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- A Road Leads To... The Irish Illusionist (Part Two) -

North of Edimbrock, Scotland - 13h hours later...

"Stand up, Melchior! Face me or face the ground!"

It was Nathalie's voice, sounding as powerful as the mighty thunder; Melchior was on the ground with injuries all over his body; he was trying to stand up as Nathalie prepared another energy ball on her left hand.

"Now listen to me." She said. "See these injuries on your body? These are electrocution marks; only those who have a thing or two in the ground of Thunder can do this. I'll explain to you how Elemental Gifts work: first of all, they can only be given by either an Elemental Lord or his or her correspondent apprentice. Once given, the one who gave it, if it's not an Elemental Lord, will have his or her power slightly diminished in that element. Sounds fair, right?"

At that moment, Melchior was already on his feet, and nodded affirmatively, comprehending the subject.

"Excellent, you are on your feet." She said. "Now, I'll attack you with these spheres, and I want you to counter attack with your best element."

"Alright..." Melchior replied, taking a deep breath. "Here it goes..."

She jumped and threw the two energy spheres against Melchior, who created a large fireball, throwing it against Nathalie's attack; the two attacks collided, and yet weakened, Nathalie's assault was more effective, and Melchior was hit on his abdomen, what caused him to bend one of his knees in pain, avoiding falling down on the floor once more.

"Well, not bad, I must say." Nathalie replied with her arms crossed. " have to say I'd never use Fire as a counter to Thunder or Air. The reason is quite simple - Fire can be fed by Air and get stronger, but too much Air puts out Fire-based spells. Something more aggressive happens with Thunder - too much Thunder against Fire may blow up the entire battlefield and injury both sides. Are you following my logic?"

"Yes... Sort of." Melchior replied a bit disappointed.

"Hey, cheer up!" Nathalie happily replied. "That's why you are here! Now... Come closer and show me this bracelet of yours."

Hesitantly, Melchior obeyed; then, Nathalie took a small, lilac key out of her pocket.

"This key is a magical one. This is an Elemental Key Seal." Nathalie explained. "In your bracelet, there's space for one of those. They all bear the same shape, so they'll all fit in. The goal of this key is to seal a certain element, which means you won't be allowed to use a certain element I choose. All Lords know a thing or two about the other elements, thus I can block all Elements I wish. In this case..."

She showed the key's tip to Melchior; there, he could see one symbol, which was a large fire camp.

"Of course I'll block the only Element which makes you more confident at battle." She said, putting the key on the small lock on the bracelet. "Once I turn this key, the Fire symbol will temporally disappear, meaning that the correspondent Elemental Seal on your body will be sealed and you won't be able to use Fire-based spells."

"Elemental Seals... On my body?" Melchior asked, confused.

"Oh..." Nathalie replied, surprised. "It seems none explained what are those to you. Very well, In our bodies, since we were born Magicians, there are certain spots which allows us to control Elements. Humans, regular ones, are born with two types of circulatory systems - lymphatic and blood circulatory systems. We Magicians, on the other hand, are born with a third type of circulation, which is the Mana System. The Mana System has certain areas of action, which begin in a certain Seal. Depending on the Element chosen, a certain Seal are will pump and make all Mana on your body flow."

Nathalie sat down and instructed Melchior to do the same. Then, she created an hologram of a human body, showing the first two systems mentioned. Then, as she spoke, the Mana system began to appear bit by bit.

"The 'Mana veins' exist all over your body, but they remain inactive most of the time. I assume you don't use Magic all the time, do you?" Nathalie explained. "Well, I don't, but it doesn't matter. So, you use the element Fire very often. The Fire Seal is an electrical point located slightly above your heart, near the right atrium. See?" She pointed at the location on the hologram.

She then held Melchior's arm near her legs, showing the bracelet and the unlocked keyhole with the key on it.

"See that I haven't locked it yet, so if you wanted to use it now, you'd still be able to cast fire. When I lock it, two things will happen - The Mana circulation near this area will diminish, and your heart will pump slightly slower, for Fire reigns the heartbeat; Fire is aggressive, Fire is adrenaline. Yet reduced, it doesn't mean you'd be safe from a heart attack, for example. A strong lightning strike is more than enough to unlock it so aggressively that one experienced Fire Lord, or aspirant, would certainly face imminent death."

"Oh..." Melchior grasped. "That's not good. So why will you do it?"

"Because, Melchior, you need to rely less on Fire." Nathalie said seriously. "Fire gives you an illusion of invincibility when it is one of the most fragile Elements - its power can be gained and lost at the same rate. The same could happen to Air, but it has other divisions, which allow you to avoid this causality."

She took a deep breath and smiled to Melchior, trying to calm him down.

"For now, I'll only explain about Fire, but you can see the other Seal points - The Air, Thunder and Lightning Seal is located at your forehead, next to the middle of your eyebrows. When locked, our reactions are slowed down, and our eyesight become slightly blurred. When overcharged, we may die of a heart attack or become so aggressive and reptilian that we may end up killing everyone on our path - including ourselves. The Earth, Wood and Stone Seal is located below our diaphragm; when locked, it makes more difficult to breath and move your arms. When overcharged, it makes your body temporally stronger, but easy to break if countered. Last but not least, the Water and Ice Seal is located on our palms. When locked, people may overheat, for we stop sweating and our sensibility is diminished. When overcharged, some of us may become blind, and our bones freeze, which makes them easier to break, yet the flesh which covers it has become quite a powerful shield. There are the Light Seal and the Darkness Seal, but they are subjects to another class, so to speak."

Melchior widened his eyes, amazed. Then, he closed them strongly and bounced his head.

"My head hurts." He said. "Too much information."

"I thought you'd say so." She replied with serenity. "Now, breathe as calm as you can; I'll lock your Fire Seal now."

That said, she turned the key clockwise and took it out of the bracelet. Suddenly, Melchior felt his heart slower and he found a bit harder to breathe.

"Calm down." Nathalie said, holding Melchior's shoulders. "Breathe... Breathe... Stand up when you are ready..."

It took some minutes for Melchior to feel more comfortable. Ten minutes after Nathalie locked his Fire Seal, he slowly stood up and clenched his fists. Nathalie was already on her feet just waiting for him.

"Lesson number one!" She said in a majestic tone. "Close your eyes and think of lightning. Think of tornadoes. How they look like, how they behave, how they sound like, how do you feel when one of them is near you. Then... Transfer these emotions, these data to your hands. Concentrate that power on them. When you are ready... Attack me with them. Attack me at your full throttle. Understood?"

