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-Beyond Love-

Melchior tried to follow Maya's voice, but it was of no use.

"Maya! I am tired of this boring game!" He teased "Why don't you come over here?"

"Nice try, sweetie..." She said with despise "...But I am no fool, I won't fall on this trick of yours... Though it is kind of tempting."

"Why are you doing this to us?!" Melchior shouted with anger "What have we done?!"

His voice echoed through the place with no answer; for a long moment, he could hear his own heartbeat, which gave him anxiety and an overwhelming  fear which was driving him mad.

"M-Maya?" He asked "Maya, are you here? Maya?! Maya!"

Again, no answer to be heard. The feeling was getting bigger and bigger, causing him to tremble and silently cry.

"See?" Maya's voice suddenly echoes on the floor "You know how it feels like to be abandoned in the dark, with nowhere else to go..."

"We never did this to you..." Melchior whispered "At least, I've never made that."

She then appeared behind Melchior, who frightened looked at her.

"Sometimes, we unconsciously do things that hurt people and we are not always aware of it..." She hissed "However, most of the times this is merely an excuse for people to hurt and offend others... You made me feel as if I would never belong, as if I was wrong about being with you..."

She carved her nails deep into Melchior's back, causing him to scream in pain.

"You made me feel weak..." She angrily whispered "Thanks to Mictlantecuhtli, I don't feel this way anymore... In fact..."

She started to drain Melchior's life once more, who was almost unconscious due to his weakness.

"...I will give your souls as gifts for his kindness towards one of his Shamans. A prayer recognizes his God from afar..."

She took her nails out of Elemental Alchemist's back; she drained so much of his vital force that  it became a white sphere, which she kept on a sealed box in a hidden shelf on her lair.

Melchior was lying on the ground, almost unconscious. He felt his life going away, and his breath was becoming smoother and smoother. His arms seemed as heavy as lead, but he tried to lift them anyway, snapping his right hand fingers to conjure the Golden Communicator.

"Guys...Guys...Hear...Me...Out..." He whispered in pain "I am...On Maya's lair...She...She wants... To serve...Us...In...a...Sacrifice..."

He couldn't say anything else, for he lost his consciousness on that very moment.

***

"Are you sure?"

Anael asked Kimi, who had his Communicator activated. He listened Melchior's entire statement until they lost contact.

"Absolutely." Kimi replied " It is definitely Melchior's voice."

"Can you trace it?" Kaiser asked "If you do, we can send Thalas straight away."

"I'll try, but I cannot guarantee a thing..." Kimi replied.

"Well, while you try..." Anael looked to Thalas "My friend, please take the Corazon de  Guatemala with you."

"What?!" Thalas replied, surprised "I can't! It's your Shaman-Stone!"

"Wrong. It is our Shaman-Stone" Anael replied with a smile "The Corazon de Guatemala was made out of all of our Shaman-Stones, so it is also yours. The Electro Pearl Stone is also here..."

He gave the piece to Thalas, who nodded affirmatively.

"Use it wisely" Said Anael.

"One more thing, Thalas" Warned Kimi "I am passing the address of Maya's lair to Kaiser, who will conjure a vortex leading you there. Once more, careful with the possible outrunning you may suffer on the fight. Please, do not stay there longer than needed!"

"I will take care, Kimi" Thalas replied with a smile "Please, Kai, conjure this thing! I need to save the magician..."

Kaiser nodded affirmatively and clapped thrice, conjuring the vortex which would lead Thalas directly to Maya. He took a deep breath and ran towards it, entering in the darkness.

Thalas arrived on the lair in a confident jump. He was already wearing the Electro Archer outfit, ready for the assault. He tried to move as swiftly as he could, searching for Melchior. If he could bring him back without conflict, that would be the ideal scenario. However, it was Maya's lair, and fight would certainly be unavoidable.

The French Guatemalan took great caution in every step he made, for he could see almost anything.

"Well, I'll give Anael's Stone a chance..." He thought to himself, releasing the Corazon.

"Corazon de Guatemala!"

The lair got illuminated by turquoise light, revealing cauldrons, potions flasks, books, papers, obsidian daggers, lances and macanas. He looked at those items completely surprised and shocked. Definitely, Chalchiuhtlicue's plans were huge.

"Sacre bleu..."

Then, he spotted what seemed to be a humanoid shadow about ten meters of where he was standing. He held his breath and ran towards the fallen body.

"Melchior!" He screamed, holding Elemental Alchemist in his arms "Wake up! Wake up!" He tried to wake his friend by shaking his shoulders, but it didn't seem to work.

"Soon enough, you will be the same as he is..."

Thalas turned his looks upwards, searching for Maya with his gaze.

"What have you done to Melchior?!" Thalas shouted.

"The truth?" Maya asked from the darkness, appearing in front of Thalas. "Well, let's just say that his soul will be of great use to my Master..."

