting Owen had to freeze which effectively ended the war,” Aqua rehashed. “Last week, the Vulgis kingdom sent an envoy for a peace treaty which is why we are here today. A few days ago, we received a concerning message from the Palras Bell Branch through the communicator Catalyst, weirdly enough.”
“Hm? What is so strange about it?” Alicia wondered. It’s just a messaging device powered by maneg, albeit one designed to send messages across worlds, right?
“The whole thing is outdated, it’s an invention from centuries ago that’s like best we have when your grandpa started the Bell Branches,” Owen explained. “It’s only powerful enough to send like a dozen words across worlds before having to recharge maneg a whole day.”
“Specifically, about seventy-five to a hundred characters can be sent at a time,” Rose added. “Depending on multiple factors including Catalyst quality.”
“Amelia is developing a better design for the Catalyst,” Rose continued. “One that would be more efficient in sending messages between worlds and perhaps even more.”
“I see,” Alicia nodded. “Then is using the Catalyst like this unusual?”
“Yes, they are normally used to notify us so we can come down and collect reports,” Aqua explained. “If there is a potential mission such as this, they are still used to notify us and we would discuss with them in person, not through this directly.”
“It reeks of conspiracy,” Jill spat with a disgusted look.
“True,” Richard nodded with his arms crossed.
“Is it really that suspicious?” Alicia asked, still skeptical about it.
“The full message is written ‘Noble sends bandits to attack envoy in the forest in three days, don’t come to Bell Branch,'” Aqua stated.
“Okay, that is suspicious,” Alicia admitted.
“We will start investigating this message’s origin once this is over, as well as the offending noble,” Aqua continued. “In short, a Palrasian noble has sent his men posed as bandits to attack the envoy in this location,” Aqua pointed at a forest with a long dirt clearing connecting Vulgis to Palras on the screen. “And the attack is happening today.”
Confirming the carriage’s position, the Court Wizards retreated and moved on ahead of them, making sure that not so much as a rustle was made nor heard.
“As you can guess, the mission is to stop this attack,” Aqua continued. “As a reminder from the beginning, the whole thing still needs to be concealed from the envoy, or anyone for that matter.”
“Hm? Do we still need to do that?” Alicia asked. “They already know us, right?”
“You are right, but the first rule of the Rules of Engagement ‘Let no one witness you should you not belong there‘ still applies regardless,” Aqua replied with her arms on her waist. “Also, there is an… impression the people of Beohar have of us.”
“They are absolutely terrified of us!” Aqua smiled, practically beaming.
“Huh! Buh! Wah!?”
Loving Alicia and Voice’s expression, the Fire Guardian continued, “Anyway, how about you explain it, Owen?” to delegate the task to someone else.
Standing there with an unamused look, Owen explained regardless, “Basically, when I froze that volcano, we kinda made a big show of it since everyone’s gonna find out anyway. Long story short, we also scared the crap out of both countries to make peace with each other.” Eyeing at William, he continued, “well, it’s mostly Will that does the scaring.”
“I was beyond pissed off by the whole charade,” William grumbled, crossing his arms with a scowl.
“Yeah…” Owen agreed with him.
‘Did something happen between them?’ Alicia wondered internally. Hearing the two’s conversation clearly indicated their involvement in Palras and Vulgis’ war leading up to Owen freezing the volcano was more than an unpleasant experience.
“Anyway, letting the envoy know or anyone else on that matter may elicit unpredictable behavior that could potentially jeopardize the peace treaty, whether or not it was we who practically demanded it,” Aqua continued. “Furthermore, even if they prove to act rationally, the peace treaty may still fail if the Vulgis kingdom found out their envoy had been attacked no matter what.”
“All because those two races hate each other,” Owen quipped with an unamused look.
“Hm? What do you mean, Owen?” Alicia wondered.
“You know, the classic,” Owen said with a scoff. “Hell, even if they’re both humans or half-animals, it’s not gonna stop them from raiding each other – that’s how the war started, by the way.”
“Then, is that why the noble sent the bandits?” Alicia asked based on all the information given. “Because he hated the half-animals?”
“Basically, yeah,” Owen shrugged as a matter of fact.
