Azhure: The interlude’s fine, I’m not touching it. Also, it’s that time of the year again.
Azhure: I don’t know what to subtitle this sub-chapter.
Voice: At least it ain’t just ‘Conflict,’ ‘Conflict,’ ‘Conflict’!
“Yeah! What the heck!? There’s a bad guy out to get us and you’re worried about school!?”
“Hah…” the manager sighed. “I was afraid this would happen.”
It was a huge subversion of expectation, especially when it came out of nowhere. At one moment, they were talking about how they were going to proceed to save the Bell Branch from the SaltWaters noble and suddenly they can’t because of school. It was like being in the final preparations for a holiday only to have it canceled because the laundry wasn’t done.
“This is now an ‘operation,’ one that needs to be watched over constantly unlike other operations with more flexible schedules thanks to the noble,” William shot down the pixie, not wanting to be more fed up than he was. “Rule number six: To die or forsake a world you do not belong to, forsake the world.”
“W-What?” Alicia muttered, surprised at what William just said.
“Oi, you should probably go with rule number nine: preserve your duties, loyalties, and wishes,” Owen argued. “A lot less angsty.”
“Rule six gets the point across better,” William immediately countered, not willing to back down on this part.
“Anyway,” Owen turned to Alicia who was understandably confused by all of this. “The thing is, investigating the noble and then getting him arrested is gonna take time. While that is happening we need to watch out for the noble to pull something off. That means we’re gonna have to stay here until this is over which makes it awkward as an afterschool activity,” he said. “Our ninth rule states that we still have to go to school despite that.”
“Six,” William stubbornly corrected with his arms crossed.
“Yeah, yeah, that rule works too,” Owen relented.
“Really? Why though…” Alicia muttered. She had the impression that they would get excused from school, but their denial of it made no sense.
“Look, saving the Bell Branch is good and all but there’s a reason those Rules of Engagement exist,” Owen continued with an apologetic look. “Ultimately, this isn’t our world. We aren’t supposed to worry over all of this, yet here we are. But because of that, we can’t neglect our world and lose all of the connections we have over there.
“We’re not superheroes just because we have Maneg Souls. Even though we have these powers doesn’t mean we have the responsibility to ruin our lives for them. We don’t sacrifice ourselves for the sake of another world. That’s the whole point of rule six.”
“Even if the world is at stake?” Alicia frowned.
“Technically yes, but that’s not gonna happen ’cause there’s always a Court Wizard to answer that,” Owen shook his head. “There’s a long backstory why we have those rules in the first place, just know that they are meant to protect us just as they are meant to protect worlds.”
“I see,” Alicia hung her head low in understanding. “I guess you have a point.”
It made sense. In the context of Owen being a Court Wizard, for the past 5 years, he was never absent from school for long periods, only after it. Before Alicia knew why, Owen had always been evasive about what he was doing after school without her. If it were to be the opposite case, he would have been a known truant and her relationship with him might’ve become different.
And ultimately, when Owen did find his father, would it have been worth it?
“Well, it’s not like this is going to be a huge problem. We have Spring Break in the next couple of days, remember?” Owen explained to Alicia.
“Yes, that is right…” Alicia muttered before realizing it. “Oh! Is that when we will come back here?”
“Yep, conveniently,” Owen remarked.
“We will reconvene in four days when Spring Break starts,” William said before turning to Jonathan. “Jonathan, you will hold down the fort and investigate the noble ahead of us. Watch out for his schemes if it comes too early.”
“Got it,” Jonathan nodded.
“Mister Davis,” William turned to the manager. “I assume you can hold out until then?”
“Of course, it is doubtful Doug will do anything drastic soon,” the manager replied with a smile. “So do keep up your studies, it is important, after all.”
“Right, make us a cover story while we’re gone,” William then ordered.
“I shall prepare a room in our inn,” the manager replied jovially.
“Hey! Can’t we just like… come here after school every day and then stay here when it’s holidays!?”
“Do you want to spill our secret to the noble having his attention on us?” William spat at the pixie.
“Yeah, that’s what I meant by doing this after school every day being bad,” Owen shrugged.
