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(Dakota Fath's Point of View)

Gosh, it’s cold up here… Hopefully, it won’t take long to get accustomed to this. I think, rubbing my hands up and down my arms to create some friction. The glistening white of the mountains is a stark contrast the usual green foliage of my guild, and there is nothing but the howling of the wind to comfort me on my trek up to the top of Mt. Hakobe. I’m not particularly lonely right now, though. The lacrima that hangs on my neck is a reminder of the people I have back at home, that I could talk to any of them just as quickly as I could at any other time. The people that entrust me with the title S-Class, which is why I’m up here right now. I’ve been walking up this rugged trail for about thirty minutes, and the stiffness in my legs is slowing me down considerably. The sun is relatively high in the sky, but I’m not going to take any chances on my first day up here. I can’t get stronger if I die before I can even get started, so I’ll find shelter for now.

After walking for another fifteen minutes or so, I find a medium-sized cavern, mostly hollow though a few stalactites and stalagmites jut out. After finding a spot free of any possible threat of getting impaled, I set my pack down and pull out a sleeping bag. I lay it on the ground and then lay down on top, not bothering to climb in. I look up at the ceiling, feeling even more tired once the prospect of sleeping has presented itself. I shut my eyes, and only a short moment later am I lulled into the world of dreams.

Huff…. Huff…. Huff… Huff Stirring in my sleep, I am shocked to see what’s standing around me. Seven Vulcan surround the cave, all in varying states of anger. One leads the pack, at least, three times larger than me. What a great way to start my training. I remain absolutely still, and the beast doesn’t seem to be aware that I have woken. Either that or it doesn’t care. I carefully and slowly shift to place my hands together, and a second later, five eagles fly out from my hands, crashing into the beast and causing it to stagger away from me. I use this time to jump to my feet, layering my hands in a thick covering of ice. The Vulcans, realizing I’m not going to go down easy, go on the offensive, raising their ginormous arms in a threatening manner.

The largest one attacks me, sending a punch directed at my stomach. I carefully dodge around the beast, noting that while muscular, it’s rather slow. I launch towards it after, my fist cocked back. I punch the monster right in the face, releasing my magical energy, which causes its face to be frozen over. Staggering back, the beast smashes the ice with its fists, causing damage to itself. In it’s self-induced state of confusion, I unleash Ice-Make Knuckles, which launches the Vulcan straight out of the cave. The other Vulcans watch as the leader flies out, some of them erupting into a rage while the others begin to leave. “Haha, not so fast!” I say, creating a shield around the exit, preventing them from escaping. “C’mon now, you came into my house, so you better take what’s coming to ya! Ice-Make Bloom!” A large rose bush throws up the majority of the Vulcans, cutting into their thick hides with the thorns on the vines. The two that remain on the ground run towards me, using their arms to throw themselves forward at a faster pace. “Ice-Make: Ice Hammer Clones!” Two Dakota look-alikes are formed on my right and left side, each one with an Ice Hammer in their grasps. Making a motion towards the Vulcans that were hit by Bloom, the two clones move towards them, attacking those beasts with a flurry of attacks that leave the Vulcans battered and bruised.

I attack the two coming towards me, Death Scythe forming in my left hand. I swing across, sweeping them both up in the curved edge, sending them into the cave wall with great force. The reverberations from their impact cause a few of the stalactites to break loose, falling on top of the battle between the clones and Vulcans. After the dust has cleared, two Vulcans were knocked out, but only one of my clones survived. The two remaining Vulcans are already attacking, the larger one throwing the smaller one towards me, its fist outward to punch me. I duck down, and it flies over my head. “I’ll handle the big guy, you deal with him,” I say to the clone, and it follows the order, the hammer in its hand changing into a sword as it charges towards the beast.

The scythe breaks down, coating my hands in a protective layer of ice. Getting into a fighting stance, I motion for the beast to come forward. Not wasting a single movement, it jumps forward, arms stretched out in order to encompass me. “Ice-Make: Bomb!” I say, creating a bomb that hits the beast in the chest. “Burst!” I exclaim, and it does just that, blasting the beast backward and through the shield I had erected on the exit. I turn, and the clone has finished it’s battle, the Vulcan lying unconscious on the ground. “Great job!” I say waving my hand and the clone disappears.