Melchior nodded affirmatively, closing his eyes right afterwards. Tornadoes or hurricanes, for someone who lived his entire life in Central America, were easy to portrait - large masses of spinning wind, result of the encounter of two air masses of opposing humidity and directions, brought up in different landscapes: Hurricanes came from encounters on water, and Tornadoes were brought up on earth soil. There was still a third type - Typhoon -, which was brought up straight from the clouds.

Melchior showed his palms and thought with fervor; now, he moved to lightning - those beautiful, deadly light beams, charged with pure electricity, able to kill anything or anyone in its path. He felt the heat and pulse of one of them every time Anael casted his electrical powers.

Those thoughts were now concentrated on Melchior's palms. Suddenly, Nathalie could see small, yet growing lilac power spheres, which roared like raging wind and glew like fierce lightning rays.

"Excellent!" She whispered, preparing herself for battle.

Then, Melchior violently opened his eyes; the spheres were covering his hands completely, and their radius measured about one palm. He joined both spheres, preparing to throw them against the Irish Illusionist.

"Raging Wind!" He screamed, creating his very first Lightning-based spell.
He threw it against Nathalie, who defended herself by raising a lightning wall, yet a small part of Melchior's power were able to injure her face.

"Very well! Now we are talking!" Nathalie said pleased. "Now, we'll train until your spells are more accurate and stable!"


North of Edimbrock, Scotland - Three Weeks Later

April 8th, 2013

During the past three quarters of a month, Melchior learned, day by day, how to create and tame Air, Lightning and Thunder. He trained from the sunrise to the sunset, failing, screaming, succeeding, triumphing. In the last week, due to his major efforts and his astonishing intelligence, Melchior succeeded on creating three spells, each one of a correspondent division of the Air element.

"Vampiric Tornado"; a strong Air-based spell, which consisted on Melchior's creation of a  small tornado in his hand, which was converted in a strong wind beam when thrown against the enemy, ripping his body aggressively.

"Raging Starlight", which was a stronger and much well developed version of the Raging Wind, being a completely Lightning-based attack. It consists on a joint of two energy spheres, which were thrown against a certain target, electrocuting it.

"Shockwave"; his only Thunder-based spell, which consisted on Melchior clapping one hand against the other, creating a massive shockwave, which would shatter a foe inside out.

Nathalie watched Melchior's process completely; she watched him fail and succeed in every challenge given by her. She looked at him proudly on that eight day of April.

On that day, which was quite cloudy and grey, yet she allowed Melchior to wake up later, he woke up at the same hour he did every day. They were sleeping in small barracks improvised by Nathalie since Melchior's first day of training. When he woke up, she wasn't there, waiting for him.

"What time is it?" He thought, looking at his watch. "Oh... Seven and a half. I thought she'd be up by now..."

He took a towel with him and went to an improvised shower, which was the shower with its own generator and water box, and curtains around it. He then got some clothes for him - a long sleeved, turtleneck, olive green shirt, black jeans, a pair of black cothurnus, dark brown leather gloves and a black hooded mantle - and went to his shower.

At that moment, Nathalie had just gotten out of her barrack very sleepy. She looked at the sky and smiled, half closing her eyes. She was wearing a large, white sleeping gown on top of her underwear.

"Man, this is going to be a heck of a day!" She said happily. "Let's see if the prodigy is already awaken..."

That said, she went straight to his barracks - he wasn't there. She put her hands on her waist with a surprised countenance. Suddenly, a mischievous smile appeared on her face. She went back to her barracks and got herself her usual clothes - a cream jumpsuit, which was tight on her torso, but puffy on her legs, white boots with metal pieces on its tip, purple gloves with a pair of Gothic, lilac metal gauntlets and a long-sleeved, turtleneck, lilac mantle with purple details, including a large lightning design on her back and a lilac, purple-glowing armor covering her torso and waist completely -, and went to the improvised shower.

By the time she got there, Melchior was fully dressed and combing his hair with his fingers.

"There you are." Nathalie said. "Give me a few more minutes; today, if it is God's will, this will be your last day here in the best means possible."

"That I hope so too." Melchior replied with a smile. "I like you, but I have other Lords to see and learn with as well. One cannot settle in so fast, can he?"

Nathalie agreed; Melchior stepped away and let Nathalie get herself ready for their final showdown. He sat on a rock about fifty meters away from that improvised bathroom, opening his small notebook and making some notes on it.

Half an hour later, Nathalie was fully dressed and ready for the battle. She called for Melchior with a movement of her left hand, and the Magician came closer. She led him to an open wasteland one hundred meters away of where they were, walking farther to the north. Once there, she stood near him and began her final explanation.

"The rules are simple." She said with her hands on her waist. "Impress me and my Ultimate Spell and Elemental Gift will be yours. Fail me and I won't give you anything. By impressing me, of course, I mean my defeat. Ready to battle?"

"I agree with all terms." Melchior said. "And I am ready to bring you down to your knees." He added mischievously.

That said, he walked about ten steps away from Nathalie.

"Oh! I forgot to tell you!" Nathalie said with a smile. "Lightning versus lightning only! Your Fire Seal is still locked, and I trust on your honesty not to use the other elements. Also, since you bear another source of power, coming from this strange tattoo of yours, you are also forbidden of using it, alright?"

"Agreed." Melchior answered slightly worried. "I won't fail you, I promise."

"If there's nothing else to be said, we are ready to proceed to battle!" Nathalie said. "Face me or face the ground, youngster!"

That said, she jumped and threw six spheres against Melchior, who jumped backwards to avoid being hit by them. As a response, he created two large air spheres and threw against Nathalie.

"Well played, but still no match for me!" Nathalie commented as she saw the magical spheres coming towards her. "Energy Wall!"

She then raised her defensive wall, which blocked Melchior's attacks. Then, he positioned his arms to the sides of his body, widely opened.

"Shockwave!" He screamed, clapping his hands one against the other, raising an enormous shockwave directed to Nathalie's wall. When it hit the barrier, it almost fell completely, to Nathalie's surprise.

"Impressive!" She commented. "But not enough to break my defense! What will you do about that?"

Before Melchior could give her a reply, she conjured multiple lightning lances, throwing them against him, who had to create small air shields to defend himself. Then, Melchior saw the opportunity to strike her shield back, for she was taking longer to cast more spells.

