Chant 8: Anima Dicionis Absentia Manere.
"Why won't you let the girl know where you are?"
"She's not suppose to take part in this test anyway, right?"
"So leaving her down in the forest all by herself is such a better idea?"
"What do you know. And why do you care anyway? Aren't you just personified wind element?
"Oh, my dead Akh, indeed am. But I'm also part of you now and I know what do you think about."
"Then stop it and get out of my head this instant."
"Okay, okay. But I really think you should let her come up here. Especially since you mastered my element already."
That's right. In only three short days I was able to finish my first trial 'Inner Voice'. I communicated with my most basic element and mastered it's full power.
"So, what is the second trial?" I asked and stood up after 3 days long sitting pose meditation. "Council said that second trial will appear when I finish first, so…"
All my bones were frozen stiff from not moving, and I was hungry like lone wolf exiled from his pack.
"Look around. What do you see?"
Not without pain of neck I turned my head both sides as ordered. I saw nothing. Thick grey mist covered everything in range greater than 5 cm from my face. I couldn't even see my hand reached out in front of me.
"I see nothing."
"So what do you feel?"
"Feel?" I asked with consternation in my voice.
I felt peace and calm. Deep, freezing cold air with every breath. Nothing else.
"Well? Which ones?"
"Air of course."
"And what else?"
"Nothing. Only cold air."
"So let me help you. You don't feel 'nothing' you feel your second element. Do you know what mist really is?"
Mist. It's supposed to be small water drops suspended in the air. But what does it… Wait. Water. That's it! It's form just misled me and disturbed my sensing abilities.
"Water" I whispered and smiled "I can see AND feel water."
"Good. Now that you know the route, you must follow it on your own."
"How is this trial called?"
"You tell me. It's your road after all."
Her voice started to slowly fade away in my head.
Words came out of my mouth on their own accord, like they were programmed.
"Second Trial, 'The Lost Surrounding'."
"Good bye then, Akh. Good luck with that man. He's not playing as nicely as me and sometimes his real pain in the…"
I lost her voice completely. Few seconds after that I noticed it wasn't the only thing I was losing. Everything around me started to fade to black. I already couldn't see my own palm to begin with, so I started turning around in panic. I noticed man's figure right before I lost my vision completely.
"Hello there." deep male voice rushed through my ears to my head. "If you want to see me, and get your sight back, you must call me out by my name. But the only clue you can get is written on me."
"Wh-who are you?"
"Oh, how rude of you. You came here to take a test and you don't even know who are the examiners? What kind of student are you?"
I stood silently and firmly, without moving a muscle while male voice continued his vocal assault.
"Where is the Old man G anyway? I can't sense him anywhere. And who're you exactly? I thought young Rucci was supposed to be next in the line after his father…"
The voice became louder and more violently pierced through my head. I sensed someone behind me and I got hit by huge mass of water right in my face. It was like someone had threw at me whole bucket of ice cold water.
"I asked you a question boy. Speak at once or the consequences of your silence will be unpleasant."
"I-I'm Akh, Akh Dhamm. General Gamidio Yakufe passed not long ago, and his son, Rucchius died during this test. But it was years ago, back on our old home planet."
"What? Old man G died? How? No, wait, no need for words. Just think about his death and spit forward."
The thing is, I couldn't remember that fight well after leaving the Chronostary City, but now I could imagine the battle General had with Commander Callyps like it happened just a few minutes ago.
I spit forward, just like the voice asked.
"Hmm… This Callyps guy. He's not Ellementall is he? He looks similar, but he's not from our reality. Even though he just mastered single element, and the forbidden one, he was able to end Old man G in a split of a second."
After short silence the voice burst with laughter.
"All right kiddo, I see you need to learn a lot fast, so let me end this child's play right now."
My vision started to return slowly and it looked like the mist was starting to fall down too.
"As you might notice in a second, I am the Water Guide Chant. I am activated here by Trial name said out loud, but no one can see me until my real name, the chant, is said. As the successor you must have inner knowledge about all the Guides so just concentrate, drink some of the water from mist and tell the chant. Telling from your current level, I'm your second element. How lucky. I could easily come out after Lady Shukujo."
I couldn't understand much of his trash talk, but I got at least what I had to do. While he was still explaining something, I took some of water from mist lying on the ground and drank it.
I never had such a cold liquor in my life.
"So, the basic is to make me visible to you. Then we start mastering water element. When we finish we have to bring that hot babe from below up here. You might not know it yet, but she's integral part of the test. And I sense she is Old man G's daughter. Neat, boy, first league."
I only reacted at his words about Meg below the mountains. What did he mean by her being integral part of the test?
'I can think about this later' was what I thought. I had to focus on this guy for now.
When I was going for another sip of the misty water my hands stopped and I sat heavily on the ground.
"Huh? You okay kiddo? Looking kinda pale you know…"
"Water Element. Chant#7. Suijin."
(end of part 1)
"Dammit. Where are you Dhamm."
Meg sat on the rock near the straight vertical wall at the foot of sky-high mountains. She took out her bota bag and drank last drops of fresh water. She's tired of wandering around this area for so long now. All Akh's traces disappeared after the huge storm last week. But he definitely didn't turned back, nor any other side. There were two options considered possible by Meg. One is that he's long gone somewhere and misled her here on purpose. The other one is that he went through mountains, what is more possible. But to do it, one must climb to the top or find an underground passage. And that's what she was doing for last whole 2 weeks. But she never found any sign of hidden passage existence at all.
