Manegia (World where the Otherworldly Court resides)
“What was that!?” Alicia shouted.
“I think that was Hans throwing [Explosion] over there,” Owen commented as a giant red-orange spherical dome rose over the distance.
“And there goes the [Missiles].”
“Anyway,” Owen continued, unfazed by the explosions. “Welcome to the Training Grounds.”
“What do you mean by that!?” Alicia exclaimed further. “This is an entire wasteland!”
She was right. Everything around them is completely desolate. The ground is entirely ashes and there are many large holes including the [Mini Nuke] and [Missiles] the Court Wizard named Hans set off. It was a stark contrast to the building of the Otherworldly Court behind them.
It was that of a three-story castle similar to an ice palace made by a princess (though she should be a queen by that time) in a movie whose studio that made it had a mouse for its mascot. Well, only the bottom part of it, the middle part was of rectangular segments of many different colors: red, green, light blue, brown, black, crimson from where Alicia can see it; the very top of the castle, however, was dull grey and seemed to be an observatory. The castle was surrounded by a moat though no walls are surrounding the castle. Incidentally, Alicia and Owen passed through the western bridge and into the Training Ground (wasteland).
“Well, it’s supposed to be a site of a huge battle which made the place completely wasted,” Owen explained. “Afterwards, the Court decided to make it more of a wasteland by making the whole area the spot where we can throw whatever Orders we want on it. It’s got a sound-absorbing barrier around it so the neighbors wouldn’t get disturbed.”
“Anyway, recruited Court Wizards like you usually learn everything about the Otherworldly Court in a little over the course of a year, mentored by me, the one who ‘recruited’ you, and one other person.”
“So it is like a school term.”
“Yeah… that sums it up pretty neatly. Well, for now, I’ll start by explaining to you what Maneg Souls are, and maneg in general.”
“Maneg Souls? You and father have thrown that term frequently… What is that you pulled out?”
Owen simply showed her the cover of a book with the title ‘Maneg 101, by Amelia Rickens’ and what seemed to be a bunch of… abstract doodlings by this Amelia Rickens.
“Uhm…” Alicia looked at her childhood friend.
“Uh… Just in case I forget some terms,” Owen excused.
“If you don’t mind, I’ll go over this with my own words. You can ask me what you don’t understand.”
“Alright then, sounds good to me.”
“Okay,” Owen flipped the book open, reading it for a moment. “Right, so if we wanna talk about Maneg Souls, we gotta talk about maneg.”
“Is that the magical source of our powers as Court Wizards?”
“Yeah, pretty much. But some of us think that it’s not magic, especially the one who wrote this book, Amelia, even though she described it as magic and then going through an entire paragraph to tell that it’s not.”
“That… is peculiar.”
“I know, even I still think it’s magic. Moving on, maneg exists in pretty much every part of the world. When we, the Otherworldly Court, make contact with a new world, through various methods in which only one of them is intentional by us, it gets ‘filled’ with maneg from this world, Manegia, the source of all maneg. So we can technically say every world we come across has maneg.”
“So that means our world originally did not have maneg?”
“Yeah. Anyway, before I can explain about maneg further, I need to explain what a Maneg Soul is.
“A Maneg Soul is a mass of Maneg formed in a special way that’s very concentrated that it becomes sentient. Now the lifespan of these things is really short. About a day or so.”
“Wait so then-“
“It’s suspected as the reason why it would merge with our souls. The act of merging with us, the ‘host’s’ soul allows it to live longer, as long as we are still alive.”
“So then it wanted to live longer?”
“Precisely. And it’s also why it gives us these powers. To keep us alive longer.
“When a Maneg Soul enters our soul, it will begin to merge with it. The time taken to merge with the target in which by that time its short lifespan gets prolonged. How long it takes to merge depends on our soul. I took about two weeks.”
“I see…” So Alicia’s Maneg Soul merged with her twice as fast as him.
“Also in the process, we will feel weird things that were never actually there. I’m pretty sure you felt it, right?”
“Right.” So those fake sensations were her Maneg Soul merging with her soul. Probably relating to her having fire magic. “Then what was yours?”
“Eh, my skin feels cold, really cold. And even though I put on the heater on full blast and actually sweat a lot, I still feel cold.”
“Anyway, once the Maneg Soul fully merged with us, whatever makes our soul, our lifeforce or whatnot, gets turned into maneg. Also, those feelings still persist even after our Maneg Souls fully merged with us, but it’s toned down so we can just ignore it. And to give us the edge, the maneg inside our souls will go out to circulate in our bodies like our blood cells.”
“I see. I understand.”
“Right. Now we’ll continue with maneg,” Owen continued. “Maneg is actually an abbreviation of the words ‘mana’ and ‘energy.’ Mana because when using it, it looks like magic and mana is the most common term for magical energy. Energy because it acts like energy for some reason.”