He prepared his attack as fast as he could - two energy spheres joined together to create a single blow, which was thrown against his target.

"Raging Starlight!" He screamed.

Nathalie didn't have time to repair he defense, which was broken by Melchior's attack; it raised too much dust near her, making it hard for Melchior to see where she was.

"Damn... This isn't good..." He thought.

Then, he heard the sound of feet hitting the ground. At first, it was a slow, yet fierce sound, which began to accelerate and grow louder as the dust  went out. It was Nathalie, whose right hand was on her waist and her left arm was completely up, with her hand above her head. She was stepping fast and furious on the ground, raising multiple static lightning.

"Damn..." Melchior commented, raising rapidly an air barrier.

"This will be of no use!" She screamed. "Rainmaker Dance!"

She stomped the ground with her left foot and raised both arms to the sky, raising the energy up to the skies and making it return thrice as stronger towards Melchior, whose defenses were complete broken and his body was hit severely by the raging thunderstorm.

He screamed louder and more painfully than he ever did; he bounced twice on the ground and fell in his back, breaking the soil below. His eyes were wide open, and he could feel the blood running out of his body by injuries in his torso. He was breathing with difficulty, and his pulse was higher than before.

"Damn..." He thought. "Those will leave a mark..."

He closed his eyes, took a deep breath and stood up, bending one of his knees.

"I am not defeated yet!" He said with determination. "Vampiric Tornado!"

With all the strength Melchior still had in his core, he created a small tornado in his hand and threw it on Nathalie, who smiled.

"You are still no match for me!" She screamed. "Rainmaker Dance!"

Once again, she stomped the ground, raised her hands to the sky and threw the lightning towards Melchior. The two spells hit each other, dividing the space in which they were fighting.

"What?" She said, raising her hands in front of her body in a way to give her spell more power. "How come you have blocked it?!"

Yet Melchior was less experience or stronger than Nathalie, he had far more determination and will than she previously thought. She saw Melchior's power grow before her surprised golden eyes; in a matter of seconds, Melchior screamed an got even more concentrated, thinking about the destruction on tornado could promote, how it could raze to the ground cities and shatter lives. He transferred these thoughts to his hands, trying his best to overcome Nathalie.

"I cannot be defeat here!" He thought. "I have to move to the next Elemental Lord! I shall get this power not only for myself, but for Anael and my friends, who are counting on me to do so!"

Then, he could step forward with his left foot; his power got stronger, and it overcame Nathalie's Rainmaker Dance, shattering the lightning and hitting their conjurer, shattering her armor and ripping part of her clothes.
She fell rudely on the ground, bleeding through her open injuries; Melchior fell on his knees, feeling breathless and completely exhausted. Sweat was falling from his face and mixing itself with the blood which was coming out of his wounds. Then, he heard bouncy footsteps coming in his direction - those were Natalie's.

"Very... Very impressive!" She said, breathless. "Do you understand now why I blocked your Fire Seal? You could have died in the first Rainmaker's assault I gave."

"Have I... Have I... Won?" Melchior asked in complete exhaustion.

Natalie fell on her knees right in front of Melchior, giving him a hug.

"Yes, yes, you have!" She said. "It has been a long, long time since I've lost a brawl! Sometimes, being winning all time sucks!" She completed, laughing afterwards. "Come... I'll clean those injuries of ours..."

She helped Melchior to stand up. Then, she did two things: she used her Elemental Key Seal to unlock Melchior's Fire Seal. On the following, she pierced her left thumb on top of the Lightning Symbol.

"I, Nathalie Soulstone, Elemental Mistress of the Lightning of my age, give thee, Melchior Raven-Hayes, the certitude of Mastery of Air Element and its sub-classes, Lightning and Thunder. May the bearer of this Elemental Gift does good deeds and actions with the power fully given."

At the moment she finished her oath, the Lightning Symbol glew on Melchior's bracelet and crystallized; the blood which once was red became a lilac crystal with a white shine. Melchior's countenance got brighter and happier.

"Does that mean...?!" He happily asked.

"Yes, yes!" Nathalie replied. "This means you gained the mastery of the Air Element, yet you haven't become an Elemental Lord."

"Better than nothing!" Melchior happily replied. Then, he raised his fists to the sky. "I made it, for God's sake! I've made it!"

Nathalie put her hands on her waist, rolling her eyes with a smile during Melchior's celebration. After he celebrated, she took him to her barrack in order to cleanse his wounds and get themselves some rest.


Edimbrock Train Station, Edimbrock, Scotland - 3 days later

It was on April 11th, one month prior to Thalas' 14th birthday, that Melchior arrived in the capital of Scotland, Edimbrock. Nathalie was with him, dressed in a magenta overcoat, black pants and dark brown ankle boots and a small, grey hat. Melchior was dressed in the same clothes as he was before, standing on her side as the train began appearing on the horizon.

"So... Everything ready?" She asked without looking at him. "I'll miss you... You are quite a nice guy, I must say."

"And you are an awesome master... And a really nice chick." Melchior replied mischievously.

Natalie discretely laughed.

"So, Melchior... Did you really wish to train yourself in the art of Air, Lightning and Thunder mastery? Why? And what are you going with the power I granted?" She then gave him her mischievous look, waiting for his answer.

"First of all..." He began his reply mischievously. "Yes, I really wished to be trained in this art and I've enjoyed it very much! Why? Because my friends will make great use of my learning just as I am! Finally..."

When he was about to answer, the train arrived. He waited until the loud sound of its wheels and engine could no longer overpower the station. Then, he took a deep breath and gave Natalie his final word.

"... I'll only do good deeds and actions, for me, my friends and mankind."
Then, he jumped on the train, giving Nathalie one last look. Yet she had a smile in her face, she had tears on her eyes.

"I'll miss you, Nathalie Soulstone, Elemental Mistress of Air, Lightning and Thunder..." Melchior thought. "I'll see you again sooner than you think, and your tears shall be ones of pride and joy for my return..."

The train made its way out of Scotland, heading southwards to Central Europe. This time, Melchior was going to the land of heat, of windmills and former home to Moors.

He was going to... Málaga, in southeast Spain.

To Be Continued...

- A Road Leads to... The Irish Illusionist (Part One) -

Southern part of Ireland - 6h15 a. m.

