Sunday, November 5, 2017

"Behind the Glass" - A Vael Short Story

By Alyssa Huber

"Fear" by akirakirai on deviantART

          She felt it coming again, and she couldn't hide from it.
          Lushia's vision blurred. The Shadow Mark was taking her over, crawling across her skin. Her head was throbbing. Her heart was pounding. She felt desperately afraid. The burning, constricting, spreading pain was intense, but she would endure three times that pain if she didn't have to succumb to the sinking feeling inside her.
          It felt as if she was looking at Mikio from behind a glass wall, unable to speak or be heard, gradually drifting farther away. A blurry image of Mikio glitched in front of her, his concerned eyes looking malicious in flashes.
          It's not real... she thought to herself. It's just an illusion...
          It was hard to convince herself of that when it looked like her friend wanted to kill her, or worse. Whatever was worse than death, that's what his face looked like. Brown eyes flashing to red. They became bloodshot. Then they disappeared into white nothingness. He grinned a grin too wide for a human face, revealing layers upon layers of sharp teeth. Blood dripped from his hairline, his eyes, and even the walls behind him.
          The moment Mikio's eyes disappeared, Lushia couldn't tolerate it any longer. She held out her arms in front of her protectively, wishing it would go away. Her efforts to resist only made it worse, evoking a feeling of being smothered on all sides. Too much pressure. Too much nausea. She shrieked and fell backwards at the sensation of a thousand tiny insects crawling on her arms. It didn't help that she couldn't ignore the luring susurrus of secretive voices.
          A warped voice spoke to her.
          "Lushia..." it came from what was left of Mikio, and sounded like three voices at once. "Die" said one, "here" said another, and the third whispered "useless."
          Frantically, Lushia rubbed her arms to be rid of the insects. But there was nothing there, even though she still felt it. Trying to block out the sensations were futile. She looked at her arm carefully. Something wasn't right: the Mark wasn't there. Did she get better? No, that couldn't be... not if she still felt what she did, and if the twisted creature in front of her was still there.
          Focusing on her nightmarishly warped, labored breathing, Lushia looked closer at her arm. The crawly feeling was still there, but no insects. No insects meant this wasn't real. The creature in front of her meant this wasn't real. It only felt real. Lushia took a deep, shaky breath, and looked up to face the monster.
          "Lushia..." the monster uttered through its layered teeth, with only two voices this time. It sounded more human...
          The gruesome features of the creature were starting to melt away. When she saw a glimpse of brown eyes beneath the monster, she felt like she could breathe again.
          "--here." said Mikio. "I'm here."
          Lushia glanced down to see his hand held out before her, noticing the worn threads of his leather gloves sticking out from the seams. He was offering his hand.



          Cautiously--as she still felt sick and uneasy--she weakly placed her hand in his. She focused again on his gloves. The smooth-but-rough feeling, the smell of the earth, the tickling of the threads. Mikio was here, and he wasn't a monster. Lushia felt safe. And yet, she felt a twinge of guilt rising in her; she could barely speak as she swallowed it back down, trying to focus on her gratitude. Mikio was here.