"And if he went up there, is it him who caused so much weather disturbance for last two weeks? First unbelievably strong foehn wind coming down from the mountains, then this ridiculous rain for whole 2 days. Next was huge storm with lightning bolts and thunders. And this week there were earthquakes and avalanches of rocks, and now extreme heat for five days. There was only one peaceful day, after the avalanche. What the hell caused it all. If it was Dhamm, I'm gonna kill him for leaving me here."
She looked up at the clear sky and sun hidden partially behind the mountains, when out of the blue something small started to getting close to her from up above. It looked like something was falling but it moved too fast for free fall and accelerated every now and then.
Glowing in all tones of red, orange and yellow, female figure landed before Meg.
"You must be the gal. You must come with me. I can see your element is fire. Your strength is required now."
"What? What do you mean?" confused Meg stood up and reached to her bag for some weapon.
"No time to explain. Boy's live is at stake."
The woman dematerialized and inflamed behind the shocked Meg.
She grabbed her and jumped with tremendous speed back up on the mountain.
"Where are you taking me?" Meg asked when flamed woman accelerated on pendent from the mountain rock fragment.
"I said no time to explain. When the Trial ends he eventually might tell you. You should feel lucky you can see me right on. You really are Dio's kid."
In few seconds both girls reached the top of the mountains. The temperature here resembled of young star temperature. In the middle of circle of fire and flames of different colors and strengths sat hooded person.
"Now go and help him" said the flame woman who brought Meg.
"And better do it fast, I can't keep him stable with my sis alone."
Meg turned around and saw second person covered with flames sucking flames coming from below person sitting in the center of the square.
"Come on, hurry up! At least if you don't want the boy to die here like the last one."
Meg kneeled on one knee, touched the burnt ground and whispered few fire chants. Flames around hooded man decreased significantly, but only for a few seconds.
Meg looked at the boy.
"The hood started to burn down and partially scorched skin barely resembled true face of Akh Dhamm. But she knew it was him.
She rushed through flames but couldn't get close enough to stop the flames completely. The flames created some kind of small dome above Akh. The only way to reach him now was her voice.
"Akh! Do you hear me, Akh!" But her voice was too soft and delicate to get through the wall of fire.
"Maybe we can help. Say our names and we can maximize your voice with our flames."
"What are your names then?"
"Ignorant girl, we can't say them ourselves, we're not Ellementalls… Well not anymore…"
"Sis! Stop this chit chat and help me, we're losing him!"
"Meg, right?" taller sister rushed to the opposite part of the square than the younger sister was in. "We can't tell you our names, but since you see us it means you know us. We are Flame Guides."
Meg sat on the ground with fearful face.
"Flame Guides? So he's taking ADAM test? The one in which my brother died? It's impossible. Impossible."
But she stopped. She looked at Akh. Not moving so far young lad turned his head her way, looked at her with pupil-less eyes with fire covered irises and smiled. He moved his mouth but no voice could leave the flame dome covering him.
Meg smiled and single tear dropped on the ground from her cheek.
"Flame Element. Chant#15. Kaen Shimai."
Two flame sisters were sucked inside Meg in single breath in.
Much stronger and metallic voice came out of her mouth, but still sounded as delicate as ever.
"Akh Dhamm! Stop this at once! You must control your inner flame!"
No reaction. No answer.
'How many Trials have he completed already?' she asked flame sisters inside her head.
'It's his sixth one in only two weeks. He was training with almost no rest.'
'Which one left?'
'I think Metal. Why? Is it that important?'
'Yes. He can't die of flames now. He completed wood and air which make flame stronger but he finished water and ground as well. My brother on the other hand was unlucky enough to have fire as his second element.'
"Akh! Listen to me! You must remember what Water Guide told you! What did he told you?! AKH!"
But I couldn't hear her anymore. I felt as my body is burning but couldn't move a muscle, overwhelmed by power of flame induced by wind with every breath and continuously bursting due to wood element I mastered just before this trial.
'Princess of Emotions'
At least I knew what the Trial title meant.
What did Suijin said?
'The only way to master water perfectly is to balance every emotion with the opposite one. If you feel rage, forcefully clear the clouds with calm. If you feel too peaceful and easygoing, remember the things that make you mad and get angry. Only then water will flow through your body and mind freely.'
Okay. What I felt? At first, when I unleashed the flames I felt fear and uneasiness. Then in time as I started to lose control over it and its strength whelmed me completely I felt sadness and loneliness because I knew my end was near.
So then, following Suijin's guidance, I must balance my emotions and bring forth the water to put the flames down.
Fear. When was the last time I felt courage? When I left the city? No. When I saw Callyps' fight with General? No.
I knew from the start. I looked at Meg. She must've take few steps back as my flames grew even bigger.
It was when I got the note from Yakufe mansion. I felt the courage to keep up and not to let them down. Not to let HER die.
Flames decreased a little.
Now uneasiness. How should I had to counter that? Probably the best would be readiness. I was ready to take over the flames and take the responsibility for everything my flame can cause. Any kind of harm, I was prepared for them.
Flames diminished once again. Meg got closer and flame sisters left her when she entered the square.
Sadness. I tried to remember when was I sad last time and what made me lose all the sadness at once.
It was the day my parents died, when I was 7. One of the teachers from academy came and helped me. It was Lord Kazaeros' younger brother. He invited me to the academy and told me there's no need to be said because of my parents' death. He told me they united with all elements and by controlling them I could feel their presence all the time.
The only flames that left were the one covering me and creating small circle around me. I stood up. Meg came closer but I stopped her by raising hand with open palm right in front of her.
Loneliness. There was no such feeling anymore. I turned her way, flames disappeared completely. I smiled, opened my eyes. I saw everything in reddish colors except for Meg. She was purely white.
Then she run to me, hugged me and looked me deep into my still blazing, pupil-less eyes.