Volume II : The First Sin
Chapter 43 – A Song of Ice and Fire[3249 words]
The immediate life-threatening danger preceded his mind from having other thoughts. Instead of worrying about his identity of being a sorcerer, what mattered now was to save his own life. The ice shield formed by water magic was, in fact, not very effective. It was not even widely acknowledged as a defensive magic. But water magic was the first magic that Amon had learnt and he could cast it without a thought. Besides, he was in the middle of a river, water was the easiest element to summon.
Being late to notice the attack, Amon had to cast magic as quickly as possible. He summoned an ice shield first to block the incoming strike, then performed an earth magic to tie down the tail. However, the tail was so huge and heavy that it broke the magic smoke with ease. Fortunately, by using it, Amon bought the time to effectuate a [Concrete] that fixed the tail in the air for a short time.
The people on the ferry didn’t have the time to react before they heard the bellow from Amon and felt the fore abruptly dip down. It was Amon springing high into the air with his staff in hand. Covered by a layer of faint but radiating light, the branch-like staff slashed at the tail. No sound was made. A strong shock wave propagated along the long trunk of the tail, smashed scales flying into the air.
Amon couldn’t utilise more strength than a fourth-level warrior, since he hadn’t had the time to practice any fifth-level body arts. But at the same moment that the staff hit the tail, a light blue flame winked into existence then extended along with the shockwave, quickly developing into a blaze, as if the huge tail was ignited by the strike.
Even the most experienced warriors on the continent might not have seen a similar tactic, not to mention a monster living in the river. Amon was using the staff as a polearm, performing physical attacks and magical attacks at the same time. The magic was cast right next to the target, and it was a difficult but powerful one. It was the [Fire Sea], a magic that even fifth-level mages struggled to master. But Amon cast it unflinchingly with accurate timing, and the flame burned light blue, meaning the temperature was scorchingly high.
If the tail had been made of wood, it would have been burnt into ashes in a second. But the monster’s body was tough to the extent that there were only some burnt scales falling, off along with a pungent smell. A piercing roar came from deep beneath the water. The tail was beaten away, rising high in the air, then quickly shrank back into the water, leaving a sizzling sound and a cloud of vapor.
With a loud thump, the fore sank down again. It was Amon falling back to the ferry after sweeping the huge tail away.
The stupefied crowd finally awakened. Screams, crying and shouting burst out in a cacophony of chaos. Some were issued by those who had fallen to the ground by the impacts. Some were issued by the frightened livestock. There was boatmen yelling, “It’s that snake! It’s Humbaba’s offspring! How does it appear in the day?”
Some even kneeled down to Amon and cried, “Great mage! Please help us!” Seeing Amon fight with the monster, more and more people started to cried to Amon, as if they were drowning men desperately trying to grab onto a log of floating driftwood.
It was the first time Amon was called a “Great mage” when performing magic in front of people. After all, what he had accomplished had protected, not only himself, but also the other passengers on the ferry. But the crying was soon drowned out by a louder roar from beneath the water. A huge whirlpool appeared at one side of the ship, water sinking in quickly. Then a wall of water rose, throwing the ship up into the air.
However, the whirlpool and the wave didn’t capsize the ship. The ferry managed to keep its balance when soaring along with the wave, then slide down the hill of water like a sled. When the water dropped back down and made a giant splash, the ferry was already far away, floating towards the upper reaches.
Standing at the front of the ferry, grim-faced, Amon held the staff horizontally, as if it had been bearing the weight of the whole ship.
Two of the passengers were warriors. They had taken out their sword and rushed to the fore of the ship, guarding both of Amon’s sides.They were the hired bodyguards of a merchant on board. They had realized that the mage was their only hope against the monster. If the ferry was wrecked, everyone would fall into the river and no one would survive. They couldn’t directly attack the monster who was hiding under the water with their sword, so they chose to stand out to protect Amon’s flank.
Seeing the ferry slipping away from the huge wave and not capsize, the piercing roar grew even louder. Two walls of turbid white water rose again, slapping towards the ferry from left and right. A trunk of a giant dark green snake loomed behind each wall of water. It seemed as if the monster appeared at both sides of the ferry at the same time. It was frightening to imagine how long it was!
Perhaps the snake was severely damaged by the Fire Sea at its tail. It decided to hide in the water and make huge waves with its giant body so as to overturn the ferry. Once the mage fell into the water, his life would be totally under its control.
Amon pushed the staff forward. The water in front of the ferry flattened, wiped by a giant invisible hand. The two walls of water swiftly froze to ice. A frightened boatman lost his balance and fell into the water. Fortunately his fellows handed him a pole in time. He managed to crawl back to the ferry along the pole. But afterwards no one dared stay on that side of the ferry. The boatmen even gave up quanting on that side too. The ship was totally at Amon’s disposal.
