Azhure: I got slumped with offline college early on which put a wrench in my writing early on. I may have to slow down much more so sorry about that.
Azhure: This rewrite is published on September 07 2022 but I edited the post’s date to be in order with the other chapters for the categorical indexing of the OceanWP theme I use.
With Voice’s excited cheer at the oven, Aqua turned to Alicia and said, “Well, I suppose we should end this off with one final topic; the host’s lifespan.”
“Oh, I suppose Maneg Souls do want hosts that live very long,” Alicia remarked.
“Not exactly. I mean, for one, Maneg Souls picked humans half of the time for the reasons I stated before. Any human that lives absurdly long would be classified as a different species altogether,” Aqua refuted, surprising Alicia. “But I digress, the thing is, souls are very powerful things and cannot be directly altered or affected so easily, and this includes a Maneg Soul merging. The reason that it is so is because of the souls’ life force, what we Court Wizards would know as loyal maneg.”
“Oh!” Alicia gasped in the revelation. “So that means…!”
“You know the ‘Maneg Shell Theory’ from Owen, correct? Where maneg consists of an outer shell that makes it invisible and incorporeal, and an inner core housing the element that is unleashed when the outer shell is cast aside using Orders,” Aqua asked to which Alicia nodded. “Well, I do hear Amelia is coming up with a new theory that might debunk the current one,” she trailed off. “But that is not important. Anyway, that analogy can be applied to souls, with a few key differences.
“A soul is a container which is filled with life force, making it ‘alive.’ However, it can be said that the container is always leaking out that life force and once it is out of it, the soul is ‘dead.’ We still do not know if souls of different races hold different amounts of life force, but we do know that the containers themselves have varying degrees of leakage. So, the time for the soul to run out of life force determines the soul’s lifespan. However, the soul is also dependent on its vessel, the physical body, which does not necessarily have the same lifespan as the soul.
“Usually, the body dies first, whether it is from natural causes or otherwise, before the soul runs out of life force, and this will cause the soul to lose all of its life force at once, thus the soul becoming ‘dead.’ So it can be said that the lifespan of the soul is the maximum lifespan a person could have, any attempts to prolong the of the body, prolong one’s life expectancy, will cap off to that maximum.”
“Hey! You’re a body-less soul! How does that work!?”
“…We will ignore my lineage, for now, we do not have much time to explain that,” Aqua miffed at Voice’s remark of how the Court called her kind. “That includes how some souls may not lose life force after an unexpected end to the body, it is related to Incarnates simply put.
“Now, as you know, it is the life force that the Maneg Soul is trying to merge with, compressing and converting it into loyal maneg, freeing up space to be occupied with disloyal maneg. Different races may have different amounts of life force Maneg Souls have to compress and convert, but the containers do make it harder for the Maneg Souls to do so.
“It is akin to attempting to dye water with food coloring only the water container only has a small cap that you cannot pour the dye all at once while also having to compress that water, no need to think how that is possible, at the same time. And remember, stray Maneg Souls have extremely short lifespans that are only slightly increased during merging until they made the bond, it may die and fail the merge if they waste too much time.
“Although there has yet to be a case of Maneg Souls failing to merge, not that we heard of, it is best we do not find that out.”
“Hey! My Alicia’s got a hundred percent me! What about that!?”
“Yes, Voice is right. What about me who has no disloyal maneg?” Alicia asked.
To answer this, Aqua decided to sidetrack a bit. “While mainstream magic systems involve siphoning off life force into magical energy to cast spells, we Court Wizards directly take our disloyal maneg, our ‘fake life force,’ out of our souls to give Orders and these two are different from each other. This is why we have disloyal maneg as it would be too dangerous to do so carelessly with our loyal maneg, our ‘true life force,’ compared to other mages who do just that.
“Of course, performing any sort of magic using the true life force is always recoverable much like how loyal maneg always returns to you. But still, to use loyal maneg the same way as disloyal maneg is still dangerous as damages to it will be redirected to you. Even the siphoning technique is actually taking the energy from the true life force. It still stays inside the soul. I would know because that is how spirit arts are performed which still applies to my converted soul.”
“Right, I heard of that before,” Alicia remarked in a nervous tone, what with Aqua emphasizing it on her face.