“Remember, we need to kill them quickly lest the envoy reaches us,” Rose, with her legs under her robe reinforced by maneg as she marched, reminded the other two. “Or hear us if they are close enough.”
Of course, Alicia knew that this would happen one day. If anything, what she got from the conversation in the evening meant that she knew that killing people was going to be necessary. That said, the other part of her didn’t like it, much less want to do so, but fortunately…
“As your father, I absolutely forbid you from killing 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 worked 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. Unlike the Catalysts that came after it, the equipment of the Transporter Room was state of the art, powerful enough to support inter-world communication which should be expected as the one responsible for the transferring.
“In short, we have a warning of an attack against a peace envoy from a Bell Branch through unorthodox means with no time to investigate it. As for the impending attack, again we have no time to know how it will be carried out beyond the location,” Aqua concluded. “Well, it is not like we have never done a mission blind before and it could be worse, give or take.”
“Is it really that bad?” Alicia asked in concern.
“Well, even after this is over, the following investigation will be as difficult,” Aqua continued. “The emperor of Palras would sooner scare his pants off than cooperate with us and the message from Palras Bell Branch suggests that even they would be a bit of a problem.”
“We should focus on the current mission for now,” Aqua then turned to William. “Will, you take it from here.”
“He’s usually the one planning the missions if he’s here,” Owen whispered to Alicia.
“Right,” William sighed as this was routine for him. “For starters, Aqua will be at the Transporter Room, monitoring the location of the bandits.”
“I detect thirteen heat signatures,” Jill reported after giving the Order [Thermal Scan], scanning for heat signatures within a radius with its maximum range depending on efficiency, a specialty of the Fire Court Wizards. “They are in a five-five-three phalanx 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 a roughly overlapping stack of multiple marks, meaning there were thirteen marks in the formation Jill had said.
“Alright then, I will take the first row closest to the road, you take on the middle, Jill,” Rose turned to Alicia. “You will incapacitate the last row. We will interrogate them.”
Then, 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 appeared. A red cloth with a very intricate design covered most of the pole while the end of the handle where Rose held the weapon was crooked like a cane.
Despite its extrinsic design, Alicia could tell it was a parasol of all things.
On the other hand, Jill held a spear with a fiery design on the pole sideways as it had emerged. It was about the same height as its wielder and its spearhead was in constant flames.
“That does not look like an ordinary [Javelin],” Alicia remarked with the spearhead being on fire and all.
“It is not,” Jill confirmed, twirling the spear in her hand. “This is my Cherished Armament. It is a special type of Order that gives us weapons out of loyal maneg. I believe Aqua had mentioned it in passing when you received your identification card.”
“Oh?” Alicia perked up. Hearing about loyal maneg made her interested even more.
“Cherished Armaments are made when your loyal maneg possesses items that bear significance to you that are then stored in your Maneg Soul that you can call out anytime,” Jill explained, lifting her spear. “This spear of mine is a family heirloom, the spear of house Speris passed down through generations since its founding. As its latest wielder, my Maneg Soul recognizes the spear’s importance to me and deemed it worthy enough to be my Cherished Armament.”
“Cherished Armaments do not have to originally be weapons, by the way. Loyal maneg will modify the object into something battle-worthy,” Jill continued, showing the intricate parts. “My spear is also modified to be more powerful than the original. I believe one of Rose’s Armament is a parasol turned into a deadly lance by her loyal maneg – you can have more than one Armament, by the way.”
“I see. What happens to the original item?” Alicia asked. “You said loyal maneg possesses it, so does it go into your Maneg Soul too?”
“That is correct,” Jill nodded. “As to how that exactly works, I am not sure myself.”
“Then, can you get the original item back?”
“After you die,” Jill said bluntly, resting the butt of the spear on the ground as she leaned on it. “When you obtain a Cherished Armament, you keep it for life.”
“Okay, can you have more than one Cherished Armament?”
“You can. I believe Rose has at least three of them.”
“I see. Does everyone get Cherished Armaments?” Alicia then asked.
“No, that is why I am the one tasked with teaching you this,” Jill shook her head. “You have to have something that means a lot to you, so many Court Wizards go without one. It has to be something you cherish deeply, hence its name. So most commonly, it is either a keepsake like a pendant or a weapon passed down to you like my spear that gets picked.”