Melchior's train was moving at a moderate pace; the first sun beams were shining upon the wilderness and its daredevil iron horse. These beautiful, warm and inviting sun beams woke up Melchior. He was involved in a thick linen and his head was on a soft pillow, which he brought in his luggage. He shared his wagon with nobody, and thus he could put some of his belongings in the small center table in front of him.

It took him five minutes to yawl and slowly raise up and sit on the large, comfortable train seat. He looked at the window and saw the Irish wilderness at its full beauty - a large lake surrounded by alpine trees, whose leaves were falling on the grassy ground, creating a golden tapestry.

"Wow..." He said to himself. "This is really beautiful..."

He half closed his eyes when the sunlight became stronger; his smile, however, was still on his face.

"However, I am not here to merely appreciate Mother Nature..." He said, getting closer to the curtains. "I am here to learn how to get part of its power and mists for myself."

That said, he closed the curtains almost completely, leaving only a small strip of light, which illuminated the center of the wagon. Melchior slowly packed his things and prepared to arrive in Ireland's capital, Dublin.


Dublin, Ireland - 9h45 a. m.

The train arrived at a busy, thrilling station. Melchior got out of the train and stopped, staring at his surroundings. He could see arches, pillars and other buildings whose architecture led him back to 18th century. He could see all kinds of people coming and getting out of the modern trains - from merchantmen to businessman, everyone seemed to be taking the same vehicle to go in their directions.

Melchior sighed; it was a whole new world to him.

"I've never been to United Kingdom before..." He said to himself in low tone. "Well, I am in Ireland, which is not part of it, but... Feels closer than anything."

He walked out of the station, meeting the life of the modern Irish - vibrant people; some dressed in their soccer shirts, others, mostly teenagers, dressed as punks. Most people were dressing casually, not worrying about being formal. Somehow, it made Melchior feel more comfortable, and even a smile could be seen in his face.

He was wearing a large, dark brown hooded mantle, which covered his body almost completely. The wind hit Melchior and the mantle flew back, showing his black shirt and his jeans, which were thorn in his left knee and near his right ankle. Truth to be told, Melchior had some of punk in his style, and he was proud to show it in a place most people would go for that trend.

"Now... Let's see..." He mottled while walking. "Natalie Soulstone... God... Where do I look for her?"

He looked to his left and saw pubs, stores and other facilities. He looked to his left and saw a church and other stores, and even some apartments on top of the stores, in old-fashioned buildings. Thoughtful, he walked towards the buildings to the right, uncertain if he was ever going to find his path.

Suddenly, he felt something coming; it was coming behind him, and coming fast.

"What the..." He said, turning around.

He was hit by a woman in in-line skates; she was short, around 1,50 or 1,60m in height, thin, white-skinned with short, straight dark hair. She was wearing a large, black hooded mantle, a red shirt with an Anarchy symbol in black and long-sleeved, dark red shirt underneath, small black gauntlets, a ragged dark jeans and a pair of black sneakers, which had "Iron Maiden" written on it.

"I am so sorry!" She said, giving Melchior a hand. "I haven't seen you! I swear I didn't!"

"N-no problems..." Melchior answered, still dazzled. "I hope you didn't get hurt."

"Oh! No, I haven't!" She said in a mischievous tone, putting her hands on her waist. "I'll just have to repair it later... It is an old piece, given to me years ago... Still, easy to manage and restore."

"Phew!" Melchior sighed in relief. "I thought I'd have to pay you something..."

"Oh, silly boy!" She said after a laughter. "If there's no damage, you owe me nothing. Still..."

She then looked to the main clock of the town with a mischievous smile.

"...I think there's a way to make things out..." She said mischievously, looking on the bottom of Melchior's eyes. "...Between the two of us."

"Which is...?" Melchior asked, curious and distrustful.

She started writing something in a piece of paper, which made Melchior worried.

"Look, I don't want any troubles here..." He said. "I am just looking for a person. A woman named... Natalie Soulstone."

When the Irish woman heart that name, she delivered the piece of paper with a mischievous smile.

"Go to this address tonight at 9 p. m., and do not be late." She said. "She will be waiting for you."

She then blinked and kissed Melchior's forehead. Then, she got her bike, jumped on it and went on the opposite direction from which she came. Melchior stood there, with his feet on the cobblestone pavement, looking at the young lady.

"Who's she?" He thought. "Does she actually know Natalie or...?"

He shook his head sideways, driving the thoughts away. Then, he headed to the nearest cafe, in which he sat, ordered a small rhubarb dessert and a cup of tea. Then, he opened his small notebook and made some notes.

"This is quite relaxing..." Melchior thought. "In the end, Thalas gave me a nice gift..."

After ten minutes of writing, he closed it, paid his bill and left the cafe, walking through the cobblestone pavement, watching for cars and bicycles. After all, he had an entire day to look at the Irish castle, sightsee the entire city and even buy a silly stuff or two.

Then, he spotted a small Welsh articles store in the southern part of the city, after two and half hours of walking.

"Yet Anael isn't from here..." Melchior thought. "...I believe he'd like to have something from his father's homeland. I wish I was in Wales to get him pictures an stuff..."

He entered on the store, which was full of sculptures, most of them portraying dragons. Melchior saw a small, green one which looked like a talisman. He didn't think twice and bought it for almost five Euros. Then, he left the shop.


Dublin, Ireland - 9h00 p. m.

At last, Melchior arrived at a pub called Thunderbolt Ballerina, which was the most famous and biggest pub in Ireland. It had a strongly Medieval decoration, with armoured soldiers outside and inside the pub, stained glass murals, weapons and paintings on its walls. It also had some fabric around the windows and up on the ceiling. On the right side of the pub, there was a wooden stage with some props, like light effects and other types of effects, like smoke or even bubbles. The illumination was mainly composed of candelabrums and chandeliers.

"Oh... There are stage performances!" Melchior thought. "Maybe Natalie is a performer..."

The tables were all round and wooden - some were larger than others - and the chairs were also wooden, yet very comfortable. When he arrived, the place was crowded; luckily, he managed to sit in the table the nearest of the stage. He ordered a soda for himself and waited.

Then, the lights were dimmed, and a thin layer of smoke appeared on the stage. Melchior stretched his back and sat correctly on the chair in order to see better. After that, he heard the sound of lutes, wooden flutes, hornpipes, harmonicas and drums.

"Is it... A traditional performance? Or something else?" Melchior thought slightly confused.

