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- 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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