Part 1: The Phoenix.
The Grand Duke of Fenix, Alice Blodeuwodd Duke Fenix.
Month 11, day 16, ADB 1706 [11:14] || Month 2, day 13, UT 8992 [20:14]
Inside the Windorn Palace, the main office quarters of the monarch.
Inside the office quarters of the Windorn Palace, a rich aroma from coffee permeates the room as a plume of steam rises into the air from the mug. The mug was sitting atop a rare porcelain plate and carefully arranged on the desk. Silence reigned supreme within the room until an abrupt noise interrupted its tranquility. The noise came from the person sitting on a chair, frowning in expression and her red eyes glaring at the monitor. Her restless finger tapped on her armrest, removing the ambiance of silence.
The young lady’s name is Alice Blodeuwodd Duke Fenix, the Grand Duchess of the Oslaris Galaxy of the Aetherian Empire and the Divine Beast that almost every living worshiped. As part of the Imperial Head of Galactic Government, nay, her title alone was enough to have the authority to wear her Imperial Uniform Code. Regardless, all the nobles within the Aetherian Empire donned the Imperial Uniform Code that symbolized the prideful empire, and it commanded respect and unwavering loyalty.
The black collar of the red dress shirt poked out from under the deep blue vest, filled with intricate patterns, accentuating her majestic presence. A black bow with white hems was knotted under her collar and embellished with the uniform's motifs. The embroidered Insignia of the Fenix Family latched on her right chest as it served as an alternative to the Golden Insignia she would usually wear. However, the Golden Insignia was attached to the Long-tailed coat she had taken off.
In a few moments came silence when Alice stopped the movements of her fingers. She intently stared at the monitor as if seemingly attempting to bore a hole through the holographic screen. All the while, she concealed the raging emotions from sight. Her hands instinctively grasped the mug's handle, guiding the rim to her lips. Soon, as if the powers of the caffeine came to be, her emotions calmed down.
Alice's gaze began to follow the lines of words displayed on the monitor. Incidentally, her eyes attended to the current time shown in the bottom corner of the floating monitor.
A thought came to mind, preoccupied, and halted her reading momentum, ‘Now that I think about it, the servants must have finished preparing the Banquet hall’
She returned the mug with subtle elegance and majesty. She exuded a mysterious yet dignified aura that would make anyone halt in awe of her presence. However, the expression she carried would slightly intimidate anyone.
Various thoughts occupied Alice's mind but soon disrupted by the ringing chime from the metallic door across the room. The sound shifted her attention away from the holographic monitor, which became transparent, and her gaze locked on the metallic door, patiently waiting. A rough voice of an old man followed after the chime ended.
“Your Grace, may I take some of your time?”
"Enter, Robin." Alice prompted.
The metallic door slid open like it was obeying the words of the young Duchess, revealing a tall-tanned man wearing the Windorn's Palace Code uniform but adorned with a few ornaments from the previous war that created a commanding fashion compared to the rest of the servants. Although it was undeniable that he was breaching clothing Codes, his ornaments carried enough weight and merit that the members of the Fenix Family remained silent as they assumed it was an act of conveying pride. The Majordomo entered the room and the metallic door quietly closed behind him.
Robin walked to the front of Alice's desk, and even though he had become a servant of the Fenix Family, his demeanor remained unchanged from when he was honored to serve as the Fenix Family's commanding officer. Robin respectfully greeted Alice by saluting his clenched hands to his chest and lowering his head.
"Raise your head. Did any issues occur, Robin?" Alice inquired, directing her gaze to the taller man while she leaned back in her chair.
Hearing her words, Robin raised his head as the corners of his lips curved upward, and he replied, "We have finished preparing the room the Young Lady requested and the three banquet halls for the servants, employees, and officials to use. However, there was a slight problem regarding the gift for Lady Vanessa." Robin ended with a troubled face.
“The Gift?” Alice repeated, subtly wearing a confused expression, “Did she dislike my gift? I was so certain that Vanessa would like it.”
As Robin was about to answer Alice's question, the metallic door rang another chime and unexpectedly slid open before the sound could fully dissipate. The discussion between the two halted as it clearly violated an unspoken rule. However, there could be only one individual within the Ducal household who would so brazenly dare to break such a custom. Recognizing who it was, Robin stayed silent and remained standing.
“Hello, your Grace!”
The voice overflowing with energy came from a young adult wearing a uniform from the University of Milthojan; Navy blue blazer with golden stripes around the edges, covering the white sleeves underneath. The traditional red bow with strips of yellow on her neck represents the Griphonne House.
"Happy birthday, Vanessa." Alice greeted her sister, "Have you received the gift I sent?"
Vanessa walked up close to the desk with a confused expression as she replied, "A gift? I haven't yet since I was playi- *cough* doing some practice on the T12 lightning Mk.3 in the Dive Simulator just before meeting you."
Hearing those words, Alice glanced at Robin as if urging him for an explanation.
"Your Grace, your package has arrived from the Frontline and Development studio." Robin explained, "However, there were two of them. It seems that Lady Vanessa also ordered one for herself."
"Oh?" Vanessa lets out a dumbfounded voice.
Alice was also surprised, frowning upon the unexpected situation, but she kept her reactions minimal.
"FLD Studio?" Vanessa inquired, seemingly excited as her gaze shifted between the two, "Did you buy the latest Full Dive Console with the Yggdrasil game installed, Your Grace?"
"Indeed," Alice confirmed, a voice filled with regrets, "But it seems that was a mistake."
"Wait!" Vanessa hurriedly replied, "I wanted to buy two Full Dive Consoles so we could play together. But I hesitated since I was unsure if the game fits your liking, so I wanted to test the game before buying another full dive and later invite you. Not to mention, full dives are fairly expensive."