“Owen?” Alicia asked. “Why does the Otherworldly Court use terms like missions, Rules of Engagement, and now operation?”
“Yeah! Like why not ‘quests’ or some other RPG stuff!?”
“Eh, it’s the guys who founded the Court that decided that,” Owen shrugged. “In my opinion, they’re trying to sound cool, but fall short on cringe.”
Over in Kaomagi Earth, school’s out for Spring Break for a week, meaning plenty of time to finish this mission. Of course, despite the initial opening, there was still one more thing to be done over the last couple of days during three out of four Court Wizards’ absences.
After hashing out the plan, the Kaomagi Earth Court Wizards were about to transfer out of this world before Owen had one last thing to do.
“Mister Davis,” he asked the manager. “Any news of my dad?”
“Apologies, Owen, I have not,” the manager shook his head. “You do know we have combed through every place imaginable. I’m afraid your father was not lost in this world.”
“Right…” Owen muttered.
It was at that exchange Alicia realized she had almost forgotten what her childhood friend was here for. It appeared this was how he tried to find his father.
It was the first day of Spring Break over in Kaomagi Earth and the Court Wizards were now back in the office as they entered the room where the manager and Jonathan were already inside.
“Ah, welcome back, everyone,” the manager greeted happily. “I trust your time had been pleasant for the past few days?”
“It is, mister Davis,” Alicia replied as she took a seat. “Did anything happen while we were away?”
“For one, news of your arrival traveled fast. Many people were talking about you,” the manager shrugged. “There were already many merchants trying to meet you that I had to politely deny.”
“H-Huh?” Alicia blinked in surprise. “People were what?”
“Wow! We’re famous!”
“Well, I’m pretty sure being the daughter of a wealthy merchant who barely shows up is going to attract attention,” Owen supposed with a slight grin on his face. “Seriously, some people think your dad is some marketing piece and doesn’t exist at all. Also, that paper fireworks you did a few days ago doesn’t help either.”
“I-Is that so?” Alicia smiled wryly.
“As for the noble, Doug tried to give me a bribe, wanting to turn me against you – I refused naturally,” the manager then explained. “However, five employees being threatened caved under pressure, so I gave them paid leave while making it look like they resigned until this was over.”
“I see,” Alicia nodded, turning to the Court Wizard who stayed behind. “Were you able to find anything on your end, Jonathan?”
“I’ve looked into rumors in taverns and talked to informants for general information about him… along with my personal experience.” The Nature Court Wizard shrugged. “Doug’s father was a prominent figure in the civil war, backing the most favored prince to win the war.”
“Hold up! Backstory please!?”
“Yes,” Alicia agreed with the pixie. “We only heard about the civil war being mentioned but not what it was.”
“Yeah, I think it might be a good idea to get a brief context over the whole civil war.” Owen motioned to himself and William. “Both of us were recruited after it happened, so we only heard some stuff about it but not a whole lot.”
“…It’s the same story you always hear. It started when the previous king suddenly died along with the crown prince, leaving no clear heir to the throne,” Jonathan started the tale. “The previous king had many sons from his mistresses all of whom started fighting each other to become the next king with the nobility of the kingdom backing their favorite princes.”
“So Doug’s father was one of the nobles supporting one of the princes in the war?” Alicia concluded.
“Yes, and he was a troublesome man,” Jonathan nodded, a hint of annoyance etched on his face. “Just like his son, he had always been able to get away with everything he had started. It makes him a nightmare in battle.”
“You talk as if it was a personal experience,” Alicia noticed. Not long after, she pieced it together. “We were involved in the war, are we not?”
“We did,” Jonathan confirmed. “We backed the only unsupported prince who was the most benevolent of the bunch. He’s the new king we’ve been talking about.”
“…” It was something Alicia would realize much, much later, but Jonathan was seemingly unhappy with the response he got to the story and changed the subject. “With only surface levels of knowledge, I scouted the SaltWaters territory for more information,” Jonathan said. “I couldn’t find anything, but when I ordered [Biological Scan] on the SaltWaters mansion, I picked up several people under the place.”