“Huh? What do you mean by that?”
“You still remember the conservation of energy back in middle school, right?”
“Yes… So that means maneg cannot be destroyed or created, therefore the amount of maneg is constant? But what of this world’s maneg not be constant since it has to fill other worlds with its maneg?”
“Well, ‘fill’ isn’t the correct word. The process is more complicated and not something for you to learn today. As for your first question, yeah that’s right, in a given world. Also, the maneg stored inside of our Maneg Souls are included as well.”
“Wait, then what would happen when we travel between worlds? Would our maneg leave us to keep to constant, or not? Or did that already happened to us?”
“Yeah, you’re right about the maneg leaving us. But remember the dark room where we transfer to here? That’s a special transfer device that mitigates the problem.
“But if that’s not the case, well, you will be in deep trouble because it’s literally your soul leaving you. And… that’s what happened to dad…”
“…Wait,” Alicia widened her eyes. “Does that mean-“
“No,” Owen shook his head. “Not all of our maneg will leave. You see, our Maneg Soul consists of two types of maneg, ‘loyal maneg’ and ‘disloyal maneg.’ Disloyal maneg is the one that will leave us but our loyal maneg stays with us no matter what; what these two are is a topic for another day. So my dad’s fine. But regardless, depending on the disposition of disloyal maneg we have, the effects of having all of them suddenly leaving us can be bad news.”
“Anyway,” Owen continued regardless. “Maneg exists in 11 different ‘Elements:’ life, light, water, lightning, ice, air, nature, earth, fire, dark, and death. Each of the Elements maneg takes makes it so that the maneg’s properties are that of the element. For example, water maneg will have the properties of a liquid, and light maneg will emit, well, light.
“How maneg change its Element depends on its environment it’s in. To turn into a fire maneg, it would need to expose itself in fire or in places with a very high temperature. The maneg then will slowly take its properties as fire. To become air, it would need to be continuously get buffeted by the wind.
“Also, our Maneg Soul can only have one Element only.”
“Wait, since I can use fire magic that means my Maneg Soul is fire correct? And what you said before, I have fire Maneg in my body and since it took fire properties it should be on fire. That would mean I would be constantly on fire inside, then why am I not?”
“I’ll explain that. It’s the theory on the structure of maneg.”
“Maneg has two parts. An inner core and a shell. The inner core houses the elemental properties and the shell keeps the inside separated from the environment.”
“I do not understand?”
“…Think of it as a plastic bottle of water.”
“The plastic bottle itself is the shell. It makes sure the water inside, the inner core, not leaking out. In shell form, maneg will practically be invisible to whatever form of vision and unable to interact with the environment in whatever form be it physical or not. It can even pass through walls. Does that make sense?”
“I think I can understand that.”
“Right then, now that I’ve covered the outline, let’s start your training.
“Let’s start with the basics. Make a generic [Fireball]. It should be easy. I’ll make an example, it’s basically the same thing but it’s ice.”
Then, Owen put some distance and postured himself.
“I order you,” he said, “form sphere 30 centimeters in diameter from my left hand, travel at linear direction parallel to my left arm, thus is my Order, [Iceball]!”
A light blue ball 30 centimeters in diameter forms from his left hand. The ball of ice immediately shoots out from his hands pointing nowhere and get reduced in size by chunks every two seconds and disappeared completely after twenty seconds.
“Our spells are called Order. Because, unlike normal magical spells incantation that involves a single word mantra or a paragraph of extravagant words that makes it sound like poetry, Orders are like step-by-step how-to’s. Hearing it will clearly tell you what it does. When the Order is given, maneg inside our Maneg Soul will come out and cast aside its shell, becoming visible and intractable. Once it’s over, the maneg used gets ‘tired’ and enters a ‘rest’ period for a while so you can’t pick them back up immediately.”
“Wait,” Alicia stopped. “Once merged, our souls become maneg. That means we are taking away a part of our souls for attacks. That is counterintuitive when you said our Maneg Soul tries to keep us alive!”
“Yeah, I know. This is why Orders will only take the bare minimum for it to work unless ordered otherwise. Also, because of that, we are told to rely on our own magic or abilities we’re born with. But since we don’t, we gotta be efficient with our usage. And remember that we can recover them, though our Elements would make it tricky.”
“…I see. I understand.”
“Right,” Owen continued. “An Order starts with ‘I order you’ and the necessary steps, separated by a comma when written, and ends with ‘Thus is my Order’ followed by the name of the Order. In each step, you need to completely specify one ‘action’ that you want the Maneg to do and any number of necessary ‘parameters’.
“[Iceball] takes two steps in which the first forms the ball, one single action, with two parameters, the size and where it should be formed, in front of my left hand. The second step’s action launches it with two parameters determining its direction, linear and parallel to my left arm.”
“Can we do it without aiming our arm?”
