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Iceflame// Chapter 17: The First One

by SalisRuinen


Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language.

Seiren tried to hide his surprise and keep as threatening an expression as possible when he heard the words ‘Class Battle’ come out of Hock’s mouth.

He looked at Hikaru, realizing his rival was making every possible effort to maintain a rigid look after he heard that as well, the duo’s attention being returned to Ulura’s thugs then.

(Yuki) ‘-A Class Battle? What is that?’

(Graid) ‘-Special events organized toward the end of every school year in Sunbird. All the students from two selected classes clash in an all-out battle where they can use a 100% deva output. The event is closely monitored and the information gathered from it is sent to the military and other institutions. It’s a sort of demonstration of the level of preparedness of deviants in training to fight other deviants.’

(Hock) ‘-And no classes have yet been selected for the event this year.’

(Hikaru) ‘-The headmaster and the teachers select the classes to participate and approve the challenge one class makes to another.’

(Gorudora) ‘-That’s right, but it’s clear they’ll approve of our two classes fighting. The longer our conflict remains unresolved, the longer the situation within the school will remain unstable. We’ll fight you anyway but the students and the Sunbird grounds will be spared if the fight is taken elsewhere and concluded within a day rather than this becoming a prolonged affair.’

(Seiren) ‘-Even if all other agree, our homeroom teacher can still reject the challenge.’

(Hock) ‘-He could. Do you think that’s the right choice, though? I thought you wanted to protect Sunbird at all costs. The most effective way to stop us is this. To prove to everyone your class is better than ours as a whole. (he glanced at Yuki before continuing) The display between Yuki and Ulura wasn’t enough. It was just the beginning. Now we have to end it. Or maybe you don’t want to face us in the field because you’re afraid of the humiliation you’ll suffer against us?’

The bastards were provoking Hikaru and Seiren and weren’t even trying to hide it. Just like Hock and Gorudora were presenting the challenge on behalf of their class, the young Summerbolt and Blackscale could accept as representatives of their own. Their classmates could contest their decision, but knowing those hot heads as well as he did, the pervert was certain they would all be in favor of battling Ulura’s class. Except maybe Exo.

The persistence of the villains to make Hikaru and Seiren accept made it evident that they had something planned. Therefore agreeing to a Class Battle wasn’t the best way to go about things because the duo’s class would lose all their advantage if they had any to begin with. Shying away from a fight wasn’t Blackscale’s style either, though, so he didn’t know what to do.

His hopes were that after that talk about trying to become a good leader and a pillar of stability at the bar earlier, Hikaru would reject the challenge while Seiren could still resist the urge to accept.

(Hikaru) ‘-We accept the challenge.’

The golden-haired teenager twisted his neck to turn his head to his rival with such speed that if he had gone any faster, some bones would’ve been broken from the abruptness of the movement. Looking over at Yuki and Graid, they looked just as shocked by the mad bolt’s words.

This made Hock’s atrocious smile even wider and more unbearable to look at because of the sense of triumph it exuded.

(Hock) ‘-That’s more like it! We’ll be taking our leave, then. (he waved with his hand as he and Gorudora turned their backs to the quartet) Have a nice night and wait for news on the date of your doom!’

Seiren, Yuki and Graid hardly seemed to notice the high-school thugs leaving because their eyes remained fixed on the spiky-haired teenager, his rival speaking first.

(Seiren) ‘-Are you out of your fu**ing mind?! It wouldn’t have been a surprise if I accepted the challenge, but not you!!’

(Hikaru) ‘-I didn’t hear you protesting against my decision, Blackscale.’

(Seiren) ‘-I just said I was going to accept!!! I’m not the brightest, though, so I was sure your genius mind would consider not giving the bastards what they want was the better option!!’

(Hikaru) ‘-Exactly.’

(Seiren) ‘-What the hell do you even mean by that?!?!!’

(Hikaru) ‘-Do you want to fight them, Seiren?’

(Seiren) ‘-Damn right I do!’

The lightning warrior turned to the baby doll.

