Azhure: This story shall conclude in the second week of July. The last chapter concluded in the second week of June. I was considering a post-modern world chapter, but it would ruin the build-up. I’ll do that as a side story.
Azhure: Anyway, I was going to rewrite some parts of this to make it aligned with the new Alicia Chapter 13 but turns out the whole thing needed to be rewritten. Fortunately, I didn’t end up doubling the word count.
“How is Rin faring?” Rose asked, sitting in her wheelchair while sipping her tea.
Alicia gently put her teacup on the saucer and answered, “Well, Rin still needs time to sort out her feelings, but she is doing fine. I heard she is going to a karaoke with her friends in her world.”
“I see, that is a relief,” Rose sighed. While not as perceptive as the Light Court Wizard, Alicia could notice by the vampire’s words that she was having grim thoughts about how it would end.
Well, based on her experience, she has the right to be cautious, Alicia figured to herself.
“Well, she still needs to find her older brother,” Jill huffed, eating a teaspoonful of chocolate cake. “She will never abandon her idiot brother, that much is certain.”
“Yes, you are correct,” Rose agreed as she poured another cup of tea.
Because what matters is what Rin will become after she comes back, Alicia thought with melancholy. Giving up her brother’s ideals she gave to him or continuing them on.
“Anyways,” Jill continued, clinking her cup to the saucer. “When will the discussion be finished? We have no time to be twiddling fingers.”
Rose pulled out a golden pocket watch buried between her cleavage – her red summer dress with puffs on the shoulder did not have pockets, and her handbag which contained her smartphone was inside the chamber. The other girls hid their frowns at the sight of it. She opened the pocket watch and said, “In about fifteen minutes.”
Alicia happened to show up at the Otherworldly Court earlier than usual.
After what transpired last week, she woke up from bed at five o’clock in the morning; treated herself to breakfast as she did not want to bother the chef; dragged the half-awake Owen with her, and; transferred to Manegia and then to Rakarok-Earth World Merge to see Rin. After checking up on her in the Fujiwara household, Alicia along with Owen transferred back to Manegia satisfied – she had her parents’ permission to do this.
It was seven hours and thirty minutes in Alicia’s world when she met up with Rose and Jill while the Guardians were having a meeting in the courtroom.
“Really?” Jill complained. “They are definitely going about an hour already.”
“True,” Alicia cupped her cheek. “What is happening in the courtroom anyway?”
“Well, because we are called the Otherworldly Court,” Rose explained. “The Guardians would naturally have discussions on how missions or operations should proceed.”
“Do they do that all the time?”
“Goodness, no! That would make their tasks extremely cumbersome if they did that,” Rose chuckled. “Potential missions and operations are handled differently depending on the severity of the situation and the highest of them would have the Guardians sit down and talk.”
“So it is like a case climbing up to the supreme court?” Alicia guessed after sipping her tea.
“Naturally,” Jill quipped lazily, resting her head on her fist. “The last thing we want to happen is for every mission to be bogged down by needless bureaucracy.”
“Yes, to oversimplify it, it starts when a Court Wizard, an operator, or maybe a Bell Branch discovers a problem that requires our attention. We would send Court Wizards to investigate the matter and judge how it should be handled,” Rose explained. “The ‘lowest’ tier of events can be handled on the spot. It usually comes up on the more ‘routine’ missions, or your operation in Qantasia last time after your Bell Branch called.”
Now that she mentioned it, the initial mission was only hearing the manager’s concern, Alicia pondered. Other than calling Master Darc, we did everything on our own.
Yeah! We rule!
“Conversely, should it prove to be more complicated, then the Court Wizards should return and report to the Guardian in charge,” Rose continued. “The Guardian would then be the judge of the situation. If it turns out there was a similar mission in the past, the Guardian will simply use that mission’s resolution and brief it to more Court Wizards. If not, the new mission will still be drawn if it is manageable.”
“So business as usual!?”
