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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...

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