Chapter 3:

Prologue

Elementalist 44


The Great Frost Wyvern. A Dragon of incomprehensible size formed entirely of an unmeltable Ice, the colour of which is a perfect fusion of Cerulean and Malachite so divine the skies of Heaven gaze down in envy. The ice that forms its head is transparent, clear of impurities, and refracts the light in a way that makes it glow with a holy radiance.

The Wyvern Possesses two sets of teeth. The first set, which are on the outside of it's maw, are long, dangerously sharp spikes that fit together so perfectly it's closed mouth looks like a smooth, edgeless surface. The second set, rows upon rows of serrated icicles that taper to a point so fine it could poke the nucleus out of an atom by simply closing it's mouth; anyone who is bitten by the Great Frost Wyvern (and isn't ripped to shreds) is due to die of radiation poisoning within days.

This colossal Ice dragon has no legs to speak of, yet the musculature of its arms is unnatural, even amongst the Region Tyrants; strong enough to crush the gates of hell with ease. Its flawless design is kept even as it floats through the sky with its body knotted and looped around itself; The ice doesn't crease, crack, or crumble as it moves, akin to a living statue that continuously re-sculpts itself in a never-ending flow of creation.

Region Tyrants seek food after they wake up from hibernation (common knowledge), and over time mankind has learnt to prepare "Sacrifices" to them, lest they decide to feast upon human flesh. They sleep for roughly 400 or so years and eat relatively little compared to their size, so normally there is ample time to prepare enough food to sate their hunger...but if one was to reawaken earlier than predicted, there wouldn't be much one could do.

No sacrifices have been prepared? Oh well...a city will suffice just fine. This creation of horrifying divinity has awoken from its rest an entire 172 years early and now heads towards the skies of the nearest city to restore its strength.

Thanks to an event several centuries ago that nobody remembers and isn't important in the slightest, The Great Frost Wyvern was in a weakened state, and could only manifest itself into just under the size of a 15 story building; despite this, that size is enough to pierce the heavens with a single strike of its claws...a mockery of its true splendour.

Now casting its colossal shadow over the skyscrapers of the bustling city, it began to prepare its first attack in centuries. Clenching its bestial claws, the Great Frost Wyvern opens it's mouth and inhales blimps worth of air into its gaping jaws, readying a devastating move. Although as it exhaled, there was no roar, no bellow, no deafening screech...only the soft rumble of the Wyvern's throat as an icy mist began to fume out and weave between its many teeth, until a shroud of cloudy mist surrounded it, leaving it invisible save for it's demonic, glowing red eyes. 

It descends, breaking through the clouds and becoming visible to the people below...

There wasn't even enough time to sound the sirens before they all died.

The mist surrounding the Wyvern's head swept throughout the entire city in a matter of seconds, instantly freezing anything that it brushed past. All life in the city met an abrupt, but just and rightful end. All that was left was an icy still-life of what once was.


...


The premature awakening of the Great Frost Wyvern was being reported by every news channel on the entire continent. 

An entire city. Frozen on the spot.

Every office, school, and hospital. Destroyed. 

All of its inhabitants. Consumed.

All except for one...a mere child.

The boy's identity had yet to be revealed to the public and has made no appearances on television as per his request, but a few weeks after he was asked by several news channels for interviews. At first, he didn't want to talk about it on TV, barely able to recall events before tearing up or blanking out, eyes wide and mouth trembling; the camera crew were sure to point every camera they had right in his face whenever this happened for m̶o̶r̶e̶ ̶v̶i̶e̶w̶s̶ dramatic effect.

The main thing people wanted to know was how he survived, a question the child could barely answer himself, though a few... well-informed people, knew exactly how this was possible.

But eventually, he got used to doing interview, after interview, after interview, the event itself just...didn't bother him anymore. Well, except for when people talked about it lightly as if he wasn't standing right there, or when they try to force sympathy by saying things like "Oh, I'm so sorry to hear what happened to you" and "Oh, I'll always be here to support you". This is one of the things that pissed him off most; because in his eyes they obviously didn't mean it and they only care because they want to look like a good person on TV. If it was up to him they would all have been fed to the Wyvern a long, long time ago.
I mean, sure, the boy was fully aware he was being exploited for views... but it did not matter.
This young child, who had grown to become as cold and vicious as the one who had taken everything from him, only cared about one thing.


Sweet, sweet revenge...


Mk Matsuda had been waiting for this day for seven years. He's 15, the age you can travel across the nine Regions without an adult. The age at which you begin to develop Gates, the means by which a person is able to use Magic.