“Yes, business as usual,” Rose chuckled at Voice munching on cookies on the table. “But once the problem proves to be much more than simply sending anyone showing up in the Court, then the Guardian gets the other Guardians for a discussion.”
“So that is when all of them come together?”
“Not really,” Rose quipped, giving the red-haired girl, not the knight one, a double take. “It is only the Guardians present here.”
“Sometimes we are pressed for time. Waiting to get all eleven Guardians together would sooner fail the mission than resolving it,” Jill added, still looking amused at Alicia’s expression. “Besides, it is still hard to get all of them together when their schedules do not align. It would take an incident that could very well end a world to force them to drop everything and talk.”
“Precisely. That said, even though not all Guardians may attend, the discussion still functions the same way,” Rose continued, pouring herself another cup. “So, the Guardians gather in the courtroom to discuss the problem at hand. First, the main Guardian relays the report to the others and together they weigh their options. Many solutions can be proposed, but they are usually reduced to two distinct resolutions. Once a single solution is picked, the mission is formulated and assigned to the appropriate Court Wizards as usual.”
“Again, time may be a luxury, so it is a tradition to find a conclusion they all accept within an hour,” Jill interjected, her teacup being over her mouth as she said so. “That includes the preparatory stages, so this current discussion should have been over by now.”
“What happens when that time runs out before deciding?” Alicia then asked. “Do they hold a vote?”
“Quite, each Guardian casts their vote on their preferred solution. Depending on the case, it could be decided by a simple majority, two-thirds, or even unanimously,” Rose said, cutting up a slice of cake. “Oh, I should mention we could also attend the discussion. That is what the gallery above the courtroom is for.”
“Oh? Can we also participate in the discussion?”
“We can. We are allowed to give our input and propose solutions among other things,” Rose nodded, putting a bite of cake into her mouth. After swallowing it, she continued, “when voting, everyone in the gallery collectively has one vote.”
“What!? That’s unfair!”
“It is split by percentage,” Rose pointed out. “If exactly half of the gallery voted for one solution and the other half the other, point five votes will be added to both solutions.”
“That does not make it any better!” Alicia exasperated just like her pixie.
Alicia, Jill, Owen, and Richard, we have finished our discussion. Please come to the fire chamber as soon as possible. (Aqua)
“Well, that took long enough,” Jill sighed, stretching her arms for a bit.
“It appears I am not invited, but I will listen regardless,” Rose commented, rolling the wheels of her wheelchair backward. “Come on everyone, we should prepare the room.”
“Everyone is accounted for alongside an extra guest,” Aqua stated. Everyone she called was present, plus Rose who was already in the chamber, to begin with, alongside Darc and Jonathan being in the discussion. “Then, let us begin.”
Pushing the button with her glowing red finger, the machine conceptualized in the 17th century of ‘Earth’ blared up to illustrate the portable curtain of cotton and polyester by bathing it with a kaleidoscope of chromatic electromagnetic waves within the visible spectrum. It showed a dingy tomb-like room lit up with torches with an altar in the middle. Surrounding it were people in black robes discussing something.
“Well then,” Aqua looked at Alicia and Owen. “Do you recognize these mages in black robes during your operation in Qantasia, Alicia, Owen?”
“…Yes, we do,” Alicia confirmed after taking a good look. Quite a coincidence that she had talked about that world and operation earlier with the girls. Owen also nodded in affirmation.
“Good. If you do not know, Jonathan has been investigating these mages ever since you first encountered them,” Aqua began, putting her hands on her waists. “On the latest breakthrough, two weeks ago, a Bell Branch in the capital of the kingdom called GrassPlains had given a call to one of our operators about suspicious activity involving men in black robes. We will call these guys ‘cultists.'” Then, the Fire Guardian turned to Jonathan. “Jonathan, can you explain what you found out?”
Jonathan nodded and carried out his explanation. “I spotted some of the cultists in the capital and followed them into that tomb,” he said, pointing at the picture and focusing on the altar. “They were planning to resurrect Abyss to give them ‘release’ of some kind.”