People started clapping rhythmically, and Melchior followed them. He heard people calling for the "Jewel of the Sea Wind" and clapping much faster and stronger. Then, she appeared.

"It... It cannot be!" Melchior whispered, surprised.

The same young woman Melchior saw hours before - short, thin and short-haired - was on the stage, wearing a large, lilac Medieval dress with purple fabric around her waist. She was wearing wooden shoes, which had lightning painted in white.

She started dancing to the crowd, which clapped, whistled and singed. Melchior stood there, staring at her. Sometimes, he could feel as if his eyes encountered hers, which were hazel with a glare of gold. She bounced, twisted and blinked, charming men with her smile, her hands and her poses.

"Wow..." He thought. "What a woman!"

As she danced, some strange sparks came out of her shoes; Melchior's eyes widened - he knew it was no mere prop stage. There was something else in there. Something...

"...Magical!" Melchior thought, surprised. "It is magic! She is casting... Lightning!"

The crowd went crazy; her tapping was simply too good not to be appreciated. Then, she stepped out of the stage and went straight to the tables, dancing and charming those around her. Once again, her eyes laid on Melchior's, and she mischievously smiled at her.

"Finally... I thought you wouldn't come..." She said through Melchior's mind.

Then, the sound suddenly stopped, for she finished her presentation. She made a reverence to the public, crossing her hands on her chest. Then, she gave Melchior a final look and snapped her fingers.
Suddenly, all lights went out. In a matter of seconds, the woman disappeared - and so did Melchior.


"Where... Where am I?"

That's what Melchior asked when he saw himself out of the pub - and outside the town of Dublin. He looked around, seeing the starless sky above him and the surrounding Nature.

Then, he heard a few footsteps coming from behind.

"Did you enjoy the show?" The woman asked mischievously.

Melchior turned around and stood up, looking at her - she was wearing different clothes - a cream jumpsuit, which was tight on her torso, but puffy on her legs, white boots with metal pieces on its tip, purple gloves with a pair of Gothic, lilac metal gauntlets and a long-sleeved, turtleneck, lilac mantle with purple details, including a large lightning design on her back and a lilac, purple-glowing armor covering her torso and waist completely. The metallic belt had some gems in it, which were either sapphire or onyxes.

"Let me introduce myself properly." She said. "My name is Nathalie Soulstone, known as Elemental Mistress, or Lady, if you prefer, of Air, Lightning and Thunder. To the closer and more intimate people, I am merely... The Irish Illusionist." She completed her speech with a reverence in the end.

"Why didn't you tell me earlier?!" Melchior asked.

"Because I like to make things legendary." Natalie replied with a smile. "See, I wanted you to have more or less an idea of what you'll be up to on these next weeks... Melchior Raven-Hayes."

"How do you know my name?!" He asked, surprised. "I didn't even have the chance to..."

"Introduce yourself? There was no need of that!" She replied with a smile. "Balthazar had already told me you were coming! He even described you physically, so that I'd be completely sure of who you were when I met you!"

"Oh... I see..." He commented. "He is a great courier indeed..."

"So... I heard you were sent to train with me..." She said. "I have some questions for you prior to it. Shall we?"

"Of course." Melchior replied.

"Very well. I want you to think before answering, for I'll ask you these same questions again in the future." She said really serious. "First of all - do you really wish to train yourself in the art of Air, Lightning and Thunder mastery? Second - Why? Third - What will you do with the power I grant you in the end of the training? Take your time... I'll wait for your answer."

That said, she sat on the grassy ground with her legs crossed, looking at Melchior, who stood there, reflective. After some minutes, he took a deep breath and looked at Natalie with determination.

"Very well..." He started. "I am here because yet I name myself Elemental Alchemist, I master no element; because of that, my spells are still too unstable to have the expected effects in battle. Second, I'd like to learn you crafts in behalf of a friend of mine, who's a natural in that Element, and could benefit himself from my learning. I believe I've answered everything you asked." He finished with a reverence and a mischievous smile.

Nathalie half closed her eyes and smiled to Melchior, standing up right afterwards.

"I am impressed, I must say." She finally said. "I like your motives; therefore, I'll teach you my secrets. If you prove yourself worthy, I'll give you my masterpiece, my Ultimate Spell and my Elemental Gift. What do you say?"

"Seems like everything I'd wish for!" Melchior happily replied.

"Good, good." Nathalie commented very pleased. "Tonight, we are heading to Edimbrock, Scotland. Your training will be given there. And I hope you succeed in my tests. Brace yourself, Melchior Raven-Hayes: the Thunderstorm is coming!"

To Be Continued...

- A Road Leads To... A Strange Guide -

Lisbon, Portugal - 22h45

It took several hours for Melchior to arrive in Lisbon's international airport. It was a chilly night and the airport was busy. Melchior saw people of different sizes and ethnics coming and going from gate to gate. He heard clearly the sound of backpacks roaring through the marble ground and conversations lead it so many languages that made him feel lost somehow.

He was sitting near one of the entrances, waiting. His eyes were closed, and some memories, yet recent, came into his mind.

March 18th, 19h40 - Melchior's Manor

Mirabelle was sitting in Melchior's bed; Melchior was looking at her with his legs crossed. She took a deep breath before saying one of the longest speeches she ever gave.

"Your first stop will be in Lisbon, Portugal. There is no Elemental Lord living there, but there's a friend of ours, whose name is Balthazar, who is a 'courier' for those Lords, so to speak. He'll give you the equipment you need throughout your journey as well as few instructions. Bear in mind that the Lords are not used to have disciples; yet my name gives you an advantage, there's still the possibility they won't take you. You must prove yourself worthy of their trust and, therefore, their skills and tactics. Understood?"

"Yes... Mother." Melchior replied.

"Hey! Melchior!"

Before anything else could be remembered, a loud, thin voice caught Melchior's attention. A young man around his 20s with very white skin, dark green eyes, short, wavy, dark brown hair and a strong physical was waving at him.

"Bem vindo à Lisboa!" He said. "Chamo-me Balthazar. És filho de Mirabelle?"

"What?" Melchior asked, confused by his voice and language. "I didn't understand you."

"Sorry! Sorry!" Balthazar apologized. "My name is Balthazar. Are you son of Mirabelle?"

"Yes, I am." Melchior replied, enlightened.

"Well, well, well..." Balthazar happily said. "I thought I'd never see this day coming! Never in my three hundred years of existence I'd have thought Mirabelle would raise a kid of her own! Welcome to Lisbon! Come with me, I'll give you a ride."