Just like that, what Jonathan must have not wanted to discuss about the civil war went unnoticed by the other Court Wizards. “Several people under the place?” Alicia muttered in question, having a bad feeling about it. “What does that mean?”
“I’m afraid that is out of my expertise,” the manager admitted.
“Maybe it’s an underground dungeon?” Owen suggested. “I mean, big stinkin’ nobles would have prisons under their houses right?”
“Exactly,” William quipped. “He’s torturing people under there and I doubt the new king of yours will like it.”
“No, he wouldn’t,” the manager shook his head. “This is worrying.”
“Oh no!” Alicia gasped with he hand covering her mouth. “What do we do?”
“For now, nothing,” William bluntly stated. “None of us can break into the dungeons and rescue the captives without causing alarms. There is also the matter of collecting data through infiltration. We’ll need backup.”
“We are going to have another Court Wizard with us?” Alicia asked in wonder.
“Yeah, when a mission turns out to be out of our specialty and there’s no other way, that’s when we’ll call down someone from the Court for help,” Owen explained to her. “And when it comes to sneaking into places, there’s only one guy for the job.”
It was the next day in the afternoon and the Court Wizard sent to help was here.
Being over 181 cm tall, a slender man with a dark-skin tone stood inside the office. Under his robe, he wore a black motor jacket and matching-colored jeans. He has silver eyes and long silver hair down to his waist with a black cloth covering the lower part of his face. The most notable feature, however, was a pair of long elongated ears.
A dark elf.
The first thing he did was to look at Alicia with his hand rubbing his chin and said, “So you are Ronald’s daughter, Alicia Bell.”
“Y-Yes,” Alicia nodded, sounding a bit nervous being stared at intently like that. “And you are?”
“I am the Guardian of the Dark Mother Soul, Darcassan Erith,” the dark elf introduced himself. “Most people, including my sister, just call me Darc.”
“Woah! The big boss coming down already!?”
“I exist you know,” William, the Guardian of the Air Mother Soul, grumbled, eyes narrowed at the pixie.
The Dark Guardian ignored his fellow Guardian’s quip and went to inspect the pixie. “So this is the pixie made out of nothing but loyal maneg I’ve been hearing about,” he said, unnerving said pixie. “Interesting how having only loyal maneg can sprout someone this tiny.”
“Hey! I ain’t some zoo animal! I’m Voice!”
“And she has an attitude too,” Darc remarked before turning to Alicia. “I don’t need to remind you how we are supposed to order disloyal maneg to keep our loyal maneg safe.”
“I am aware,” Alicia said apprehensively, getting uneasy around the dark elf by the minute.
“Now then, I believe you require my service to infiltrate a mansion, correct?” the Dark Guardian then asked Jonathan.
“Yeah, right here,” Jonathan placed his finger on the desk, where a map was placed on top of it. “This is the mansion owned by the noble Doug von SaltWaters in his territory.” Turning his head left and right, he turned to the manager. “Where’s the bigger map?”
“Ah, apologies. I must’ve forgotten about it.” The manager went to the drawer and rummaged for a bit. “Here it is,” he said, pulling out another map and laying it down on the desk. “Here is where we are,” the manager pointed at one part of the map before sliding his finger across it. “And the SaltWaters territory is here.”
“Noted, I’ll go right away,” Darc nodded, having looked over the map himself. “Anything else I should know?”
“He’s holding people under his mansion,” Jonathan simply reported.
For a moment, Alicia noticed Darc’s expression tensed upon hearing Jonathan’s concerning discovery, but he was just as quick as to revert to his aloof demeanor. “Very well,” he said before sinking into the ground.
“Woah! Still scary!”
The dark elf visibly rolled his eye before disappearing completely into the floor, leaving a black puddle-like circle that was worse than an imperfect circle, on the floor.
“That is still shocking to see,” Alicia remarked after the black circle moved to the open window at the back of the office and slipped through it. This wasn’t the first time she had seen it, the dark elf had entered the office in a similar fashion earlier. “How does he do that? Was that an Order?”
