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Iceflame// Chapter 15: At the Octohorn Ring

by SalisRuinen


Yuki’s first week as a student at Sunbird High School had come to an end and like all of her other experiences since coming to Deckstoru, it had been one hell of a ride. The routine of the madness was something she had got used to and enjoyed at that point, though. The amnesiac had even named it the Joy Dozen. The Joy Dozen included the following: 1. Wild breakfast at the Summerbolt residence; 2. Studying in the morning; 3. Fights during the lunch break; 4. More studying along with some recuperation in the afternoon; 5. Cleaning up different parts of the school grounds and being tortured by the headmaster through to early evening; 6. A visit to the restructuring nurse; 7. Going back home and getting a short rest; 8. Cooking dinner; 9. A long and loud meal; 10. Doing homework; 11. Getting ready for the next day; 12. Going to sleep.

Had a normal person been faced with such a schedule after a very dynamic first weekend like hers, they would’ve been completely overwhelmed. Luckily Miss Iceflame was a supergirl of sorts, so her body was fine with the stress. Her mind had now caught up to it and with her adaptation period having ended, she could focus on fully enjoying her time in this crazy city!

The start of that great time was going with Graid to the bar by the seaside owned by him after dinner on Friday night, Yuki having decided to ask Seiren to join her and Hikaru. The young Blackscale had agreed, the assembly point for him and three of Summerbolt family’s members being a park next to the seaside street that ran parallel with Deckstoru’s central beach.

Graid wore the kind of clothes Yuki had never seen him in – a scarlet shirt with jungle green palms on it, cream shorts and sneakers that combined those three colors. Meanwhile the baby doll realized this was the first time she, Hikaru and Seiren were wearing the same clothes as on the day they met. Exactly one week had passed since then. It was a nice change from wearing the school uniform all the time and gave the girl with white hair a nostalgic feeling.

She might not have yet regained the memories from her time before coming to this city, but had managed to make many new memories since her arrival. That meant Yuki wasn’t just an empty shell anymore. She had gained an identity. The name those two had given her finally had a substance to it instead of being a random pair of words.

All of that had happened because of the mad bolt and the pervert.

Just thinking about it brought tears to Miss Iceflame’s eyes, the rivals noticing that.

(Hikaru) ‘-Are you OK, Yu? You’re crying.’

Yuki hugged both of them then, having the brightest smile on her face.

(Yuki) ‘-I just … I love you, guys.’

(Seiren) ‘-I think the stress from all the work and torture has taken its toll on this one, Summerbolt. She’s lost it. (Hikaru and Seiren hugged her back while making sure they wouldn’t come in any contact with their rival) So long as you’re happy, though, Yuki, I’m fine with that.’

(Graid) ‘-Well, if you three are done with that, let’s get going. I need to get the bar up and running before the customers start arriving.’

The four strolled down the seaside street then, the ice maiden feeling the cool breeze tickling her skin. It was a pleasant sensation because that breeze carried the promise of the coming summer. A time during which all the little shops and restaurants Yuki and her friends passed by were going to be working and this street was going to be full of life.

Eventually Graid led the trio to his bar, which was called Octohorn Ring, letting the baby doll and the rivals have a good look-around while he got everything ready to open up. Yuki herself was truly amazed by the bar’s design. Firstly, the name it had been given was all too fitting because it consisted of nine rings with horns in eight of them.

There was a main very wide ring, inside which the drinks were made, the music was played and the counter was located. After Hikaru’s uncle turned on the neon lights, the right half of the ring was lit up in scarlet and the left half – in jungle green, illuminating the pillar propped up in the center of the ring that supported the roof above it. At the top of that pillar was attached the symbol of the bar – a small octopus statue that had a ring around each of its spread-out tentacles. Eight horns were sticking out of its head – two larger ones of the bull type taking the highest position with six smaller ones under them.

There was a slightly smaller ring on each side of the main very wide one and further down the sands of the beach stood six more rings. The two placed after the main ring were a bit smaller than the ones standing on its sides while the ones after the side rings were smaller yet.

Many wooden chairs were placed around each ring while inside them stood pedestals with a design that looked like a wound up octopus tentacle. Each pedestal had a platform on top and within it – a bent horn made of crystals similar to that of a bull. The crystals for each horn were of a different color and the rings around the pedestals the horns were placed upon were lit in a color matching that of the crystals.