Melchior nodded affirmatively and followed Balthazar to his car, sitting in the passenger's seat. Balthazar put Melchior's belongings in the trunk; then, he entered in the driver's seat, fastened his seatbelt and hit the gas.

"I live in the eastern part of the city." Balthazar said. "It is quite cozy and antique, I think you'll like it. But don't get too used or comfortable - you'll have to head to your next location in four days."

"Wow! That fast?" Melchior asked, surprised. "Are they already aware I'm here?"

"Yes, they are." Balthazar said. "See, I am their courier. I get them whatever they need - messages, recipes, ingredients, reports; you name it, I am after it!"

"So... Can you tell me which one of them I have to seek first?"

"Well, the choice is yours to make." Balthazar said with a smile. "If I were you, I'd leave up to Geography. See, there are two Elemental Lords near you - one lives in Spain. The other one lives in United Kingdom."

"I see... Interesting..." Melchior replied reflexive. "Can't you tell me their towns more specifically?"

"Sure!" Balthazar said. "The two Lords near you - Spain and U.K. - live, respectively, in Valencia, a former Moorish town in southeast Spain, and Dublin in Ireland, if I am not mistaken. The first one teaches everything about Earth, Stone and Wood. The other one teaches all you need to master Air, Thunder and Lightning. Which one shall it be, Melchior?"

"Well... Both sound really tempting." He replied. "But I still have some doubts..."

"I'll answer all I can in a minute or two." Balthazar said. "It is here."

Balthazar stopped near a humble two-floored house with traditional Portuguese architecture from 18th century. When Melchior left the vehicle, he could notice how well preserved the house was, for Balthazar seemed to be very fond of it.

"It was one of my Master's properties." Balthazar said while getting Melchior's luggage. "He left me this one when he died. I still possess the others, but I rent them to other Warlocks or offer them to the meetings of our Guild."

"Is there a Warlock Guild?" Melchior asked, surprised.

"Of course!" Balthazar replied quite nervous while trying to open the door. "We gather on Budapest, where lies the largest property of my late Master. We gather... I'd say... Two or three months from here, I think. Not to worry, laddy, we gather every year there."

Melchior nodded, thoughtful. Could he come to one of those meetings? Wasn't him something to be avoided by Warlock class? Before he could ask Balthazar about it, he realized the Portuguese Warlock left him out. He rapidly walked through the doorstep and entered the house.

Balthazar locked the door and the front windows; the upper windows on the living room showed a starry, full-moon night which made Melchior smile. It was a simple room, with a large, square, wooden table, wooden chairs, some decoration and a fiddle on top of a drawer.

The Portuguese appeared from a door behind Melchior, carrying a small box, which seemed quite heavy.

"What's that for?" Melchior asked.

"As I said, I never thought this day would come." Balthazar replied, dropping the box on the table. "I never thought my Lords would have a disciple one day."

He opened the box and took a golden bracelet with four symbols in it, putting it near the box. Melchior sat in one of the chairs to see it better, and Balthazar slowly sat down, as if he was in pain of some sort.

"This, Melchior, is The Elemental Mastery Bracelet. It is given to the ones who aspire to be apprentices of all four Elemental Lords. See those symbols? Each one of them represents an element and a cardinal direction, just like a Wind Rose. The symbol pointing to the North, with those rays and whirls is the Lightning and Air symbol. The one pointing to the South, which has these flowers and a trunk is the Earth, Stone and Wood symbol. The symbol which indicates West is the very essence of Fire: flames, of course! Finally, the symbol of a snowflake, pointing to the East is the Ice symbol. Four Lords, four Elements, four directions - once you've mastered one Element, the correspondent symbol will gain full colors and will fill the empty spaces in the bracelet. However, it may have some drawbacks, which I am not allowed to tell you."

"Why not?" Melchior asked curious.

"The Lords commanded me to keep my mouth shut!" Balthazar replied in a laughter. "You'll have to go after them to discover..."

Melchior crossed his arms with a mischievous smile. He was looking at the bracelet, imagining how it would look like when completed, and how much powerful would he be when he did so. He then looked at Balthazar with fire in his eyes and a mischievous smile in his face.

"I think I won't need to stay so long in Portugal." Melchior said. "I've made my decision. See, I've got some friends with certain specialties..."

While speaking, the image of Anael fighting came in his head. When Anael charged his arms, it was a death sentence to the enemy almost every time.

"... And one of them is a pretty damn good user of Lightning. I want to help him get better in that art. See, I am not seeking power to myself only - I want to be stronger, and I want my friends to get stronger with me! No group survives if there's a weakling."

"I am impressed." Balthazar replied, surprised. "I didn't think someone could be that generous. So, you are telling me that you are seeking your Element and an Elemental Gift for each friend of yours?"

"Yes." Melchior replied mischievously. "That's exactly what I am saying."

Balthazar stood quiet for a moment. Then, a smile appeared in his face, which got far more serene.

"Very well. You'll stay here for two days in order to rest. Then, I'll take you to the main train station, which will take you to France and then United Kingdom. I'll give the Elemental Lord of Air and Lightning a message. She will be very pleased to meet you."

"She?!" Melchior asked, surprised. "I thought it was a man!"

Balthazar laughed.

"Most of us do." The Portuguese Warlock replied. "Most of our kin thinks only men have achieved that amount of power. Ironically, there has been far more women Elemental Lords than men! Funny, huh?"
Melchior agreed with his head, bewildered.

"Anyways, it's pretty late." Balthazar said, standing up. "Time to sleep, kid. Soon, you'll have a whole new world ahead of you."

Melchior obeyed and headed upstairs to a room Balthazar prepared just for him; he entered on the bathroom, took a long shower, dressed up properly and laid on the bed, sleeping heavily all night long.


2 days later - 8h20

Balthazar gave Melchior the golden bracelet, attaching it to his left arm. Then, he gave him his luggage.

"Well, here you are." Balthazar said. "The train will be here in... Ten minutes, I suppose. Your ticket is in your pocket, and I put some more money in your wallet, in case you need. Mirabelle did it, not me. My Lady will be waiting for you in Dublin. I believe that in three days or less you'll be there. It is very important you mention your mother's name, right? This way, you'll earn her trust. Understood?"

"Yes, sir." Melchior replied. "Thank you for everything, Mr. Balthazar."