(Hikaru) ‘-And you, Yuki?’

Her resolution wavered when asked that question, but only for a second.

(Yuki) ‘-I … I do.’

Now Seiren’s rival looked at him again.

(Hikaru) ‘-And what do you think the rest of the class will say?’

(Seiren) ‘-Probably the same.’

A confident smile formed on the young Summerbolt’s face after Seiren’s response.

(Hikaru) ‘-Then there’s your answer. This is not the best approach according to me, but it’s what the class wants. I’m not giving Ulura’s bullies what they want. I don’t care about them. I’m giving our class what they want and in doing so we’ll either go down or rise together. If we go down, maybe we’ll finally learn our lesson about not picking fights with the wrong people, which is long overdue, and will settle down. (he put his hand on Yuki’s shoulder) I’d much rather see us beat those suckers, though, and will do all I can to achieve that. If all of us work as hard as possible I’m sure we can take them down.’

Seiren honestly didn’t know in that moment if his rival was the greatest or the dumbest piece of garbage ever to walk Saiten.

He was definitely the most irritating piece of garbage, though.

Graid, who had remained quiet during the trio’s discussion, crossed his arms now, looking satisfied while his gaze was focused on his nephew.

(Graid) ‘-You know your mom’s gonna chew up for this, right?’

Hikaru smiled and sighed.

(Hikaru) ‘-Definitely.’

(Graid) ‘-Alright, then. I’ll back you up as best as I can, kiddo. You need to live until you kick those bullies’ asses, right? (Hikaru nodded while the ultrauncle pushed him along with Yuki and Seiren toward the remains of the Octohorn Ring) Since we’ve cleared that up, it’s time for you to get to work!! My bar won’t repair itself!!’

*

When Seiren saw Yuki and Hikaru again on Monday, the mad bolt looked more exhausted than ever and the amnesiac – more lively than ever. It just so happened that all the boys from the class were gathered around them at that time, which was just before the start of Biology with Tenji Line-sensei. Seiren was just talking with the duo, Vega and King offering them alcohol and food. Exo was examining his fellow genius’ breathing with a stethoscope and Tokura was offering the baby doll his company to liven her up even more.

(Seiren) ‘-The contrast between the condition you two are in is too weird. Does it have something to do with the anniversary of the death of Hikaru’s father?’

(Yuki) ‘-No. Saturday was a day of mourning indeed, but on Sunday Saya put me and Hikaru on an extremely rigorous workout regime to prep us for the coming Class Battle. We worked out plenty this morning, too, so that’ why Hikaru’s in such a state.’

(Seiren) ‘-What’s the matter, Summerbolt? All that inspirational talk about doing everything you can to achieve your goal seems like a total lie right now.’

Hikaru, who could barely keep his eyes open from exhaustion, looked around the classroom, looking like he could see something none of his classmates could. And that something terrified him.

(Hikaru) ‘-I see … I see only death. Spare me from the pain.’

(Seiren) ‘-Exo, time of death? I just want to know for my personal reference before I go get a shovel to bury his worthless corpse in the schoolyard.’

(Vega) ‘-He won’t die today, Seiren! I’ll revive him with a magic drink!’

(King) ‘-You look better than ever, Yuki! Feeling good because of the great workout, I take it?’

(Yuki) ‘-It was really great, King! I am so full of energy now and ready for so much more!!’

After hearing that, the muscle-bound glutton sneered at Exo’s patient.

(King) ‘-It’s good that there’s at least one person in your house with the proper stamina, right, Hikaru?’

The spiky-haired teenager managed to turn to King with great effort, some irritation being added to the other negative emotions his face emanated.

(Hikaru) ‘-N-not all of us can be a superhuman like Yuki, King …’

(King) ‘-Try some of the stuff I’ve brought. It may bring you back you to life. (King’s attention quickly returned to the ice maiden, clearly not interested in the beat Summerbolt) You’re welcome to eat as well, Yu! You may feel very energetic now, but you’ll need to replenish your stores for the next workout. Putting the body through great amounts of stress alone is useless without providing it with fuel to withstand the strain.’