The ring/horn on the main one’s right side was scarlet, the one on the left – jungle green, following the scarlet a pumpkin orange and a cadmium yellow one, following the jungle green an azure and an electric violet one. Meanwhile the main ring was followed by a blackish (whose ring was black with gray lights above and under it) and finally a white one.

(Graid) ‘-What do you make of it, Yu?’

(Yuki) ‘-It’s … I’ve never seen anything like it. But all these horns … what are they?’

(Graid) ‘-You remember the eight energy compounds we talked about? The group my Daroid and Reloid are a part of?’

(Yuki) ‘-Yep.’

(Graid) ‘-Well, there are crystals in the universe imbued with the energy of each of those compounds, taking on some of their characteristics. Eventually, though, some genius discovered that when the crystals imbued with the energy of a particular energy compound are mixed with the right type of alcohol, that alcohol can in turn be affected by the energy compound. Whoever drinks that will hence experience various sensations. Depending on the alcohol they drink and the type of crystals they want to mix with it, people can choose around which of the rings in my bar to sit. From there I provide them with a small hammer and tiny shovel to dig out some crystals to mix with their drinks. Although I mostly have relocrystals and darocrystals, fueled with a Reloid and Daroid like mine, no one else in Deckstoru can provide a bit of all eight types of energy compound crystals to their customers!’

(Seiren) ‘-As far as I know, there is only a small amount of all eight crystal types on Saiten. How did you even manage to get all of those?’

(Hikaru) ‘-He’s a very good businessman.’

(Seiren) ‘-Prone to violence during business negotiations?’

Graid chuckled nervously and scratched the back of his head when he heard Seiren’s speculation about his trading methods.

(Graid) ‘-No, no, not at all! Due to these crystals being present in such low quantities on our planet, some of them are not sold in the most pleasant of places and not everyone would risk going to such places to get them. (the nervous chuckle was replaced by a thunderous laugh full of confidence) Graid Summerbolt fears nothing, though, and thanks to that I have acquired all these! Ha-ha!!’

A group of six people approached the bar then, Yuki being the first one who noticed them.

(Yuki) ‘-I think your first guests are here.’

Graid let out a mighty roar directed toward the skies in response to that, already having taken a bottle with some kind of alcohol in each hand.

(Graid) ‘-Time to get this party started then!!! Come in, ladies and gentlemen, and let’s have some fun!!!’

Those were the opening words of the night and no more than an hour later pretty much all the seats in the bar had already been taken, music playing, cocktails being made, people enjoying their time to the fullest.

The one responsible for all this was Graid himself, who ran the bar alone, using his Daroid to quickly prepare and serve the drinks everyone ordered and then play another hit song to ensure the customers’ spirits were as high as the heavens.

Yuki, Hikaru and Seiren were provided with seats around the main ring, of course, being the youngest in the whole bar and the only ones consuming non-alcoholic drinks as they were underage. The atmosphere was fantastic enough in its own right, though, so the trio needed no alcohol to feel great, the baby doll clearly enjoying herself the most.

Currently her attention was focused on the people who had already got off their seats and had started dancing around their respective rings and horns or mixing with other groups, Graid having left the bar shortly to join the fun. Suddenly he pointed at Miss Iceflame with a smirk.

Hikaru also saw that, sighing with a small smile.

(Hikaru) ‘-There he goes again.’

(Yuki) ‘-I think he wants us to join him.’

(Seiren) ‘-Go ahead, Yuki. Just watch out for the others cuz there may be hidden perverts among them.’

(Yuki) ‘-Don’t you two dance?’

(Hikaru) ‘-No, not really. Don’t worry about us, though. Go and have fun.’

The baby doll got off her chair and patted both her friends on the back with a charming wink.

(Yuki) ‘-I’ll be going, but the night’s still young, so I won’t give up that easily. I’ll get you two on the dance floor as well.’

She went right next to Graid, having already caught the rhythm of the music and observed the people around her enough to know how to dance like them, just going with the flow from there on. Seeing how much into this she was, Hikaru’s uncle began dancing back to back with her, eventually the two starting a conversation while glancing at the rivals at the bar every now and then.

(Graid) ‘-I’m glad you’re not a stiff like those two, Yu! It’s much better to have fun like this, isn’t it?’

(Yuki) ‘-I’m surprised Hikaru doesn’t like dancing with you as his uncle!’

(Graid) ‘-Well, on a different occasion he may have agreed to dance, but I guess today’s not his day.’

(Yuki) ‘-Is there something special about today?’

