Tia arranged two chairs facing towards the direction of her bed. Ellis and Ruth took a seat—comfortably while waiting for Tia to finish preparing tea. Not knowing what Tia was going to talk about, it was suspicious, really suspicious.
When Ellis asked about it, Tia would drag the conversation into another direction. Like how the chocolate cookies were running out, and that they needed to make more.
Ellis felt a little angry hearing Tia say something as blatant as an empty cookie jar. At the same time, Tia's only reaction to Ellis' displeasure was but a shrug.
There was an air of apprehension when Ellis and Ruth stepped foot into Tia's room. Curtains hung down, blocking sunlight from the outside. More noticeably, Tia's room itself, besides the purple bed and cute decorations— housed a garage of weapons.
Speak of the devil.
Tia came in the with a jug, passion fruit tea with ice. Ellis and Ruth were each given a cup. Tia then shut the curtains entirely, the light wove through the fabric, illuminating the room in a sublime glow.
Ruth thought the thing missing from Tia's room was a blood sigil on the floor with candlesticks at each corner. And instead of it being a pentagon star, it should be drawn in the shape of a sword.
Achievement get: Tia's weapon occult.
Tia crawl on top of her bed, seated with her knees out in front.
"Aren't you suspicious? I could have very easily put sleeping drug into the tea you know?" Tia asked cutely.
Ellis choked on her drink. Ruth stiffened, hadn't yet taken a sip yet.
"It's not like I actually did that," Tia sighed. "If you're done, I'd like you to put the drink on the table. I don't want to create a mess in my room."
Ellis felt the bad premonition. Tia was somewhat a bossy girl at times, but this was the first time Ellis had seen Tia behave in this way.
"I need to show you something, so I want you to, calm down for a bit— I promise I won't harm you. I'll explain..."
Tia narrowed her eyes.
"Did you call anyone?"
Ellis and Ruth both shook their heads in desperation.
Getting up, Tia strutted over to the door and pulled it open. A chilly breezy blew, from the dim alley. Leaning out, there wasn't anyone or anything outside— with the exception of that single sky krill that got lost for whatever reason. Tia turned to Ruth and Ellis with a jelly expression, "That..that wasn't a ghost right.." her legs were shaking.
Ellis and Ruth shook their heads vigorously in retort.
Things were getting weirder and weirder.
Click, Tia locked the door.
Ellis and Ruth felt a chill.
Now they had no way to escape.
"I'm not your enemy, " Tia closed her eyes. "Whatever you see here, do not ever, tell anyone about it."
The instant Tia finished her sentence, a glowing blue symbol appeared below her eyes.
A cold gust blew through the room. The temperature dropped, ice solidified from the air, and a blade was thrust against her neck.
".." Tia stared down at the dagger, sweat ran down her cheeks despite the temperature drop. Her gaze followed the blade up to face the cold, white, gaze of death.
Will. Will Everett.
Ellis was shivering. One reason was because of how cold the room had become, the other reason was that symbol, the same one she saw at the maritime dock, the same people that took Curtis away. She couldn't believe Tia was involved with the Jesters!
Will had appeared, no surprise. Ellis and Ruth realized that the moment they felt cold air seeping through.
'What's going on? Why is Jester here?' Tia gritted her teeth, her gaze never leaving Will.
Tia could feel the cold air expanding. They were in a dangerous situation weren't they?
At the same time..
'How could this Jester be so good looking?!'
Tia felt her pulse rise, her heart racing and blood flowed to her face.
'NO! NO! I'm being charmed! This.. this.. can't be some kind of spell, Jesters don't have the ability to brainwash people!'
The world inside Tia's mind was thrown into chaos.
Will pulled back his dagger and stepped back. Her face was red, and she didn't look scared. Rather, there was a dangerous shine to her eyes.
"Do you mind explaining?" Will's tone as cold as ice.
"Yes of course!" Tia hiccuped. Her face flushed even redder.
'NO no no! How could it bE thIs pERson! Who evEn is he?! WHy—'
Ellis remained vigilant whereas Ruth had left her anxiety it in an attic long ago. Any normal person could tell that Tia was blushing excessively. In fact, this was the first time Ruth had ever seen her blush.
'Oh, the main problem isn't that..'
"Excuse me, Will, I think you can release her?" Ruth didn't know what was the best course of action was but— Tia would probably be unable to converse normally if she remained like that.
Will moved away, leaning against a table.
Which allowed Tia to take a good look at him. One word: tall. He was almost as tall as her father, Sid.
Tia wanted to take a step forward when she found that— she couldn't. Her legs were incapacitated in ice.
'Ice, a mage, a Jester. AHHH! I've fAllen HEAd over heelS ovEr a JEster!? Or perhaps he's just a regular unorthodox mage? I didn't hear Hermit's description about someone like him though..?'
Tia stood there like a log. But unseen by the naked eye was her mind was frying itself from the inside out.
"You know her?" Will asked nonchalantly. The ice wasn't something Tia could break so easily so he thought it should be fine.