“Really, for your Maneg Soul to not compress your loyal maneg is abnormal. The most similar case with you would be Crea and even she still has at least thirty percent disloyal maneg,” Aqua continued. “It may sound confusing, but I need to stress it again, you need to remember that ordering with your loyal maneg is dangerous, so be careful.”
“R-Right, I will keep that in mind,” Alicia reassured the greater spirit. “Anyway, you explained how Maneg Souls would have a harder time merging with souls that have tough containers, but surely there are Maneg Souls that manage to do so?”
“Of course,” Aqua nodded. “The most famous example would be Rose.”
“Oh!” Alicia gasped in surprise, knowing the vampire who was one of her first few friends after Owen.
“Rose is ‘ageless,’ that is, she lives forever,” Aqua explained. “Her container is sealed tight so that no life force will be lost indefinitely and her vampire body also does not age past maturity. However, she can still be killed, and she will still lose her life force if anything happens to her body. That gives an opening in her soul for the Maneg Soul to recruit her.”
“Is that so?” Alicia said with an impressed expression. “I imagine it would be a hard-fought battle for the Maneg Soul to merge with Rose, is that true?”
“Well, I do not know it myself seeing as Rose was recruited generations ago, but it probably was. Her Maneg Soul has to be very strong to recruit someone like her,” Aqua answered, cupping her cheek. “That and combined with her long experience as a Court Wizard makes her one of the strongest Court Wizards we have today. She can challenge me for the Duchess rank and win it easily if I only fought as a Guardian and not also as a greater water guardian, though she does not seem to be interested in it at the moment.”
“Truly? That is impressive…” Alicia muttered, remembering what she know briefly about how the fourth rank can be obtained for non-Guardians.
“Oh! And before I forget,” Aqua spoke up. “Aside from ageless, there are ‘invincible,’ people who cannot be killed but still die from aging; and ‘immortal,’ people who outright cannot die from anything. Do note that the physical body is tied to these titles. Invincible people are those with indestructible bodies or hyper-regenerative ones. However, they are still subjected to aging, either from their bodies or their souls. You can think of them as the opposite of ageless beings.
“Immortals, as the name suggests, are those with the benefits of both ageless and invincible. Their bodies can exist forever and their souls have not even a single flaw in them. It is for these reasons that Maneg Souls cannot merge with these souls outright. Invincible souls are still doable for obvious reasons although they are rare, it is usually ageless and immortal people that are relatively more common.
“Of course, these are just ‘in general.’ There are always exceptions to these rules which does not make it any less infuriating,” she ended with a peeve.
“I-I see, I will keep that in mind,” Alicia nodded with a wry smile.
“Well then, we have sidetracked a bit, but we are conveniently back to the course and there is still time left,” Aqua remarked, checking the oven which seemed to be taking an awfully long time to bake some cookies. “Because although Maneg Souls have difficulty in merging with being who have long lifespans, there is a way around it: by waiting it out.”
Alicia blinked. “What do you mean?”
“The container that is the soul is tied to the vessel body it is in. That means, unless it is ageless, the older the body is, the more that aging is reflected onto the soul, causing more leakage of life force,” Aqua explained. “And less life force in the soul means less effort for the Maneg Soul to merge with, that is true. In other words, targeting a long-living race who had already spent a good portion of their lengthy lifespan is easier than their younger counterpart.”
“So for someone who lives very long, it is easier for the Maneg Soul to merge with them when they are elderly?” Alicia summarized what Aqua explained.
“I see you understand it,” Aqua nodded in approval. “And for your knowledge, your life force leaking out as you age is your loyal maneg being lost. This is the same for conventional mages; life force lost this way are unrecoverable and as Court Wizards, cannot be replaced with disloyal maneg.”
“What!? How the heck does that work!?”
“Yes, it does not make sense,” Alicia remarked. She didn’t deny it though since she would have some disloyal maneg from the lost life force before she became a Court Wizard if it was untrue which was still strange considering the other and more logical outcome.
“Well, it is hard to describe with words, but I suppose what I said before gave you the wrong perception,” Aqua admitted before explaining. “When life force is lost, it is not as though it is expelled from the soul like disloyal maneg. It is sort of like the ‘energy’ of the life force, what mages use, being lost forever, causing the unit of life force to be ‘dead.’ Dead life forces are not converted by the Maneg Soul, though they are still compressed along with the ‘living’ life force which is less taxing allowing you-know-what.