“Well yes, but actually no,” Owen answered, even taking an opportunity to include a certain quote. “That was his Personal Skill, his magic to sink into shadows.”
“Oh! So it is his power,” Alicia muttered. It only made sense that there were Court Wizards having powers other than from their Maneg Souls. If Maneg Souls focused on their hosts’ survival, then they would naturally welcome any and all magic or technique they already have.
“The maneg part of it is him giving a Progressive Order to form a magic carpet above the floor,” Owen continued. “Then, he rides inside the shadow underneath it and orders the carpet to move around.”
“That is a very creative application,” Alicia said in awe. “You can do that with Orders, huh?”
“Yeah,” Owen nodded. “We call using Orders with Personal Skill ‘Half-Orders’ by the way.”
“Why is it still called the SaltWaters territory?” Alicia wondered, looking at the map. “Do the nobles still control their land?”
“No, while they still get to keep their estate, the nobles no longer control their territories. The new king appoints his administrators to manage their former domains,” the manager explained. “As to why we still kept calling them nobles’ territories, we simply have no reason to change that.”
“Kinda like how some provinces still keep their former lords’ names as their names since they stuck,” Owen shrugged. “Or maybe it was the other way around from the start?”
“That must’ve rea~lly sucked for him!”
As the dark elf will most likely come back with his findings the next day, the Court Wizards decided to sign off for the night.
Instead of an uneventful slumber, a sound came from above, waking up the Court Wizards resting in two separate rooms, one for the male Court Wizards and one for Alicia all by herself, on the top floor of a Bell-owned inn checked-in by the manager for the past three days – Jonathan had it all for himself for those days.
“Woah! What was that!?”
With Voice’s yelp, Alicia shot up from her bed. Still dressed in her nightgown, she got off and turned towards the balcony where the noise came from. She felt the particular Maneg Soul coming from the balcony and promptly unlocked the door letting Jonathan in dragging a hooded figure with his left hand.
“Is this?” Alicia asked rhetorically, already knowing who the hooded person could be.
“An assassin,” Jonathan huffed as he plopped said assassin to the floor.
Then she felt Owen and William’s signatures behind the other door. She turned back and opened it to let them in.
“What happened?” Owen asked in concern, having heard the noise from Alicia’s room, before looking down on the source. “Is this guy an assassin?”
“Yes, it’s an assassin,” Jonathan confirmed.
“So that’s why you’re not in our room,” Owen muttered in realization. “Did you sneak out of the window?” he asked and got a nod of confirmation.
“That’s not important, the noble had made his move,” William said in a cold tone.
“To be fair, he could be here to kidnap you,” Jonathan suggested, lightly kicking the hooded figure. “Taking you hostage would be his next move.”
Alicia frowned at that. After all, she was kidnapped a month and a week ago. While it resulted in her introduction to the Otherworldly Court, also resulted in Owen getting severely wounded and it was a miracle he somehow was able to survive that.
“We’ll see when this guy wakes up.” Jonathan then put the knocked-out assassin or abductor in a sitting position, then paused for a moment.
Green maneg coming out of his Maneg Soul gathered around his left hand creating a green bundle of rope. It had numerous leaves sticking over it like a bundle of vines. “Help me tie him up,” Jonathan said and Owen came to help tie the man with the vines as a rope.
“Gotta use a real rope,” Owen commented, fastening the green maneg creation. “The vines ain’t gonna last.”
“Do we ask the staff?” Alicia asked. Her father technically owned the place, but trying to explain someone was trying to break in and cause harm to them would be awkward. “Do they even have a rope?”
“Yeah, we can do that,” Owen shrugged. “They gotta have a rope somewhere.”
The hooded figure was now bounded with an actual rope, just in time as the maneg created vines had broken off completely. The hood was lifted to reveal the perpetrator’s face.
“It is quite incredible that you were able to tell someone is sneaking on the roof, Jonathan,” Alicia can’t help but remark, looking down on the bound perpetrator. “None of us heard his steps.”
“Yeah! Like you got super hearing or something!?”
