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- A Road Leads To... The Spanish Conquistadora! (Part Two) -

April 21st, 2013

"Come on, Melchior! Do this correctly!"

Once more, Cynthia was lecturing Melchior, who was having a hard time on making stones and large chunks of Earth fluctuate with magic. She hit his hands when she saw he was doing it wrong.

"Ouch!" Melchior complaint. "What have I done wrong this time?!"

"You are not interpreting it right." She replied serious.

"But how...?" Melchior replied, confused.

"Think of earthquakes." She said, looking at him. "Think of how powerful they are; how they raze to the ground things Men care the most - their cities, their achievements, their families, their homes. Now... Think on the opposite side - think about how they raise mountains, change landscapes, command the lives of all beings at its will. Think of the strength Earth bears deep on its core - then, you'll be able to raise every stone, trunk or piece of hard soil on your way..."

***

April 28th, 2013

This time, Melchior was already able to control stone piles, wood pieces and soil through geo-kinesis; now, he was trying to raise vines and roots from the soil. His attempts were being quite successful, and Cynthia was finally the one smiling.

"Now we are talking!" She said. "Finally I can see some improvements! Keep working, Melchior! Keep going, and soon you'll develop your very own Earth-based spells!"

Melchior kept going on his studies, yet they became more and more aggressive day by day.
The vines hurt his arms with its thorns. The wood pierced his flesh over and over, which caused him to stop frequently to take care of his wounds. Thanks to Cynthia's knowledge on medical plants, his recovery was far much faster and easier.

Day by day, he kept training; his body kept being punished, but in the end, it was going to worth it.

"In the end..." Melchior thought. "...I'll be able to use Earth... And so will be... Thalas! Yes! This is going to be my birthday gift to him - the Elemental Gift of the Earth!"

***

May 5th, 2013

Six days to Thalas' birthday, Melchior held himself tight to his promise; he was going to master Earth in order to give Thalas more power. He was ready to fight Cynthia for it; he needed it; he wanted it.

His Master punished him in every opportunity she got - each failure was punished with a thorny vine whip directly in his back. Each mistake was an injury in his body, for that was the way to domain Earth - you had to become as strong as the Element you wanted to master. You had to be as hard as Stone and as adaptable as Wood, and solid, stubborn and steady as Earth itself.

On that day, he woke up with no smile in his face - his countenance was serious, and his mind was completely focused on his task.

"I am ready." Melchior said to himself.

Melchior opened his drawer and took a long-sleeved, turtleneck, dark red shirt, black gloves, dark brown jeans with bright red details on its pocket's borders and dark red leather boots. He took a long shower, taking good care of his scars, which he got from all that intense training.

He got out of the shower, went back to his room and rapidly dressed up. He then looked at his small notebook one last time before getting out of the house. Every single day since he left Edimbrock, he wrote on it. Today, he looked at it and gave it a discrete smile.

"Today, I'll only write about victory." He thought.

Then, he left the room and went outside. Cynthia was already on her feet, waiting for him; she was putting her traditional red lipstick, finishing her last touch when Melchior appeared. She looked at him without a significant reaction, except by her speech:

"I am glad you showed up on time. I hope you are ready, for I am not going to make things easier for you. For you are the son of Mirabelle Hayes, I'll hold high expectations on your performance. Regarding this event, I have only one question for you: what will you do if you defeat me?"

"I'll hold the Earth power for a friend of mine." Melchior answered with a smile. "See, he is just like you - thinks, speaks and even reacts like you. He is an expert on archery, but I feel that, sometimes, he hasn't being granted with all power he deserves. He is someone who fits the description of the Element Earth from head to toe. He was born a regular human, but his deeds aren't regular at all.  Today, I do not fight for myself - I fight for both of us."

Cynthia raised her left eyebrow as a sign of surprise.

"I didn't expect this amount of generosity coming from you, Melchior." She said. "Very well, that makes things even more interesting. Now you'll really have to prove yourself worthy. Ready?"

Melchior agreed with a nod.

"Excellent." Cynthia coldly said. "Before we start... I suggest you take a deep breath and calm down. for I'll lock two of your Magic Seals."

Melchior obeyed Cynthia, taking a deep breath and raising his arm, showing her the Apprentice Bracelet. She got her Elemental Key Seal, which was dark green, and locked both Fire and Lightning symbols, which disappeared from it.

"!" Melchior grasped, feeling his heart slow down and his eyesight blur. Also, he felt slower than usual.

Cynthia stepped back and put her Elemental Key Seal down.

"Are you alright?" She asked slightly worried. "The reason I blocked these Elements is that I..."

"...Want me...  To use... Earth... Only." Melchior completed feeling breathless.

