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- Trans-Siberian Battlefield!  -

The night came fast and darker than usual at Omsk; at the outskirts of the town, surrounded by the harsh tundra landscape, Melchior and Antoniev kept fighting. The night seemed to be giving some kind of aid to Melchior, who got increasingly better at the manipulation of Ice each time he kept attacking and advancing.

Ice shattered against ice and its particles were scattered as fireworks in clean night sky; Soloyev created another icy dome for Melchior and Antoniev to fight alone and undetected.  As they kept fighting, the worries within the young Russian Warlock increased.

“I hope he’s not taking this too far…” Soloyev thought. “It feels as if he was trying to get rid of a memory he kept for a long time… Which one could it be, brother?”

Soloyev kept looking at the battle with a worried and gloomy countenance; yet Melchior seemed to be improving, he was quite injured already, and that was making his life harder when it came about evading Antoniev’s shards.

“I admire your bravery — I truly do!” Antoniev said, stomping in the ground near him and raising a small icy plateau, in which he stood up. “However, I have to ask — why do you keep fighting? Your body is going to be destroyed, and I don’t think you want to go that far.”

That said, the Ice Lord conjured a massive icy wave, which Melchior tried to counter with his own ice spikes; ice collided against ice, and Melchior was thrown to the dome’s wall, feeling his body heavier and far more wounded than before, and it that alone made even more difficult the act to stand up.

“Ouch… That hurts… A lot!” He complained as he tried to get back on his feet. “Careful with that amount of anger, Antoniev! You might end up hurting yourself, heh!” A mischievous smile came to Melchior’s face while he casted an ice missile, throwing it directly at Antoniev.

“Nonsense! Kid, you got no knowledge in the matter of anger!” Antoniev growled, throwing countless ice shards and big ice blocks on Melchior.

Elemental Alchemist tried to counter all projectiles, but they were simply too many for him; instead, he tried to evade them all, running as fast and as agile as he could, preventing the biggest shards to hit his body and paralyze him. Then, he turned around and conjured a large ice shard, piercing and shattering the last ice block thrown by Antoniev.

“Really? You don’t think I lived my entire life with Mirabelle and Ushuriel, do you?!” Melchior shouted, conjuring an ice block below his right foot. “I just started living with them some months ago — Mirabelle didn’t even want to have me in the first place, in case you are wondering!”

That said he kicked the magical block towards Antoniev, who conjured an icy barrier to restrain Melchior’s attack.

“I had been exploited most of my life by someone who I thought that was my mother and who was supposed to care about me instead of treating me like a slave! I think I know a thing or two about hatred, Antoniev!”

With that sentence, Melchior moved forward and struck Antoniev’s barrier with multiple ice shards, which did nothing more than scratch the barrier’s surface. Antoniev mischievously smiled at Melchior’s attempt of destroying his conjure.

“Have you ever lost someone you really cared about? Have you seen your loved ones die in front of you? Have you?! Did you ever stop to question yourself why I preferred to show you Ice instead of Water?”

“Nope…”  Melchior slowly replied, confident and worried that something was about to come.

Suddenly, Antoniev’s eyes began to glow in a pale blue tone and snow began to move below their feet, floating and swirling around them — it was the beginning of a blizzard, but it was no regular blizzard.

“Because hatred can easily take control over us!” The Russian replied, intensifying the blizzard around them. “It can be used and re-used as much as we want and as much as we don’t need.”

The cold, snowy winds became thicker, faster and more aggressive, beginning to attack and injure Melchior’s skin by opening several cuts in it, each one getting increasingly deeper and deeper. At this point, Soloyev, who was merely watching the fight, became extremely worried and decided it was time to intervene.

Брат*, stop!” Soloyev shouted. “You don’t need to do this! He already got your point! And you don’t have to go through it all again! Teach him about water and stop this madness at once!”

“Enough!” Antoniev replied with anger. “Soloyev, he knows nothing! He doesn’t know how it feels like to have taken the life of the person you loved the most! He doesn’t know how it feels like to have lost control over you…”

“You did WHAT?!” Melchior asked, shocked by the small revelation that took place there.

The Elemental Lord then raised his left food above the ground and the blizzard suddenly became snowstorm and rushed back to Antoniev, much to Melchior’s despair.

“Wait, I kind of know how it feels like!” Melchior said desperately. “I saw my friend doing this once! Chill out, Antoniev, we may –”

“Silence.” Antoniev declared in a solemn, sinister tone. “I am sure he didn’t kill his bride… I am pretty sure he didn’t see her succumb to the harsh winter of Siberia intensified by your lack of control over your powers…”

The snowstorm had reached its zenith, hiding Antoniev’s body from Melchior’s sight; Elemental Alchemist now could understand why Antoniev was acting the way he always acted since they met in Moscow. Now he could understand why Antoniev became proficient in Ice-based spells, and soon he was going to have the ultimate taste of Antoniev’s prowess.

