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Chapter 12: Cup, Challenge

Rivola trudged through the rain cutting through the thick under-growth with her knife. Shahir followed her meekly but he was shivering due to the cold. Rivola was reminded of the cold, rainy night when Uncle Laywin found her. It had been like this. Wet, dark and weary.

Her clothes were dripping wet and her hair was sticking to her neck. She trudged through the slush and muttered a curse.

‘Shahir!’ she called, ‘do you see anything shiny anywhere?’

Shahir was holding his hands together and his hair fell over his eyes. He looked around pulling back his hair and said,

‘No. Nothing’s here.’

Rivola looked ahead and started hiking ahead. She couldn’t believe that the forest which had been so beautiful mere seconds ago was now wet, dark and uninviting. She could hear Shahir walking behind her when suddenly he pulled her arm.

She looked at him as he pointed above a few hundred meters away. It was a rather tall tree. Rivola had never seen this kind before. It was huge and massive with numerous braches intertwining together forming a large canopy in the center of the marshy field.

But Shahir was not pointing at the tree. He was pointing at something on top of the tree. Unmistakably gold. It was shining in the rain. One of the Golden Trophies.

As Gemina had said, the temple had collapsed. But Siva didn’t care. In his hand he held the most valuable gem. The Topaz of Wealth. He slowly felt himself sinking into the ground in his shadow as he cast on last look around at the Cold Mountains of North.

Ah~ Well done, Son of Death. The voice greeted him as he stood again on the Dark Island. But Siva was filled with questions. He asked,

‘My Lord, I have a few questions to ask.’

You may proceed.

‘Lord, I-I met Lady G-Gemina at her Temple…’ He said but he could sense the temperature drop but he continued, ‘She said that the Topaz came to me b-because I am the h-host of the B-Black Horse…’ For once in his life Siva felt scared. He cursed himself for broaching this topic. He felt the fear stagnate in his heart chilling his bones. But the voice merely laughed,

Your focus is wavering Son of Death…The Black Horse does indeed possess you. It is the creature of Dark though Light had consumed it…it never wanted to host Gemina but it was rather forced to…now it has been given a second chance. A second chance to fight with Darkness…you Siva Rudra have an important role to play this game of…chess.

Siva remained silent. He asked The Black Horse inside him if this was really true but the horse however did not answer. It never spoke as Siva dropped the Topaz of Wealth into the Dark Pool.

Roy stood calmly and watched as the fire enclosed around them. He could feel Rika push against him and try to move from the fire but it had surrounded them. Kai grabbed Roy’s shoulders and said,

’Roy, do something. Rika and I cannot survive the fire.’

Aila inched closer and said, ‘This fire is out of control. You cannot escape it. You cannot consume it. You cannot control it! What do we do?’

The rain was falling in icy sheets and the wind was blowing heavily. But the fire was not doused. The cinders from the trees flew around and the smoke was irritating his eyes. Sparks flew into the sky and the fire moved forward. Roy could judge that it’s temperature was much too high for any human to survive.

Except for Fire-Users.

‘This is one game of chess, I won’t lose.’ He said and turned to Kai. ‘You are a Water-User. The Rain is Water.’ He turned Rika, ‘You are a Wind-User. The Gales are Winds.’ He looked at Aila and said, ‘We are Fire-Users and that is fire.’

‘But I don’t understand.’ Aila said.

‘Aila, the Water can kill us. Kai, the fire can kill you. Rika, Fire can kill you. This idiot whoever is doing this is very clever. We are literally at each other’s throats. Fire harms Water and Wind. Water harms Fire. We need to control our elements and move them away from each other!’ Roy said.

He grasped Aila’s hand and muttered,

‘Together.’ He spread his free hand towards the fire and closed his eyes. He could feel his nerves tingling. Fire had always harmed him. Using fire had been very dangerous before. He had experienced pain. Pain unlike anything he’d ever felt before.

It took them five minutes. Five minutes and he opened his eyes to see that all they had managed was to keep the fire at bay. He could sense the restlessness of the flames. Roy’s forehead was drenched with sweat and it mixed with the sheets of rain Kai released.

‘Can’t hold on. I’m not able to move them.’ He said. Rika sighed and sunk to the ground,

‘We’re going to die.’ She moaned and started to cry. He looked at Aila and his heart sank. She didn’t look like she could carry on. Her eyes were tired and she was excessively pale.

A faint faraway voice said chuckling with delight, ‘Well, looks like you fail little heroes. You are going to be consumed…’ The voice started laughing again. ‘You’ll never understand strategies will you? Ha, ha, ha…’

That was the last nerve. Roy clenched his fingers and took a deep breath. He had a new plan.

Aila sunk to her knees. She had spent too much energy and the heat waves mixed with the chill rains were causing a strange effect on her body. She felt feverish and exhausted. Her body was in fatigue. She wanted to close her eyes and go to sleep but she forced her eyes to remain open.

Roy’s eyes flashed bright blue for a moment and she gasped as his eyes turned luminous. Roy raised his hand towards the sky and closed his eyes.

Rika whispered, ‘He’s wasting his energy. It has no use. We all are destined to die.’ Kai was looking at Roy with great intensity. Suddenly worry was etched in his face. He saw her looking and he forced a smile,

‘What are you staring at?’

Suddenly they heard an explosion. Aila looked upwards in horror. The very air was smoking. She could sense the tiny particles of air in the winds catch fire and transform into hot curls of red flames and smoke.

Roy had set the wind on fire.

‘Roy!’ Aila screamed and he locked his luminous eyes with her with his had still burning the winds.

‘Kai, water trumps fire. Rika, winds trump water.’

Kai stood up and nodded. Aila watched as he summoned waves of water over the fire trying his best to extinguish them. Rika was sweating profusely.

In a few minutes, the clouds were cleared. There was no wind and the fire had gone leaving the burnt logs of trees around. Aila stood up and looked around. Roy grinned at her and suddenly, his rolled back into his head and he slumped forward as Kai caught him.

‘He’s a genius.’ Kai said. ‘We were thinking of pushing out our own elements but he thought of trumping each other’s elements out.’

‘That is quite true…’ a voice said. It was the same voice that had started all this nonsensical stuff. And from the woods a man walked towards them. He smiled at them and bowed,

‘I am very pleased to meet you.’

‘Who are you?’ Kai said pulling Aila back before she could hit him. The man merely chuckled and said,

‘We are not authorized to give up information. All I can tell you now is that you may call me sir. I am however here to congratulate you.’

‘For what?’ Aila shouted. ‘We almost died in that stupid thing.’

‘That stupid thing is actually called in scientific terms, a trap. And this is what The Platinum Trophy is all about. Please sit down for a while and rest.’

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