Yet another longer chapter?
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Journey to Chinosato City
Before long, the shaky journey on the carriage led us up to the harbor in Habbah town. It’s been so long since I last went on a journey with a ship, so obviously, I’m excited. During the journey on the carriage, I finally got used to be called as Murphy, and got used to the others’ disguises, as well. It was quite hard to get used to Rupert’s disguise—I mean, he’s totally a beauty when he disguised as Ruby.
We arrived in the biggest harbor of the Habbah Port City. There are so many ships, and it’s lively here. Cargo ships, ferries, even normal boats are there.
We have to wait for our ship to depart, so during that time, after taking a lunch in a nearby restaurant, Dad and Rupert decided to check on something around the harbor, leaving me and Alt-nii alone with Gale still at our table—eating desserts.
“Ga—Robert-nii, what’s the matter?” Alt-nii asked out of curiosity, a while after Dad and Rupert went off somewhere we couldn’t see.
“Ah, Mom and Dad have to check on something related to their work, Rye. Anyway, Murphy, you want more ice cream?”
“Eh? Uh, no, I’m full,” I replied.
Something related to their work—does that mean that they are off to check on underground activities that might be happening here? This harbor is so lively and buzzing with people… any suspicious activities would surely be exposed quickly, right?
Anyway, Rupert and Dad soon came back. Their expressions seemed to show a little disappointment. Seems like they got nothing that they expected here.
“How is it, Dad, Mo~m?” Gale asked while teasing the two of them. Pretty sure Gale teased Rupert way more than he teased Dad.
“We found nothing,” Rupert calmly said that, smiled, while extending her hand to pat Gale, who’s now supposedly her first son.
Right at the moment she touched Gale’s head, I felt that Gale’s expression was distorted for a moment—Rupert must have either pulled his hair or put a little bit pressure upon patting him.
“The intel we got only gave us the information regarding Chinosato’s suspicious activities, no wonder that we still have no evident lead over here,” Dad explained.
“Anyway, it’s about time. We should go to the ship.”
Rupert calmly announced.
“Mom, grab my hand!” Gale continued to tease Rupert.
“Oh Robert, I have to hold your little brother and sister’s hands for now. You are the eldest, aren’t you? Wait for another moment, okay?”
Rupert is now seen as a mother smiling lovingly at her spoiled first son, but I can sense that he’s really upset. Seems like his expression is telling us, ‘Just you wait and see…’
When we boarded to the ship, I immediately started to run towards the deck, feeling the breeze and the smell of the sea. Alt-nii, in his disguise as Rye-nii, quickly followed me. Dad—with his now-fat-belly, tried to chase after us. But as the fat body is just an illusion, he can quickly chase after us.
I just learned about the difference between illusion and transformation the other day, but I still have questions…
“You two sure are excited, eh? I wish Cass would be able to see you two like this…”
Mom should have departed in a ship that sailed just right ahead us. Too bad we couldn’t board on the same ship…
“Hey, we’ll be resting in the small room we rented downstairs. Feel free to take your time,” Female Rupert—I mean, Ruby said.
“Oh, right. Take care, Ruby and Robert,” Dad didn’t even stutter upon calling those two. That’s… awesome.
“Huh, why won’t you two join us? The view here is amazing!” I asked. It’s such a waste… well, it’s not everyday that we can see the waves and the seagulls very nearby. If we are lucky, some beautiful sea monsters could leap from the sea.
Rupert and Gale both smiled bitterly.
“The thing is, we need to conserve energy,” Gale said.
Dad then lightly brushed my head and whispered in low voice.
“They will take off their disguise and rest in the room.”
…Right. Since they are using magic, not the Hartmann secret arts, of course they need to conserve their mana and stamina. They would deplete more rapidly than us, who are using our family’s secret arts.
And that’s also why, although the journey is only a few hours long, we are renting a small room to rest. It’s good to take a nap, too.
The two of them then went downstairs and the three of us sat down somewhere near the ship’s railings.
…Seems like Rupert will finally pay Gale back for everything he did earlier!
“Hey, Dad, can we transform into anything we want, just like illusion magic?” I asked as an opening statement—before I asked the question that’s been bugging my mind since earlier. Well, seeing that transformation magic was way harder to do, I guess there would be more limitations?