"Like a Child" - A Vael Short Story


By Alyssa Huber
     
          Lushia's hand sparked as her heart beat desperately in her chest. She might have magic, but she couldn't magically whisk away the anxiety.
          "Focus, Lushia." Seamus said to her gently.
          Lushia choked on her words before she could speak.
          "How can I control my magic if I can't even control what's going on in my head?" Lushia asked, more of herself than Seamus.
          "You can." Seamus replied. "It just takes practice, and patience. I need you to be patient."
          "I can't..." Lushia said hopelessly, dropping to her knees.
          All this drama over trying to zap a target dummy. She felt so stupid.
          "You say that, but it's not true." Seamus said, leaning down to her level. "I know you can. Thinking that you can't is a self-fulfilling prophecy--"
          "I know." Lushia responded firmly, annoyed.
          She didn't want to hear it again. Seamus had already explained the "self-fulfilling prophecy" concept on more than one occasion, and it echoed it a thousand times more in Lushia's head. If she could think differently, she would have by now.
          Seamus sighed.
          "I'll leave you alone for a while then." said Seamus. Lushia could tell he was trying to hide his own impatience. She wished he wouldn't; then perhaps they could relate better, and she wouldn’t feel like a freak with her heart on her sleeve. Seamus was always so controlled, so elegant, so... perfect. More perfect than her...
          As soon as Seamus was out of sight, she buried her face in her hands. She couldn't even do simple magic right. How could she possibly think she could be a contributing member of the Celestial Emissaries? She felt silly for starting this futile pursuit.
          "Why you hiding your face, Lushy?" said the charmingly baby-like voice of a young girl.
          Oh... oops. Lushia thought, and she looked up to see little Shira, the moon fairy. standing in front of her with her hands behind her back. She was leaning towards Lushia curiously, her small frame not much taller than Lushia when she was hunched over.
          "Uh..." Lushia stuttered, not sure if Shira would understand. "No reason. Whatcha doing, Shira?"
          "Flower hunting!" said Shira. "Just like Daddy, 'cept he hunts aminals. I got these for you!"



          Shira held out a handful of flowers of various colors, some stems bent and others upright. It was the cutest smushed bouquet Lushia had ever seen.
          "Aww, thank you, Shira!" Lushia said, accepting the flowers.
          After Shira skipped away, Lushia carefully set the flowers down on a stone brick of the ruined wall that lined the training area. Lost in thought, she resumed her position a few yards away from the dummy. She took a deep breath and focused again.
          Lushia noticed the tension in her shoulders, so she stopped to relax and think for a moment. The tension swiftly left her as she gazed at the trees. In spite of Shira’s old Moonish age, she was like a child, unburdened by the world and its expectations. Why couldn't Lushia be like that?
          She wished. Shira didn't have any responsibilities, but Lushia did. It felt as if the entire world was depending on her. But when she dug deeper, she realized that was not the case. No one cared what she did, and perhaps her intentions were selfish. If she didn't have the Shadow Mark herself, would she even bother to look for a cure for others?
          A feeling of dread clouded her vision. Out of the corner of her eye, Lushia noticed her Mark spreading down her arms again. Letting out her breath, she gazed at the trees again, trying to clear her mind with the luscious branches dressed in green, swaying in the wind. She forgot how easy it was to unknowingly spiral into her rabbit-hole of desparate thoughts.
          Be like Shira. Lushia thought to herself. Carefree; natural. I don't have to be perfect.
          Instead of thinking first, she lifted her hand in an elegant, relaxed motion. Looking at the dummy--and not expecting anything--she allowed herself to feel whatever came to her. A mix of fear, desparation, and self-loathing passed her by as the Mark slowly reversed direction and disappeared from her arms. A sort of calm euphoria followed, tingling up her spine and ballooning in her head. Her heart fluttered in controlled excitement as a dull blue glow began to halo her hand.
Her gaze shifted from her hand to the dummy, and she flicked her wrist swiftly, palm facing forward, willing her energy towards the target. A luminous blast was forced from her hand and knocked the dummy over, snapping the wooden pole that held it in place.
          Lushia smirked and pumped her fist victoriously, and it sizzled.
          "Ow!" she flinched as she released her fist, flailing her hand around until it stopped burning.
          A few moments passed, and she suddenly burst out laughing. Now that she finally got her magic to do what she wanted, not even a sizzling fist could put a damper on her excitement.

> Download this short story here.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

"The Power of Frost" - A Roleplay That Inspired Vael

This is one of a series of "episodes" or roleplays by Alyssa and Ed, two long-distance friends (continents apart) who built the foundation of Vael. You can read it below, download this as an RTF document by clicking this link, or see the Writings page for more information.

VAEL - EPISODE 2: The Power of Frost
Summary: Mikio and Lushia have recently completed their first mission, and are currently awaiting orders from King Utakaru. While they wait, they decide to take a little trip to the farming town of Rovistark to buy some fresh produce, as well as simply relax and enjoy the scenery.

Mikio and Lushia are at the farming village of Rovistark, which is bustling with activity. Harvesters are moving in and out of the fields with armfuls, bags, and even wagonloads of vegetables and produce. The two friends are sitting in a small grassy area under a tree, a few yards away from the food market, enjoying a midday snack of butter-smeared corn-on-the-cob, fresh milk, and some sugarloaves.