In anticipation for this momentous day, Mk's had to deal with wave after wave of paparazzi still trying to get the freshest scoop on the one survivor of a Region Tyrant's attack on an entire city.

Even after the craze had died down somewhat, he couldn't go a week without looking outside his window and spotting someone with a camera perched in the hedges lining his house.

He's spent as long as he could indoors in complete isolation, out of fear from the cold that reminds him of that same attack. Now, this isn't to say he never leaves his house, that would only be half correct. He has ways of getting from building to building without ever feeling the chill of the wind...

For seven years, Mk's put himself under a strict training regime in order to keep his physical strength at its peak. Countless research into Magic, academies, and militaries has been conducted to give Mk the edge against anyone or anything that might prove to be an obstacle. Plan, after plan, after plan on how to enact his revenge upon the Great Frost Wyvern has been concocted, each one more elaborate and complicated than the last. It was only after about two-hundred of these that he developed a sure-fire way of doing what needs to be done.

And today...today he can put those plans into action.

As Mk woke up that day, he didn't jump up out of his bed eager to embark on a magical journey like most "protagonists" would, but rather he simply opened his eyes and said to himself "It begins",  and started his day like any other: brushed his teeth, washed his face, got a shower, put some clothes on.

Normally, a person would pack stuff when making a journey as large as moving across one region to another; that doesn't apply to Mk. He's already got everything covered.

Bringing luggage would be unneeded weight, which he has no care for.

He began to set out from his fairly large, government donated mansion with only three items: A ticket to Tsunia, the Region in the centre of the continent. An old photo of him and a girl kept in an aged photo frame. Last and most importantly, a Duffel bag bursting at the seams filled up with "2-for-1 when you spend 9.99 or more" coupons for pizzas.

Due to the...incident seven years ago, Mk's become somewhat of a celebrity. People know who he is whether he likes it or not, although it should be mentioned the last time Mk was seen on Tv was 4 years ago so his appearance has changed quite a bit.

Also, he gets watched by those creepy stalker guys who camp outside houses waiting for something interesting to happen. Nothing interesting happens. Mk's always wondered why people don't find meticulous schemes interesting...

He's Basically got the local Council wrapped around his finger; he can ask for anything within reason and, as long as relates to his "traumatising" experience, they'll give it to him. I mean yeah, someone even mentioning the name "Great Frost Wyvern" is enough for Mk to "flip out" for a lack of a better term, but Mk is not above exploiting other people's guilt and sympathy to get what he wants, from who he wants, to do what he wants, whenever he wants. Twisted. Yeah.

Ever since the Great Frost Wyvern attack, Mk has been unable to stand the cold, so he keeps the heating on it's highest settings all the time, and since they're powered by Grade-A Elemental Gemstones of Fire, his house is always hot. Like, we're talking Lava Region Crater levels of hot. That's one hell of a heating bill, that he'll never have to pay (lol).

But since this may be the last time Mk steps foot into this abode, the heaters are going off for the first time in seven years. The house feels colder already, a fact that's gonna make Mk uncomfortable soon.

Walking towards his overly large front door with an eye-hole he can't reach despite being tall for your average Cryotian, Mk turns to take a final look at his house:

The bannisters of the winding staircase boast an elaborate pattern similar to the Gates of a skilled mage, probably those of the person who crafted the stairs as a way to preserve his legacy (or something like that. Mk doesn't actually know). An expensive chandelier made from a transparent metal found only in Tsunia hangs from the ceiling; the flooring is made from a dark wood waxed so perfectly you could slide from one end of the house to another...if it weren't for the 40 or so horrendously demolished wooden practice dummies litter the floor in such a fashion that walking through the mansion barefooted is a guaranteed way to give you 1000 splinters in both feet if you ever attempted to.

A neglected trophy cabinet sits towards the left of the corridor, full of all the accolades Mk has earned from various sports and events, all of which haven't been touched since winning them. All the lights are off, the downstairs passage seems as unloved and lonely as the rest of the house even when Mk was living in it. 

It's almost funny, you know. A kid born and raised in Cryotia, the ICE Region, having a fear of the cold. It's like a fish being scared of drowning. Or a Bird being afraid of heights...either way, he's not going outside without a certain acquaintance to accompany him...

Knock. Knock. Kn-Knock.
Four knocks at the door at 16:44 on the dot.
Yeah, it's him.

Mk walks to the door and answers without opening it. Mk leans his ear towards the door. 

"Draden? Izzat you?"

"Indeed"

"Come in the way I requested, as usual."