“Eh!? So how does a pendant work!? Do you swing it around!?”
“Yes, there are many Court Wizards with mock flails containing pictures of their loved ones for an Armament,” Jill answered the Pixie. “And because of that, it is tradition to name your Armament after the reason why it is important to you. I simply named mine [Speris Heirloom] but trust me, the naming convention can get out of hand.”
“Rumor has it, someone had named their Armament a hundred words long. Amelia is still trying to recover that record.”
“I-Is that so?” Alicia smiled wryly. “But, if Cherished Armaments are from loyal maneg, would it not be dangerous if they break?” She still has memories of that [Barrier] she put between Hanz and Blaze that day.
“That is true. If it breaks, it would cause a great deal of backlash back to you,” Jill replied with her hands on her waist after dismissing her spear. “But that is why they possess physical objects. By having a material origin, Cherished Armaments reinforce themselves, making them unlikelier to break under duress than your typical loyal maneg Orders.”
“I see, it would not make sense to have them if they do not,” Alicia muttered in understanding.
“Besides, loyal maneg do not break so easily,” Jill continued. “Souls are powerful things. It is of great effort for Maneg Souls to even be able to compress it to fit disloyal maneg and in your case none at all.”
“But what about when Hanz and Blaze broke my [Barrier] then?”
“They must have put too much force in their strikes that it will seriously hurt each other. The knuckleheads.”
Alicia, Jill, on the count to three, we strike. (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 to his colleagues.
They were composed of five sword and shield wielders, five spearmen, and three archers with crossbows maintaining a solid formation of having the shielders in front, spearmen in the middle, and archers in the back. Their level of professionalism meant that they could maintain this arrangement inside this dense forest.
They were dressed in green cloaks and their equipment was of high quality, making the word ‘bandit’ inaccurate to describe them since actual bandits wouldn’t have that quality of weapons. But it was necessary to kill those animals as was sticking to this tried and true battle formation since there was no reason to fight as disorganized as real bandits.
“Once the carriage arrives, we strike-”
However, just as the bandit was about to finish saying that, an otherworldly sound reverberated through the foliage, stunning their bones in place. It sounded like an explosion, yet it had an inherent sense of wrongness to it. They never heard anything like it, yet they felt like they should have known where, or rather what it came from.
Then, they saw it. A brown blur crossed in front of the sword and shield bearers. It was fast, unbelievably so that they could barely make a glimpse of it. However, some of the bandits have managed to ever so slightly capture a white mask donned by the blur… and a thin red line along their necks.
SLASH SLASH SLASH SLASH SLASH
Five heads rolled down. The flame of the spear cauterized both stumps, preventing blood from splattering the grass muffling the noises of the headless bodies, swords, and shields falling. It all happened so fast that the others couldn’t process what just happened.
8 bandits left.
Jill slid along the ground, unrooting the grass along the way as she came to a full stop, having ordered [Eject] to quickly dash from the bandits’ left flank with [Speris Heirloom]’s flaming blade slicing through the first row of bandits like a hot knife through butter. Having done her part, she alerted the others.
Rose, you are up. (Jill)
Got it. (Rose)
WHOOSH CRACKLE CRACKLE
Without even waiting for the first row of bandits touching the floor, Rose followed up by imbuing her parasol with fire maneg and launching it straight at the second row like a seasoned thrower. The burning parasol pierced through the second row by their torsos leaving only gruesome charred remains dropping to the ground like flies and eyes coming to shock too late.
3 bandits left.
It is on you, Alicia. (Rose)
Alicia dashed to the battlefield, catching up with the others. Only three bandits remained and they were still reeling in shock by their comrades’ sudden demise. With their crossbows yet to be loaded for fear of misfire, Alicia wasted no time and started her Order.
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!
With Voice’s confirmation, Alicia’s hands and left foot were set ablaze. The fire did not burn her but was warm to the touch. Maneg Souls always make sure that their Court Wizard’s Orders will not hurt them, especially this kind of Order.