“You’re the center of attention, you’re bound to attract unsavory people. The noble will also send one your way,” Jonathan spoke in a low tone. “I overheard this man asking about where you stayed. Then, I saw him stalking the inn-”
Ignoring the pixie, he concluded, “So, I climbed the roof.”
“So you were on the lookout for him?” Alicia concluded, earning another nod from the Nature Court Wizard. “Why did you not tell us that you knew?”
“If I told any of you, your demeanor would have been different,” Jonathan explained. “Different enough that this man would notice and get spooked.”
“Make sense,” Owen remarked. “Usually, these guys are professionals.”
“Is that so? Anyway,” the red-haired girl turned to the Qantasia native and gave him a small bow. “Thank you for saving me, Jonathan.”
“…You’re welcome,” was Jonathan’s reply.
Not to break the heartfelt moment, but William had to interject, “Hey, shouldn’t we check for this guy’s weapons?”
Everyone else looked at him, “…Right.”
“A pair of daggers, multiple throwing knives, a garrote, and a smoke bomb.”
“He is an assassin!”
“So he is.”
“He’s waking up!”
“Knock him again!”
“…Should we not interrogate him when he is awake?”
Azhure: Usually, Court Wizards primarily look after their own worlds for obvious reasons. That only leaves Court Wizards from the many Earths in awkward positions.
Name: Jonathan Age: 26 Sex: Male Species: Human World: Qantasia Element: Nature Element Color: Green Cherished Armament: ???,???,??? Rank: Duke
Orders[Vines] Creates a bundle of vines as long as the Court Wizard specifies. Order: Create rope x thickness x length, sculpt leaf-shape x length x width x from left/right end, sculpt leaf-shape x length x width (x + n) from left/right end, sculpt leaf-shape x length x width (x + y) from left/right end, …, sculpt leaf-shape x length x width (x + z) from left/right end.
Sculpting leaves will increase Time Interval for break-off, making [Vines] last longer. The more leaves there are, the longer the Time Interval is.
Progressive Orders are Orders that maneg will carry out the moment the first step is declared.
It starts with ‘follow as I order’ instead of ‘I order you’ and ends with ‘I end my Order’ instead of ‘thus is my Order’. You will also need to declare the amount of maneg used beforehand by the percentage from your Maneg Soul which includes loyal maneg’s even though they’re rarely used.
When ordering [Iceball] using a normal Order, “I order you, form sphere 30 centimeters in diameter from my left hand, travel at linear direction parallel to my left arm, thus is my Order, [Iceball]!”
Maneg will only carry out the Order when the Order is finished. In a Progressive Order on the other hand, upon finishing the first step, the ball of ice will form first, once the second step is finished will it launch at its foe. ‘I end my Order’ will cause the maneg to stop and break off completely.
The advantage of a Progressive Order is that it is flexible. Once a normal Order is given, the maneg will do exactly what it is told and cannot be altered mid-flight. Progressive Orders are much more versatile as you can redirect their direction on the go and stop it when you need to.
The downside to it is that it will also cause the Time Interval of Break-Off to be dynamic as the Time Interval is dependent on the number of steps. So, upon the first step, the Time Interval would be one second, then two upon the second step, and so on. This means a Court Wizard must be quick on the initial steps lest they will have most of the maneg expended gone.
The Court Wizard must specify the amount of maneg used for a Progressive Order since it couldn’t know the minimum amount needed, unlike a conventional Order. Furthermore, they cannot give a name at the end of the Progressive Order. However, a frequently used Progressive Order is still given a name for convenience’s sake.
[Carpet] the Progressive Half-Order used in conjunction with Darc’s personal magic, Shadow Teleportation, which allows him the sink into a shadowy area and immediately rise to another shadowy location provided they are connected, hence teleportation. The Half-Order forms a ‘floating carpet’ that absorbs light, creating a shadow underneath for Darc to sink into when there are no shadows such as during daytime. It is progressive for ease of travel.
Progressive Half-Order: form x-shaped x cm above floor underneath (the shadow under the carpet would be formed and Darc will by then, sink in it), travel x meters to x angle, travel x meters to x angle, …
Azhure: So, what do you all think of this sub-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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