“Oh, when I mention life force, I mean true life force, not the fake one, though you probably know it already.”
“That does not clear things up,” Alicia shook her head.
“It is complicated. But trust me, I know this intimately being a creature that is purely a soul,” Aqua assured her. “If you do not believe me, the machine used to scan for your Maneg Soul in the infirmary can also scan souls in general. Everything I have said about souls all came from that machine’s scans.”
“It can do that?” Alicia blinked in curiosity.
“It can,” the Fire Guardian nodded confidently. “Also, this is doubly why Maneg Souls compress life force, having the real contents of your soul out of it even temporarily can have adverse effects. The compression itself is safe because all of your life force is still there.
“So for your pixie to be out about with thirty percent of your actual soul separated from you without complications means your soul must be something else to be able to sustain it on top of your Maneg Soul being incapable of providing disloyal maneg especially when you are inevitably losing loyal maneg every day!” she ranted.
“I see…” Alicia muttered sheepishly before realizing a grim implication and turned to her pixie. “Wait, would that not mean Voice will get… affected when I lose my loyal maneg?” she asked worriedly that she couldn’t use a more accurate term.
“Don’t you worry, Alicia! I’ll be the same ol’ Voice even after we’re grandmas!”
“That is true,” Aqua calmed down. “Usually, the range between the lifespan of the soul and the lifespan of the body is very wide. Your loss of loyal maneg by the time your body can no longer hold up should not affect Voice or your performance drastically. Significant, yes, but nothing too extreme.”
“I see…” Alicia sighed in relief. “I will take your word for it.”
“Now, before we are done for today, there is one more thing I should tell you,” Aqua continued. “It is about how Guardians are recruited.”
“Oh. If I am not wrong, the Mother Soul creates a Maneg Soul and inhabits it,” Alicia recalled. “Then the Maneg Soul merges with a host, is that right?”
“Yes, a common analogy for it would be dropping the bottle the dye comes from into the water,” Aqua nodded. “For such importance for that Maneg Soul, it has stricter requirements for its host.”
Alicia nodded to go on.
“Well, it is mostly just one more thing,” Aqua admitted, bursting the bubble. “And it has to do with the lifespan, or more specifically the remaining lifespan of the host, what we have discussed just before.”
“I see, are Maneg Souls hosting the Mother Souls incapable of merging with hosts of a certain lifespan?” Alicia asked.
“Not exactly, but you might as well say that it is,” Aqua replied vaguely. “Well, we will be beating around the bush if I do not say the numbers first. Simply put, Mother Souls only want their Guardians recruited with the remaining lifespan of more or less an average modern-day human.”
There wasn’t much build-up to the reveal, whatever of it was rendered useless by their discussion getting sidetracked constantly. However, it did not undersell the impact of such revelation as Alicia was able to understand it well enough.
“Does that mean any Guardians who are supposed to be long-living were recruited when they do not have much time left?” she asked. “With no exceptions?”
Aqua stood up and closed her eyes to take a deep breath as if she needed it. “We do not know exactly why the Mother Souls chose to do so, but most of us agree that it could mainly be because of one thing,” she explained. “When you get older, you tend to become more cautious and more settled in the things you have always found to be reliable but, as you know, the world, every world does not agree with that. What you view as standard could easily become obsolete in mere decades, even faster in modern worlds such as yours, Alicia.”
“So does that mean Mother Souls do not want their Guardians to be… conservative because of being the Guardians for too long?” Alicia began to guess uneasily.
“Worlds keep changing, including the Court itself. If the leaders of this organization cannot keep up with these changes, then it is better they were replaced by those who can,” Aqua bluntly spoke. “This goes to mention that Maneg Souls consider the survival of the Otherworldly Court and by extension, ‘manegkind’ as well. If this organization falls, there is no telling what will happen to all of us.”
“Still, with age comes wisdom, that still holds true. There is good in having the old and the new working together. The former can use their long experience that is still relevant to rein in the latter from making reckless decisions as are the risks of trying new ideas,” the greater water spirit continued. “So while newly recruited Guardians were young people, the Mother Souls still consider elderly, long-living hosts as Guardians for the reasons I mentioned before, making the best of both worlds.
“Incidentally, I just so happen to be one of the latter of the Guardians.”
“Oh…” Alicia muttered. “Then… how long do you live?”