(Tokura) ‘-And if you are ever in need of a massage to relax those tense muscles, sweet princess of pure snow, you can always turn to me.’

Annabel passed by Tokura then, slapping him on the neck with disgust.

(Annabel) ‘-As if any of the girls would let you put your hands on Yuki for a massage, Tora. She can count on us for such things!’

Tokura’s beaming grin was quickly replaced by a dead stare directed at the healing beauty.

(Tokura) ‘-Standing between me and Yuki’s body is a death sentence, Bel. Keep at it and you’ll end up the same as Hikaru.’

Exo: ‘-I think we’re all going to end up like him very soon!’

The techno-genius’ panicked scream alerted his classmates to the appearance of Tenji Line in the classroom, holding a piece of paper in his hand with a troubled look on his face.

(Tenji) ‘-So … there was an early meeting of the teacher body and the headmaster this morning. (he waved the paper in his hand above his head as he stood next to his desk) I was given this at the end of the meeting. It reads: ‘In accordance with Article 7 of Regulation No 622/45 of Barilia’s Department of Education, Sunbird High School announces that this year …’

(Random student) ‘-So are we fighting Ulura’s class or what?’

Line-sensei lifted his eyes from the paper to spread the shroud of his punitive glare over the whole room, Seiren remembering the sting of his elastic whip deva’s last attack when that glare reached him.

(Tenji) ‘-If you interrupt me while reading the order, I’ll make sure none of you are even going to be fit to face Martian Class #3 when …’

(Random student) ‘-We’ll be fighting them, then?’

Tenji let out a sigh of annoyance, throwing the paper aside.

(Tenji) ‘-The hell with it. Yes, you will face Ulura’s class in a Class Battle.’

In that moment most members of the class let out mighty battle cries, King transforming into his giant form immediately and throwing his desk aside as he went and hugged Hikaru from one side and Exo – from the other, those two being among the few who weren’t shouting.

The main reason for that was that the one genius was talking to himself in quiet despair and guilt while the other simultaneously tried to choke him with the stethoscope and screamed his lungs out in open panic.

Seiren hugged Yuki over the shoulder in the mean time, the pervert being among those who shouted loudest.

(Seiren) ‘-It’s finally here, guys!! Our first Class Battle!!!’

(King) ‘-HELL YEAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!’

(Vega) ‘-Cheers, boys and girls!!’

(Tokura) ‘-And we’ll be taking out Nightsong’s evil henchmen, so we can all consider ourselves the official knights of Sunbird now!!’

(Yuki) ‘-When will the Battle take place, sensei?’

(Tenji) ‘-On the 28th, this Saturday.’

(Hikaru) ‘-Wha ...? Oh, we’re doomed. That’s fine, though. I won’t even be alive by then. Tell Blackscale I’m actually dead, so he can bury me, Exo.’

(Exo) ‘-It’s all you fault, Hikaru!! They might as well bury me next to you!! I will die on Saturday, anyway, but I want to at least be spared from all that pain!! And after I’m dead, I’ll take vengeance on you for condemning me to such a fate in the afterlife!!!’

(Tenji) ‘-Hold your horses, everyone!! There’s more about the Class Battle you need to hear. (after seeing how serious their homeroom teacher looked, Seiren and his classmates fell silent, their eyes fixed on him once again) Given recent events, the rules for the Battle have been changed a bit. Yuki and Ulura won’t be participating in it.’


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Fri Jun 24, 2022 4:18 pm
VengefulReaper wrote a review...



Hey, just here to leave a quick review after an eternity of absence!

Overall, this is a really great chapter to introduce the class battle and the stakes at hand. I've always loved the main crew of this novel but I'm really looking forward to seeing them in the class battle. I think it will be a big turning point for some of their characters, especially if it's a humbling instead of an overwhelming victory.