With a sigh, I sit back down onto the ground. It's only a few moments later that my stomach grumbles, and I stand back up, grabbing my bag. After grabbing a quick snack, I sling the bag over my shoulder and then look around the cave. I absorb any excess ethernano from my previous attacks, getting rid of any evidence of a fight other than the cracked wall and fallen stalactites.

I walk outside of the cave, a mild snowfall coating the ground quickly. I create a large pole of ice in front of my temporary home, so should I get lost, it would be easy to find. Even if I can’t see it, my magic would simply be attracted to it, so I could find it that way. I begin to hike back up the mountain, the top seemingly becoming more distant the more I stare at it.

I walk for the majority of the day, making a great deal of distance between my previous shelter and where I am now. I can’t tell what time of day it is because of the thick gray clouds in the sky, but I assume it's nearing sundown. I search around, finding a new shelter after only five minutes, this one considerably larger than the last, and completely barren. It’s strange, but in my exhausted state, I brush it off, all but throwing my bag in my haste to sleep. Haphazardly, I lay my sleeping bag out, only lying on half of it as I fall asleep.

Awakening to a soft breathing sound, I'm more than a little surprised. I open my eyes, blearily blinking to become accustomed to the dull light within the cave. No more than a foot away lies another being, which looks somewhat like a pegasus, though admittedly more hardcore looking. I slip on my jacket and shorts, then proceed to curiously scooch forward, peering down onto my new unsuspecting cave mate. The creature does not wake, but stirs, its ears flicking, and nostrils flaring. I experimentally poke it’s face, and its shifts, smooshing my fingers beneath its body. Holding in my scream, I wiggle them free, carefully inspecting the appendages. Luckily, nothing was broken, though they are a vibrant red. I freeze the air around my hand, creating my gloves that now serve as an ice pack.

The beast is woken by the sudden influx in magic power, shifting up into a standing position, the air around it dropping severely as it stares at me with fury in its eyes. Quickly rising to my own feet, I hold my hand out to show that I mean no harm. The beast takes no heed to my movements, instead leaning its head down and charging straight towards me with its horns threatening to pierce my skin. I place my hand on the ground, and it instantly freezes over, Ice-Make Floor easily causing the beast to lose its footing and tumble to the ground. “Ice-Make Chains,” I proclaim, and the beast is chained to the ground on its side, thrashing in an attempt to break free. Of course, they chains do not give, keeping the Drake Pegasi locked securely in place around its middle, neck, and legs.

I smooth my hand over its body, making a soft humming sound as I go, attempting to calm the beast so it won’t attack me. The beast continues thrashing for a few more moments, but out of exhaustion, it stops, going lax against the ground. “It’s alright now,” I whisper, continuing to move my hands along its rough hide. “You must be one of those Drake Pegasi that we had a job offer on. They said you were pretty aggressive, and I can tell you are. But you just wanna protect what’s yours, right?” She says, a small chuckle falling past my lips.

“Well, I promise I won’t be here for long. I just had to recharge my energy a bit, and now I’ll be going.” I stand up, grabbing my things and packing up, making sure not to leave anything that would disrupt the beast. “I know you're an elemental creature, so I’ll give you this for trapping you,” I say reaching out, a small chunk of ice resting on my palm. The pegasus leans forward, its horn touching the ice and then it disappears. An amused smirk on my face, I unchain the equine. It shifts back to its feet, and I exit the cave, waving a farewell. “If that’s all these guys are, then I think I’ll be taking that job when I come home.” I say, making my way back up towards the mountain. Nothing interrupts my trip, which is plenty welcome, and even the snow seems to be lighter than it was the days before. The dark clouds are ever present in the sky, but I swear I can see the sun fighting to break the cover. With a burst of energy from this thought alone, I pick up my pace, almost running up the mountainside.

Several Days Later

The top of Mt. Hakobe is a mere few feet away, yet here I am, stuck in some ice. Yeah, that’s right, I, the one who literally controls ice to make a living, is stuck in it. Just my luck to find some sort of weird living ice. It’s not as though the icy temperature bothered me, but being immobile does, especially when I can literally see the end of my journey. Its currently trying to eat me, and it has succeeded in sucking my left leg fully within its grasp. Whenever I try to unleash any attacks on it, it just absorbs them, and my bare hands are as good as my leg if I try and touch the stuff. I can change the shape of some of it, but it takes a considerably greater amount of energy to do that, so I don’t really want to. It’s really my only option at this point, so I suck it up and begin changing the ice into a giant rock a few feet in front of me.

