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-A for Atonement-

A dense fog came to Guatemala City that night; Thalas and Kaiser were alone in the empty street, searching for any pieces of evidence that would lead to Melchior. Without knowing Maya's whereabouts, it would be even more difficult for them to rescue Melchior on time.

"Not this again..." Kaiser sadly whispered "First Anael, now Melchior... She is definitely hunting us down!"
Thalas remained silent; he kept looking around with sadness.

"Thalas, are you listening to me?!" Kaiser inquired.

The French Guatemalan looked at Kaiser with fright.

"This is all my fault..." He mourned "I shouldn't have saved her back on Tenochtitlan... "

"That is not true, Thalas!" Kaiser grabbed Thalas' shoulders strongly "This is not your fault. It is our fault as a group!" There were tears in Kaiser's eyes.

"Kai..." Thalas looked at him very surprised.

"Maya is a very powerful ally, Thalas, and a gentle girl as well!" DarkStalker tried not to cry while talking 
"We failed her, man. We failed her, but now it is time for us not to let her down again! I don't know what happened to her while fighting with them Templars, but I bet their master is behind all of this!"

"You mean...Mictlantecuhtli?" Thalas replied with shyness.

"I believe it's his name." Kaiser answered affirmatively "Anyway, I think we should get back to Kimi... Him and Mr. Zelaya may have a clue about this..."

***

"What?! Kidnapped?! How?!"

Anael couldn't believe in what Thalas and Kaiser told him. Melchior was not only defeated, but taken as a prize for Maya to brag about. Elite Dragon stared at the surviving team with shock, sadness and anger at the same time.

"How could you let things go the way they did?!" Kimi was arguing with his brother "You were the only one there with teleport powers!"

"I didn't think that she would be so strong!" Kaiser tried to defend himself against Kimi's accusation. "Look, I know I screwed up, but..."

"There's no excuse for that!" Kimi aggressively interrupted "You should have gotten out of there when you realized there was o way to beat her!"

"Enough of this!" Anael raised his voice, making the others look at him "This whole discussion leads nowhere. Right now we have to think about how we are going to save Melchior's life. Any ideas?"

Silence took place, and Anael sighed disappointed.

"Well, as far as I recall..." Kimi started  "...Maya talked about some kid of a God...'Mic-I-do-not-know'..."

"Mictlantecuhtli" Anael answered "He is known as the God of Death."

"Tristan said his name once" Kaiser recalled "I believe he was the Templars' master..."

"So do I" Replied Kimi "If that is the case..."

"...Then Maya is the least of our problems." Thalas completed "She is being used, of course!"

"However, how are we going to save her from this curse?" Kimi asked "I mean, we are not aware of the whole extension of her powers!"

"I may have the solution for this." Thalas said.

The other Knights looked at him.

"Which is...?" Kaiser asked.

"Let me go after her." Thalas suggested "She is named after the Goddess of Passing Waters, Chalchiuhtlicue. By 'Passing Waters', we may think about..."

"...Memories." Completed Anael, surprised with Thalas' thoughts "She is using ours and her memories against us! The rain is only a metaphor!"

"Impressive!" Applauded Kaiser "But how are going to stop her?"

"As I said, let me go after her." Thalas said with decision in his voice.

"No way" Anael replied "Isn't it enough that Melchior, Gracia and I got knocked out? She is too powerful for you to deal alone, Thalas!"

"Not really." The French Guatemalan replied "See, you guys never fought her. I did. I know how to tease and to trick her. I know her weaker spots an how to make her do unforced errors."

"But you may end up killed!" Kimi protested "You are an Archer, Thalas! Her creatures may..."

"...Outrun me, I know." Thalas completed "However, if I fight her in her lair - by using myself as a bait - she will be so comfortable that she won't even consider using her summons."

Again, silence took place. They were too worried to let Thalas go.

"Please, let me do this..." He said in a slightly begging tone "I am more than aware that I am the reason she became wicked."

"What?" Anael, Kimi and Kaiser asked shocked.

"I had an argument with her prior to our last fight against Pythius Dragon" He confessed "I didn't believe in what she said regarding her relationship with Lorcan, and I got captured down in Xibalba. If I hadn't been so stubborn, she may had never embraced her devil within..."

"Thalas..." Anael started with sadness in his voice.

"Please, guys, let me go!" The French Guatemalan begged "Let me do this... Let me save Maya."

Anael bit his lip reluctantly; if he let Thalas go, he might end up the same way as Melchior, who was dying as minutes went by. Nevertheless, that could be their only chance to know where Maya was hiding and what she was planning to do with Melchior. It was a really difficult choice to make, and Elite Dragon was unsure whether he wanted to risk it or not.

***

"Hell ain't a bad place... Hell is from here to eternity..."

Melchior's head was spinning and aching. Once more, the Salvadorian found himself in chains; he stood on his knees, trying to recognize the place in which he had been trapped. It was a dark place with a hard floor and stone walls. He touched his chest and realized there were bandages in it, which went down through his torso.

"Hell ain't a bad place...Hell is from here to eternity..."

Someone was singing. Considering the voice, for Melchior there was no doubt in his mind it was Maya.  The Salvadorian mage tried to find her, but the darkness of the room prevented it.

"Maya?! Where are you?!"

"Ha, ha, ha!" She laughed madly "I am everywhere, Melchior! Welcome to my lair!"

To be Continued...

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