Lushia:  I think we should get ourselves some gommelfruit to take home after this.

Mikio:  Sounds like a good plan.

VAEL DICTIONARY: "Gommelfruit - A round, bumpy red fruit found commonly growing throughout Avael/Devael. Since it grows abundantly in moist areas, it's especially common in Blackwater Rainforest and Wood Marsh. It has a very tart flavor."

Lushia:  Mikio, do you want to go get a bushel of 'em? -Hands you a few coins- Three copper should be enough.
Lushia:  -leans against the tree and bites into a sugarloaf- I'm too lazy to get up... ;P

Mikio:  Not coming with me then? Lazy bones?

Lushia:  Yep. -pats my belly- Too fat. Sorry. ;D

Mikio:  Ha! Like I believe that. Come on, let's go.

Lushia:  Aw, do I HAVE to?? I'm really enjoying this shade...

Mikio raises an eyebrow expectantly.

Lushia:  Just kidding. I'm coming.

Lushia pushes herself up and wraps up their food, putting it into a sack.

Lushia:  Lead the way. I wanna see if you can find your way to the fruit stall. You're a big boy now, you can find your way around, right? ;D

Mikio:  We shall see, I'll blame you if we get lost. ;D

Lushia:  Grrr, fine.

Mikio walks with Lushia into the center of the town, the markets bustling with people, locals and adventurers shopping for everything and anything.
Lushia is walking beside Mikio, not really paying attention, and she ends up bumping into a rather large rorc, who drops the armful of wheat he had been carrying.

VAEL DICTIONARY: "Rorc - Rorcs are basically the same as orcs, big, muscular, and strong, and tend to have more brawn than brains. Also like orcs, their skin color ranges from shades of brown to green.

Rorc:  Hey! Watch where you're going, elf!

Lushia:  Sorry...

Rorc:  "Sorry" doesn't cut it! Pick up the mess you made!

Lushia:  Umm.... umm...
Lushia:  Okay... -starts picking up the wheat-

Mikio:  Lushia, it's okay. *to the rorc* Sorry, fella. *helps Lushia pick it up*

Rorc:  You clumsy weakling. You need to learn to be a little more careful.

Lushia:  -ignoring the rorc- Thanks, Mikio.

While trying to hide her embarrassment and anger at this rorc's harsh words, she hands the bushel of wheat back to him.

Lushia:  -hands the bushel of wheat back to the rorc- Here.

Rorc:  Thank you. Now beat it!

Lushia scoffs and walks away in a huff.

Mikio:  Be careful, Lushia. We don't want to annoy the wrong people.

Lushia:  -turning red- Sorry.

Mikio:  It's okay, dont worry about it. *stops outside a shop and browses for a few minutes* See anything you like?

Lushia:  Not really...
Lushia:  Let's just go home.

Mikio:  You sure? We still need gommelfruit.

Lushia:  You can get them if you want them. I'll just wait over by that tree.

Mikio:  If you want? I may need you to help carry the crates of fruit.

Lushia:  Alright then.

Mikio:  Thanks *smiles and leads you to a grocery stall*

Lushia:  And we only need a bushel, not a whole crate.

Mikio:  Even so, I think they're discounted. 

Lushia:  Alright then. We could always give the extra to the Temple kitchens.

Mikio:  Thanks.

Mikio talks to the vendor and orders two crates. Lushia helps him carry one.

Mikio:  Thanks Lushia. You okay?

Lushia:  I'm fine. Let's just get back to the Temple.

Lushia starts walking toward the stagecoach just outside of town, and Mikio walks with her.

Mikio:  Sure you don't wanna talk about it?

Lushia:  ....

Ignoring Mikio, Lushia pays the driver and puts the crate in the wagon. She climbs up and sits down, patting the spot on the wooden bench next to her.

Lushia:  Come on.

Mikio climbs up, sets down the other crate, and sits next to Lushia.

Driver:  Yah! -whips the reins-

The horses pull the wagon as it begins to bump along the road.