"Nonsense!" Thalas protested "He is manipulating you, Maya! Mictlantecuhtli cares for none but himself! Can't you see that?!"

"Callate!" Maya screamed, throwing a purple energy beam.

"Corazon de Guatemala!" Thalas screamed, creating a light turquoise force field, protecting him and Melchior from Maya's attacks.

She got angrier and angrier, striking Thalas fiercely.

"This is not you, Maya!" Thalas screamed "This is not the Honduran I saved back in Tenochtitlan!"

"Of course not!" She growled "The one you saved was a worthless, weak crybaby girl!"
Thalas noticed she was crying.

"A girl whose prayers had never been heard!" She continued growling and attacking "One for whom the Sun never shone! A person whose voice never sounded! You don't know how it feels like!"

She threw a column of red rays, which broke the force field and hit Thalas, causing him and Melchior  to fly right into the closest wall. When Thalas' back hit it, a crack opened and Electro Archer spit a certain amount of blood.

"You have no idea of how it feels like..." She hissed.
Thalas put Melchior aside, conjuring a force field to keep him safe from the battle about to come.

"Actually..." Thalas wiped the blood out of his mouth "I know the feeling better than you may think."

He conjured his crossbow and rapidly charged it, throwing turquoise bolts against Maya, who evaded them with backward flips. He then ran back and continued to throw the projectiles, which hit the ground.

As soon as it happened, zombies and skeletons emerged, coming for Electro Archer. the French Guatemalan then remembered: he shouldn't be outrunned by any means necessary.  He conjured throwing knives, which he used against the undead. For each undead, a different response.

"Give up!" Maya laughed with disdain "You are no match for me!"

He threw the knives against the undead's skulls, causing them to perish and become dust. Maya looked at him with surprise, and responded by conjuring her own throwing knives and using them against Thalas, who evaded them.

"You dare attacking me with projectiles?!" He said "Now you got on my nerve!"

The French Guatemalan then conjured a ballistae, causing Maya to hold back; then, he charged it with massive bolts, throwing them mercilessly against Chalchiuhtlicue, who conjured a magic shield to avoid injuries.

"Why don't you give up?!" She screamed at Thalas.

He then stopped using the ballistae, which he removed from the place. Instead, he conjured a dagger and kept staring at Maya, who looked at him pretty curious about the outcome of that action.

"I have my reasons not to" He said with a mischievous smile "I can give you a full list, if you want."

She growled at him and ran towards Thalas with the staff's blade pointed at his heart. Electro Archer then got his blade and fought back, leading a sword fight with the Honduran wicked Shaman. High attacks were neutralized by low moves; low moves were blocked by medium moves; medium strikes were repelled by high attacks. Neither Thalas nor Maya were able to overcome each other.

He was owning the fight, pushing Maya back and back. The Corazon was illuminating the dark lair, showing the objects displayed on the floor. Maya fell on the floor near of one of her macanas. She mischievously smiled at Thalas and grabbed the weapon, striking Thalas faster than he could predict, giving him a deep wound in his abdomen.

Electro Archer fell on the ground, losing his dagger. Then, the Voodoo Mistress put her left foot on his throat, slightly suffocating him.

"Well, I gave you the opportunity of giving up and saving your life... Why didn't you take it?" She asked with disdain, smothering Thalas even more after the last sentence.

"Because... I... Have to... Fix the screw ups... I did!" He answered almost losing consciousness. He lifted the Corazon the Guatemala "Corazon de Guatemala!"

A vortex opened below Thalas an Melchior, who were sucked  into it, escaping from Maya's lair. They arrived in Anael's place; Thalas was bleeding increasingly and Melchior was still unconscious and deeply pale.

Electro Archer had a sad countenance in his face. Would he be able to save Maya... Or was she lost for all eternity?

***

Back into Maya's lair...

She smashed the wall near her with her fists, completely taken by anger and humiliation. If Thalas didn't possess the Heart of Guatemala, she might have won the battle and vanquished with his life.

Her rage, however, was not only by this surprise factor; she was curious regarding Thalas' statement of 'fixing screw ups he did'. This speech would ruin her rage mantra; did it mean that Thalas cared about her?

"I hate them..." She hissed "I hate them all. They may have escaped today, but tomorrow... They will be all dead by this time tomorrow..."

She then looked at her cauldron, and a wicked idea came into her mind.

"What if?" She whispered to herself, rushing to her shelf.
She had dead animals, dry plants, papers, liquids of all sorts and Melchior's soul orb. She picked it up along with one dried daisy, a piece of sandalwood and a quetzal feather.

"What if... I'd turn one of them a puppet of mine?" She said with a mad laughter, mixing the ingredients to craft a cursed potion.

Purple bat-form energy waves glowed around Maya's cauldron. The Knights were about to face an enemy harder than Eclipse were... Would they be ready to face such challenge?

To Be Continued...

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