“Damn…” He whispered.

“Your final test, Melchior… Prove to me you learned all you need…” Hissed Antoniev. “Witness this… And take cover if you wish… Winter Balalaika!

Antoniev stomped fiercely on the ground, commanding the snowstorm to spread from the impact and raise above, creating a large snow wave above his head; he then began to stomp the ground with the technique and strength imposed in the traditional Cossack dance, and those stomps made the large snow wave to rampage towards Melchior.

Elemental Alchemist closed his eyes and focused on the best memories he ever had; he felt the cold energy coming to his hands and he decided to heat it and make it more fluid; it took just tenths of seconds for Melchior to conjure a large whip of water and use it to defend himself.

Each whiplash kept the snow away from his body; yet, Antoniev’s feelings seemed far more intense than Melchior’s, and thus he was having the hardest time to keep himself safe.

“Damn! Damn! Damn!” Elemental Alchemist cursed as he whipped the enormous wave. “You don’t need that amount of hate! The past is in the–”

He didn’t even had time to finish his sentence; as he whipped the avalanche for the last time, he slipped in the snowy floor and fell on the ground, with the snow crystallizing and falling right above him in a cold and harmful rain of spiky shards of ice and snow mists. Now, there was more than snow standing between Melchior and Antoniev — there was also the great wall of silence present there.

“What have you done?!” Soloyev screamed at Antoniev undoubtedly furious. “Was that really necessary?! Why do you keep doing this anyway?!”

Then, the blonde Russian Warlock looked down and saw something unusual; Antoniev’s feet were beginning to freeze as he was shouting at his older brother. On the meantime, he heard a noise coming from his right.

It was the sound of one hand emerging from the cold, icy tomb in which it seemed to have been sealed; both Russians kept looking at that direction and they saw Melchior’s head come back to the surface again. Elemental Alchemist’s face seemed paler than usual, thanks to the harmful effects of Ice in his body.

“Melchior!” Soloyev screamed, running towards the red-haired Warlock. “Hang in there!”

Soloyev grabbed Melchior’s hands and helped him getting out of the snow. Then, both heard a snapping noise coming from behind, which made all snow disappear. It was Antoniev who snapped his fingers and made the rest of his conjure disappear. At that time, his legs were frozen slightly below his knees, and the freezing process seemed to have been stopped.

“The past is in the past, I know it. I really do.” Antoniev said in a calm and surprisingly serene tone. “I couldn’t save my bride Natasha back then and neither can bring her back now. However, I am not living in denial, if that’s what both of you think. I decided to use my anger towards myself to something more useful than exile myself and cry for something I cannot undo.”

Then, he stepped towards Melchior and Soloyev, releasing his legs from the shiny, thin and treacherous layer of ice which once held them back. He put his hands on one of his pockets and took his Elemental Key Seal out of it. Soloyev finished aiding Melchior standing up and backed away as his brother got closer to them.

“Very well, I am impressed.” Antoniev said. “I never thought I’d live to teach someone else besides my brother, nor that this other person would learn faster than him the arts of Ice and Water. Therefore, I, Vladmir Antoniev, Elemental Lord of the Ice of my age, give thee, Melchior Raven-Hayes, the certitude of Mastery of Ice Element and its sub-class, Water. May the bearer of this Elemental Gift do good deeds and actions with the power fully given."

That said, Antoniev touched the last Seal in Melchior’s bracelet with his thumb, making the Ice Seal go brighter and alive as the three other before it. Then, he unlocked each and every Melchior’s Seal, finishing his training for good. At first, Melchior felt his body liver than ever before; his sight got fully restored, just like his breath, his agility and speed. He felt energized and wobbly, for he had already gotten used to the restrictions imposed by Antoniev’s training.

“Wait… Is that it?!” Melchior said loud and slightly breathless. “I am done?! I mastered them all?!”

“Well, if you didn’t cheat on this journey… I’d say yes, you’re done.” Antoniev replied with a sincere smile. “Nothing to worry about, young Melchior...

Suddenly, and before all of them could say anything, an earthquake started; the ground beneath their feet growled as if some kind of elder monster was about to be unleashed; Melchior and Antoniev felt everything going dark and cold, and none of them could see Antoniev through the black mist. A few seconds after darkness took place, both felt the air becoming thinner and thinner; soon, both Melchior and Antoniev fainted and could see, feel or hear no more…

To Be Continued…



(*)Брат [“Brat”]:  ‘Brother’ in Russian.


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