Lushia:  ...

After some thought, Lushia turns to face Mikio.

Lushia:  Mikio...

Mikio:  Yes, Lushia?

Lushia:  -sighs and looks down-
Lushia:  I want to be stronger.

Mikio:  Stronger?

Lushia:  I know we've only recently gone up in rank, and we shouldn't rush it, but...
Lushia:  I wish I could at least stand up for myself. Like when that rorc was being a jerk.
Lushia:  And well... it's not only that, I've been thinking about this for a while now...
Lushia:  The incident with the rip in space. I got stuck in the portal, remember? The physical fighting skills I learned at the Temple were no match for a rip in space... those things tend to mess with your mind. So when I say I want to be stronger...
Lushia:  I guess what I'm trying to say is... I want to learn some kind of skill beyond the physical. I always hear about people using magic, and I've seen a few instances of it when the more gifted ones at the Temple use it. And not just healing magic, like in the medical unit. Fire, ice, lightning... things like that. I want learn something like that.

Mikio:  Are you sure? Perhaps we could talk about it with one of the Temple mages when we return.

Lushia:  -nods- That's what I was thinking.

The driver stops the wagon at a boarded-up gate.

Driver:  Looks like we'll have to go the other way! We gotta stick to the road, and this is the only road around this area.

Lushia:  What's going on?

Driver:  Probably construction or something. Either way, we'll have to go 'round the back of the village and up north on the road to Snowtop. From there, the road leads back through the Hallowed Forest by the Temple.
Driver:  Is that alright? I won't charge any extra for the detour.

Lushia glances at Mikio in question.

Mikio:  That should be okay, thanks.

They arrive near Snowtop at dusk. It's beginning to get dark.
Lushia looks around the quiet environment as snow gently falls to the ground. They've wandered into an area completely covered in white snow, which is beginning to look more dull as it gets cloudy.

Lushia:  It's awfully quiet out here...

Driver:  Snowtop doesn't really get many tourists, unfortunately.

Mikio:  Shame really, this place is beautiful.

Lushia:  Yeah...

In a very strange and dreamlike moment, everything around them seems to become lost in a fog so thick that they can't see where they are, and the air is getting increasingly colder.

Lushia:  -hugs my arms to my sides- What... what happened? Why is it so cold??
Lushia:  Mikio! I can't see you!

Mikio:  Driver?! turn us around! Get us out of the fog!

Driver:  I can't! This fog isn't natural... and we can't turn around, not up here! I don't want to risk tumbling down these heights!

Lushia:  Mikio, it's getting colder...

Driver:  Heck, yeah it is! I don't remember it being these cold in Snowtop! This is... unbearable...

The driver shivers and wraps a blanket around himself.

Mikio:  It'll be okay. The get us out of here ASAP, please.

Silence.

Mikio:  Hello?

The driver still doesn't respond, the only sound being the gentle whistling of the northern winds.

Mikio:  *whispers* Lushia, stay quiet...

Lushia:  -stays silent-

Some of the fog clears, just enough so we can see the driver, who's hunched over with his blanket as if he's very cold.

Lushia:  -whispers- He's still here... he probably just didn't hear us.

Lushia reaches out and puts hwe hand on his shoulder to get his attention. She gasps as ice crawls across her hand, sticking it to his shoulder-

Lushia:  Ahh! What's happening?

Lushia tries to pry her hand off, but instead pulls the driver so he's laying back with his head over the seat, revealing his frozen, blue face.
Lushia shrieks.

Mikio:  Shhhh!

Mikio tries to pull Lushia's hand off the driver's shoulder. The ice cracks and breaks off as he pries her free. Mikio pushes the driver off the cart and examines Lushia's hand; there is still a remenant of ice on it.
Lushia's eyes widen as the ice seems to expand and crawl up her arm, and she presses her other hand over her mouth to keep quiet.

Lushia:  It's cold... it hurts...

Mikio:  It's okay Lushia, I'll get something, just hold still.

Mikio gets out of the cart and searches for the torch on the front of the vehicle. The torch is no longer burning, and it's frozen over along with everything else on the wagon.
Mikio starts to feel overwhelmingly cold, the frigid air clouding up his thoughts and awareness.