Some things I really liked here:

(Graid) ‘-Special events organized toward the end of every school year in Sunbird. All the students from two selected classes clash in an all-out battle where they can use a 100% deva output. The event is closely monitored and the information gathered from it is sent to the military and other institutions. It’s a sort of demonstration of the level of preparedness of deviants in training to fight other deviants.’

Nice way to throw in some exposition without pausing the scene. There's a time and place to pause a scene and throw in some exposition but you made the right choice of putting this as part of the dialogue.
The pacing in this chapter, in general, is really good. Nothing feels rushed or drawn out and the conversation seems pretty real (nothing over-the-top-supervillain-monologue xD).

I also really liked Hikaru stepping up here in an unexpected way and surprising everyone. I feel, that despite being hot-headed with a few anger issues, he was pretty level-headed which is a sign of a good leader. He's shaping up to be one of my favorites to read about. Also, I'm not sure if it was intended to be hilarious but exhausted, "done-with-life" Hikaru made me chuckle (probably because that's totally me after a workout xD).

I said a few chapters ago that I wanted the side characters to get some shine and now with Yuki not participating (presumably) maybe we get a bit of side character growth. I'm not entirely opposed to our MC being a spectator since there is a lot to learn from watching that you can't learn from fighting, but let's hope she is still involved in some way.

Just a few nitpicks here and there:
Seiren tried to hide his surprise and keep as threatening an expression as possible when he heard the words ‘Class Battle’ come out of Hock’s mouth.

He looked at Hikaru, realizing his rival was making every possible effort to maintain a rigid look after he heard that as well, the duo’s attention being returned to Ulura’s thugs then.

The emboldened part feels a bit repetitive. You could pretty much cut this down to "He looked at Hikaru, who mirrored his expression after what he heard." It adds a bit of variety in that sense.
he golden-haired teenager twisted his neck to turn his head to his rival with such speed that if he had gone any faster, some bones would’ve been broken from the abruptness of the movement

This sounds really drawn out and could be shortened to make it a little more effective. You're giving us a little too much information by including the emboldened parts here. It's pretty obvious that if you twist your neck it will turn your head or that bones would break if the movement was abrupt enough. Try wording it something like this:
...snapped his head to stare at his rival. Any quicker and some bones would have been broken.

Just a suggestion though.
Line-sensei lifted his eyes from the paper to spread the shroud of his punitive glare over the whole room, Seiren remembering the sting of his elastic whip deva’s last attack when that glare reached him.

This is a great description. To the point, detailed, and linked to a feeling one of our characters feel. I instantly feel his presence.

That's all from me though. I enjoyed this chapter and looking forward to reading more this weekend. Overall, I can see your writing is improving and you're finding the right pace for your story along with a healthy balance of dialogue and description. Great stuff!

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




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Thu Jun 23, 2022 9:06 am
MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi SalisRuinen,

Mailice back with a short review! :D

I was not prepared for such a preparation for a class battle and at the same time I am surprised how the story here has lengthened so much to create a preparation that I am now already eager to see what will happen next. You have somehow managed to awaken a curiosity in me to see what happens next.

(Yuki) ‘-A Class Battle? What is that?’
(Graid) ‘-Special events organized toward the end of every school year in Sunbird. All the students from two selected classes clash in an all-out battle where they can use a 100% deva output. The event is closely monitored and the information gathered from it is sent to the military and other institutions. It’s a sort of demonstration of the level of preparedness of deviants in training to fight other deviants.’

Very good way you used here to explain a piece of information that is unknown to the reader without making it seem like a textbook from school. Definitely something you should keep for the future to keep the momentum I mentioned in the previous review. Also, I have to say that I'm still a bit in the ignorant, and with the Japanese names, it feels like I'm reading a manga that has been rewritten as a novel. Definitely something positive, so please don't take it negatively. :D

Their classmates could contest their decision, but knowing those hot heads as well as he did, the pervert was certain they would all be in favor of battling Ulura’s class. Except maybe Exo.