"You're welcome, young master." Balthazar replied. "If you ever need information, please send me a letter to this address in this piece of paper I am giving you. Now, hurry up or you'll miss your train!"

"What's her name?" Melchior asked.

"Nathalie!" Balthazar replied. "Nathalie Soulstone!"

Melchior grabbed the paper, put in his pocket and ran to the train. He showed the guard his ticket and entered in one of the wagons. He sat as closer to the window as he could and waved to Balthazar until he could no longer see him. Then, he opened his backpack and took a small book out of it.

"Well... I'll use Thalas' method for once..." Melchior said to himself while writing...

To be Continued...

- The Path -

"Elements are the very core of Magic. Mastering one is an achievement few could proudly affirm to have achieved in a lifetime. Those are Elemental Lords, if they surpass their own limits in the quest for more power. However, far more amazing than this feat is the one most Lords seek - to master all Elements in Magic..."

March 18th, 2013

It had passed more than half a year since Melchior joined Mirabelle and Ushuriel's household. In that meantime, they continued living in the same manor they found in Guatemala City. Life has gotten easier and more difficult for Melchior - easier in academics, for he could get on school on perfect time and practice all his activities without being scared of sunlight, for Ushuriel taught him some tricks and tips for him to get rid of the nasty effects of too much sunlight.

Even so, if has gotten more difficult in the matter of magic, for Mirabelle was, is and always will be a demanding teacher, who pushes his apprentice, no matter if he is her flesh and blood, to his limits. Night by night, Melchior's body got more and more injured, for Mirabelle struck him hard and repeatedly. One day, that was the result of an intense night of training:

"Defend yourself, Melchior!" She commanded "From now one, your enemies will strike you harder than I am, for sure!"

"If I get straight A's in these next exams, will you be less harsh on me?" He asked mischievously, yet badly injured.

"Because of that question..." She hissed. "I'll strike you harder than ever!"

That said, she hit him with a wide lightning beam, which made Melchior scream louder than he ever screamed. Ushuriel was watching everything from the doorstep, worried about his child.

Mirabelle didn't use to teach people her arts, her spells, her witchcraft. Not even Ushuriel knew the range of spells she had, for she used multiple grimoires in battle if needed. All Ushuriel knew was, despite her... Unusual didactics, she was the best teacher Melchior would ever have. He hope Melchior was strong enough to survive her demanding training.

On that week, Mirabelle noticed something on Melchior while he was training. She commanded him to cast some spheres of any element he wanted, when something caught her eye.

"Stop." She coldly commanded.

When he heard it, he felt his heart stopping and his countenance became slightly frightened.

"Have I done something wrong?" He said while maintaining the spheres, which were dancing around him.

"Why do you only use fire?" She asked, crossing her arms.

Melchior's eyes widened in surprise.

"Well... I've never thought about that." He answered quite ashamed. "Is there anything wrong with that?"

"Yes and no." Mirabelle replied with her arms still crossed. "Wait a moment."

She looked to her left, locating one of her smallest bookshelves. Then, she raised her hand in its direction and a large, old, bloody-red grimoire came out of it, slowly fluctuating towards her. She got it and opened it. Then, she walked two steps closer to Melchior.

"This is my Tome of Elements. Every Magician, Warlock, Vampire or wannabe magician should have one of those."

"So...?" Melchior asked, still not sure if he understood what was coming next.

"Let me explain the issue properly." She replied with seriousness while opening the grimoire in a certain page. "We the ones who hold magical powers work with Elements. In modern days of Magic, there are plenty of Elements. Some are obvious, while others are not. The ones who concern to our study are Water, or Ice..."

"Like Kimi!" Melchior interrupted.

"Exactly." Mirabelle smiled, then asked Melchior to be silent with her hand. "Water, or Ice, Fire, which you seem to use it quite well, Air or Thunder or even Lightning, which is used by your fellow friend Elite Dragon..."

"Wait a second!" Melchior interrupted again. "Anael can control air?! Like, tornadoes, hurricanes and all that nasty stuff?"

"Well... If he learns to do so..." Mirabelle replied, rolling her eyes with a mischievous smile in her face. "Well... Where was I? Ah! Air and its divisions, Earth or Stone or Wood, Light and Darkness."

"What about Void, which my friend Kaiser uses?" Melchior asked.

"Void is a complicated matter." Mirabelle replied. "Some of my kin consider it a primal Element, while others, due to its source, which is 'death', so to speak, put Void in another category. I'll do as the second division and not talk about Void right now, okay?"

"Okay..." Melchior agreed slightly confused.

"So far, so good." Mirabelle replied. "Some Magicians born with a trend to control certain Elements. For example, you seem far more proficient with Fire than most Warlocks I've ever seen. Your friend Maya has certain aptitude with Darkness, while little... Altagracia - right? - seems very good at Light-based spells. I won't talk about you fellow elf friend Kimi, for he is almost a Master on Ice-based spells, yet he has plenty to learn."

"Interesting..." Melchior commented. "I've never stopped to think about it."

"I don't reprimand you for it." Mirabelle replied. "Because of your upbringing, your discoveries in the world of witchcraft are being done later than usual. At your age, most Warlocks already know what Element suits them better and, better than that, already developed some Ultimate Spells which will be exclusive for them."

"Well... I think I already have my element!" Melchior said. "So, why don't we start developing spells?"

"Because you, as always, are wrong." Mirabelle replied, closing her book. "You are far, far away of mastering any element. Yet you seem better using Fire, you don't master it. Your spells are unstable, and your training is too shallow to provide you enough accuracy in a spell casting duel. You just didn't end up killed because you can outsmart an enemy, but you cannot outshoot or overrun it. Am I right?"

Melchior was about to prove Mirabelle wrong, but he realized she was right. Elemental Alchemist was master of no Element! How could that be?!

"Yes..." He replied, frustrated.

Mirabelle got closer, put the book down and held Melchior's shoulders.

"And it is not too late to reverse this." She replied with a discrete smile. "Well, I know plenty about Elements, but I already master one of my own. If I teach you my way, you'll never find the Element which really suits you. You can say now it is Fire, but what about some years after today? You can't be sure."

"So... What will you do?" Melchior asked, confused.

"There's something I didn't say about Elements." Mirabelle replied. "The only way you can learn about one in its full extensions is by learning with a Master - we call them Elemental Lords. Elemental Lords are the Magicians which had not only mastered one Element, but can use it at its full extension with a power so devastating that they are the only ones who are a match for me. They aren't amateurs, my son." She smiled.