Aqua simply smiled. “Before we became spirits, which is a story for another day, some live no longer than humans while others could live on for centuries,” she told. “But ever since we became spirits, we no longer require our flesh that limits how long we can live. And well, it appears that the souls of Spiri Raia without being dependent on the body could live up to a thousand years.
“Oh, I should tell you that some souls do not necessarily need to fully run out of lifeforce to die. Much like how you only need to lose a certain amount of blood to die but not all, the loss of up to a ‘threshold’ of lifeforce which varies between souls is enough for the soul to die.
“Normally, because the body dies much earlier than the soul, most will never find out that threshold or the lack thereof. But for us, as beings of pure souls and know them the best, it is common knowledge. And from this threshold, we knew we would not live for more than a millennia, we just knew it.”
“So that means, you became the Fire Guardian when…” the voice in Alicia’s throat died off, unwilling to finish her sentence.
“Yes,” Aqua smiled, gazing off to the not-so-far distance. “It has been over nine hundred years since my ascension as greater spirit. Before that, I was a creature of water, living among water. After that, I ruled my land of water for centuries before I was called to become the Fire Guardian a hundred years before the world reaches its first millennia where I and the rest of the greater spirits will pass on, and our titles and responsibilities inherited by our successors.”
“I see…” Alicia muttered sadly.
Aqua patted her shoulder. “It is alright, Alicia. All life will eventually come to an end, even immortals must surely have a limit to their indefinite existence,” she consoled. “Yes, I may not have much time left, relatively speaking, but in terms of human age, I still have plenty of years ahead of me. This generation of Guardians’ reign is still early, we will not be going anywhere in your lifetime.
“Furthermore, as a greater spirit, I have lived a long and fulfilling life. I was one of the people who led the charge against the cursed dragons and was subsequently involved in recreating my world into Spiri Raia, becoming one of its new rulers. For centuries, I have watched over my territory in peace which was the same for the other greater spirits, my dearest friends and comrades, and there has never been any conflict between us the dragons hoped for.
“Suffice it to say, I feel content with my life and would not have it in any other way. My new status as the Fire Guardian simply makes things more interesting, so you do not have to feel bad about it. Oh, I should also mention that I have already trained my successor and she is very acquainted with your mother, Alicia,” she told her. “I have told her about you and she would love to meet you personally one day.”
“I see, I look forward to it,” Alicia replied with a smile.
“Ooh! Cookies are ready!”
“Well then,” Aqua turned to Alicia who had cheered up after previously deflecting to the oven. “I suppose we can end this lesson here. Now, shall we?”
“Sure,” Alicia nodded happily. There were a few bits of lore Aqua threw out at the end, but it has nothing to do with the topic that had ended. She’ll inquire about it later, because for now…
Azhure: I don’t have an oven, so I don’t know how it sounds. The internet can’t give me the specific noises from it I needed. If you know something about it, I appreciate that you share it with me.
I’ve written this rewrite with the current canon as of writing this is 5, 23, 29 Owen’s Collection Chapter 3.3 in mind. However, I’m still maintaining the timeline where the story of these sub-chapters takes place, between Alicia Interlude 1 and Alicia Chapter 12 specifically. As such, there is some information that I can’t fit into that context, and it’s not much so I decided to just dump the exposition here. Before reading the information below, read until 5, 23, 29 Owen’s Collection Chapter 3.3 just to be safe from spoilers. Then again, I call the ones that made it into the chapter foreshadowing so I’ll leave it up to you.
Now, while Maneg Souls are attracted to worlds aware of Court Wizards, there is a slight problem to it; namely, if those worlds knew it through the Eleven-Century War. In a nutshell, it was a period where Court Wizards were formerly known as ‘Soul Weavers’ who were split among factions of their Elements and are basically at war with each other. Mother Souls in that period weren’t damaged as in the Court Wizard era and could transfer themselves and their Soul Weavers to any world at will, bringing the battlefield anywhere they go.
Suffice it to say, the Eleven-Century War had left an impact on worlds affected by them which would be a problem if someone there suddenly became one of those dreaded Soul Weavers. Even if a world knew the Otherworldly Court by Court Wizards revealing themselves to them, for whatever reason, the effect is still the same, just scaled down depending on the reveal such as Owen freezing an entire volcano in Beohar as a first impression.
