Azhure: A bunch of things happened like my country’s Independence Day and I’m mostly staring at the screen figuring out what to rewrite. Anyway, enjoy.
“You saved us once again, sir Jonathan,” the princess of Coastline, Alyssa von Coastline, bowed to Jonathan. Her maid followed suit, though she seemed nervous around the man. The beastfolk knight, having removed his helmet to show his vibrant orange fox ears, stood by her side also giving a light bow. “Once again, you have our gratitude.”
“You’re welcome,” Jonathan simply replied. He and the Court Wizards have long since taken off their hoods and masks.
Taking a good look at the princess, Alicia saw that she was wearing a light yellow dress complementing her long blonde hair that looked like it was made for this tropical climate, but at the same time wasn’t. The same goes for her maid dressed in a stereotypical maid uniform that looked sweaty even if was not as thick. If she were to guess, the nobility of this kingdom copied the fashion of the more European-like countries in this world because the ordinary citizens she saw in the capital didn’t wear like medieval common folk.
“That said,” the princess cleared her throat. “You saving us here is not happenstance, is it not? There must be something that led you to us.”
“You’re right,” Jonathan nodded. “It’s about your brother.”
“So it has to do with my brother,” the princess sighed as if this happened often. “Anyway, before that, shall we introduce each other to our new friends first?” the princess suggested, looking at the other Court Wizards.
While the others took turns saying their names, including the maid named Mia and the knight named Alfred, Alicia took a glance at the aftermath of the battle while she waited for her turn. As planned, none of the thirty-five knights including Alfred lost their lives. The only casualties were two knights heavily wounded along with ten others with minor injuries but the healer mages can fix that problem. Darc also knew some healing magic from his world and was the one who mostly healed those two knights. Aside from the three exhausted combat mages, the princess’s entourage was in good shape.
As for the bandits, Alicia averted her gaze from the knights piling up the corpses to be burned by the mages once their reserves were refilled and onto the surviving ones. There were forty-five bandits captured and although they still outnumbered them, it wasn’t like they were going to do anything after seeing the massacre brought upon them. Five bandits were charred from the blast mage knights’ spells; they were lightly healed to prevent them from dying. Thirty-five of them were mercenaries including their leader still knocked out cold with Owen having ended the Progressive Order. The last ten were the ‘normal’ bandits including their leader who fainted with foam in his mouth were tied up – Alicia wondered where that came from seeing as he was mostly inside a shadow.
Turning back, it was her turn to introduce herself. “Greetings, my name is Alicia Bell,” she said with a ladylike bow, remembering her mother’s lessons that now made sense. “Pleased to meet you.”
“Oh!” Alyssa gasped in surprise. “Are you not the heiress of Bell Conglomerate everyone is talking about?”
“Yes, I am,” Alicia blinked. “Am I really that famous?”
“I would be surprised if the news had not reached the whole kingdom!” the princess exclaimed. “Even though I mostly stayed in my mother’s estate, news has still reached my ear. The maids were very talkative.”
“I-I am flattered…” Alicia blushed as her reputation seemed to have preceded her.
“Well, I sure do know why that is,” Alyssa chuckled, not so subtly reminding her that she knew about Court Wizards along with her maid, Alfred, and the rest of her knights.
“Doug von SaltWaters. Well, he would not be the only one who would want to do this,” the princess muttered, cupping her cheek. “That said, I imagine someone trying to overthrow my brother would happen much much later.”
“It’s happening now,” Jonathan said. “We need to speak with your brother.”
“Right,” Alyssa nodded and turned to the knight captain. “Alfred, tell the knights that we are preparing to go.”
“Right away, your highness,” Alfred nodded. “But, how should we deal with the captured?”
“Oh, you are right,” the princess put her hand over her mouth, looking at the captured bandits. There were still forty-five bandits, and most were unconscious, making it difficult to drag them to the capital.
“We can handle that,” Alicia interjected. “We figured this would happen so we have the Bell Branch to send wagons on our way.”
“Speak of the devil, here they are.”
The knights nearly drew their swords upon hearing the sounds of presumably more danger, but after hearing what Alicia said, they stayed their blades, especially after seeing what had arrived. They consisted of three wagons pulled by one horse each that could fit around ten people and a carriage pulled by two horses. The carriage itself has a red motif and carried the rusted bell embraced by a light-blue cloth, the emblem of Bell Conglomerate. Subsequently, the carriage door opened, and out came the manager.