Alicia practically gave the wooden dummy a headpat with her hand. That said, her hand was covered in fire maneg burning brightly as she did so. Then, her fire maneg attached itself to the wooden dummy’s head, forming a box shape from head to base. As the natural state of fire maneg activated, it began to burn the dummy inside it.
CRACKLE CRACKLE CRACKLE
‘Loyal maneg return!’
Soon, after Alicia stepped back, she recalled her fire maneg leaving behind the charred remains of the wooden dummy. As Alicia saw it, it had been reduced to little more than a black, half-burnt pole while everything else was turned to ash adding more to the Training Grounds.
“That is true,” Alicia remarked, checking the damage to the piece of wood. Then, she looked at the piece of paper on her other hand with barely legible handwriting that she was all too familiar with. “And the Order father written out is quite complicated too.”
“It’s your family heirloom, Alicia. A complicated Order just to set someone on fire,” Owen joked sarcastically. “Anyway, lemme have a look at it. I could probably tell how it works.”
“Alright then,” Alicia said as she handed over the note to him.
“Hmm, yeah. It’s a mess alright,” Owen muttered as he scanned over the paper.
“Can you explain it then?” Alicia asked.
“Sure, this thing starts with two Commands, ‘coat’ and ‘set trigger,'” Owen began. “‘Coat’ is easy enough, you wrap maneg around something which in this case is your arms and legs. ‘Set trigger’ is a little more complicated; you’re telling your maneg to prepare for a condition which in here is on the coating.”
“Like setting up a trap!?”
“You could say that. Once you repeat the step for every limb you want, you can then start telling how the trap is sprung,” Owen continued. “Starting with ‘trigger’ and a colon if you write it down, the trigger’s activated when the coating gets into ‘contact’ with something which then ‘attach’ and ‘form’ fire maneg of some shape onto the thing you touched. To top it all off, you tell it to ‘oxidize’ to burn harder, resulting in that,” he finished by pointing at the burnt wooden dummy.
“How does ‘oxidize’ work?” Alicia tilted her head.
“Eh, I don’t know. We’re in business class,” Owen shrugged. “Fire is supposed to be fuel turning oxygen into carbon dioxide, generating heat and all the stuff fire makes and the whole thing is called oxidation which is what fire maneg is trying to do.”
“Okay, so what does calling ‘oxidize’ again do?” Alicia then asked. “I am pretty sure it is already doing that.”
“Apparently, fire maneg by default eats up like half of the oxygen,” Owen said. “You call ‘oxidize’ to basically tell it to burn through all of it. So, the fire maneg burns better.”
“Hm, now that you mentioned it, the fire maneg did look like it burned brighter,” Alicia muttered, looking at the wooden pole. “Then, if you tell fire maneg to ‘not oxidize,’ will it not burn?”
“Pretty sure it does,” Owen rubbed his chin. “Well, that’s about it, I guess. But, as you can see there, it doesn’t look like a safe Order to use on people.” Once again, the poor wooden dummy was pointed out.
“That is true,” Alicia cupped her cheek. “Can I even use this Order? Other than on monsters?”
“Well, you can modify it. Most Court Wizards get to Wizard rank after tweaking someone else’s Order,” Owen told her, holding up the note. “And your dad definitely added something to this Order to get his. Pretty sure your grandpa made this Order in the first place.”
“I see,” Alicia nodded, motioning Owen to give her back the note. “Then, let me see if I have some ideas…”
CRACKLE CRACKLE CRACKLE
‘Loyal maneg return!’
The sphere of loyal fire maneg dissolved and returned to Alicia, leaving behind another wooden dummy Owen planted in its absence. This time, however, instead of charred remain, the wooden dummy looked as good as new.
“It works,” Owen remarked, staring at the dummy.
“True, it is hard to imagine,” Alicia agreed with Voice at the impossible sight.
All Alicia did was add a step ‘do not transfer heat’ and as if it were an illusion, her fire maneg that attached itself to the wooden dummy’s head remained unharmed. She also had the shape of the formation to be a hollow sphere which only oxidized the air inside it instead of just plain ‘oxidize’ at the end, resulting in the odd result in front of them.
“Yeah, but I’m pretty sure this guy’s dead if it’s a person,” Owen said, showing his smartphone’s time. “I don’t know about you, but not breathing for half an hour is gonna kill anyone. Not to mention all the smoke that somehow exists.”
