20, Month Fall-Amberine, Year Elizabeth 402
06:40, Elizabeth Magic Academy
“So, that means the water and ice elements are actually the same things, right, sage?” Alice asked.
Sage Khun was actually silent for a few more seconds before he finally sighed. Alice didn’t know what he was actually thinking, but it was probably something beyond her understanding. “...Yes. You could say it like that.”
“But didn’t you say the first time that my failure to a breakthrough was because of my depleted reserve in water and ice elements?” Alice asked after she thought back to the first time they met. Sage Khun did say something like that then. Why did he suddenly try to deny the existence of the ice element now?
“I said that...?”
Sage Khun’s face suddenly became darker. He closed his eyes for another 5 seconds before he finally sighed.
“So you still haven’t understood at all, LittleSnow?”
“I only said something like that because I was trying to help you understand it easier,” sage Khun said, shaking his head slightly. “The truth is I was testing you earlier about the water-ice thing. But you actually didn’t deny it. I noticed right then that there was something wrong with the magic element there.
I didn’t want to make you more confused that day, though. That was why when you asked about the ice element, I shifted the question away. That was my hint to you.”
After his speech, sage Khun sighed. Alice felt like she had let him down greatly. She had grown complacent then. She didn’t notice anything strange at all in his enlightenment back then.
“I’m sorry, great sage.”
“No... You don’t have to think too much about it.” sage Khun coughed, not once but twice, before he continued. “Anyway, now that you know about it. Have you noticed anything strange now?”
“Anything strange...” Alice murmured. She thought for about a second before arriving at an answer. “It’s the name of the unique physique, the water-ice twin head dragon physique. This name is really redundant!”
“Indeed.” sage Khun nodded. “If the water and ice are the same then, this water-ice name is unnecessary. There is no ice, only water. That is actually the reason why I didn’t tell you any benefits of it other than the increase in affinity.”
Alice nodded at his explanation. She felt as if now everything started to make sense now. At the same time, she couldn’t help but become more impressed at his insight. How many steps has he foreseen since we first met?
“Do you know what I want to say now, LittleSnow?”
“Yes,” Alice said, nodding at his question. “The reason you didn’t say the benefits of the ice element back then was that there was none. The ice and water, while seeming different, are the same thing.”
“Um.” sage Khun said. “There is no ice element, only water. Ice is just another form of water. It is the same as steam, which is the gas phase of water. They may have different shapes and forms, but they are—in the end—water. The water-ice twin head dragon physique is all about teaching you that, the cycle of water.”
“The cycle of water...?”
“When it is cold enough, water will freeze, solidify and become ice. But when heated enough, water will break free from the liquid form and become steam. This is the nature of water. If you could comprehend this then, there is no need to learn about the ice element at all.”
Alice’s face turned serious. She thought about his words and couldn’t help but nod. What he said seemed legit and logical. But if that was the case, why would there be a need to separate an ice element?
So his words are really true. It seems like our magic system isn’t very that accurate after all.
“The true meaning of your physique is... no.” sage Khun suddenly said. “That will be your homework for today.“
Alice could see that he was actually smiling slightly while saying that. In the end, Alice nodded. The path of magic was like this. There was no way to guide someone to the end. Everyone could only rely on themselves.
“Yes, great sage. I will look more into it after this. And thank you very much for your guidance, sage.” Alice said.
“This will be very beneficial in our upcoming fight for sure.”
20, Month Fall-Amberine, Year Elizabeth 402
06:45, Elizabeth Magic Academy
“So... we are going there now?” Mary asked, but Wilson, who was next to her, remained silent. In the end, they just looked at Alice, who was still sitting down with her eyes closed.
But it didn’t take long for Alice to open her eyes. There was still some confusion in her eyes, but it was filled with resolution.
“The next task is probably very dangerous,” Alice said. “We will face an entity who is terrorizing the school for at least months. Something that could hide from the eyes of hundreds of teachers even until today.”
Alice shook her head. “But that was why we couldn’t back down. We are the SSS, the one that would expose even the most mysterious organization in the world. With that, how could we back down from even this hindrance?”
At first, Wilson wanted to reject the idea, but his thought changed after sage Khun’s words. While he didn’t support them directly, sage Khun still gave them some guidance before the fight. In the end, Wilson nodded resolutely.
Even Mary also didn’t reject the idea now. As someone who was on the path of magic, how could she be a coward?
“Yes. Let’s go. We should at least take a look there before teachers come. But if it ever becomes serious—”
But before they could continue their conversation, a shriek suddenly interrupted them.