Mikio:  Oh f-fff...

He returns to the cart, looking into the storage for a match or something to help them. Lushia grabs him and weakly pulls him over to the seat.

Lushia:  It's no use, Mikio, everything is frozen, and I already tried opening the storage trunk... besides, this weird ice stopped spreading... maybe it'll melt off eventually.

Lushia grabs the driver's blanket and wraps it around the both of them while hugging Mikio close, being careful not to touch him with her icy hand.

Lushia:  We need to stay alive until this fog passes... if it does...

Mikio:  *hugs you and reaches for the reigns* Perhaps the horses are still okay...

One of the horses snorts, and Mikio starts steering the wagon, driving it slowly along the road. Everything seems to be moving along just fine for a while, but then one of the horses slips, bringing the other down, as the whole wagon tips over and rolls down a steep incline.
Lushia yells and clings to Mikio. Mikio waits for the cart to stablize and tries to escape it with Lushia. They both jump out before it hits a large boulder that smashes it to pieces. They roll a ways in the snow before they finally stop at the bottom.

Mikio:  *crawls over to you* Lushia... are you okay?

Lushia:  -rubs my head- Yeah... I'm alright. You?

Mikio:  Yeah... I'm okay...

Lushia:  -looks at my arm- At least the ice is gone. -looks up- It's still foggy, though. I can't see beyond the few trees around us.

Mikio:  That's good... what's the plan now?

Lushia:  I dunno, just to-- huh? -sees a shape in the fog-
Lushia:  What... what is that? -scoots backwards a little-

A human shadow, from deep within the fog, approaches them, its long clothing flowing with the wind.
A figure in the shape of a woman appears before them, her skin a light, icy blue, her eyes white, and her coverings being only long, white veils of cloth wrapped around her, appearing to be made of sparkling crystal snowflakes. Her hair is long and white, and put up in a complicated style and adorned with more ice crystals.

Mikio:  ...

The sounds of eerie whispers surround her along with a light jingling, as she holds up something that looks like wind chimes made of icicles. The fog begins to get thicker.
Lushia grabs onto Mikio the first chance she gets so she doesn't lose him.

Lushia:  Mikio... listen...

Though they can't see anything through the dense fog, they listen as the jingling becomes more audible as the figure gets closer.

Mikio:  I hear it... we need to get out of here...

Before they have the chance to move, an ice barrier is placed around them.

Lushia:  Huh? -knocks on it-
Lushia:  -bangs on it- Oh no! We're trapped!

Mikio:  Lushia... shh... we'll get out of here...

Lushia:  Yeah, but we have to break this thing! -pushes on it-

Lushia's resistance causes the barrier to get smaller and shrink around them.

Lushia:  -drops down and covers head- Ah!

Mikio:  The more we struggle, the more its going to shrink...

Lushia:  -sits there-

Mikio:  Hmm...

Lushia:  -fiddles with my moon crystal pendant- Hmm...

Lushia glances at her pendant, and then at the ice barrier.

Mikio:  What are you thinking?

Lushia's flashback--
Utakaru:  Remember, Lushia, that this pendant you found is now yours... so whatever powers it once had are also yours. However, because it is a moon crystal, it contains not only your power, but the key to your Sanctuary. Lose this, and you cannot return to your part of Bliss.

Back to the present...
Lushia:  -to myself- That's just a risk I'll have to take.

Mikio:  What?

Lushia jams the crystal into the ice barrier, causing it to crack. The crystal begins to glow, cracking the barrier even more.

Lushia:  Mikio, stay down!

Lushia throws herself over Mikio as the barrier shatters, both of them diving out of the way. Shards of ice drop around them. Mikio looks a somewhat surprised.
Sitting up, Lushia looks around quickly, assessing the damage, which is minimal. She spots her pendant and picks it up, but frowns as she notices a crack down the center from having shoved it in the ice.

Mikio:  What happened...?

Click the black bar for ambient music. Title: "Aura Mage of Frost" by Alyssa Huber (Vael OST)

A mysterious figure steps forward, holding her icicle wind chimes in her hands. She lifts them towards Lushia as she clutches her necklace.
Lushia flinches, expecting something bad. Rather, the moon crystal pendant magically becomes mended due to the power coming from the chimes.