“Well, Lyra… Generally speaking… where should I start explaining?” Dad furrowed his eyebrows.
He may not expect that he has to explain more to me right now. He did explain more to Altaire when Alt-nii turned 5.
“Well, alright, I’ll probably explain the details now. So, Lyra, have you heard of the term [Oracle]?”
Yes, my suspicion and the word that Dad lisped earlier—it’s all clear now. It is [Oracle].
It is the term used to explain special abilities and power that someone might possess. Like how someone can predict things right. Like how someone can solidify something they touch. Not to be confused with magic, as normally, one would feel easier to accomplish something that their [Oracle] let them do.
“Yes. It’s like, special power?”
“Uh huh, listen, Lyra!” Alt-nii jumped from his seat and raised both of his hands high.
“Our family’s secret arts is actually [Oracle]~”
…I have had this suspicion since before but since Hartmann’s Illusion and Transformation Oracle was something that required training to master, I thought it was just their secret arts or techniques… Since the type of [Oracle] that I know doesn’t really require training to use—the only training needed is to switch it on and off.
I wonder if they are going to let me know more about Hartmann family’s Oracle?
Dad patted Alt-nii and then continued his explanation.
“Yes. And our Transformation Oracle’s got its limitation. We may be free from the risks it may pose such as shortening our life span, great exhaustion, and other things, but we can only transform into other sentient races and some few animals we are compatible with. Of course, yours and Alt’s are different. So is mine. …but somehow, we all can turn into cats just fine.”
Eh? So, a cat is the default animal transformation for us? Is there a story behind that?
“…Eeh? How do I know what other animals I can turn to?”
“Well, through trials and error, Lyra~,” Alt-nii seems to be very familiar with it by now.
“Is that so? T, then I should try to see if I can become a bird or not… Wait…so we can’t turn into monsters using transformation oracle?” I asked.
“Well, under normal circumstances, we can’t. It is still risky and hard even for us to do. But under some conditions… oh well, let’s save it for later,” Dad seems to be hesitant to explain further.
“Ah, Lyra, we can’t turn into a werebeast or real dragon’s forms… I was disappointed when I discovered this, so I think you might want to know,” Alt-nii said, his eyes were cast slightly downwards.
Hmm, makes sense that there should be limitations to our powers. I wanted to try transforming into some monsters, though. Guess I can try some Transformation Potion in the future, if there is even any safe one…?
“Ah, thanks for the explanation, but let’s go back to the original topic!” I clapped my hands. Well, originally, it was Alt-nii’s topic. But he seems to forget about it, too.
“Oh, right! So, Rupert and Gale only know that we have Illusion Oracle?” Alt-nii asked his question again.
“That’s right. Only a few people know about our Oracle, while the public simply knows that we are blessed with great magical power, as a magician’s family. Just like how they know that the other ducal families have their own specialties,” Dad explained.
That’s right. I only know that about the Hartmann family back when I was Reinst Carnatia Grabberton. I know that the public understands that the royal family and the four dukes are blessed in different ways—as that’s how they were able to stand at the highest hierarchy of the society, besides their past contribution in the history.
Not many have the idea about their oracles. [Oracle] is something unique and quite rare.
I fully understand Grabberton family’s inherited oracle as I was a Grabberton, but I didn’t expect the other ducal families to possess their own inherited oracle. I thought that it was something in Grabberton family with small chance of occurrence or inheritance (not that I inherited it, hehe!).
And yup, it’s exactly Grabberton’s oracle that I talked about before—the one requiring training only to control it, not to practice and make the oracle’s power perfect.
Anyway, after confirming that the Hartmann also has inherited oracle, I am more convinced that each ducal family has different oracle than simply being blessed with any strong point or power.
I wonder what Oracle do the Fumitsuna and Loera family have? It’s not like I can ask them directly, though… And I wonder about the royal family’s oracle?
While the ship is getting closer to the destination, I tried to recall the facts about the royal family that I know from my interaction with Luca and about the Loera family from my interaction in the past with Nicole—and I can only speculate, but my speculation won’t be verified yet.
I do take a mental note on their oddly superb qualities that might seem too strange and unusual for other normal people. Those being the blessings of their [Oracle] might answer the peculiarity.