Incidentally, Court Wizards today call their predecessors ‘Maneg Users’ as a politically correct version of Soul Weavers. Also, I’m aware that ‘Eleven-Century War’ is grammatically incorrect – English is not my first language. But by the time I realized the mistake, I instead made jokes about it in chapters so it’s here to stay.
Before I forget, I have removed one lore from canon which Aqua already called a myth, that is the host’s ‘affinity’ with the Element. It’s the generic person having a ‘fiery’ personality being more likely to get a Fire Maneg Soul kind of thing, the species of the host also works. I decided to remove it since I’m not confident I can maintain that level of detail in the characters I make that would be limited by it and is stereotyping at worst.
Now, in regards to Aqua’s biology, in a nutshell, souls have fixed lifespans, fixed life force leakage, that only changes if something happens to them like their body vessels aging and dying. Because Spiri Raian spirits aren’t dependent on physical bodies, they enjoy the full span of their souls and can know their expiry dates because of that. I still haven’t decided on the official name for the soul reading machine in the infirmary.
And something related to the above, when Aqua vaguely mentions how spirits of her world can’t survive outside Spiri Raia except for greater spirits like her, she’s specifically referring to the Spiri Raia Fantasy Law and more specifically the Spiri Raia Body-less Soul (Spirit) Species Module that Spiri Raian spirits needed to survive. Without it, most of their bodily(-less) functions wouldn’t work properly. In Manegia, they would get partially defaulted into the Manegia Monster (Maneg Amalgamation/Maneg Beast) Species Complex Module.
Greater spirits are ‘origins,’ that is they have a copy of the Sub-Modules for each element making up their Species Module as well as their spirit arts system’s which allows them to be fine outside of Spiri Raia and can even let normal spirits outside by their presence alone. Also, because the Modules concept is only a thing by Amelia in Manegia year 1421, and because I don’t keep track of months and days, they’ll only be used as terms in year 1422 and onward just to be safe – any year before that will have Court Wizards use the term ‘part of the Fantasy Law’ all the time.
Now, in regards to how Aqua dismissed the whole affinity thing, I should get out what I’m basically going to do. In real life, before diseases were known to be caused by germs, people thought they were caused by bad air, and even before that, they were thought to be caused by an imbalance of humors (correct me if I’m wrong, Google’s incapable of giving me the specific answers I want).
So much like how scientific theories are evolved, created, and debunked throughout time, theories of how maneg works too are subject to change. Basically, it’s mostly through Amelia coming up with new lore for the Maneg System or debunking old ones. Oh, don’t forget she’s constantly inventing new Catalysts to make Court Wizards’ lives easier.
Voice: What the heck, Azhure!? You’re gonna just retcon everything left and right!?
Don’t worry, I won’t remove lore that’s been used in action. That means something like how loyal maneg getting damaged will reflect back to the Court Wizard stays cause it has happened to Alicia.
Voice: Oi! Why you gotta use that!?
Otherwise, things like elemental affinity affecting recruitment chances that I can’t even use properly can be debunked if need be. This also includes non-maneg lore. Oh, the history of any world is also up for grabs since even in real life history is sketchy at best.
There is also evolving part to this. Simply put, it’s adding a more accurate explanation to existing lore without explicitly invalidating it as with or without the new lore, it will still play out the same. Basically, the Maneg Shell Theory states maneg hides from the material world under a ‘shell’ but in Alicia Chapter 20, Amelia proposed that maneg specifically hides under the Fantasy Law. It doesn’t outright make the old theory non-canon, you could say that the shell is responsible for hiding the maneg under the Fantasy Law and the new theory simply explains that.
Well, it’s mostly superficial. I won’t change lore left and right, it’s only if it becomes a problem in story writing that I can’t get around or if I forgot it existed.
Voice: Yeah! You better not forget anything you dumped here!
Oh yeah, there are the Four Nations, the countries around the Otherworldly Court, that will be first introduced in Alicia Chapter 14. To sum it up, there is always one Guardian from one of those Nations per generation to maintain relations with them. Since I’ve vaguely put the bit about the Four Nations in an exposition, I can’t put this into context.
Anyway, I may miss something that I’ve slipped into the main chapters so I appreciate it if you can inform me of such things. I’ll add them here if that’s the case.
Azhure: So, what you do 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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