“Miss Bell, I have brought the wagons as requested,” the manager said, ignoring the pile of bodies on the side, and then bowed to the princess. “And greetings, your highness.”
“Thank you, mister Davis. You are right on time.” Alicia then turned to Alyssa. “Will this suffice?”
“You should probably ask Alfred about it but yes, it should. You really have prepared everything,” Alyssa praised and it wasn’t just for Alicia.
Without needing to be ordered, the knights began to haul the bandits into the wagons one by one. As most of the bandits were still unconscious, they had to pick them up and toss them into the wagons, stacking them up as if they were carrying the dead they were supposed to burn over the side in an unorganized manner. This resulted in a bigger mishap as the Court Wizards had initially overestimated the number of prisoners needed to be carried.
“Sir?” one knight called out to the captain. “We don’t have enough space to fit them, what should we do?”
“Then make them fit,” Alfred commanded bluntly. “They don’t need the comfort.”
Meanwhile, Alicia was invited into the princess’ carriage after Darc had fully healed the coachman on top of the princess’ own healing – the dark elf assassin also cleaned the blood inside the carriage after Jonathan shoved the man inside with a cleaning spell he knew which made sense considering his line of work. Being the heiress of Bell Conglomerate, Alyssa naturally wanted to chat with her leaving the rest of the Court Wizards riding the carriages the manager provided.
Passing through the pile of bodies the mage knights were about to burn so that they would not rot, Jonathan noticed something among them. “Those mages…” he muttered to himself, eyeing the headless mages among the heap.
“What’s wrong, Jonathan?” Darc, being ever vigilant to his surroundings, noticed the Qantasia Court Wizard mulling and asked.
“Those mages,” Jonathan repeated. “I think I’ve seen them before. At least, what they’re wearing specifically.”
“They do wear differently than the other bandits, and they’re not from the mercenaries,” Owen commented and turned to the Air Guardian. “Hey William, you notice anything about them?”
William, being the one who beheaded those mages, shook his head. “Nope, they seem ordinary to me.”
“I have seen mages wearing all black before,” Jonathan crossed his arms, looking sternly at the others. “It’s not a common fashion among mages and I’ve seen them a few times too many in the civil war.”
“So it is connected to the war,” Darc nodded in understanding. “Do you recall what they were doing back then?”
“Sometimes they fought us just like this, sometimes they’re just observing from afar,” Jonathan recalled, but after that, he… hesitated. “…Overall, whenever they’re there, they always look suspicious.”
“I see, could they possibly be in the camp of whoever enabled Doug’s rebellion?” Darc theorized, rubbing his chin. “No matter, we’ll find out about them sooner or later.”
“I see the royal flag!” the guard in the watchtower of the capital walls shouted down to the others.
“Open the gates!” the captain of the guards commanded as this was normally the hour of no traffic and so had the entrance closed.
As the gates opened wide, several guards and the head guard rushed down to the clear entrance to welcome the returning royal family member. Meeting them first was the captain of the royal knights that accompanied the princess’ carriage.
“Captain Alfred, welcome back!” the guard captain took off his helmet and saluted his fellow captain who got off his horse. Before he said anything further, the guard captain noticed that it wasn’t only the princess’ carriage that was returning. “I see you are not the only ones returning… Wait, is that the Bell Conglomerate carriage that left earlier?” Then he saw the three wagons filled with tied men of which one was packed like sardines while the other two were piled like corpses.
Before the guard captain could exasperate further, Alfred explained while taking off his helmet as it was the custom, “We were ambushed by these men,” the knight captain gestured towards the wagons. “They were aiming for the princess.”
“My word!” the head guard exclaimed. “They seek to harm her highness!?”
“Fortunately, sir Jonathan had caught wind of this and helped us defeat them. He had also asked the Bell Conglomerate to lend us the wagons,” Alfred said, leaning his head towards the other captain, twitching his fox ears. “Now, take them away. I would rather have no more complications.”
“Acknowledged, captain Alfred.” Getting the memo, the guard captain questioned no further and turned to his subordinates. “Men, take these scum to the dungeons!”
As the guards moved in and began to drag the captured bandits away, the fox knight continued, “Send word of our arrival to the king. We will make haste to the palace at once.”