Graid stopped dancing, making the newest member of his family turn to him to find he was still smiling, but that smile was a sad one now. She had never seen him sad even a bit as this very fast and strong man was the most cheerful member of the Summerbolts. The girl with white hair stopped dancing too as the sight in front of her made the whole festive spirit leave her body.

(Graid) ‘-It’s already past midnight, so a sad anniversary for the family has come. (he was getting ready to say something, but paused for a moment before continuing, turning even sadder during that moment) You’ve never asked about Hikaru’s father since becoming a part of the Summerbolts, have you? If you had asked any of the others about that, they would’ve surely told me.’

Yuki turned her eyes away from Graid’s face, afraid to look at him.

It was something she had thought about, of course. There were pictures of Saya, her husband and Hikaru around the house, but Hikaru was just a baby in those and the ice maiden had found that strange. No one addressed the subject in any of the conversations she had been a witness of, however, so she never dared to ask, hoping the Summerbolts would tell her where her friend’s father is one day. She had never expected to learn that information under such circumstances.

(Yuki) ‘-No, I haven’t. I didn’t think it was appropriate to ask.’

(Graid) ‘-He’s not some scoundrel who left his wife and son, Yu, don’t worry. (another pause came, this time Graid turning sadder than anyone Yuki had ever seen) Hikaru’s father … he died. Sixteen years ago.’

The amnesiac was sort of expecting to hear something like that but discovered she was still not prepared mentally upon hearing it. She couldn’t help but look at Hikaru back at the bar with only pain in her heart in that single moment.

(Graid) ‘-Hikaru was just a baby then, so he has no memories of his father. I’ve tried to fill the gap left in his absence as best as I can, but Hanaru … he was one of a kind. I suggested bringing the two of you to the bar with me tonight to help Hikaru not think about that, but I guess it didn’t work. (Graid let out a deep sigh) Now that I think about it, Seiren has a sad anniversary today as well, so it’s appropriate those two are together right now.’

(Yuki) ‘-It’s the anniversary of him losing a family member as well?’

(Graid) ‘-No, not that. My nephew and Seiren have been rivals since kindergarten, so the Summerbolts and the Blackscales know about all the major moments in the other one’s life. I’m sure you’ve noticed that sleeve the boy always wears on his left arm and the stocking covering the lower half of his right leg?’

(Yuki) ‘-I have. I thought it was a fashion statement.’

(Graid) ‘-It’s not. He and his younger brother were in a terrible accident some years ago on this date. His left arm and right leg will forever be scarred by that, so he always wears a sleeve and a stocking to cover up the scars. Hikaru’s told me it’s not just to hide those scars from people, but from himself as well. Seiren doesn’t want to ever look at them and be forced to remember that accident. Just like his rival, though, it seems not looking at the scars is not enough to erase the pain.’

Too much. The baby doll had learned too much at once. That overwhelmed her to a level where she couldn’t utter a word for at least a minute. When she spoke again, only one sentence managed to leave her lips as her emotions didn’t allow for more.

(Yuki) ‘-W-what can we do?’

(Graid) ‘-We’ve done all we can, kid. It’s up to those two from here on. At times like this their rivalry actually seems like a good thing because it helps them not focus on the pain from the past. Maybe that’s why they started it in the first place. To help each other heal the pain they both feel, masking their feelings by constantly fighting.’

Graid left her side after saying that, the newest member of his family standing still under the effect of the resolution she had come to. What pain was hidden in her past remained unbeknownst to her, but she now knew about the pain in Hikaru and Seiren’s past. Maybe helping them heal their old wounds was how she could truly repay them. And she was going to do everything in her power to achieve this one goal – to make the rivals whole again.


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Wed May 25, 2022 7:55 am
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IcyFlame wrote a review...



Hello, another review coming your way!

I'm pleased to see the slight shift forward in time. There was a whole lot of action happening in such a short space of time so this helps to even out the pacing, slow some things down and kind of allow us to breath after all the chaos.

I also like that this chapter isn't all about fighting. There isn't a huge amount of progression in terms of pace but I think that it helps us feel closer to the characters (and also helps them to develop) which I would argue is sometimes more important than the plot progression itself.

One quick thing I did note in terms of formatting was this:

1. Wild breakfast at the Summerbolt residence; 2. Studying in the morning; 3. Fights during the lunch break; 4. More studying along with some recuperation in the afternoon; 5. Cleaning up different parts of the school grounds and being tortured by the headmaster through to early evening; 6. A visit to the restructuring nurse; 7. Going back home and getting a short rest; 8. Cooking dinner; 9. A long and loud meal; 10. Doing homework; 11. Getting ready for the next day; 12. Going to sleep.

