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- 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...

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