Then, she raised her hand and the Tome came back to her.

"Elemental Lords are the only ones who can give you Mastery of a certain element." Mirabelle continued. "Each Elemental Lord has a battle style and an Elemental Gift, which is a symbol of his or her Element, which he or she passes to the disciple. When the disciple is blessed with that marking, his or her spells are almost completely accurate and much more stronger than they used to be."

"Almost accurate?" Melchior asked.

"Yes." Mirabelle answered. "The stronger the spell, the more unstable it gets; that's the drawback of every Ultimate Spell. Elemental Lords can pass their signature crafts, their Ultimate Spells to a disciple if he or she is worthy. The problem is that certain Spells have counter spells or even worse: counter environments. If the disciple is not aware of it, those spells can be lethal... To them."

"Oh... I see..." Melchior replied, slightly frightened. "Well... Are you telling me this because... You plan sending me to the Fire Elemental Lord?"

"Oh, no, no, no! Not to him... Directly." Mirabelle replied mischievously. "As I said, Fire might not be your Element. Therefore, I am sending you to train with the strongest Elemental Lords living."

"What?" Melchior asked. "I'll have to... Leave Guatemala?"

"For a while." Mirabelle replied.

"Don't worry." It was Ushuriel who spoke, coming out of the darkness in which he hid. "Mirabelle and I have the details set - we'll make a copy of you, which will behave just like you. Then, when your training time is complete, you will be able to absorb the clone and get its memories from the time you were out."

Melchior sighed sadly.

"Well... You guys know how proud I am..." Melchior said slightly shy. "I... I thought I was better than this... I... I am willing to learn. Whatever it takes, I am willing to do it. I am willing to go wherever you need to send me. I want to be better not just for me, but for my friends. I owe them this."

Mirabelle smiled at him proudly; she hugged him tenderly with her eyes closed.

"I know you'll succeed, Melchior." She said. "You are intelligent; you are a fast learner. Moreover..." She stepped back and raised the boy's chin with her hands. "... You are one of a kind. You are unique, and I know you hold a lot more power inside you than you know."

Melchior nodded affirmatively. Then, Mirabelle kept talking.

"Yet I mentioned Light and Darkness, there are no living Lords of those elements - not that I know. However, the other Elements do have Lords, which are still active and living in different countries all over Europe. Mark these names I'll tell you, son, and I hope they accept you... I hope you find your true element... Or become something far more powerful than an Elemental Lord..."


Three Hours Later...

"What?! You're travelling?! For how long?!"

Those were Anael's shocked words through Melchior's Golden Communicator; the Welsh Guatemalan couldn't believe in his Salvadorian friend.

"Well... I am travelling to Europe. For how long? I don't know." Melchior replied. "I may stay out for weeks... Months... Maybe years, but that's mere speculation. I hope it doesn't take long. Don't worry about me... I'll be fine."

"We'll miss you, my friend." Anael replied sadly. "Please, be safe and don't take long to come back to us. You know I consider you the smartest of us."

"Hah..." Melchior laughed, pleased. "I know Kimi can be far more intelligent than I am... But thanks, anyway. I'll be heading tomorrow. It seems I'll be going to Lisbon, in Portugal, first. Then... I'll tell it to you tomorrow! I am a bit tired right now..."

"I understand you, Melchior." Anael replied, sleepy. "I am quite tired as well. Have a good night of sleep. You are going to have a long day tomorrow."

Melchior hung off right after Anael's last word. He lied down in his bed, giving his communicator a sad countenance. Would he be alright? Would he be able to master an Element? He was alone in that quest. Again, it was something only Melchior could solve.

He hope it wouldn't last so long, for loneliness is a punishment even the loner ones cannot withstand for long.


Guatemala City Airport, Guatemala - 10h15

Melchior, Mirabelle, Ushuriel and the other Knights were in the main part of the airport. Melchior was going to leave in two hours, so his friends decided to come and see him one last time before his departure.
Maya was the first one, coming closer to Elemental Alchemist.

"Be safe, Melchior!" Maya said, hugging him. "I hope you can achieve your goals... Guatemala is big enough for both of us!"

Then, Kaiser came closer with Altagracia following him.

"Hey, try not to get killed out there, right?" The Finn mischievously said. "Take a lot of good pictures and bring them to us!"

"Damn sure I will, Kai!" Melchior happily replied. "I am reckless, but I am no suicide bomb. I can take care of myself... I think!"

Kaiser and Melchior laughed right afterwards. Then, Altagracia came closer.

"I'll miss you..." Altagracia sadly said while hugging him slightly above his waist, crying. "Don't leave us..."

"I won't, Gracia..." He said in retribution to the hug. "I'll be back in a blink of an eye, you'll see..."

Then, Altagracia went back and Anael came forward with a sad smile.

"Do your best. Give these people your best shot." He said to Melchior, hugging him. "We'll miss you, bro."

Kimi took the opportunity to keep Melchior held when Anael let him loose. The blonde Elf hugged Melchior as strong as he could.

"Be safe. Be wise. Be smart." Kimi said. "Learn everything you can; be better. Get better. There is a difference, you know."

"I'll miss you, soul brother." Melchior said.

"I'll miss you too." Kimi replied sadly. "But I know you'll be back soon as well. Therefore, I hold no worries." He commented with his hands on Melchior's shoulders.

At last, Thalas went closer; he was holding a serious countenance and a small package in his hand.

"You have gotten too many hugs. I won't give you more." Thalas said. "What I'll give you, however, may be of great use in this journey of yours."

He offered the package to Melchior, who got it with a bit of distrust.

"It is a small notebook." Thalas said with a smile. "You can use it as a journal. It will be good to report everything that happens during the trip. Well, that's my way of recording things; you can reject it, if you don't feel comfortable."

Melchior smiled mischievously, faking a devolution of the book. Instead of giving it back to Thalas, he used his arm to lure the French Guatemala into his arms, hugging him.

"I won't refuse at all." Melchior said. "I'll miss this cranky mood of yours. I am so good to you that I will even allow you to correct my mistakes!"

Thalas smiled and Melchior could swear he saw a tear in his eyes. After that, the barding call for Melchior's flight was announced, and he left the scenario. Now, it was up to him if the trip through Europe was going to be a success or a failure...

To Be Continued...

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