“Right away, captain!”
“We will be back in the palace shortly after this, your highness,” Mia happily reported.
“Yes, and it was quite the journey,” the princess nodded. “Is that not right, Alicia?”
“I suppose it is,” Alicia chuckled. To her specifically, it was more so since stepping foot into this world.
Incidentally, since the princess and company knew of Court Wizards, Voice had no problem popping herself into the carriage to wow the other occupants. It made the chatting more of an experience.
“Pretty sure it’s too late to say this, but isn’t it a bit cramped here?” On the other carriage, Owen groaned as he brought his shoulders closer together to give himself more room.
“No, it’s not,” William, who sat beside him, deadpanned. “This is a four-seater and we’re both small enough to fit a third guy here.”
“Fair point, but if Alicia wasn’t invited to the princess’ carriage and Jonathan didn’t ride on a horse, it definitely would have been cramped here,” Owen argued.
“I can see the point,” Darc, sitting on the opposite side, nodded with his arms crossed. “We may have needed another carriage.”
“True,” the manager, who was beside the dark elf, furrowed his eyebrows. “Well, it’s a good thing this hindsight didn’t cost us, no matter how minor of an inconvenience it would have become.”
CLIP CLOP CLIP CLOP
Riding on a spare horse, Jonathan relaxed his shoulders now that they were in the capital. He had decided to take the horse in case the noble had sent more bandits their way. Now that the tense part was over, the war hero can now converse with a friend he hasn’t seen for a long time.
“Hey, Jonathan,” Alfred called, reining his horse closer to Jonathan’s. “It’s been a long time, huh?”
“Yes,” Jonathan replied stoically, in an almost somber tone. “It has.”
Noticing his expression, the fox knight sighed, “Jonathan, it’s not your fault what happened that day. We’ve already moved on from it, right?”
“I know,” the war hero sighed too. “But still, we still don’t know who did it. She… they knew better than to let themselves get careless.”
“You’re right, some grunt couldn’t have gotten them on a whim,” Alfred hung his head low, his fox ears drooping without that care the capital folk were watching, as they would with the princess returning. “But it’s not like we can find the bastard who targeted them after all this time.”
“Even so,” Jonathan narrowed his eyes. “I still can’t let go of that nagging feeling…”
“…Yeah, me too.”
Alicia felt the carriage stop and when she looked outside, she could tell she was at the front gates of the royal palace. As she hopped off the carriage after the princess and her maid, she saw the gate open revealing the gold castle like the sand in all of its splendor. Two rows of maids and butlers lined up in the front garden of the palace welcoming the princess’ return. As Alicia followed the princess to the entrance, a young man can be seen waiting there. He wore a yellow-themed garb that fit royalty, telling anyone who saw him that he was the king of CoastLine.
“Little brother!” Alyssa exclaimed as she lifted the hem of her dress and picked up her pace.
Her brother, in turn, also ran towards his older sister. “Alyssa!” he exclaimed, hugging her as they met. “I was told you were attacked! Are you hurt!?”
“No, I am fine,” Alyssa reassured her little brother as she let go of him. “It is all thanks to them.”
The king looked at them, and by his face, Alicia could tell he knew who they were by their robes. Then, he trained his gaze on her first, being the one right behind his sister.
“Hmm, that bright red hair,” the king rubbed his chin, studying the girl before him. “You must be the Bell Conglomerate heiress people are talking about, am I right?”
“Er, yes. I am,” Alicia answered hesitantly. It was more so the fact the king recognized her by the color of her hair, being the only one who has it in this world so far. She knew her red hair was so vibrant yet all-natural that it made her stand out, but this was ridiculous. “Your majesty?” She was sure ‘your majesty’ was for the actual monarch and ‘your highness’ for every other royal family member.
“I see…” The king then looked behind her to see a familiar face. “Jonathan!” he exclaimed, losing all interest in Alicia and rushing to him. “It has been years since I have seen you! Where have you been?”
“Here. I live here,” Jonathan deadpanned.
“Oh,” the king blinked. “I should have invited you here more often then.”
“None of you have mentioned me by name to them?” the king sweatdropped in disbelief.
“Calling you the ‘new king’ rolls better off the tongue,” Jonathan said nonchalantly. “Your majesty.”
“There is that too,” his majesty grumbled. “Why do people avoid my name once I am king?”