Nearly fifteen minutes later, all of the ice is collected in front of me, and I am officially free from its frozen clutches. I separate the ice into several chunks, then make ice sleds to push them on. If this ice was so attached to me, I was certainly going to try and incorporate it into my arsenal, especially when it was so hard to manipulate. If I ever had to face off against an ice or water mage, they would be just as dumbfounded as I was when I tried to manipulate it. I run up and touch the top of the mountain, making a large flag that claims, “Dakota was here,” and then returning to my new ice.

I make a sled for myself, then sit behind the four chunks of ice in front. I connect the sleds together with some ice and then force the ones in front of me forward. Slowly at first, I begin to go down the mountain, but in twenty seconds, I’ve picked up speed, making my way down at record speeds, the wind whipping my hair and clothes in random shapes. My bag strap ended up ripping, so I had to set it in my lap lest I lose it, placing my lacrima necklace within just in case.

The eight days it took to go up is over in a thirty-minute trip down, and I skid to a stop. Making a giant wagon, I shift the ice into it, then create a rhinoceros from ice, which I mount. The rhino begins to trudge forward, dragging my finding behind it. I create another rhino, which helps pick up the speed, then relax, allowing myself to recount the events of my short training.

From the first day to now, I encountered 14 Vulcans, 3 Blizzardverns, and a Drake Pegasus, though the last one hardly counted as a fight. I’m pretty sure the Drake Pegasus was following me for a while, but it gave up once I neared the top of the mountain.

Sighing pleasantly, I close my eyes, laying down on the back of the rhino. A go into a state of semi-sleep, still aware of my surroundings, but to a much lesser extent than normal. The rhinos do not slow or falter in their movement despite my state, going forward undoubtedly towards my house. First and foremost, I’ve gotta find out what this magic ice does.

At Dakota’s Apartment

I flick the lights on, then drag the giant ice monstrosity into my living room. After carefully making sure there are no cracks or openings in my gloves for the umpteenth time, I begin breaking the ice into several chunks no larger than my forearm. After that, nearly my entire floor is covered in ice fractals, and I grab the one closest to me, then flop down onto my couch. After messing around with its shape, I’ve made a dagger, arrow, gun, mouse, and dragonfly, each one behaving just like my old magic would have. I make a normal ice clone, then a sword from my internal magic and one from this new substance. My normal one is a foggy white color while this one is a crystalline blue. I make a weak slash against the clone, which makes a small nick along its stomach. After fixing it back to normal, I make the same move with the new sword, and it slices the clone clean in half effortlessly. “Well then,” I say, shrugging my shoulders.

I arc the normal sword up and bring it down upon the blue one. The white one breaks, and the blue one is impervious, gleaming under the light. I experimentally swing the weapon around, and it fits in my palm the exact way my own magic sword would, and even the weight is exactly the same. Despite being somewhat harder to manipulate, this stuff is going to be an essential. I revert it back to its normal form, crank my oven up to its highest setting, then put the stuff in.

I tinker around with the other ice for a while, and after thirty minutes, I check on my ice in the oven. Much to my immediate surprise, the ice hasn’t melted at all, still completely intact and not even a sheen of water covers it to show that it has even started to melt. I close the door, deciding to wait another thirty minutes just in case.

After that thirty minutes, I’ve deemed that this stuff is definitely not normal ice, and probably isn’t ice at all. It didn’t melt, and I’m not sure whether to be elated or afraid. This stuff tried to eat me earlier, what the heck would happen if it succeeded? I don’t really wanna find out, but I’m not gonna just throw this stuff out and wait for some dark mage to pick it up and take over the world with it. Okay, that was a little extreme, but with man-eating ice that isn’t actually ice at all, who’s to say it’s impossible? Whatever the stuff is, I can manipulate it, and that’s all that matters, so I’m sticking with it. I form all the separate pieces into thin sheets, then stack them into a neat pile off to the side of my couch, mostly out of the way. After that, I go to sleep, calling my little experiment off for now in search of the world of dreams. Landing on my bed is a blessing after cold, hard, and unforgiving ground, and I’m in pure bliss as I slip out of the world of the wakeful.

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