“Yes, it is quite a mystery.” As Alicia remembered from middle school, smoke came from the material being burned. Her loyal fire maneg being the only material as it didn’t burn the dummy yet still producing it didn’t make sense.
“Well, you still got a good idea; using the fire oxidizing to make people choke on not oxygen ’till they’re knocked out is definitely gonna work. You just gotta time your loyal maneg recall so they wouldn’t get more than just brain damage,” Owen chuckled. “Anyway, you still remember classes, right? You still gotta slap them in the face first.”
“I remember,” Alicia nodded with a smile. “It is quite hard to forget them after you take so many of them.”
In the name of her father’s protectiveness of her, Alicia’s father had her alongside Owen go through a variety of martial arts classes to know self-defense since she can’t bring a taser or pepper spray to school. Suffice it to say, she became a decent MMA fighter which was more than good enough considering her father also planned on giving her gun lessons which her mother shot down.
“Welp, I guess we’ll just have to practice for a bit,” Owen concluded.
After all, Alicia was going to have to be able to punch someone in the face, attach a hollow ball loyal fire maneg on their head, make sure the fire maneg doesn’t burn the person’s head as it sucked all of the oxygen inside it, and return the maneg just as the person fell unconscious but not until death since Alicia’s Order will stay indefinitely. Just like her father and her grandfather before her, Alicia created a complicated Order just to knock someone out.
On the opening salvo, Alicia rushed to the first archer and planted her right fist on the back of his head. The force of that punch coupled with bad footing in the dense forest caused the archer to fall forward, clearing the way for Alicia to strike the second target.
Following it up, Alicia delivered a left hook onto the second archer, breaking his nose as he tumbled backward. It was only at this timeframe did the final archer regained composure.
“Damn it!” The archer pointed his crossbow at Alicia in panic, only to realize he hadn’t loaded it yet.
Not wasting her momentum, Alicia swung her foot upward, hitting the archer from his left temple. Just like the others, the archer was knocked down, but that wasn’t it.
CRACKLE CRACKLE CRACKLE
As all triggers met their targets, the effects of the Order kicked in. A hollow red ball formed around their heads. It did not harm them, yet it took away their ability to breathe. As their hands pass through it, they could not get rid of it. Soon, as they thrashed about, they fell unconscious, unable to breathe the right kind of air.
Loyal maneg, return.
3 bandits incapacitated.
The ambush was over. Emotions returned.
“Urk!” Alicia opened her mask, then clasped her mouth with her right hand. Her left hand was pushing against a tree as the sight of the gruesome aftermath almost made her vomit.
Contrary to what most believed, the emotional suppression didn’t make Court Wizards stop feeling; rather, it just bottled it up. The result was that once the battle was over, it all came crashing like a dam.
“Are you alright, Alicia?” Rose beckoned to her worried at her experience of seeing her friends kill for the first time. It may be reluctantly accepted in their worlds’, but it certainly was not for Alicia’s.
“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, otherwise the half-animals would have seen us fighting,” Jill pointed out, being the plan from the beginning, after all.
“Yeah! That was fast!”
Guys, we’re done. You? (Owen)
“The bandits will probably attack both sides,” Will explained. “We’ll split up into two groups, one for each side. Also, we’ll need to take some of them alive for the following investigation.”
“Alright, we are still deep in the forest, but we should still dispose of these bodies just in case,” Rose ordered. “We will have to make sure to cover the blood so the half-animals would not smell them.”
“Bear with it, pixie.” Jill deadpanned. “It can be much worse than this.”
“What should we do about these three?” Alicia asked, pointing at the three unconscious men she subdued. “Where do we keep them?”
Now that she asked, Alicia wondered exactly how the Otherworldly Court held the likes of these bandits for questioning. It’s not like they would be transferred to Manegia, right?
“There is a safehouse nearby,” Rose explained. “We will keep them there until it is time to question them.”
“Oh? Do we have that in every world?” Alicia pondered.
“No, it depends on the world,” Rose shook her head. “Sometimes we do, sometimes all we have is a secluded area like a cave or an abandoned warehouse. The problem is having someone to maintain them which falls to our collaborators in the Bell Branches nowadays. We used to rely on Court Wizards living in the world or other one-off collaborators providing them for us.”
