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Iceflame// Chapter 16: The Challenge

by SalisRuinen


Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for language.

Hikaru drank pretty much all the soda left in his glass in one gulp after Yuki went to dance with Graid and the customers of the Octohorn Ring. The spiky-haired teenager looked at the baby doll as she mixed with the crowd for a moment before returning his attention to the empty glass, his rival noticing that.

(Seiren) ‘-It’s a good thing that’s not alcohol, Summerbolt, or you’d be completely sozzled right now.’

(Hikaru) ‘-What’s it matter to you?’

(Seiren) ‘-I just thought you didn’t want to embarrass yourself in front of Yuki.’

(Hikaru) ‘-She’s family now. I can embarrass myself all I want in front of her.’

(Seiren) ‘-She’s my family, too, so I care about her happiness. And she wouldn’t be happy seeing you like this.’

(Hikaru) ‘-Go and join her on the dance floor in my stead, then. And make her happy. (he paused for a moment before continuing) We both know she’ll see through the mask you’re putting on if you do that, though. Yuki’s already proven she’s especially perceptive when it comes to us.’

Seiren drank what was left of his orange-colored non-alcoholic drink in one gulp then, raising his empty glass with a sad smile.

(Seiren) ‘-Cheers to the baby doll’s perceptiveness.’

Hikaru could feel it now. The two were at it again. Trying to start a quarrel with the other to avoid the pain. The same old routine.

Maybe it was time to change things a little. And the young Summerbolt thought he might as well take the first step on that path. Beating around the bush wasn’t going to be of any use, so he got straight to the topic of discussion he was thinking about.

(Hikaru) ‘-You’re not responsible for what happened on that day, you know. If anything, you saved your brother’s life.’

The pervert looked at his left arm, running a hand over the sleeve he had covered most of it with, narrowing his eyes.

(Seiren) ‘-And I learned what happens when I go too far with my powers. I promised myself that day to never go beyond the limit of my deva again. Every time I use it too much I make the same promise, deep down knowing it’s a lie. Yet I keep doing it, hoping one day I’ll stop. (a deep sigh left his chest) I did it again when we saved Yuki and realized then that maybe I’ll never stop. Because I don’t actually want to.’

Hikaru was very surprised by Seiren’s words. He was expecting a confession, but not one like this.

(Seiren) ‘-If these devas are good for anything, it’s to protect the ones you care about. When their output is limited, you can’t even do that. And if you can’t use your deva for the one thing it’s meant for, why have it at all? It makes it useless. (he paused) It makes you useless. That’s why I never forget what today’s date means – that I must strive to make the most of my abilities at their current output despite what I want. Despite what I long for. (Blackscale turned his eyes to his rival then) Things are different with you, though. You’ve never done anything wrong to anyone. Rather, you’re a victim of your father’s absence.’

It was only logical the pervert was going to strike a nerve as Hikaru had done just now, but realizing the focus of the conversation had shifted to him was still something he was painfully unprepared for. The door he had opened swung both ways, though. Now it was his turn.

(Hikaru) ‘-I do feel his absence, but it’s something more than that. It’s clear the other members of my family are scarred by his death in spite of their efforts to conceal it as Graid is doing now. I’m all that’s left of my father, so I feel like it’s my responsibility to make up for his absence. To lead and protect our family one day. (his eyes searched for Yuki in the crowd) A family that has one more member now. (when he found where she was, he realized she and Graid had stopped dancing and were talking to each other) Having angry fits and jumping in without thinking is easy, but being a pillar of stability like my father was … that’s something I’m not sure I’ll be able to do and it’s why I feel guilty.’

Looking back at Seiren, he had smiled softly.

(Seiren) ‘-You need to stop wracking your brain so much, genius. If you keep it up, you’ll end up dying before we can settle things between us.’

Hikaru gave a smile of the same type as a response to that while Graid appeared between the duo with his Daroid, looking ever so madly happy.

(Graid) ‘-You two having a good time?’

They nodded while he reached and took his glass from the inside of the main ring, going through all the customers from there and toasting with everyone.