“Go! Something is wrong!” Alice shouted. She turned around and looked toward where the sound was coming from—the courtyard.
“It is the courtyard.”
The three dashed out. The way to the courtyard was only but a few meters away, yet it felt like it was very long. Not only that, there was no one at all. It was as if the other students from before had vanished altogether.
“We are trapped in that again?”
“The space of it is expanding,” Alice said, shaking her head. “Before this, the never-ending corridor could only exist in the school building. But for some reason, now it could even expand to the school. This might get more dangerous than I thought.”
“W— Wait. Can we really handle it then?” Mary asked.
“I don’t know that yet.” Alice shook her head. “But one thing for sure, the more time we wait, the more powerful it will become.”
Wilson retrieved his sword out. His face turned serious and started dashing in front of the girls.
When they had finally arrived, a strange scene suddenly appeared before them.
What is this…? Mary almost couldn’t stop herself from crying that out loud. The in space in front of her could no longer be called a courtyard anymore.
It was just a giant space of red and black in the area. The space stretched infinitely so that the kids couldn’t even see the end of the courtyard anymore. Every direction they looked, all they could see were only the black and red colors.
Alice then suddenly heard a groan beside her. She turned toward it and, sure enough, she found the culprit of the entire incident. But he wasn’t in the state she was looking for.
“Oh, no.” Mary cried out, looking at the blood soaking figure that lied beside the entrance. “What’s happening here!?”
She then quickly rushed over to him and cast Healing Light to heal him. It proved to be ineffective though, as the wound at his stomach still gushed out more and more blood.
“T… The shell…” Thomas tried to speak but his breathing was rough, so the meaning of his words was hard to understand. “It is… going crazy.”
“You be quiet for now!” Mary yelled at him while trying to press the wound to stop the bleeding. “No! It isn’t working at all!”
“Ugh!” Thomas spat out more blood. His pale face became paler. “It… useless... My soul… The shell... has my… soul…”
“Soul…?” Mary became dumbfounded. She tried a few more healing spells, but they all failed. At least, Thomas’s words were correct regarding the effectiveness of the spell.
Alice was also astonished at his response. She looked around the space and spotted something.
It was a white orb.
The orb was floating in the middle of the space where the red and black originated from. She then nodded to Wilson, who got her signal and walked out, standing protectively before them.
“Alice, what should I do now?” Mary cried. “At this rate, he will die for sure.”
But Alice didn’t answer her. She remained silent. First, Thomas was probably the major culprit in this case, so Alice had no sympathy for him in the first place. Second, he said it himself that it was useless. That meant he probably already knew the fate of himself.
Only a kind-hearted girl like Mary would still try to save him, even at this point.
In the end, it was Wilson who spoke up. “Let him speaks, Mary... They will be his last words, after all.”
Mary was conflicted. But she also knew that it was probably for the best. The three had to go on a battle themselves next. Wasting mana on something ineffective like this would never do them any good. In the end, the girl stopped the healing attempt and lay him down on the ground.
Thomas coughed out a few more mouthfuls of blood before he could continue.
“The binding... never work...” he said. “The thing that came out... wasn’t Elizabeth Sorcera… Father… You… useless…”
Thomas’s voice slowly died down as his consciousness faded away.
“I… also… useless… useless…”
That was all he could say. His voice stopped, and so was his body. He died, all while repeating “useless” over and over again.
“Resurrection… Elizabeth Sorcera…?” Alice repeated his words. Why would the name of the founding queen come up now? But after organizing some thought, she came to a conclusion.
So, he wanted to resurrect someone? No, he wanted to resurrect the founding queen!?
The resurrection, while seemed like a miracle, could indeed be performed. But could mortal really handle it?
Of course not. To defy the law of the world, that person had to be at least sage level…
No… even a sage couldn’t revive someone who was already dead.
Alice shook her head. She reached her hand to the boy and “Ice Prison.” she said, casting the spell to seal his corpse for the time being.
“We should retreat for—“
“Watch out!” Wilson suddenly shouted out. But it was all too late.
When Thomas died, it was as if that thing also awoke. A dreadful atmosphere permeated the air. The kids’ ears rang with the sounds of hundreds of people screaming. Their vision became distorted, and a wave of nauseous assaulted their sense.
The red expanded, and the black contracted. The courtyard, the school building, and even the entire school were dyed blood-red.
The black congregated in the middle of the courtyard. It then became something that resembled a shadow of a human.
There was no face or any noticeable feature about it except that it was black.