Will I ever find out about their oracles in this life, I wonder?
The moment we stepped back to the land, we quickly moved our bodies and it’s time for another carriage journey~
So, by the time we finally arrived in Sakura Inn where we will be staying, the sun’s already setting. To be honest, before I even noticed it, I fell asleep in the carriage journey. I think Alt-nii also fell asleep.
We jumped down from the carriage and arrived in front of a medium-sized, fancy inn in the middle of Chinosato town. The building is quite tall—let’s see, I think it consists of five floors. I can see from where I am standing that some rooms will have balcony! I sure hope that our room will have it—not that I can go out without any disguise.
After waiting for Dad and Rupert to handle the reservation at the receptionist’s desk, finally, we are going up to our room~ I wonder if Mom is already there, and that we can finally be together? But how exactly are we going to do it without being found out?
Our room turned out to be at the third floor. It was a very spacious family room, capable of containing four to five people. There are two queen-sized beds inside, separated by a small table with a lamp on top of the table.
Across the beds, there is a hologram device so we can watch any show that we want. There is also a wardrobe near the bed, available for use. On the right corner of the room, there is a door that I guess would lead us towards the bathroom.
All is looking good. There is also another wooden door that I suppose will lead us to the balcony!
Alt-nii quickly jumped towards the bed without any restraint. I quickly followed and sat down on the bed. It’s fluffy!
Dad and Rupert put down two trays full of food on top of the other table provided. It must be the dining table here. It’s set on the left side of the room. Since it was near dinner time when we arrived, the receptionist must have given us the choice to take in the dinner or eat at the provided restaurant on the first floor. It must be quite a hassle to get down to the first floor to eat, so maybe that’s why we’re bringing the food in.
Rupert and Gale once again reverted to their original forms back—wait, Dad’s also reverting back? …and so we followed, this time.
“Okay, now, it’s time for moving operation!” Dad said.
“Oh, Mom’s here, too?” I asked.
“Yes, let me contact her.”
Dad then concentrated and called out.
“Phyllo, come out!”
And in front of him, bubbles of water formed, and a tiny turquoise seadragon appeared from amidst the bubbles. His size is around the size of Dad’s palm. His blue, round eyes opened and observed his surroundings.
When he faced my way, I noticed that his yellow small horn in the middle of his head is quite sharp. His body ends in a curled up tail in front—and instead of any legs, he has two big fins similar to wings. He is floating on the air—with the help of the water bubbles surrounding him.
“That’s right. Phyllo, go greet the children.”
Phyllo turned to look at Dad and he slightly nodded and in that instant, he swiftly moved to approach me and Altaire—his movement is similar to swimming, but he’s swimming on the air!
“Nice to meet you, Phyllo!” Altaire and I smiled at the small seadragon.
“Pi piri pii!” He replied our greetings.
Ah, so Phyllo is the type of familiar that can’t speak. Familiars that can speak our language fluently like Mom’s Fenix usually possess more power than familiars that can’t speak in our language.
“Okay, Phyllo, can you go to Cassie? She should be in the room next to ours.”
What is this cute voice?!
Phyllo obeyed Dad’s command and quickly ran full speed towards the wall bordering our room to the room next to ours—but wait, Phyllo, won’t you just ram into the wall and got injured?
…or so I thought, but his body quickly dissolved into water and could somehow seep through the wall, letting him through the room next door with ease.
And shortly after that, Mom appeared in our room along with the magical circle that mysteriously appeared at the floor of our room.
“Mom!!” Altaire and I quickly ran towards her and hugged her legs.
“Altaire, Lyra!” Mom crouched down and returned our hugs.
Phyllo quickly appeared, following Mom, and he returned to Dad’s side. Dad thanked him and lightly patted his head, carefully as he tried not to injure himself with Phyllo’s sharp horn.
“Alright, let me set up some magical portals first,” Mom said, as she took out two devices, opened them to form some kind of carpet with inscribed magical circle, and imbued the two devices with her magic. Soon, the carpet glows in two different colors—red and blue.
“It’s all done. The red one will lead to Meredea’s room, while the blue one will lead to, uhm, what was formerly my room.”