This is a really long list to read in one paragraph. I haven't got a solution, but I think it would be valuable to play around with different ways in which you might format this because I find it difficult to read as is. I'll read maybe the first couple and the last point but the ones in-between get lost. Perhaps consider how important it is to have the whole thing listed out here? Maybe you could call them the Joy Dozen, but then just call out two or three things that includes rather than running through all twelve.

I'm amazed at Graid's ability to run a bar all by himself considering how busy it is, but it's a fun little quirk that really helps with the world building and also with his characterisation. All the patrons seem to be enjoying things, so I guess he's doing a good job!

For rivals, Hikaru and Seiren seem to be getting on remarkably well but it was good to have an insight into both of them and their pasts. They have more in common than perhaps they've ever really thought about, and we've already seen that some things are bigger than their rivalry, so perhaps they can move past it.

I really enjoyed this chapter, the characters and the setting were great to read!

Icy




SalisRuinen says...


Thanks for the review!
I'll think about what to do with the Joy Dozen. The whole purpose of including the full list was to show how busy Yuki's schedule is, but perhaps I can change it up a bit.



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Sun May 22, 2022 1:16 pm
VengefulReaper wrote a review...



Hey, just here to leave a quick review!

Well, this chapter just had a massive tone shift that I did not see coming. One moment we're having fun with the crew and the next we learn some stuff that isn't very fun. And somehow, you've managed to make the tone shift, that would otherwise be incredibly jarring, flow effortlessly.

A lot of people complain about the lack of plot progression or the slower pace of some chapters/novels but I think it's the 'slice of life' chapters that build character the most. The first half of the chapter is your average cooldown chapter with a new location and some fun experiences. But the second half is the best part of the chapter.

Hikaru and Seiren's rivalry has as of late taken a back seat with the focus being Yuki. I suppose helping her out has tempered down their rivalry in some way. I'm glad we're seeing a deeper reason as to why they are rivals. The idea of the two being rivals to help each other heal is a really compelling and original one. It's not as simple as 'he's more powerful than me and I don't like that'. With this, there's a lot of potential for them to grow together as characters instead of separately.

I think it's quite apparent that Yuki has united the two more than before. Not just on an individual level but also as two rival families. She's really a catalyst for development in this situation. There's also a clear focus on Yuki's goal now. She's going to try and make the two whole again. I do admire you for not falling into the classic power-hungry MC that searches to become more powerful and that's all they are. Yuki's goal automatically forces her to develop not just her physical skills but her interpersonal skills which is a facet of characters that can sometimes be ignored by some authors in fantasy.

Something unique I almost forgot to mention was the crystals that are used in the alcohol. It's a really interesting idea to have certain crystals spark certain sensations and people can choose what to feel. Sort of like a flavor for emotions. I really like the design of the bar as well and you describe it pretty vividly. I'd love to visit this place more often throughout the novel. It has a great design.

Lastly something I think you can add would be the reaction Yuki has to music. I assume she doesn't know what music sounds or feels like. It could make for a humorous moment where Yuki seems perplexed at people moving weirdly to strange noises that are mildly appealing to her ears xD. Other than that, I don't really have any more thoughts on the chapter. Hikaru and Seiren have gotten a lot more interesting than they were and Yuki's dynamic with them will be intriguing to explore.

As always, take what you found useful and discard the rest. Keep writing!
The reaper sends his regards...




SalisRuinen says...


Thank you so much for the review!!
Your conclusion that Yuki has tempered down Hikaru and Seiren's rivalry is more spot-on that you know. One could say that is one of the main themes of the story. These three form a very special trinity. On one hand Yuki is the one who stabilizes Hikaru and Seiren's relationship and on another, while she's the most innocent of the three, Seiren's the darkest while Hikaru is in the middle. That is exactly why I chose the three of them to be the main protagonists.
I'm glad you like the Octohorn Ring as well. Not to worry, you'll see more of it ahead in time.
You also make a good point about Yuki's reaction to the music. I should add more about that. While she's heard music before for the week she's spent in Deckstoru at this point, she hasn't been exposed to it quite like this and more attention should be given to that.



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Sat Apr 16, 2022 6:02 pm



You know what the big problem is in telling fantasy and reality apart? They're both ridiculous.
— The 12th Doctor