"She's our friend, Tia" Ruth nudged at Ellis. Will was already present, so even if Tia had any weird tricks up her sleeve, it probably wouldn't work. "I'm not sure why she called us here but I think it's related to Curtis?"
"So she's the one?"
"Curtis is safe!" Tia yelped while shivering. "It's a misunderstanding! A misunderstanding!"
And that was the opening to a rather peaceful discussion. Tia was hesitant to reveal the secret behind the misunderstanding to Will. She was unsure whether or not he could trust. Though, she might as well be killed if she didn't.
Speaking objectively—Curtis wasn't kidnapped. He was just, taken.
So~ what happened exactly?
It was a joke. Tia had griped about the matter yesterday night when she learnt that they had forcefully dragged Curtis along with them. Initially, Tia thought it was one of Hermit's joke, who knew it'd turn out to be true?
The glowing symbol below her eye was not the mark of a Jester, it was a communication spell of sorts. Called a 'delineate', it acted as a form of identity recognition; it had the property to link people together much like creating a party.
And so, where was Curtis now?
He was in Hermit's skyship, headed for the new pillar cluster, the one Curtis and Ellis found. They were going to conduct a dangerous operation— the extermination of a pillar guardian.
Ellis shed tears in relief, or in agony, or both, while Ruth was there to comfort her, Will raised no comments. As if a normal day-to-day thing. Though.. not the part about the pillar guardian.
Tia wanted to comfort Ellis too but— she was bound by ice.
After catching her breath, it was Ellis's turn to share the events that happened the previous night. She narrated the incident of the assault, in turn, Tia explained and reassured that they were people she knew.
During the battle, Hermit's party did use magic. The earth bulb was the effect of a certain special equipment. In question to how Ellis got her leg stuck inside dirt that separated her with Curtis, it could've been the doing of the earth mage in Hermit's party. Tia could only come up with these plausible assumptions.
Regarding what Aldrich had said— If this incident was actually done by Hermit's party, that would mean that his whole group was now being pursued by the kingdom itself. Whoever was found together with Curtis would probably be considered Jesters...
Which... made the whole thing more confusing.
Tia realized that they had a different understanding of what a Jester was.
To Tia, Will, was a possible Jester as told by Hermit: were people other than them that had a delineate. The delineate possessed by Tia, which was the same one as Hermit's party was different from the one possessed by a Jester. Moreover, delineates originated from an unorthodox mage. It was unsure if all unorthodox mages had their own delineate. However, one thing for certain was that the Jester members only consisted of mages— those of the magic talents.
To Ellis, Ruth and the few royal knights who knew of the 'secret', Jester's were thought to be anyone who had a delineate below their eye, disregarding whether or not the person in question was of a magic talent or physical enhanced talent. And to normal people, Jesters were those who possessed odd powers used to harass people.
Of course, Tia did think to ask about Will's identity— was he a Jester? If Tia did ask, she thought she would either be killed or... get to know him better.
"Clumsy," was the one word Tia would use to summarize Hermit's party. At the same time, they were indeed in possession of the strength to challenge a pillar guardian.
His title as Clumsy Hermit wasn't for nothing.
Whatever it was, they'll have to deal with the kingdom themselves when the time comes. Tia had heard similar stories among the many ridiculous adventures they experienced in the past. Though, Tia felt that the current mess was the worst, having involved the national army.
"Do you mind if you release this ice now, Will?" Tia learnt his name from Ellis. Now Tia knew it wasn't a joke, Ellis had actually met with Rozel Kingdom's princess. Will Everett was her highness's bodyguard.
"Is the party leader a mage?"
"No?" Tia was wondering if Will meant Hermit or Darwin. Hermit was merely a substitute leader while Darwin was away.
"Then where did that delineate come from."
"Why do you want to know that?"
"Then I'll keep the ice.."
"But, but I still haven't poured you tea yet."
"Hermit is one of the party leaders involved, but his role is temporary. He is a disciple and has a master," Tia, now knowing that she would need to 'please' him in order to escape. She had already spoiled so much of the secret regarding Hermit— the fire had already combusted into a blaze, adding more oil wouldn't ready do much anymore, "and he's a mage."
"I see. Do you know his name?" Will knew about the delineates, just that the delineate he saw being marked on Tia was one he hadn't seen before.
"Darwin?" First time Will had heard of his name—
'Among the people that had come to this world... there might be more.'
"I've never heard of him, he must be new," the ice was released, and Tia was free. Though somehow she felt slightly sad that the torture was over.
'No, no, no!? what I'm I thinking?! I'm not a masochist!'
Tia blushed again.
Ellis and Ruth watching from the sidelines could understand the situation to an extent. Tia would usually never act in this way.
Will was thinking about the information he had acquired. There was a theory that came to mind, and it wasn't pleasant. He guessed that Tia herself lacked information, thus he would ask the person in question— Darwin, if he ever comes across him in the future.
While Will was wondering that, Tia was—
'How did the princess acquire a Jester? Is he a Jester? Aren't Jester's dangerous? We're all unorthodox mages Jesters? —and so good looking to.... nonono have to get him out of mY hEAAD!!.'