The out-of-proportion door unlocks from the outside and slowly open's. Draden McLeod, one of the only people Mk tolerates. The guy's tall and beefy, dark-skinned, a bald head to go with it, and a jawline so sharp it makes his face look draconic. He's wearing a black suit with a white shirt so he'd complete the "club bouncer" look..if it weren't for his voice being that of an upper-class Cryotian, so he looks more like a "Combat Butler" if anything.

Well, besides that, the reason Mk picks Draden as "most useful p̶a̶w̶n guy" is one simple reason...

The Man's covered in a swirl of roaring flames.

Well, "covered" is a bit of an exaggeration since he's not making contact with his fire, but rather it's swirling around him in a perfect circle, resembling a "vortex for your own personal use". "roaring" wasn't an exaggeration, it's pretty loud.

He's using his own Flow, which is basically the "Fuel source for all Magic" if you will, and is turning it into Fire. Turning Flow into an Element is called "Transmuting it". The fire itself is a burning, bright hot white, and is illuminating the dead hallway rather pleasantly. 

Fire Magic of this colour would normally burn anything it touches into a crisp, but Draden is able to control its temperature making it so that its not hot enough to burn him or Mk, yet warm enough to completely negate the cold of outside.

Mk nods.

"Hey man."

"Hm!"

The combat butler dude nods back.

"Still showing off I see. I don't think I've ever seen you not looking like a burning piece of charcoal."

"Partly because you only ever see me when you need to leave your house. And due to circumstances, my fighting ability and Magical prowess mean I can act as both a bodyguard and a source of heat."

"I know that."

"It appears you do, young Matsuda. My apologies."

"Nothing to apologize for. I know you're a Mcleod but have a little pride. Let's get going now, this place isn't all that warm anymore."

"Of course, but one question...you specifically asked for you not to be driven to the station, young Matsuda, is there any reasoning behind that?" 

"I have a reason for everything, Draden." Mk turns to look at him from beyond the wall of flickering flames. Mk can just about make out his eyebrows being raised like he was intrigued in what he was about to say, so he continues.

"I figured, that what you were saying-"

"And the local council"
Draden interjects.

*Mk fait le sigh*
"Yes, and the local council..."

"And your neighbours." 

*Screaming inside*
"...and my neighbours..."

"And-"

"Yes, Draden! And everyone else who's heard of me was right! Are you gonna keep interrupting me or can I...ooh I dunno, agree with you for once?!!"

Mk could swear he was smirking behind his circle of flames.

"Yes...of course, young Matsuda, carry on."

"Anyway, yeah you were right. Staying inside for several years straight can't be good for your body, even if you trained endlessly whilst doing so. A little walk can't hurt...can it?"

"I suppose not."

The burly man responds as if he's given that same answer a thousand times before.

"I see you're still as cold and calculated as al-"


His sentence was cut short by the sharpness of Mk's eyes and the rigidity of his voice, both shaking just as much as the other, as he uttered with a dead voice...

 "Cold? Cold!? You, mister fire butler, know nothing...of what true coldness is.
You don't get to say, that the way I act is cold. I've seen, with my own eyes, shit that people have had nightmares about for hundreds of years!"

Draden sighs as he reduces the noise of his flames to a soft crackle, preparing himself to witness yet another one of Mk's mental breakdowns. The child's voice is already becoming less of composed anger and more tremulous, wobbly even. 

"Remember the countless interviews they made me do? Hm? Yeah of course you do, and how they made me say dumb shit like "Ooh I was so scared" and "Ooh this, and ooh that, and blah de blah de blah?."
"Stuff happened, on that day,  t-that they didn't let me talk about, on Regional television. What, you, y-you think it just popped up one day and killed everyone besides me, like they told me to say? "

Mk's eyes are wide and teary now, covering his mouth with one hand.

"No. No no no no no no that isn't what happened, Draden. I was running for my life for at least 45 minutes. I watched it snap my parents in half and crunch them up like a fucking candy bar!"

Draden covers the piteous look on his face by making the flames of his vortex thicker.

"You know how it feels to not be able to wake up in the morning and say "Good morning mum, good morning, dad!"? How it feels to not be able to leave to your house without being reminded that EVERYONE YOU'VE EVER LOVED IS DEAD? "

The Pyromancer, only ever seeing this side of Mk twice before, reaches out a hand from beyond his circle of flames and places it on Mk's head, which is now faced towards the ground and crying tears of anger.

"That's enough, young Matsuda."

Draden slowly pats Mk's head, trying to calm him down without words, as those won't help; the only sounds in the entire house was the flickering of flames and the patter of teardrops on the floor.