The ultrauncle’s intervention had taken the spiky-haired teenager’s mind away from the dark thoughts he was dwelling on, which was a relief. Whether Graid had overheard what the rivals were talking about and had decided to step in right then on purpose was not clear.

(Hikaru) ‘-Looks like he’s going to perform his ritual of having a toast with everyone. I thought he’d stopped doing that, but if there’s any night when that’s appropriate, it will be this one.’

(Seiren) ‘-I’d say he’s giving you a good example … (Blackscale noticed someone had just hugged Yuki over the shoulder) … but maybe we should focus our attention on Yuki right now.’

As Hikaru turned around on his seat, his rival pointed at the baby doll and the young man next to her that seemed only a couple of years older, having a drunken confident smirk on his face.

(Hikaru) ‘-Can you make out what they’re saying? It’s a bit hard for me at this distance.’

(Seiren) ‘-I can hear them fine, yeah.’

(Random guest) ‘-I saw the moves you’ve got, girl. Very nice. Then you suddenly turned all sad and quiet. (he pulled her closer to himself, his breath on her shoulder now) Maybe I can help you feel better again. And you can show me those moves again. And others, too.’

Yuki narrowed her eyes, looking irritated.

(Yuki) ‘-Were you just waiting for Graid to leave my side to come and pester me?’

(Random guest) ‘-Is it that obvious? (he let out a small chuckle) Sorry. I didn’t know you like being hit on in more subtle ways.’

(Yuki) ‘-I don’t like being hit on at all.’

He closed the distance further by almost smashing his face in hers, the white-haired beauty clenching her fists now.

(Random guest) ‘-Come on, baby girl. Why don’t we …’

Before the customer could finish that sentence, he was struck by a bolt. The bolt was a gift sent to him by Hikaru who had teleported next to Yuki with a grimace of anger.

(Hikaru) ‘-Why don’t you back off and die?!’

The bolt threw the drunken man at the white crystal horn, smashing it to bits along with the pedestal it was placed on, the ring around the pedestal also breaking apart, the ones having fun there clearly being aggravated.

The person attacked by the young Summerbolt got back on his feet soon enough, turning out he had a company of four more boys and three girls with him who up until that point had gathered around the yellow crystal horn. After what happened they had moved from there to stand by his side.

(Random guest) ‘-You’ll be paying for that! Or did you think I came in this place all alone?!’

No more than a second later he and his friends were blown up in Seiren’s bright red fireworks as he landed next to Yuki and Hikaru.

(Seiren) ‘-These two are not alone either, you bastards!!’

One of the deviants from the offender’s group covered their body with organic needles similar to those of a hedgehog but with electric-green tips, sending hundreds of them towards the trio. A quickly propped-up ice wall blocked that attack, Yuki, who the wall was courtesy of, looking dead serious.

(Yuki) ‘-I was about to apologize for Hikaru’s overreaction … (now she became just as enraged as her friends) … but I’ve changed my mind!! I guess we’ll have to force you to leave the premises!!!’

The trio and their opponents jumped at each other, the group that had gathered around the now destroyed white crystal horn also joining the fray, Graid, who had just returned to the main ring, noticing the fight that had started.

He jumped over the bar and ran with his Daroid to the focus of attention for all the guests who had now stopped dancing, the ultrauncle using the strength granted by his Reloid to separate all the combatants with an almost desperate expression.

(Graid) ‘-Don’t start beating them up before they’ve paid up, damn it! That’s rule number one around here!!’

The customers and the trio moved around him to get back at each other’s throats while a ball of a gold-like metal with spikes on it hit Hikaru’s uncle on the jaw. Octohorn Ring’s bartender now exploded in his two energy compounds, looking even more enraged than his nephew, attacking some of the customers just as ferociously and being attacked in turn.

(Graid) ‘-I take that back!! That’s rule number two!! RULE NUMBER ONE IS TO NEVER MESS WITH THE BARTENDER!!!!’