“Which will be mine and Rupert’s room!” Gale suddenly responded.
“Yes, that’s right. The room’s equipped with a queen-sized bed so you two could fit just fine there… Sorry for the trouble,” Mom smiled politely.
“No problem,” Rupert replied.
“Well then, we’ll be off to set our rooms~,” Gale walked away along with his bags and stepped on the blue carpet. Once he did, his body and bags slowly disappeared. I guess he’s being transported to the other room. Rupert followed him right away.
Which leaves the Hartmann family alone~ Family time, coming right away~!
After we take turns to take baths, eat dinner together, and play with magic, we lied down on the bed. Oh, we also modified the structure of the interior—as we combined the two queen-sized beds together, so the four of us can sleep side by side. Dad is lying down on the left side, followed by Alt-nii, and then me… with Mom on the right side of the bed.
I observed my surroundings carefully. As I moved my body to the left side, I could see my big brother and Dad—and when I turned right, I could see Mom, so close to me. Mom and Dad are both looking at Alt-nii and me, with their usual warm gazes.
As Dad and Alt-nii talked, I decided to roll over to the right side—to Mom’s side and converse with her. We looked into each other’s eyes as we did it.
Late night chat with my family.
Me being so close to Mom, sharing the same bed.
Back when I was Reinst and when my family had a vacation together, we’d sleep in separate beds if we rented a very spacious room or apartment—or separate rooms, if each room is small. Even when Mother and I shared rooms—we’d sleep in separate beds. …I remember that I slept with her when I was a child, back then, but I don’t think I feel as affectionate as it is, right now, with Mom, as Lyra.
…ah, perhaps it’s also because the ones tasked to take care of my daily necessities were the maids…
I turned over to see Mom.
Whoa, she is so close!
My kind and loving Mom… with her doll-like features. She may not have the same noble air and elegance as Mother, and may seem odd at times, but she’s my mom. And I love her with my everything. I can’t compare Mother with Mom—and I know that the part of me that was Reinst definitely loved Mother with her everything, too.
I noticed that Mom’s age isn’t really that far from Reinst’s age—and I often wonder if only we’d meet back then, would we be able to get close to each other? Would I know this side of her?
…or have I actually met her, but didn’t take the chance to get to know her, as Reinst? I regretted that I wasn’t paying attention to other noble children back then. I would love to know how Mom and Dad were like, as children or teenagers.
…who would have known that I’d end up here, though?
Even if I have the ability to time travel and tell this to the past me, I bet 100% that she won’t believe any of my words. Pretty sure she’d think I’m just a weird child spouting nonsense. And if I were to give her concrete proof that I was her in the past, I bet she’d think I stalked her!
“Mom, will you go directly for work tomorrow?” I asked while looking at her face.
“Well, we’re going to Chinosato’s Magic Associations in the evening, so we can spend time together in the morning and afternoon. Maybe we can take a look around the city.”
“Eh? But me, Altaire, and Dad would be on disguise, right?”
“That’s right. Which is why we should share tables during the breakfast next morning and got acquainted enough to walk around the city together? Of course Meredea and I wouldn’t wear our flashy magician clothes before it’s work time.”
“Eeeh, so Mom and Dad can’t be so friendly in public, then? Me and Lyra would be okay to be really friendly towards Mom, but Dad…”
“Alt, don’t remind me that…,” Dad’s dejected voice could be heard.
We laughed at Dad’s words.
“I should have disguised as a woman… Aaaaah…”
Dad seemed to regret his choice. True, he can be very friendly and affectionate to Mom if they were fellow women—but!!
Oy, Dad, don’t you start the rumors about Mom being attracted to women or what… nobody else but us would know that it’s just you in disguise, after all. Don’t make Mom’s honor in the noble society to plummet with any weird gossip…
Anyway, walking around Chinosato, eh? I really can’t wait to do that! It was rare occasions for me in the past to be walking around the Eastern area, and I’ve never been to Estrada island before! I am excited to see what I can find out in this Chinosato City.
When everyone has decided it’s bed time, all of us stopped talking and we turned off the lamps. I snuggled up in my blanket—shared with Mom, while Alt-nii’s blanket is shared with Dad. I woke up in the middle of the night after I experienced what seemed to be a nightmare (couldn’t remember the content, but there is a recurring nightmare that I often have) and silently stared at the ceilings, rolled over to see my family members.