“Abyss?” Alicia wondered. “I think I have heard of that before.”
“It’s the equivalent of hell in our world, but there’s also a dark deity of the same name,” Jonathan explained before the confusion settled in. “He’s your ancient demon lord defeated by heroes in the past, and the cultists are looking for their descendants.”
“Their… descendants’?” Alicia pondered at those words. “Is it possible to know who they are?” She couldn’t imagine medieval worlds keeping track of people’s lineages unless they were nobility which might be how they claimed their legitimacy.
“The heroes had brown or black hair. Everyone else has brighter hair,” Jonathan explained. “Not every noble is a hero’s descendant.”
“So you’re great-great-great-great grandparents’re heroes too!?”
“…Yes,” Jonathan admitted.
Smiling at Voice’s antics, Alicia continued, “Anyway, what do they want with them?”
“They plan to sacrifice them,” Jonathan bluntly said. “They also need to be children because of ‘purity’.”
“Here we go again…”
“Not the first time hearing it.”
“The lead cultist rehashed they would do this in the capital of every kingdom and it would summon Abyss’ army to invade before he himself comes.” The Nature Court Wizard continued, ignoring the murmurs. “Apparently, the ritual can only be done once before having to wait a long time to do it again.”
“I presume it may be because Abyss’ army is not infinite,” Richard commented. “Realm of the demons or not, no ritual bringing an army from somewhere can be done consecutively without exhausting them.”
“Yes,” Jonathan nodded. “And they’re starting on CoastLine.”
Now it really seemed more than a coincidence. Alicia and company were sent there for a mission-turned-operation around two months ago and now they’re going to go back there.
“How shall we stop this then?” Jill huffed, crossing her arms in determination. “I assume direct attempts for further information would do more harm than good, have you overheard anything else useful?”
“I do,” Jonathan nodded. “The other limitation is that the sacrifice had to be ‘fresh’ as in they have to kidnap the kid and then perform the ritual immediately. That narrows it down to just the capital.”
“So we are to allow a child to be abducted to expose their location,” Jill frowned. “Do you even know which child would be taken?”
“His majesty had conducted a census recently. There is exactly one kid who is a hero’s descendant,” Jonathan stated as a matter of fact. “He has black hair.”
“I’ve scoured the capital and found the boy myself,” Darc added. “We won’t be troubled trying to locate him first.”
“And that is the plan,” Aqua concluded, looking at the others. “We will follow the cultists into their own lair, stop their ritual, and rescue the child in one fell swoop. Not even a hair will be missing from the boy.”
“Well, I do hope you have a good plan for that,” Jill sighed in resignation.
Voice, what do you think? Alicia asked the pixie from her mind.
Relax, Alicia! We’re doing this with a bunch of professionals here! Absolutely nothing could go wrong!
While the assurance was reaffirming, that wasn’t all Alicia mulled over. It was probably Rin’s situation rubbing off of her, but it made her think about the two Guardians hundreds of years older than her.
Alicia knew Aqua was a spirit worshipped as a deity in her world. No matter how similar she acted, she was fundamentally different than humans or other races. After interacting with her enough, Alicia knew Aqua, in her experience, would lean to the many over one despite being the most progressive among greater spirits. She would let a child suffer being abducted and almost being sacrificed if it meant uprooting the cultists with the confidence the latter would be just that, almost which was only a consolation.
Darc, meanwhile, was definitely the pragmatic type and would agree to this plan despite what he seemingly did back in Qantasia two months ago. If Alicia were to guess his mind, the child would be traumatized for a while but would recover soon after. If she had heard of it before, she should have participated in that discussion. Hopefully, part of her worry was unfounded and it would work out as they intended.
Alright then, if you say so.
Yeah! Let’s go!
Voice: Wow! That much for turning a projector on!?
Azhure: I’m quite proud of it.
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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