"I'm fine. Let's go, we're 10 minutes behind schedule."

🍕🍍🍕

They didn't see much people throughout most of the journey because Mk lives in a private area, but as they transition from Mk's local area to the main town, he immediately becomes the centre of attention.

"It appears news of your departure has reached people besides ourselves, young Matsuda"

"It's those creepy people who are always camped outside my house. It has to be."

Mk exhales through gritted teeth. "Great. now I'm gonna have a swarm of people surrounding me when I get there."

They walk to the platform.

The platform was really small, with only enough space for one carriage; the fact that the platform was underground meant that the singular carriage in front of Mk was the only part of the train he could see. This platform was built upon Mk's request so that he can have some privacy if and when he does decide to leave his fortress of solitude.


"Is everything from Tsunia this...flashy?"

Mk asks himself as he stares at the overly decorated train carriage with a look that says "Who the actual fuck made this, looked at it, and said to themselves, wouldn't it be great if I make an entire train look like this?"

It was a dazzling Chrome red, the frames of the window a bright yellow with the window itself being that strange transparent metal. It's like they don't use glass over there.

"It doesn't matter what the train looks like, as long as it gets me to the capital region in less than a day I'm fine" Mk sighs as he boards the train.

Now that there's a door separating Mk and the cold, the Draden cuts off the fire magic. Since Mk normally only sees Draden when he's being taken from one place to another, and he's always covered on Fire Magic when he does so, this would be one of the first times he actually gets a good look at Draden besides his intimidating face. 

It seems that he took off his blazer during the journey without Mk noticing, revealing the short-sleeved white shirt with black buttons that he was wearing underneath, which allowed Mk to get a good look the bouncer butler's Gates:

Gates are markings on a person's body that allows them to channel and control Magic. They get darker and their patterns become more complex the stronger you get. Dradens are dark enough to override his skin tone, as well as the patterns being an intricate collage of stripes that spiral around his arms from his shoulders that end on his palms in a whirlpool shape.

This left Mk wondering. The dark purple flames he's been showcasing for the duration are a variant of "Safe flames", a basic Magic Technique that anyone who can use fire would learn the day they're able to use Magic.

It's said that once you get good at magic, using Techniques as simple as these becomes difficult, as it's hard to limit yourself to such basic power. Being able to have complete control over how you use Flow is a sign of great magical prowess, and if a guy with gates that dark with such complex patterns has enough mental control to use safe flames at the extent he does...


Draden probably does more than drop kids off at train stations.


Mk takes a look at his own Gates on his left arm; they're barely visible with no distinct pattern. They're just blobs. Well, at least he knows he has Gates. If he wasn't able to use Magic, then this whole thing would've been a whole lotta trouble for a whole lotta nothing.

Mk isn't really a train person, but a private carriage all to himself was something he could get used to. Velvet red seats and tables to match the over-flashy exterior, that poster of the lil' kitty hanging on a rope that says "Hang in there"  (Mk feels as if that was put there by her on purpose). Even the toilet fashioned of only the finest of beach-white porcelain was something to admire, which is odd because Mk is pretty sure that people don't appraise toilets...yeah, toilet appraising stops now.

Half a day of sleeping on a pull-out bed later and Mk's reached the edge of Tsunia's capital city, one of the most technologically advanced (that's not saying much) places in the entire continent. 

In the distance, Mk spots a colossal building casting its shadow over the city. Mk can't tell from so far away, but half of it looks like a skyscraper and the other half looks like a gigantic tree canopy. There's no mistaking it, that's the Capital Academy. The most prestigious Flow academy in the Entire region, it's produced some of the strongest Mages to ever live. 

Mk lays his palm on the window to block his view of the Capital Academy's building, allowing him to focus on his transparent reflection in the window. 

This feeling in his hand, it's cold...cold...just like, back...then.

A wave of memories flow through Mk's mind: the feeling of air cold enough to give you permanent brain-freeze...the sound of frozen flesh and bones being crunched into dust...the faces of his parents, right before being shattered into pieces and eaten before his very eyes...

All of it floated back to the surface, drowning what little happiness he had left in a sea of grief and rage, before being pulled out, stuffed in a bin bag and thrown it back over whatever cliff of repressed emotions it just climbed up from.

That excited, childish little grin he had on his face ceased to exist as Mk remembered why he's here...

"Power. The strength to exact my revenge. Remember, don't talk to people who aren't worth your time, don't turn this into cutesy-happy-sappy magical school adventure either: Find that girl, pass the entrance exam, get in, get good, slay a dragon. That's it."

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