Lushia:  Huh? Wha-- -looks at my pendant-
Lushia:  Why did you do that?

Mysterious Figure: You sacrificed a treasure of yours to protect both you and your friend. I know what that pendant means to you. You have proven yourself worthy of my power, Lushia.

Lushia:  But, wait, how do you know my name?

Mysterious Figure:  I am the Aura Mage of Frost. When someone is seeking me, I know who they are.

Lushia stands there, speechless, before kneeling in respect and motioning Mikio into the same position. Mikio appears slightly dazed by the mage’s appearance, but kneels anyway.

Lushia:  Thank you for gracing me with your words, Mage. But I have to ask, why would you say such things over a small little thing I did?

Aura Mage of Frost:  -raises an eyebrow- You are wise to be suspicious of that mercy, elf. And that was only a test, so you passed.
Aura Mage of Frost:  Now the real trial begins. Since you obviously have the knowledge and respect of us Aura Mages, I'll give you two choices.

Lushia:  I'm listening...

Aura Mage of Frost:  Either you will face me in a one-on-one battle in order to gain the power of the frost, or I will allow you leave here, unharmed, with no memory of our encounter.

Lushia:  Screw the latter. I'll take the battle.          

Aura Mage of Frost:  A bold, but wise decision...

Lushia:  It's decided then. Mikio, could you wait for me until this is over?

Mikio:  That depends... do we even know what power she possesses? You’re bargaining your life and you don’t even know what for yet…?

Lushia:  But I do know. When I took those classes at the Temple while you were in soldier training, I read quite a few books about the Aura Mages, and the author of these books were people who met them face to face and gained their power.
Lushia:  The Frost Mage is one of the more merciful and trustworthy ones. So she won't deceive me the way the Mage of Shadow or Fire might.

Mikio:  Perhaps... but she still won’t give up her power easily, and she may not give you any of use... is there any way of knowing?

Aura Mage of Frost:  If Lushia passes these tests. I will grant her my power. She has my word.

Mikio:  What powers are these...? I will not have Lushia walking into a deathtrap over an Aura betting game. 

Aura Mage of Frost:  The power of Frost, what else? Simply put, it's the ability to create, manipulate, and alter ice and frost. 

Lushia:  I've always wanted this, Mikio. I was trained for this.

Mikio:  Well then... *smiles slightly, hesitantly* what are you waiting for?

Lushia:  So what are you gonna do when I'm battling the Frost Mage?

Mikio:  Well... I don't know. I'm here if you need me.

Lushia:  It's awfully cold out here, though... tell you what, there's a little cabin west-southwest of here. It used to belong to Seamus... I'm sure he wouldn't mind if you stayed there for a bit.

Mikio:  Okay, I'll be there if you need me.

Mikio heads off for the cabin.

Lushia:  -waves at Mikio- Wish me luck!

Mikio:  -turns back- Good luck! 

Once Mikio leaves, Lushia turns to the Aura Mage of Frost.

Lushia:  I'm ready.

Aura Mage:  Very well.

The Mage draws her arms upward distorting the mist. It clumps together forming shards of ice.

Lushia:  o.o

The Aura Mage makes a throwing motion towards Lushia and the shards shoot out towards her. Lushia blocks the shards with her daggers, and the Mage steps backwards to gain a little more distance and extends her arm. Blue auras swirl and create a large icicle in front of her, and she presses it forward to propel it at Lushia.
Lushia rolls to one side to dodge it, then swipes at the Aura Mage's ankles with her daggers as she is still facing the other way.
Easily sidestepping the attack, the Aura Mage reaches upwards, forming sharp icicles around her fingertips. She flings her hand downward, sending the icicles plummeting down at Lushia.
Lushia raises her arms, along with her daggers, to block the barrage of icicles, but many of them cut her and a few get stuck in her arms. She winces, pulling them out and quickly smearing on some ointment she pulled out of her belt to stop the bleeding.