I'm not quite sure yet how the narrator will behave here, but I like, as in the previous chapter, that the narrator doesn't always remain completely neutral or at least inserts his own opinion as well, as in this case with "the pervert”.

The golden-haired teenager twisted his neck


Neat description. This is never an overused thing to do, as to replace names or other words. This can also be used to describe other features of the face or clothes.

(Hikaru) ‘-Exactly.’
(Seiren) ‘-What the hell do you even mean by that?!?!!’
(Hikaru) ‘-Do you want to fight them, Seiren?’
(Seiren) ‘-Damn right I do!’

I have to mention it here again, but I really like the way you shape the dialogue, adding personality to the characters. It really does seem very real when you think about it in your mind's eye.

‘-Try some of the stuff I’ve brought. It may bring you back you to life. (King’s attention quickly returned to the ice maiden, clearly not interested in the beat Summerbolt) You’re welcome to eat as well, Yu!


Just a small point here; since we are in dialogue, I would also put that in brackets so that you can see that it is not spoken, so just insert -` to show the reader that. Because I was a bit confused about this statement at the beginning.

Have fun writing!

Mailice




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Wed May 25, 2022 11:18 am
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IcyFlame wrote a review...



Ok, I had a completely different idea of what a class battle was going to be, so I'm glad Graid has laid it out so clearly. This now doesn't seem quite as big and important given that it happens every year and is effectively supervised, so presumably nothing too dangerous can happen? Although the last fight at that school was a bit chaotic and none of the teachers intervened even when it looked pretty bad so perhaps that's not a safe assumption at all...

I'm interested to see how they get back up to 100% deva output... and what that's going to mean for Ulura's implants. If she couldn't beat Yuki when she had a 30% advantage how is she possibly going to manage when they are equally matched? Or will the implants mean she is somehow at 130% (if that's even possible)? It also makes me realise that I had no idea where we were in terms of the school yet to tell if this was soon when the challenge was issued.

It feels like we're building on some of the supporting characters now which is nice to see. I'm starting to remember who is who and I like that you keep bringing back their discerning traits because it makes it easier to distinguish between them. I hope we continue to see more of them (I'm looking forward to having Annabel back, personally as I'm really loving her character!)

The techno-genius’ panicked scream alerted his classmates to the appearance of Tenji Line in the classroom, holding a piece of paper in his hand with a troubled look on his face.

This part was a bit confusing. Was the scream from Exo or was it from Tenji? Exo's speech didn't seem like he was screaming, but I assumed that he was the techno-genius?

The plot twist at the end of this was excellent! I'm assuming it's to do with Ulura's family and they've engineered so that Yuki isn't involved, but I wonder how this can be done? Is it just because of the leverage they have at the school?

I definitely think my idea of what this battle was going to be has been subverted but I'm looking forward to it nonetheless. I will say though, the plot of this might need some streamlining in future edits. We've gone a bit all over the place in terms of antagonists - I'm not sure if this is intentional but I feel a bit lost because I don't really know where the novel is going. Are we going to return to these other parts later?

Icy




SalisRuinen says...


Many thanks for the review!
To clear up the misunderstanding about Exo screaming: yes, he was the one screaming, that being his initial response when Tenji entered the room as he wanted to call his teacher for help out of the chaotic situation he had found himself in. I should've done a better job at making that clear enough, so I'll be sure to fix it.
The way the Nightsongs have ensured Yuki won't participate in the Class Battle shows just how much control they have over the things happening at the school, so yes, they have a lot of power.
The antagonists at present are Ulura's class and family. The rest of this story arc will follow the clash between them and Hikaru's class and family. I hope that made things clear enough.



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Tue Apr 26, 2022 1:59 am



I think the best thing about making it into the quote generator is when nobody tells you, so one day you're just scrolling and voila, some phenomenally inane thing that crawled out of your dying synapses and immediately regretted being born the second it made contact with the air has been archived for all time. Or worse, a remark of only average inanity. Never tell me when you've put me in the generator. Pride-tinged regret just doesn't taste the same without the spice of surprise.
— SirenCymbaline