Certain guests were just defending against the attacks coming from multiple assailants while others simply ran away from the bar in panic, the participants in the brawl also taking up different approaches to the situation. Some relied on their devas to attack and defend, as well as heal because there were a couple of healers visiting the Octohorn Ring at the time. Others used their fists, kicks, heads and other parts of their bodies for that purpose. And then there were those who made use of the objects around them as tools of offense and defense. The arsenal one could choose from was various: chairs, glasses, bottles, as well as the small hammers each customer was provided with to break off some crystals to put in their drink.

Overall, things livened up from there but for the worse. By the time Yuki, Hikaru, Seiren and Graid emerged victorious, the whole beach bar and the area around it were destroyed.

Luckily, the damage the combatants had done to each other had been healed by the time the police arrived on the scene and no one made serious complaints, so the Octohorn Ring’s owner got off with only a warning.

As for the customers themselves, whoever remained until after the police’s departure went away soon enough without paying for their drinks of any of the damage, of course. And thus only the hot-headed quartet that came to the bar first on that night remained amid the rubble.

The realization of what had happened seemed to be sinking in for the brutish uncle in the present, Yuki going to him to apologize while Hikaru and Seiren looked at all the destruction they had caused with rather satisfied mugs.

This whole brawl was just what they needed to let off some steam, so the night had actually turned out better than expected for the duo.

(Yuki) ‘-I’m so sorry, Graid!! It’s all my fault! I should’ve stopped this before things got out of hand, but …’

(Hikaru) ‘-It’s that sick freak’s fault for putting his hands on you, Yu! Don’t blame yourself for this for a second!!’

Graid appeared behind the young Summerbolt and Blackscale with a burst of scarlet energy, grabbing both by the necks with a lethally condemning expression, wiping the smiles off their faces.

(Graid) ‘-And you two are just as guilty for overreacting! I’m glad you’re feeling better now, but I didn’t want that to happen at the expanse of my bar, damn brats!!’

(Seiren) ‘-Hey, man, you made things worse when you joined the fight, so I think the fault …’

Even more veins protruded on Graid’s face as he focused his deadly gaze filled with madness on the golden-haired teenager. Seiren hadn’t had dealings with Hikaru’s uncle up to that point and due to his generally sunny disposition he clearly wasn’t aware how dangerous it was to provoke him.

(Graid) ‘-Saya was right. You are a very irritating one, Blackscale. (Graid’s wrath reached the next level then, roaring as loud as humanly possible at the rivals who were now joined by Yuki) Let’s see if you’ll still talk back after you’re done repairing the damage done to my establishment!!!’

‘-It would be nice if someone were to finally shut him up.’

Two silhouettes were coming down the stairs leading from the seaside street to the beach next to the remains of the bar’s main ring, one of them having said those words, by the time they got to the quartet their full appearance being revealed.

They looked around Yuki, Hikaru and Seiren’s age, one being quite wiry in terms of physique and the other being very muscular. The wiry one had medium-length hair that mixed a scarlet and electric violet color, most of which was brushed back into place except for a few strands, harlequin-green eyes that were more rounded than normal and pale skin. 

His companion had a darker skin tone, his hair was a little longer and yellow-ochre in color with some strands sticking out and a combed down fringe, his eyes – savoy blue. Although the shape of that one’s eyes was normal, he had another distinctive facial trait – a short horizontal scar on his left cheek and a longer vertical one starting at the left end of his upper lip and reaching his chin. 

Both were wearing clothes suited for sports – a dark-purple under-vest with a red streak down the middle and harlequin-green sweatpants for the skinnier one and a blue T-shirt and yellow sweatpants that had a carmine waistband and tapered ends for the more muscular one.

As to their expressions, the wiry member of the duo had an irritatingly mocking smile on his face, the other one looking extremely serious. Meanwhile Yuki and Graid were confused, Hikaru and Seiren – angry.

(Graid) ‘-Are you among the customers from tonight? If you would like to be reimbursed …’

(Hikaru) ‘-They’re not customers, uncle. These two are Hock and Gorudora, members of Ulura’s class and Sunbird’s biggest bullies alongside her.’

(Seiren) ‘-What the hell are you doing here?’

(Gorudora) ‘-We were sent to find you. By Ulura.’

Yuki stepped forward, now standing between the duos Hikaru-Seiren and Hock-Gorudora.