They were now in the dining hall of the palace as it was a convenient place to gather so many people in. The king had suggested the front balcony overseeing the garden but Jonathan shot it down on account of what they were going to discuss.
“Anyway, I will introduce myself,” the king sighed. “My name is Albert von CoastLine and as you all know, I am the ruler of this kingdom.”
He has the same name as uncle!
Yes, what a coincidence, Alicia nodded internally to her pixie who was in the middle of the table munching cookies as always. It appeared the king, along with palace staff in the know, was used to the absurdities Court Wizards could bring as he didn’t react much to Voice.
Incidentally, the Bell Branch manager wasn’t there. Either he was uneasy being in the same room as the ruling monarch or he didn’t want to leave the Bell Branch empty any longer now that his job was done. So there were only the Court Wizards, the king, and the princess in the dining hall along with the princess’ maid and other servants serving them tea. The beastfolk knight captain, Alfred, and one other knight were also there formally standing guard.
“I already know of the Bell heiress,” Albert continued. “But how about the rest of you?”
As the other Court Wizards took turns introducing themselves, Alicia took the time to observe the room she was in. Being the dining hall of this kingdom’s royal palace, it lived up to what Alicia would have imagined it with its yellow aesthetic, intricate paintings, and chandelier. Topping it all off was the kingdom’s sigil right under where the king was sitting; it looked to be a gold crest like the sands of CoastLine with mainly an anchor surrounded by fishes and crossed by two tridents.
“I see, it is a pleasure to meet you all,” Albert smiled. Then, in a move that surprised Alicia, he bowed his head from his seat. “And, I thank you all for saving my sister and her entourage.”
“Raise your head. You’re the king now,” Jonathan reminded. True, the thanks were alright, but it was the bowing that was unexpected for a monarch.
“Alright, I give,” the king chuckled. But just as fast as he took to laughing, his face became stern as he asked, “now, I believe there is something you wish to tell me, am I wrong?”
“Doug von SaltWaters, eh?” the king muttered. “I suppose he would not be the last noble seeking to overthrow me considering I executed his father.”
“You executed his father!?” Alicia can’t help but exclaim.
“Him and… practically every head of noble houses,” he sighed. “…After all they have done to the people and kingdom, they cannot be left running any longer.”
The follow-up shocked Alicia even more. It was a natural reaction coming from her world. That said, coming to this world, she should have seen this coming for a long time, that the new king would execute his rivals in the civil war to consolidate his power, especially when Jonathan had implied it.
“…he was a troublesome man. Just like his son, he had always been able to get away with everything he had started…”
“Nine years ago, my father, the former king of CoastLine, suddenly passed away along with my eldest half-brother, the crown prince, under suspicious circumstances,” Albert continued, sipping his tea. “That had left a civil war of succession among me and my six other half-brothers. Thanks to you Court Wizards, I have won and become the new king of CoastLine.”
As the new king spoke of the civil war, Alicia recalled some of the things she saw in the palace. It may have been fixed over the years, but she could tell signs of rough tatters and tearings that must have been from the result of a battle occurring within the castle – not even all the maids and butlers could restore Alicia’s home mansion from its abandoned state. It reminded her that this was still a kingdom recovering from a civil war.
“After I ascended the throne… I had the nobility purged along with all of my remaining adversaries, my half-siblings, executing those who have abused their power,” the king then said with a sigh. “I have done much to limit their power ever since, but I suppose it was only delaying the inevitable.”
“But it is happening too fast,” Jonathan interjected, interrupting the king’s story.
The king did a spit-take as he didn’t expect his monologue to be stopped. Looking at Jonathan’s look, he knew it was important. Regaining his composure, he inquired, “Why is that?”
“During the attack on your sister, there were mages wearing all black,” Jonathan said, crossing his arms. “I’ve seen far too many of them before acting suspicious during the war.”
“I see. If it were not for the fact that I too saw them skulking about, I would have said you were being too discriminatory over a group of mages’ fashion sense,” the king nodded with his eyes closed. “Not to mention no mage would want to bring attention to themself in broad daylight on a battlefield wearing that, much less an entire matching group of them. So I presume we are dealing with an order of mages that may have enabled SaltWaters’ rebellion?”
“One that may or may not have known about us,” the Nature Court Wizard declared, surprising the other Court Wizards sans the Dark Guardian. “At least, the Bell Branches.”