“Not to mention we cannot use the one on the Palras capital for obvious reasons,” Jill added as she began to lift one of the headless bodies by her hands.
“Anyway, we should focus on this for now,” Rose then said. “We have our work cut out for us.”
“Yeah! You made them into shish-kebabs!”
“Yes,” the vampire chuckled. “I suppose I did.”
They got to work swiftly. While Alicia tied up the unconscious archers with a rope she brought under her robe beforehand, Jill dragged the collars of the headless bandits she killed on one hand and their heads by their hair on the other one by one. How Rose handled the bodies she gutted was best left unsaid. After piling them all up deeper into the forest, Rose gave the Order to burn them all. This time, Alicia emptied her stomach.
Thus was Alicia’s second mission.
“Hm?” Alicia noticed as her teacup was right below her lips. “Now that I think about it, where is James?”
“Yeah! Aren’t you two like together ‘gether, Rose!?”
“For one, there were already six of us which is a large crowd that seldom happens, but you are right,” Rose, back in her wheelchair, cupped her cheek at their remark. Voice was munching on cookies as always. “But as Court Wizards, my relationship with him is that of mentor-junior. Those kinds of teams do not last forever.”
“Think about it, mentorship lasts around a year and if you are like me, you could mentor many Court Wizards throughout the years,” Rose pointed out, reminding Alicia that she has been a Court Wizard for more than a century. “And just as many, you eventually have to go on your separate ways. Only a few would stick together until the end.”
“True, after Master Zekie taught me and Richard for a year, we soon do our own business,” Jill added, sipping her tea. “Master Zekie is the Lightning Guardian from our world, by the way.”
“I see…” Alicia muttered in a somber tone.
“James and I do still go on missions from time to time,” Rose consoled. “That said, even in an established team, not all Court Wizards in it have the same timetable. James has his activities in Manegia much like I – it is not like we do nothing but take missions every day, after all.”
“I suppose that makes sense,” Alicia nodded, taking a bite out of a cookie in the middle, where Voice sat eating them.
“Yes, my responsibilities as heir of my family clan nowadays meant that I am only here once or twice every other month,” Jill interjected. “Meanwhile, Richard has more leeway as heir of his family to spend time lollygagging about,” she sided, sipping her tea.
“Oh, it is alright, Jill,” Rose smiled, putting down her teacup. “You can admit you miss seeing him as often as you do before.”
“Pfft! No, I do not!” Jill screamed, almost spitting her tea. “Why would I miss a knight from an enemy kingdom anyway!?” she exclaimed, standing up and slamming both hands on the table with a furious blush.
“Hihihi! Sure you do!”
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
Azhure: Names and original items of Cherished Armaments will be revealed when they come up in the story. The names of Cherished Armaments themselves do spoil the Court Wizard’s backstory, after all.
Name: Jillianis Speris Age: 19 Sex: Female Species: Human World: Irongrad Element: Fire Element Color: Red Cherished Armament: Speris Heirloom (Spear) Rank: Wizard
Orders[Thermal Scan] an Order unique to Fire Court Wizards. It scans heat signatures of a specific or a range of temperatures and marks them on the user’s vision. The Court Wizard can place the starting location of the scan on themselves or further away. Order: Scan heat signature x temperature over x radius around x location, return scan as x mark in vision.
Each Element has its version of this Order collectively called [Elemental Scan] that searches for signatures related to their Element. For example, Life’s version of the Order would scan for living beings and Death’s would be the opposite.[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 saying the Order’s name, resulting in the Court Wizard being able to transmit the message like a phone call. The second method was to formulate the message before saying the Order’s name resulting in the message being sent like a text message.
Azhure: I was thinking of dropping the brackets on Cherished Armaments as I do on Court Wizard IDs, but since they’re technically Orders it’s still right for me to put them in brackets like other Orders.
Azhure: So, what do you all think of this chapter? Is it good? Are there any problems with it? Any reviews or feedback is appreciated as long as they’re not plain insults meant to blow off your stress.
Voice: Don’t do that to people! Not even on the internet!
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