"I am no longer sure if it is a good idea to lock your Seals..." Cynthia thought out loud still worried.

"Don't... Worry... About... Me!" Melchior replied stronger this time, with less pauses. "I... I can... Handle this perfectly. Nathalie... Did the same before!"

Melchior was now breathing comfortably with his fists clenched, ready for the battle. He closed his eyes and focused his thoughts in his two hands. Suddenly, green energy started to gather around it; Cynthia saw it happening and did the same with her eyes opened instead.

Then, Melchior suddenly opened his eyes while rapidly raised his hands to the sky and moved his arms down as fast as he could, throwing the green energy to the ground.

"Earth Claws!" He screamed.

A pair of enormous paws emerged from the hard soil, coming after Cynthia, who smiled with slight disdain.

"Nature's Defense!" She screamed in response, raising her defensive barrier.

Melchior then threw green energy beams against her, which became hard stone, trying to break up her wall. Protected by that barrier, Cynthia stomped the ground, and an enormous stone fang appeared in front of her wall, which she commanded to hit Melchior.

"Curses!" He mottled. "Vine Barricade!"

As a response, he rapidly raised a vine dome, which protected him against her first assault. Then, Cynthia discarded her defense and stomped the ground repeatedly, raising fangs of pure stone out of it, which she kicked against Melchior's defense.

"Fight! Do not hide!" She screamed.

The first fang did a devastating damage to the dome; the second fang destroyed it completely and its remains hit Melchior's abdomen, making him bend his knees in order to avoid falling down. Unfortunately, the next two fangs hit him harder, both in his abdomen, causing him to bounce and fall on the ground.

"Argh..." He complained, spitting blood on the ground. "Vine... Barricade!"

He punched the ground, raising another dome. Once again, Cynthia kicked more and more fangs at it, causing Melchior to punch the ground even harder, causing his hand to bleed alongside his abdomen and internal organs.

"You cannot hide forever!" Cynthia screamed. "I'll make you get out of your precious dome, like it or not!"

Inside the dome, Melchior kept spitting blood and cuffing as he never did. He stood on his knees, looking at his dome with a sad countenance while blood slowly came out of his mouth.

"Focus, Melchior! Focus!" He thought, closing his eyes. "You cannot outshoot Cynthia, just like Nathalie! Nevertheless... You can... Outsmart her!"

He closed his eyes, and some of Cynthia's speech came into his mind while Cynthia's stone fangs were steadily beating his dome, which remained untouched and unharmed.

"Think of earthquakes. Think of how powerful they are; how they raze to the ground things Men care the most - their cities, their achievements, their families, their homes..."

He closed his fists as strong as he could, concentrating energy on them. He closed his eyes with determination, thinking on that destructive power Earth bore in its core. Tears were coming out of his eyes as a sign of pain.

"Now... Think on the opposite side - think about how they raise mountains, change landscapes, command the lives of all beings at its will. Think of the strength Earth bears deep on its core - then, you'll be able to raise every stone, trunk or piece of hard soil on your way..."

"Ground Shaker!" Melchior screamed, punching the ground.

He punched the ground with his two fists, destroying his dome and raising enormous portions of stone, which flew towards Cynthia, who was defenseless. She received the blow completely, bouncing thrice before falling on the ground, wounded.

"Impressive!" She replied, cleaning the blood out of her mouth, with her eyes glowing with rage. "You were able to hurt me! Too bad I still can give you an adequate reply!"

Melchior stood in his feet, breathing with difficulty and bleeding as he never did before; he clenched his bleeding fists and looked at Cynthia with determination. He raised his arms horizontally, concentrating green energy on both.

Then, he saw Cynthia put her left leg in front of her right one and conjure a green piece of fabric, which she held on the right side of her body.

"What kind of pose is that?" Melchior thought. "It's like she's a... Toreador?!"

The green fabric began glowing, and Cynthia held it harder.

"Devastating..." She began her enchantment with a strong tone of voice.

"Oh no!" Melchior thought, with his eyes wide open. "It is not a mere pose!"

"...Tree..." Cynthia continued, ready to turn her body around and reveal her last trick.

"It is... Her Ultimate Spell!" Melchior thought.

"...Torada!"

Cynthia rapidly turned her body on the opposing direction; when the fabric swirled from right to left, it revealed a massive line of wooden bulls coming towards Melchior.

"Wild Growth!" Melchior screamed, raising a wooden barrier in front of him as an attempt to stop Cynthia's attack.

The barrier grew faster and stronger than his Vine Barricade, but it was no match against the massive line of bulls, which razed it back to the ground and hit Melchior hard with their wooden bodies. He fell on the ground unconscious, with his wounds wide open and thorn clothes.