“Yeah, you can…”
Demonstrating this, Owen tucked both of his hands into his pockets. Then, another [Iceball] manifested in front of him, farther from him compared to the first. Alicia noticed that it appeared to be smaller as it flew at an angle this time, to the ground, and dispersed upon impact, leaving a small crater.
“But you’re gonna have to describe where it shows up by triple coordinates with your center of mass as origin,” Owen explained. “And the horizontal and vertical angles to tell the direction it should travel.”
“That… would be complicated.”
“Yeah, but you can if you practice. I know one guy who can do it with his eyes closed. But for now, just use hand gestures.
“Anyway, after the closing, you say the name of the Order you give. Doing so can help your Maneg Soul remember and anticipate it, allowing the Order to come out faster. If you give the exact same Order and name, the Maneg Soul can memorize it. Then, all you need to do is say the name.”
“Can you still alter a memorized Order without having to memorize it again?”
“Only the parameters of an Order with one or two steps, otherwise you’re stuck with it unless you wanna memorize it again. Also, most of the time, we usually keep modifying our Orders on the fly so we rarely use memorized Orders. We only memorize the ones that create weapons out of maneg and that’s about it.
“Also, stuff like mentally imaging the Order doesn’t exactly work, our Maneg Soul won’t have a clue how to simulate the image unless you show each verbal step to that image which would then be the same thing. And no ‘flair’ in the Order that will confuse it.”
“Alright then,” Alicia said as Owen’s explanation seemed to be over. “I will try it then.”
“Yes. Oh, you can also just say the Order in your mind, no need to say it out loud. It’s also bad to let your enemies know what you are ordering.”
She points her right hand to the nothingness of the wasteland and weaves together an order in her mind.
I order you, form sphere 30 centimeters from my right hand, travel at linear direction parallel to my right arm, thus is my Order, [Fireball]!
A bright ball of flame appears from her right hand and it shoots out at rapid speed. It soars through the wasteland without any signs of stopping unlike Owen’s.
“It’s not stopping.”
“Is that not normal?”
Owen’s face looks bewildered and then over the horizon, there was a spectacle of ice being ordered in succession. And the ball of flame is heading right towards it.
“…Crap! I think that’s Alice over!”
He then suddenly bends over and a burst of ice suddenly ejects from his feet launching him into the air chasing after the fireball.
“Ah… wait for me, Owen!”
Alicia frantically chases him as he soared through the air ejecting more ice maneg to propel himself forward to take over the flaming ball heading towards the wizard named Alice.
SHTAK SHTAK SHTAK SHTAK SHTAK SHTAK SHTAK SHTAK
AK 10 giant needles of ice formed in a circular formation. One by one, the needles charged towards the ground at the same point rapidly. However, two of the needles did not comply with its Court Wizard’s orders and simply stood there and disperse.
“Tch, another failure.”
Said the Court Wizard. She was a young girl, a nine-year-old girl with platinum blonde long hair tied to a braid fluttering in the air. She wore an ice-blue cloak that covered her entire body and a hood. The back of it has a symbol of a snowflake behind a shield, spear, and a scale in front of it, the snowflake, shield, and spear in white, and the scale in gold.
“Let us try this again.”
As she was preparing another Order she heard a male sound coupled with the sound of bursts of maneg.
“Alice!” he shouted. “Watch out!”
“Huh?” the girl, Alice, turned around. “Owen is that you? Ah!”
A bright red sphere soaring through the air is what she saw. Heading straight towards her.
She hastily ordered her maneg to form a protective barrier in front of her as it was too close to dodge. The maneg didn’t comply with her Order and the fireball headed towards her face.
Then Owen caught up to the fireball and formed a barrier of ice in front of her in a split second. The fireball exploded in front of the barrier.
And then Owen tumbled down to the side.
“Owen! Are you okay?” Alice went over to Owen.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” Owen replied. “Are you?”
“Yes, I am fine thanks to you.”
As Owen got up he saw the fireball was still there in a scattered form.
“Owen. Why is that maneg? Ah!”
The broken fireball or it should be said a mass of fire maneg suddenly moved towards where it came. Back to Alicia who was running after Owen who suddenly launched himself catching up to her fireball. The mass of maneg came in contact with Alicia and entered her body which startles her for a bit but kept running nonetheless.
“Owen,” Alicia panted. “Why did you suddenly… um, what’s wrong?”
She saw the faces of Owen and one other girl beside him. Faces full of surprise.
“Alicia, you didn’t do anything to the [Fireball], right?” Owen asked.
“N-No, I did not,” Alicia answered sheepishly.
Owen held his chin. “Then it’s not just having a hundred percent efficiency on your dominance since the maneg returned to you then…”
“You are using loyal maneg!” Alice exclaimed pointing her finger at Alicia.
“I-Is that not normal?” Alicia nervously asked.
“”Yes!”” Both Owen and Alice shouted in unison.