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Chapter 17 – You were my only friend

Ashen’s Age: 10 Years Old

Ashen’s Prospective

Playhouse? Does that mean that you intend on coming back here? Regularly?

A voice rings in through my ears. No, inside my head.

What the hell? Where is that coming from?

I look around. There are wisps around the room. I look down and there is a black wisp on my chest.

What!?

I stumble backwards and land on the chair I had just stood up from.

I speak out loud.

“What or who are you?”

We are the ones to whom you left to take care of the mansion.

“I left? You mean, you recognize me somehow?”

Of course, Alicia. Do you not… remember us?

“Alicia? My name is… wait… how do you know that I am the same as Alicia? Do I look like her?”

You bare a resemblance, but are not her figure.

“Then how do you know that I am Alicia?”

Your mana is the same as Alicia. We would know it anywhere.

“By any chance, is it that Alicia had a blue link-core?”

Yes.

“But my link core is slightly off from hers? Larger capacity and a little foreign?”

Now that you mention it, yes, just like that.

“Then you knew that Alicia would come back because…”

Alicia told us that we would meet her again, but in a different guise, and that, however sadly, she may not remember us.

“I see. So Alicia was one of my former reincarnations. And this house, was this my residence?”

Yes, before the Royals took you away.

“So it was then that the Kingdom incorporated the Blue Star line into their bloodline, eh? How long ago was this?”

We don’t know. We have just been waiting. Waiting. For so long. For so long.

The voice sounds sadly happy. Like a great reunion with a long lost friend. Wait, this is a reunion of long lost friends, isn’t it?

Yes, it is. For us, Alicia was our only friend. It is her that gave us this refuge, and for her that we protect and maintain this place, waiting for her return.

“Speaking of, what… what are you?”

We are what the Elves refer to as Boggart.

“Boggart? The kind that turn into what you most fear?”

Yes, that is our nature. It is our defense against those who would mean us harm. We are beings of magic, but we, ourselves, do not have much power. We feed off the ambient magical power in the air, or directly from other beings. But we ourselves are weak and easily killed. To protect ourselves, we use our telepathy to find what our attacker most fears, and transform into it.

“That sounds hard. What do you do if their greatest fear is a concept?”

We use something that we can manifest as, and would cause enough trauma for them to avoid us from then on. Unfortunately, this is a double edged sword, and leads to our being hunted as much as feared. It was Alicia, who created this barrier around this forest mansion, who gave us a place of refuge. It will only allow those whom Alicia has given permission to enter.

“So that is how you know that I am Alicia? Because I can enter?”

Yes. Even though your large mana capacity would let you break through the barrier by force, the barrier still let you in without effort.

I look out the window. As there are no trees in the mansion grounds, the sky is visible. The sun has almost set.

“Ah! The sun! If I don’t get home, mom will start panicking. I need to go!”

As long as you return, the rest will be happy, but…

“But?”

Please don’t leave me again. It’s been so… empty. Please let me go with you!

The plea reminds me vividly of when Elizabeth beseeches Booker to humor her.

Can I really turn this down? It feels like it would collapse in despair if I told it no.

“If you follow me, you will be in contact with those persons with whom you fear? Can you handle that?”

If it is to be with Alicia again, I would bare anything.

“Ashen. Call me Ashen.”

Ashen.

“How will you follow me? It would be weird to have a black lens flare follow me about like an anti-Huggins.

Huggins? No, I’ll understand it soon. I can be with you without others knowing.

So he’ll be invisible? I guess that is fine.

“Go ahead then, you can join with me.”

At that, I felt an oozing sensation on my chest. I look down and I see that the black wisp is entering my body. I put mana into my eyes, and see it enter my Link Core.

“Wah! What are you doing?”

You will understand shortly.

What is he? Ah. Aaah. Aaaahhh. I can feel him inside me. Merged with me. And I can kind of feel the remorse, and the adulation of reunion from within me.

We are now one. Thank you. Thank you!

The voice is now, instead of entering my brain, from within it. It is also no longer in Elvish, but at more of an understanding nature.

I can kind of feel it reading my memories. Hey! I get that you can do that, but please don’t look at the embarrassing ones!

Yes, with your consent, I will review your memories later.

It spoke with confidence. Yet, I seem to be placing a lot of trust in it.