Aura Mage:  -mutters quietly- Clever girl...

~~~

Mikio makes his way across the cold, snowy landscape to the cabin by the northwestern shore of Avael. There are very few signs of life... that is, until he reaches the cabin.
The cabin comes into view as Mikio approaches it. A light is coming from the inside, though it's just barely visible through the wooden shutters.
Mikio crouches by the window and listens cautiously. Talking and laughing is heard from inside.

Stranger:  -muffled- Ha! Tell us about the time you fooled that rich old lady into handing over her gold!

Mikio approaches the door to the cabin carefully, one hand on his sheath, the other reaching to knock on the door.

Stranger 2:  We'll have to save it for another time, Dank. I've had far too much ale... gettin' a bit sleepy now.
Stranger 3:  Aww... the boss needs to go beddy-bye...
Stranger 2:  Shut up or I'll kick you out and you'll be spending the night out in the cold!
Stranger 3:  Sorry, boss.
Dank:  You heard the man. Let him sleep. Let's go play cards or something to pass the time...
Boss:  -still annoyed- Thank you.

A few minutes pass as the cabin dwellers remain silent. Mikio knocks on the door.

Dank:  Who's there??

Mikio:  A wanderer... simply looking for a warm bed for the night. May I at least be granted shelter?

Dank:  No! Go away!

Mikio:  Perchance... do any of you know of Seamus?

Dank:  Seamus? Seamus who?

Mikio:  *Enzeru. I'm sure you must have heard of him...
*Seamus' original last name, a Japanese word meaning "angel." I've since changed it to Endyrs since it sounds more elven.

Dank:  Nope! Don't know 'im! Now get outta here!

Mikio:  Well then, I'm afraid that’s your mistake. You see, this is his cabin; and if you don’t know him, that makes you unlawful tenants.

Dank:  -laughs- What else is new?!? Don’t mean nothin’ to us!

Mikio:  It means... * kicks down the door, drawing my katana as I enter the cabin* I'm here to evict you.

Dank has fallen backwards, and he is sitting on the floor looking up at Mikio in surprise. There are three bandits playing cards in one corner, and the "boss" is sitting on the bed, awakened by all the commotion.

Mikio:  All of you. Out. Now.

One of the bandits playing cards looks over at Mikio.

Bandit 1:  What’s it to ya?!?

Boss:  The time for talking has ended. –tosses a dagger toward Bandit 1-
Boss:  We’re not leaving! -grabs an axe lying on the floor and charges at Mikio-

Bandit 1:  -stands up and lunges at Mikio with the dagger-

Dank:  -unsheathes his own dagger and comes at Mikio-

Mikio:  Fine.

Mikio rolls toward Bandit 1, away from the other two as his katana glides gracefully towards Bandit 1’s midriff. Bandit 1 slumps to the floor, bleeding.
The two other card-playing bandits stand up to aid their companion and attempt to fight Mikio with their fists.
Mikio parries their attempts with his katana and skillfully swipes at their legs, disabling them for now.
The two bandits fall to the ground, clutching their bleeding legs in pain, as the third lies on the floor, unconscious. The "boss" and Dank are the only ones remaining. They continue in their attempts to kill Mikio with their mediocre weapons.

Mikio:  *stands, ready to defend their attacks*

Boss:  -swings at you with my axe-

Mikio:  *ducks under the attack and lunges my katana into your stomach*

Boss:  -drops my axe and shakily clutches my abdomen in pain-
Dank:  -swipes at your back with my dagger, leaving a long, deep cut-

Mikio:  F***! >.< *turns and swings wildly, catching Dank’s neck by sheer luck with my blade*

Dank slumps to the floor, his neck spraying blood. All the bandits are now dead, leaving quite a mess in the cabin.
Mikio drops his katana, staring at the mess.

Mikio:  ...Sorry Seamus...

Mikio starts to clean the cabin, dragging the bodies out into the woods.

