A Lake and a Cragged Place
The wind whipped cruelly over the churning surface of the lake. Its cold, relentless blowing pierced even the rocks, the jagged stone spires and fins that surrounded the shores. Crumbling, fragments fell from boulders, plunging into the clouded, murky waters. The lake was vast. Its borders sprouted huge spans and rock formations, like ancient giants guarding an abandoned source of life. Nothing lived beneath the water’s depths, and nothing stirred except the never ending ebb and flow of the tainted waters. Standing atop one of the rock spans, was a lone figure, taking in the view of the vast lake and its twisted stone creatures. Umaik, as he was now called, had already decided. He was going to end it here.
Lightning spat across the lake, with forked tongues reaching out for him. Umaik leapt up, briefly glimpsing the old span below him split in two as the lightning struck it. His eyes found the source of the bolts. His body arched in midair, and he changed course, heading towards it. His feet treading air, he gained speed as the wind took him flying towards his target.
There he was. A dark speck appeared on the horizon, like a cataract in Umaik’s vision. Sachin was coming closer. Before he could come any nearer, Umaik motioned with his arms, and two trails of fire appeared by his sides. He made sure of Sachin’s position and swept his arms in his direction. The fire bedside his arms leaped through the air. Speeding faster than an arrow, resembling two dragons ablaze, the fiery lances met with Sachin’s flying form.
A watery blue goblet encased Sachin, and the fire dragons hit against it repeatedly. They rebounded, then struck again, and as if they had a life of their own, the flames began eating away at the water barrier. Still, Sachin drew closer. Umaik could see his regal red robes whipping about him in the wind. Umaik knew instinctively that Sachin was trying to close the gap between them. Up close, he was a far better magus than Umaik, who specialized in long range attacks.
The blue shield surrounding Sachin expanded, exploding outward, devouring Umaik’s flame dragons with it. Returning to cover Sachin, the shield changed shape, curving itself into a huge blade that he grasped in one hand. Umaik knew he would have to act fast. The possibilities of Sachin’s next attack were racing through his mind like chess moves. The blade Sachin held was obviously a ruse, Umaik could easily negate its strike. Sachin had to have another plan in mind.
Umaik began generating energy. Sachin, brandishing his water blade that was harder than steel, slashed down. Umaik deflected it with a barrier of flame, making the blade shatter into hundreds of crystals. The crystals hovered in the air, poised a few feet away from Umaik. It wasn’t quite what he had expected, but he was ready. He manifested metal coils, and immediately surrounded himself in them. From within his metal shell he heard the pelleting of the crystalized missiles striking against his wall. Umaik was panting, his heart pounding, his dark cloak drenched in sweat. He’d used up a lot of vitality with his attacks and defenses up until now.
He could feel the magically hardened water bullets making their way through the metal. He had to counter soon, even though his energy was ebbing away. A crystal shard pierced through the armor and plunged into his leg. Flinching in pain, he dispelled the barrier and the crystals lodged in it dropped, too. Looking up, he saw Sachin above him. There they were, former friends, suspended like puppets above a sordid stage. Sachin was breathing heavily too. How long had the battle been going on? Hours? Days? It felt like ages.
Sachin didn’t waste time. Stepping on wind currents, he shot towards Umaik. Umaik suddenly noticed the air distorting on either side of Sachin. Umaik’s arms came up, commanding two walls of water to appear beside him. Sachin’s eyebrows raised in surprise and he brought his hands together. Where his hands met, the distortions became sabers of wind, barely visible to the naked eye. Sachin propelled them at Umaik. The wind sabers sliced towards Umaik from both sides, so he focused on solidifying the water walls to protect himself, whilst Sachin edged closer. The barrage of wind sabers stopped. Sachin was now in close range, a blade of fire appearing in his hand. Umaik too, reduced the water shields at his arms to form dual blades of ice. He had barely raised them when Sachin struck. Their blades crossed. Umaik felt the heat from Sachin’s sword intensify. Umaik thought desperately. He knew what Sachin’s next move would most likely be, but how could he react?
Then it came to him. The first time he mastered Sui, he’d thought of the technique. He’d always considered it too terrible to use, but his life was at stake here. Sachin’s blades grew in size, the flames twisting into bestial images and reaching at him. Umaik’s ice blade was cracking. He’d have one chance at this, he knew it. One last time, he looked into Sachin’s eyes. Eyes that had once been a blaze of crimson now shone like a rainbow. Umaik’s blade cracked, as he intended it to, and Sachin drove forward. Quickly dodging Sachin’s lunge, the flaming weapon barely missed Umaik’s heart. Its heat seared across his chest, burning him. And Sachin stopped.
He looked down, puzzled, at his abdomen. He saw a small, bleeding hole where a fragment of Umaik’s ice blade had penetrated his belly. Now, that fragment wormed itself into Sachin’s flesh, and from there into his bloodstream. Umaik used his last remaining strength to freeze the blood in Sachin’s body. Before he could even react, Sachin felt his feet, legs, torso, arms, hands, and finally his head becoming ice. He threw one last look at Umaik. Strangely, it was a look of relief. Umaik didn’t know why, but that look would stay with him for a long time. Sachin’s body began to shatter before his eyes. Crumbling away, it dropped into the lake, each piece a mirror of a faded existence. As the final pieces fell, a stream of light emerged from among them and curled up towards Umaik. The light penetrated him, and everything was passed on to Umaik in that moment. Instantly, he understood why Sachin had an expression of relief.