'Fairly expensive?' Alice thought, doubting her words.
Somehow, it triggered Vanessa's hyperactive state, and walks around the large desk to come closer as she looked at Alice with great expectations reflected in her eyes, delivering her intent to play the game.
"But I'm so glad that you also bought one. So this means only one thing! We should play together!" Vanessa exclaimed, unable to contain her expectations.
Realizing how close Vanessa was to her, Alice was taken aback and found herself at a loss for words, unsure how to respond. It wasn't discomfort that she experienced, but rather the unfamiliarity with such close physical contact.
In haste, Alice quickly ruminates her response, a favorable response as she has failed to gift her sister on her birthday. She replies, averting her gaze to ease her guilt.
"Very well, I don't mind playing the game. However, a birthday is a different matter, tell me what you want as a Gift? A Planet? Galaxy class luxury ship?"
"I want the beautiful sister of mine to take time off from her work to rest and play a game with me! Spending time together is worth more than Matrioshka's brain!" With a proud smile, Vanessa declared.
Vanessa noticed Alice was trying to hide her negative emotions behind a stoic expression, and Vanessa couldn't resist hugging her sister. Hugging Alice, Vanessa's voice reached a high pitch, "Gosh! My big sister is adorable."
With the sudden act of affection from Vanessa, the Duchess - who works tirelessly at her desk day and night nonstop, was taken aback. Although it was surprising and unfamiliar, Alice embraced it warmly, returning the feeling of warmth of their bond.
Immediately after, Alice let out a snicker from her mouth as she humored, "You should be honored that not everyone can spend time with me, the beautiful and majestic Duchess."
Vanessa glanced at her sister's face and noticed the edges of Alice's lips curved up in a smug expression. Though Alice wasn't one to display exaggerated emotions, even more so did Alice rarely cracked jokes; Vanessa was caught off guard by her sister's smug grin. Her body stiffened in shock, and she quickly broke out from their embrace while shying her eyes away with a bright red countenance.
She wanted to calm herself down to speak eloquently, but she couldn't suppress the grin or the rapid beating of her heart. She gestured hurriedly, "ANYWAYS! The game will open later on zero-zero in universal time, so log in to the game when you have time and contact me later in the game! Excuse me as I have to prepare myself. Later!"
And just like that, Vanessa quickly fled through the door that silently slid closed.
Her sister's retreating figure left Alice dumbfounded, shocked even. Her thoughts ran wild from 'Did I do something wrong' to 'Am I perhaps reeking of a bad smell?'. Ruminating over, she slowly became paranoid until her eyes noticed the wide grin on Robin's face.
'Is that grin a good or bad one?' Alice thought, 'Wait a minute, what made your usual demeanor change so much?'
Taking a deep breath, Alice managed to calm herself down. Her gaze drifted to the clock displayed on her LeGlass HUD. As she did so, her mind was filled with various thoughts, occupying her attention for a moment.
- Month 02, day 13, UT 8992. [20:21]
'The opening of the game is 00:00 Universal time, huh?' Alice ponders her schedule, 'That would mean 13:00 in our local galaxy time. I finished everything I had for today to attend Vanessa's private party. But I should create a new schedule where I can play the game with her.'
Alice has options to enter into a contract with Nation Protocol One, which would allow her to employ an administrative-class Android to oversee or assist on her territory, a common practice among governors and rulers outside of the Fenix Duchy.
Despite these widespread practices, Alice remained steadfast in her commitment to personally managing the duchy, demonstrating her determination and independence. However, due to her sister, that determination cannot help but shake her roots.
Position bears together with responsibility and demanding tasks, which is precisely what defines why Alice as the head of the Grand Duchy of the Fenix Family. While Alice yearns to spend quality time with her only family, her overwhelming responsibility takes away her ability to spend time.
One of the factors of having the blood of the Phoenix was due to her seemingly immortal figure. A prime example is Alice, whose appearance from a century ago remained unchanged, still closely resembling her current self. On the other hand, Vanessa has lived nearly 70 years old and has a young adult figure. This contrast between Vanessa's aging and Alice's timelessness highlights who inherited the blood of the Phoenix was apparent to Alice, and she naturally knew who weighed heavier in importance.
She massaged the bridge of her nose and calmed her breathing before she started talking.
She looks at Robin, addressing him, "Next agenda."
"The Central Church of Ma'atianity has delivered a paper envelope," Robin answered as he took an item from his vest.
"It is an invitation for your grace to join the Day of Pioneer Festival."
Alice took the letter inside the envelope while inspecting stamped sealed wax, which bore the figure of a bird - the Phoenix with outstretched wings and a feather warping its edges, and it was a recognizable press of the Ma'atianity Religion.
'Divine beast...' Alice thought, 'yet the Divine beast cannot manifest the powers one should have. The Divine Beast Alice Blodeuwodd Fenix, what a pitiful living joke.'
She felt overwhelmingly guilty for the influence she should not have. The previous Divine beast, Angela Del Dharia Fenix, is the person who made the image of a divine beast. Alice had contributed none to it. However, as someone born to be a Duchess and given the power to rule an autonomous galaxy, she had no reason not to use this influence. She swallowed her feelings and opened the letter.
The letter contains magniloquent greetings and the desire for the presence of Alice at Pilru B a, also known as Pilcuth planet, located in Pilru G2XL p10 for three days and two nights on the 12th day of the 3rd month in universal time. The day of the Pioneer Festival is equivalent to the New Year festival held in Capital Worlds. Skipping over the unnecessary details, Alice finished the letter immediately. It didn't contain the information she was looking for.
Alice threw the letter to the table and let out a sigh.