The bulls surrounded Melchior, and Cynthia slowly approached.

"Enough." She said, snapping her fingers and making the bulls disappear. "I've seen and fought enough today."

She threw her green fabric away and it disappeared in a light green fog, just like her bulls. Now, she was walking through the fog, looking at Melchior, who was laying on the ground. She knelt down in front of him.

"You are quite a brave soul, Melchior." She said, putting her left hand in his forehead. "You have faced every single challenge of mine without giving up. This Thalas must be someone quite important to you for you not to give up on your training."

She gave him a discrete smile and carried him in her arms, taking him inside the house.

***

Hours later...

Melchior slowly and painfully opened his eyes; his eyesight was still blurred, and his heart was pumping slower than usual. He saw an orange ceiling above his head and a strange shade near his left side.

"Where... Where am I?" He slowly babbled.

"In your room, Melchior." Cynthia replied.

Melchior's sight slowly recovered, and then he was able to identify Cynthia's face. His eyes widened, but rapidly became sad as he saw her.

"This means I lost, right?" He said in a sad tone.

"No." Cynthia said, nodding her head negatively. "You won, Melchior. Yet you haven't defeated me, you were able to challenge me until the very end. I think that, when you were about to cast the Wild Growth spell, you realized you couldn't match my power, but you could trick me. Am I right?"

Melchior slowly agreed with his head, feeling a lot of pain.

"I think that now you understand how hard it is to master Earth, don't you?" Cynthia kept talking in a serene tone. "I felt the same way you felt in my first years of practice. I believe that, proportionally, you are better than I, for you just mastered it in three weeks."

"Wait... What?" Melchior asked, confused. "I... I mastered Earth, Stone and Wood?"

Cynthia agreed with her head, smiling at Melchior. She took his arm with her left hand, revealing the Apprentice Bracelet; with her right hand, she took her Elemental Key Seal and unlocked both Lightning and Fire Seals. Then, she approached the Apprentice Bracelet and kissed the Earth symbol, which was filled by the lipstick and crystallized, glowing in a light green color.

"I, Cynthia De Las Astúrias, Elemental Mistress of the Earth of my age, give thee, Melchior Raven-Hayes, the certitude of Mastery of Earth Element and its sub-classes, Stone and Wood. May the bearer of this Elemental Gift does good deeds and actions with the power fully given."

Melchior was so weak that the only way he had to celebrate was to smile at Cynthia.

"Thank you very much... Thank you..." He said in a whispering tone.

"Rest now, Melchior..." She said. "You'll be better in a couple more days. I'll take you to Madrid, so that you can get the Eastern Express. Which country will you go first?"

"I... I don't know." Melchior replied. "Which one of those Elemental Lords masters Fire?"

"That will be Lunia." Cynthia replied. "He is the Hungarian Elemental Lord. I'll call Balthazar and ask him to give Lunia a hands up about your departure, okay?"

Melchior agreed with his head and fell asleep. The last things he recalled were hearing Cynthia's footsteps going farther and farther from his room.

***

May 9th, 2013.

Madrid, Spain - 12h a. m.

Melchior gave Cynthia a warm hug before entering the train. Finally, his training was over, and he was ready to proceed to the next Elemental Lord, which was waiting for him in Budapest, Hungary.

"I'll be expecting news from you, mister." Cynthia said. "I'll meet Nathalie in a few days from here, so feel free to send your letters to either Dublin or Madrid. It will depend on what she will decide."

"I will!" Melchior said happily.

"I hope these scars of yours heal completely..." Cynthia said. "It is also given the Earth Master ability to heal their own injuries, like Light Masters. Think of it..."

When she finished her speech, the Eastern Express arrived, and Melchior got on it. He was now heading to Budapest. He gave a final look to Cynthia through the window; then, when the train had gotten away from Madrid, he snapped his right hand's fingers near his ear, conjuring his Golden Communicator. He hit the larger button twice. Then, he waited.

"Bonjour?" It was Thalas' voice.

"Hello there!" Melchior replied serenely. "I know it's unusual for me to give you a call, but I want to give you 'Happy birthday' two days before the actual day. I regret not being there to celebrate with you. I just hope things are fine with everyone, especially with Maya... I hope you guys are still together, heh heh." He took a deep breath in order to prevent himself from crying. "Anyways... Happy 14th birthday, dear friend. I already have your gift, and I think you'll really like it. When I finish my training, I'll give it to you. Be safe, and tell everyone I sent a 'hello' to them!"

That said, he hung off and dismissed his Communicator. He then closed the curtains of his wagon and tried to get himself some sleep...


To Be Continued...

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