~~~

Again the Aura Mage forms small shards of ice and launch them towards Lushia, forcing her back. Lushia dives to one side, out of the way of the attack. She sheathes her daggers as she rolls, then she takes out her bow and readies an arrow in less than a second. She holds her breath, then fires the arrow into the Aura Mage's leg.
The Aura Mage stumbles a little as she attempts to regain her balance. Wisps of vapor start to flow from the wound, and water droplets begin to condense around the arrow. She grasps the arrow in her hand and a puff of fog lifts from the arrow as it freezes over. She snaps the shaft and tosses it aside. Bringing her attention back to Lushia, she reaches out, forming a throwing spear of ice as she takes a hold of it.
The Mage hurls the spear at Lushia in hopes that it would distract her as she begins to form spheres of ice and send them outwards forming a circle around the two of them. Lushia crosses her daggers right where the spear was going to land, blocking the blow. The Mage forces the spheres to move inward as they begin to erupt outward, sending ice shards everywhere.
Lushia covers her face once again with her arms, getting small cuts everywhere but her face and neck. The Aura Mage turns the remaining shards into mist, making visibility more difficult. Lushia gets down on her hands and knees, where the mist is the thinnest, and searches for a stick of some sort. She finally finds one under a frozen tree, and pulls out some flammable cloth from her pocket, wrapping it around one end of the stick. Taking out a match, she lights it and sets the end of the cloth ablaze. She swings the homemade torch around to evaporate much of the mist.
The Mage retreats slightly backwards, away from the blaze. Since the mist is still clouding her vision, Lushia listens for the Mage’s movements, and then sets the torch between a forked branch of a tree (once that's far enough away from other branches so they don't catch fire). Then she takes out an arrow, wraps flammable cloth around the head, and aims in her enemy’s general direction with the torch directly in front of her.
The arrow is ignited as it’s released through the torch, hissing as it flies. It evaporates the mist it passes through, including the mist around the area where the Mage stands. It whizzes past her ear, just missing her head.
In a split second, Lushia has another arrow readied and aimed at the Mage. She releases it, this time a bit more accurately, since the previous arrow gave away her enemy’s position. The arrow hits the Aura Mage in the shoulder.
The Frost Mage lets out a short gasp of pain as steam immediately rises from her shoulder. Almost immediately after she is hit by the arrow, she rips it out, tossing it on the now damp ground.
Lushia fires another one, hitting her other shoulder.
The Mage hurriedly tears the arrow out of her shoulder and retreats behind a few trees to avoid giving Lushia any more direct shots.

Lushia:  -shouts- You give up yet?

Aura Mage:  I do. Enough with the inferno.

Lushia:  -smiles victoriously- Alright then. -puts my arrows away-

The Aura Mage of Frost steps back into the open, steam streaming upwards from her shoulders.

Lushia:  So. Am I worthy of the power of Frost?

Aura Mage:  Yes. You have earned the right.
Aura Mage:  -rests her hand upon Lushia’s head- I will now bestow upon you the power to harness and manipulate Frost. Do you accept?

Lushia:  I accept.

Aura Mage:  Then I bequeath my power to you.

The Mage’s hand begins to glow and Lushia feels a coolness drape down upon her as the power within Lushia is unlocked. A sharp chill fills the air.

Lushia:  -shivers- o_o

Aura Mage:  Now all that’s left is teach you how to harness your new powers. Your training shall last three days. Are you prepared?

Lushia:  Yes, I am. But first… is there any way to let my friend know that it will take that long?

The Aura Mage presses her hands together, then slowly draws them apart, generating a sheet of ice and a pen that resembles an icicle. She reaches out and hands these to Lushia.

Aura Mage:  Write what you wish to tell him here, and I’ll send a messenger to deliver it.

Lushia takes the icy pen and sheet and starts writing. To her surprise, her message is etched onto the ice as easily as a pen on paper. She hands it back to the Aura Mage once she is finished. The Mage holds the sheet up to the sky, and a translucent bird made of ice swoops down and snatches it in its beak, carrying it off towards Seamus’ cabin.
They train for three days. Each day they focused on a different aspect of using Frost magic. On the first day, they concentrated mainly on the inner harmony between Frost and the mind of the caster.
On the second day, they worked on the connection between the caster’s state of mind and the actual manipulation of Frost.
On the third day, they practiced the generation of Frost from the air.

Thus ends the story of how Lushia gained the Power of Frost.