Hey, I can’t keep calling you it, can I? Do you have a name?

Yes. Alicia called me Shaeshade.

Shade, huh. It’s… nice to have you aboard… Shade.

And so, I’ve gained yet another weird quark about this body in this life.

It also seems that I no longer need to speak to communicate with it… Shade.

Turning to the next problem, how do I get home? Are those bear things still out there?

Yes, the moon bears are still wandering around the entrance of the mansion.

Is there a way to sneak past them?

It is possible, but unlikely. Moon Bears can see well in the dark, and can sense magical power. Ashen possesses a very large quantity of mana, and so they will be surely notice you if you are close by them.

Why are they obsessed with me? Are they hungry?

They are hungry, but they also bare a grudge. Against the hunters who steal their prey and drive them off, and of Ashen for wounding them earlier.

I didn’t do much damage though.

On the contrary, you did a large amount of damage with your magic bricks.

That is… true. I could use the magic gem bricks as a projectile. But I also need them as a shield. I’d also need many of them queued up to shoot, and I need to use them to block and slash with as a shield and sword. It is too much for me to keep track of. I’d be crushed just trying to get my bearings.

I can handle that for you, Alice-Ashen.

You can handle it?

You almost called me Alicia…

Yes, sorry, Ashen. Allow me to help you out. As long as you create them, I can handle the movements of the blocks around you. If I were to suggest, if they revolved around you, they would have both speed to throw with and function as movable shields to protect you.

Yes, yes, yes! I can picture it now. It’s like Agent North’s barrier shield! I guess that makes you Theta. Or maybe Alpha?

I don’t really get the references you are making. I have not looked through your memories yet.

Kind of like this.

I picture North’s energy barrier.

Ah, I get it. And I am the little guy there, who controls it while you fight?

Yep, that’s the idea. Does that work for you.

Affirmative.

Then let’s do it.

I gather my pack, and check it. In there are the remnants of the lunch I packed myself, and two of the notebooks left by Alicia. One of the notebooks is the aforementioned engineering notebook on magic tool ideas. The other details materials to use for magic tools, as well as the methodology of making magic circuits. I can affirm they were made from Alicia. In addition to her name being written on the corner of the inside of the notebooks, I can just picture her thoughts as she was when she was writing in these notebooks. I can tell that we were once, at least partially, of the same mind.

Partially?

Yes. I am not completely Alicia’s reincarnation, but not unrelated either. My mother, Sara, was one of the incarnations in the past, and I inherited the link core from her. At least, I think it merged with mine. Then I died, and was reincarnated into this form.

Ah. That explains why your memories are so fragmented. There is a lot of room here for memories in the link core. It is as if the memories other than yours, and your previous life, are locked away. You are very mature for a child as well.

That would make some sense. When I first examined the link core, I noticed that one of the circuits was unfinished. It was after finishing that circuit that the core merged with my own. I am guessing that the circuit for retaining memory, and that the reason I came back was because I somehow activated it my giving it mana. My mother wouldn’t have been able to do that, since without her link core, she had no mana. Hell, until then, I didn’t even know I had mana. There is no magic in that world.

This is all very confusing. Will it make sense after I examine your memories?

Yes, yes, it should.

We continued to banter back and fourth as I left the library, and walked down the stairs. It is late dusk, so I need to hurry. If I don’t get home soon, mom may call out the militia.

I walk down the stairs, and through the front door. I closed the door and after walking out of the mansion, look again at the courtyard fountain.

Hey, is this Alicia?

No. This was here, along with the mansion, before Alicia came here.

Maybe there is a relation.

Shade, do you know the way out of the the forest?

I only know the area around the mansion, but I can guide you to the path where we first found you.

That will do fine.

Let’s go over the plan.

Use mobility to hover and move around at speed. Diamond and Sapphire Shield claws covering both left and right arms for protect and swiping ability.

Anything else?

Orbiting diamond bricks that can be used to block attacks, or be thrown as artillery.

Right. And remember, I can’t physically touch them. If I do, then I lose the magic control over their position, and I take their full weight, and the pressure of whatever affecting them as well.

I don’t want to be crushed.

I stand in front of the gates.

Glide boots, on.

Sapphire Claws, on.

Diamond Shields, orbiting.

Let’s do this.

 

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