The last bit got Alicia’s attention, naturally. “Does that mean the attack on the Bell Branch is caused by them!?”
“Makes sense, even the most petty noble wouldn’t take the time to harass a merchant company while formulating a coup,” Darc pointed out. “The company’s presence is big enough in this world to suspect it would have a hand in politics and we had mostly aided king Albert through the Bell Branch anyway. Until we know another notable third party, those black mages most likely knew the Bell Branch has something to do with his majesty’s ascension and pushed Doug to attack the Branch.”
“Bastard did try to get to Alicia too,” Owen added with a frown. “Bet they’re trying to turn us into headless chickens.”
“Clearly they have no idea what merchant company they’re dealing with if they sic the noble on us haphazardly,” William stated. “That only got our attention.”
“Yes,” Darc nodded, crossing his arms. “There is little evidence we are compromised and if it were not for the noble’s recklessness, we would have found out too late.”
“That is quite interesting and all,” the king remarked. “But would you like to explain it for us out of the loop?”
“How horrible…” the princess gasped with her hands over her mouth, almost dropping her teacup.
“..!” Alfred, the fox beastfolk knight captain, could barely hide his rage with his hand clutching the pommel of his sword hard.
“I would be lying if I said I had not seen worse during the war,” Albert confessed. “But still…”
The party continued with the discussion, first explaining the context of how the Court Wizards found out about the noble’s plot, then to Doug’s plans to kidnap Alyssa, and finally what Darc discovered in the SaltWaters mansion. It was there that the Court Wizards revealed what transpired under the mansion and the royal siblings’ reactions explained it all.
“I had spared his life and let him keep his estate and anything he had left. I did this to all the children of the nobility I killed,” the king lamented, palming his head with his elbow resting on the table. “I figured they should be blameless for the sins of their parents, that they would not be like them, so I gave them a chance. Looks like Doug proved me wrong.”
“You are not wrong, they are not their parents. They are not born like them,” Darc said, catching the king’s attention. “But they are still raised by them to follow their footsteps. In other words, parents force their children to be like them.”
“…I understand what you are saying,” the king sighed. “Perhaps I should not have just left them alone after all was said and done. I should have tried to tell them that what their predecessors did was abhorrent, that the crimes they did were not their right.”
“You could, but the odds would be stacked against you. For one, they would naturally be vengeful for their parents’ deaths, and years of indoctrination are difficult to break,” Darc shook his head. “But, it can be done. I have seen plenty of kids who refused to be dictated by the terrible actions of those before them and become better persons as a result. So ultimately, it is their choice whether or not to follow that path and Doug von SaltWaters has made his.”
“So he has,” Albert closed his eyes, getting his bearings. “What Doug has done is treason and even if he did not, what he did to those children is unacceptable. He will be hanged for his crimes.”
“Good,” Jonathan nodded. “Now, what will you do?”
“Apprehend him, obviously. As quickly as possible,” the king quipped. “As you are aiding me in that endeavor once again, I would like to hear your opinion.”
Unlike in Beohar, cooperation was possible here.
The discussion went well into the night. Seeing how late it was, the king allowed them to stay in the palace rather than go back into the inn. After a delightful dinner and relaxation in the palace bath, the Court Wizards were ushered into their respective guest rooms.
“That was tiring…” Alicia moaned as she sunk into the soft bed fit for royalty. While the evening bath was rejuvenating and the sleepwear she was given was cozy, it did nothing to alleviate her fatigue.
“You did great, Alicia!”
“Oh please, this entire mission is stressful,” Alicia mooted as the pixie followed her into the bedroom. Voice had her fun inside the palace as the kingdom’s ministers and other people unaware of the Otherworldly Court were home by nighttime. “It was only thanks to mother that I know how to act around important people. Thank goodness I did not stutter at all.”
“Don’t be so lame like that!”
“Oh! She’s asleep! Goodnight then, Alicia!”
Pulling the blanket over her master, Voice turned off the torches and ended the day.
Azhure: Alicia acting like she is the leader and does all the talking didn’t make sense when she is just starting out as a Court Wizard – no amount of practice from her father beforehand will suddenly make her an expert first-time on the field in another world especially when she’s not the one planning the whole mission. Book three though is when she will start being that, that I promise.
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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