(Yuki) ‘-If she has a problem with anyone, it should be with me alone. Hikaru, Seiren or any of the other members of my class had nothing to do with our fight.’

Hock clicked his tongue.

(Hock) ‘-No, no, baby doll. You don’t get it. People in the school are looking at your class as the new masters of Sunbird after what happened.’

(Hikaru) ‘-We didn’t ask for that.’

(Gorudora) ‘-Irrelevant. The consequences are what’s important. And you will now have to face them. (he stepped even closer to the trio) We need to earn our title back from you. With something bigger than a brawl like the one you had here.’

(Hock) ‘-So as representatives of Martian Class #3 we challenge you to a Class Battle!’


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Thu Jun 23, 2022 8:54 am
MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi SalisRuinen,

Mailice here with a short review! :D

I haven't read the first chapters, so I'll try to focus on other things in my review.

Let's start. One thing that struck me right away was the uniqueness of your dialogue. Through this - for me - unusual presentation, I found it very refreshing to go through the story. Distributed, it felt like I was reading a script.

Not only did that make me feel like I was reading a script, but also the descriptions you inserted between the dialogue. It seems very interesting and varied, but above all, alive. It seems as if you are constantly changing something and there is movement everywhere. I like that a lot, and it gives the whole story here a tremendous dynamic that carries through from beginning to end. Things like this, for example:

He closed the distance further by almost smashing his face in hers, the white-haired beauty clenching her fists now.


It works well that you also alternate the sections longer and shorter, creating a mix that helps the reader follow the plot. I haven't read the previous chapters, and yet I felt and coped reasonably well when I read into this. That's also a good point, and gives me the opportunity to see that your writing style is not rambling in a positive way, but clearly to the point.

I can't do much with the characters directly yet, but so far I get the impression that Hikaru and co. have a certain individuality that emerges through the dialogues. Again, a positive point. There is some kind of conflict and you still somehow try to get around a fight, which also shows a depth to the characters.

Maybe the review hasn't been helpful so far, but try to read into the following chapters and go deeper at some points.

Have fun writing!

Mailice




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Wed May 25, 2022 8:05 am
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IcyFlame wrote a review...



I may just about have time to fit another chapter in, so here I go!

The interaction here between Seiren and Hikaru at the start really fits with the theme of Yuki tempering them and bringing them together. Not long ago they would never have been able to have this conversation (even if it's still pretty awkward now) so I think they're both really growing. Hikaru sums it up really well here:

Hikaru could feel it now. The two were at it again. Trying to start a quarrel with the other to avoid the pain. The same old routine.

I expected a bit more resistance from both of them when dredging up painful things from the past given that I assume they haven't talked about it with each other before. I like that they've spoken about it because I think the other one can actually understand given that they are also going through pain but I was surprised how forthcoming each of them were about their feelings without Yuki sat there to prompt them.


I should have known, however, that we were never too far from a fight. It's very characteristic now of Hikaru and Seiren to overreact when it comes to Yuki (not that the man didn't deserve it, but he could have been kicked out rather than this). They're very protective of her but that is definitely sometimes more of a hinderance than a help though I know it comes from a good place.

I didn't expect Hock and Gorudora to show up here/now. After the conversation between Ulura's parents I thought they were waiting a bit to let others not see Ulura as much of a threat at the school so this felt a bit sudden. Is there going to be a space big and empty enough for this giant battle? And do the ordinari just not care what they do as long as it's between themselves? So many questions, haha! At least you have a few more chapters for me to hopefully get some answers.

Icy




SalisRuinen says...


Appreciate the review!
Hikaru and Seiren have talked about their past before, but never as openly as this. As you said, this goes to show how much Yuki has affected them.
And the way they responded when the customer was hitting on their friend wasn't just to protect her, but also to let off a little steam. As pointed out, getting into fights not just with each other, but with other people as well, is a sort of coping mechanism for the pain both rivals feel. Not the best way to go about things, but that's just who they are.
Your questions about the Class Battle will be answered in great detail in the coming chapters, so I'll leave it at that.



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Wed Apr 20, 2022 10:25 pm



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