I thought back to everything that I’ve been through… and I was amazed at how this event here—a happy family vacation, this close family bond… is actually happening. I am not dreaming, right? This is all real… right?
I rolled over to face Mom and snuggled up closer to her. I really love her smell—I mean, won’t most children love their mother’s nostalgic smell? Her warmth really helped me to get back to sleep. I gotta store up energy for tomorrow!
Meanwhile, in an unknown dark forest, the Falsanzuwu that survived Rupert’s dark arrow flew and landed at the arm of a tall and slender man. His untidy beard grew long, in contrast to his tidy hair. The cold air that passed by him due to Falsanzuwu’s wings combined by the breeze that passed through the trees surrounding them didn’t even make the man shudder.
“…it’s just you, number two?” The main said, in his deep and low voice.
The Falsanzuwu responded, but the man couldn’t understand what it was talking about.
“Seems like number one was killed by one of them.”
A voice could be heard from behind the man. A young boy—perhaps in his teen, is standing silently behind the tall and slender man. Somehow, he could understand what the Falsanzuwu wanted to say. His dark red short hair resembles the color of the dried bloodstain. His slanted eyes seemed as if they were glowing in the darkness of the night—it glowed a neon yellow. The young boy calmly leaned on the big tree next to him.
The older man noticed his voice and slightly turned around to confirm the boy’s identity. It is actually something that he doesn’t need to do—as that voice and the content of his words couldn’t be imitated by anyone else. But still, he turned around and once his gaze met the boy’s for a moment, he turned to face the Falsanzuwu again.
“I see… so, tell me, what have you found?” The older man spoke again to the Falsanzuwu.
“Caw, caw, caw!”
The young boy calmly listened and then acted as if he was the Falsanzuwu’s spokesman—translating every word that he heard.
“…seems like everyone’s away from the house. That includes the children.”
The boy translated the Falsanzuwu’s words indifferently with his cold voice. His intonation when he said that made it feels like he doesn’t care about it at all, but in a very short instant, his eyes showed a sliver of disdain and profoundness, hinting that he was also upset at this unexpected result.
“Tch, they brought them along?”
Contrary to the young boy, the middle-aged man clearly showed his anger, clicking his tongue several times, and proceeded to curse the Hartmann family in his heart.
“That’s right. And that’s how… you really need a change of plan if you still want to proceed.”
The boy walked over the man without even lifting his gaze to the pissed off man at all. He continued to walk away from him, ready to leave. He slightly lifted his left hand, and upon seeing the signal, the Falsanzuwu flew away from the man’s arm, free from his mission.
“Yes, don’t worry. I have properly arranged another plan. I will succeed!”
A glimmer of ambition and conviction welled up in the man’s eyes. He was very, very sure that he would succeed with whatever plan he’s scheming. He clenched his right hand tightly and brought it closer to his chest, signing the full determination he’s had.
“That’s good. Well, that’s the only assistance I can give you. Good luck,” the young boy indifferently said that and left the man. After putting some distance, he discreetly smirked, his eyes clearly indicated that he felt happy. Happy because the middle-aged man actually thought of a back-up plan! And that the man seemed very confident that his plan would still go through!
The boy has always looked down on the middle-aged man that he just talked with. Who would have thought that the old man was brilliant enough to have arranged another plan in such a short moment’s notice?
As various thoughts swirled around the boy’s mind, he walked steadily under the darkness of the night, not feeling disturbed at all by the eerie atmosphere that the dark forest emitted.
Whoever that young boy is, he is no ordinary person. To be able to understand the words of a common monster? The Falsanzuwu is not a divine beast that can be summoned to obey his words, and it’s not a familiar, either. Had it been a familiar or someone’s summoned beast, Rupert would have sensed its magical essence.
No one would have expected that there was somebody who could communicate with the ordinary monster, let alone command them to spy on someone. If such a person exists, clearly words would have spread about them. However, the fact that the higher-ups weren’t notified of the young boy’s ability clearly indicates that the boy’s identity is shrouded in a complete mystery, hidden from everyone else.