Under the frozen waves, the snake writhed again, breaking the ice to pieces. At the same time, Amon pointed the staff ahead, the ferry bounded forward and advanced rapidly, leaving the area, as if it had been pulled by an invisible rope. Amon didn’t want to tangle with an underwater monster in the river. He chose to leave the area as fast as possible. After all, all he wanted to do was to just cross the river.
The ferry floated over the water like an arrow. Amon could do this because he had the experience of navigating the bone boat in the flood. He could use water and air magic to accelerate the ship, but he knew that they would be useless if he used them to attack an underwater monster.
Watching him driving the ferry as if it was a little boat, an experienced mage would even doubt if Amon was a supreme mage. Though what he was performing was no more than advance magic, the fluency and smoothness was incredible. The magic flew out smoothly like a fountain, not to mention that what he was waving appeared to simply be a branch.
In fact, the truth was the opposite. Amon could only pull this kind of magic because he had an amazing staff. Even so, after exerting a series of powerful magics, his exhaustion put him at the edge of a coma. Only the fact that his robust body was at the level of an advanced warrior that allowed him to grit his teeth and hold on standing firmly on the fore.
Fast approaching the bank of the river, the passengers suddenly caught sight of a line on the surface of water to their right. It surpassed the ferry, drawing a large semicircle in front, and a giant snake swam over from beneath the water, blocking their way ahead. Over a hundred feet long, the snake raised its big head. Enormous maw gaping open, seemingly big enough to swallow a cow, the forked tongue swaying, it glared at the ferry ferociously.
An ordinary snake couldn’t roar, but this giant snake managed to bellow loudly with its throat, spreading to hundreds of feet across the river. Below its giant body, the people on the ferry looked small and powerless. Many of them started to scream in desperation.
A surge of apprehension appeared in Amon’s mind too. He knew how powerful this monster was. He had used his full power just to balance the ship and escape its attacks. But the monster overran him and stopped him before he could even get close the bank. It seemed to be fully enraged. Perhaps alone on the ground, he was able to try to fight against it, since even if he failed to counter it, he could always escape. But in the river, he couldn’t see any hope.
All he could do was fight. Amon tried his best to clear his mind, he held the staff steady and stared forward. He was preparing all the strength he had left to give out in one final strike. Crazy’Ole’s three dos and don’t were already cast out from his mind. Faced with such adversity he couldn’t waste time thinking about saving lives and using minimal force, what he worried about was whether or not his power was enough to save his own life.
Beside him, the two warriors’ hands were trembling, desperation appeared on their face. They could also tell that the mage had done all he could and he would probably be no match for the monster.
Among the panicky crying and shouting, Amon suddenly heard Inanna’s voice, “Amon, the scrolls!”
Right! The scrolls! How could I forget them!? Inanna’s words came just in time! Seemingly calm, Amon had actually been nervous the whole time. Since he had no experience in using scrolls, all he had been thinking about was casting magic. The scrolls in his bag had never come into his consideration.
Before Inanna’s voice faded, Amon took out a couple of things and threw them forward. Once again he showed his inexperience when it came to scrolls. No mage would recklessly use scrolls like he did. He had thrown all five scrolls at once! What he could do then was to activate them one by one. In the end, he only succeeded in activating three of them.
The magic power needed was all stored in the scroll intrinsically, the user of the scroll didn’t need to use his own power to perform the magic. What he needed to do was to connect his own magic power with the scroll’s and induce the power inside to function. It demanded the user to control his own magic power properly and accurately. The three scrolls Amon activated were all selected pieces of advanced magic scrolls. It was his limit to activate them in such a short time. He failed to connect the two last ones because the first three ones already functioned.
The magic contained in the first scroll was called the [Lock]. No explosion or fire appeared. But the giant snake was confined in a space over the water. No matter how strongly it struggled, it couldn’t come out of the area. Before it could find a way out, the magic in the other two scrolls also functioned.
The magic in the second one was not an attacking magic either. It was a magic called the [Wall of Chaos]. The light and space around the giant snake was immediately thrown into chaos. It felt as if it was sent to a strange place. It could no longer see the river, the bank or the ferry. In fact, the snake was still in the same place, but it was cut off from the outside world’s information.
The magic in the first two scrolls were auxiliary magics. They didn’t cause damage to the target. But they were still useful when acting in concert with other magics.
Among the eight scrolls that Amon picked up, five were labeled and three others were found beside Nero’s staff. Actually all eight were made by Nero. The five labelled scrolls were what he had prepared for the other mages. These scrolls might have little effect when fighting against someone as strong as Bair, but they were powerful enough for this monster.
The Lock and the Wall of Chaos were standard scrolls. The technique was open to all mages so as to provide as military supply. But the third scroll Amon activated was Nero’s own invention. It was called the [Song of Ice and Fire].
Locked in the space over the river, the giant snake suddenly found itself surrounded by blue ice which arose from the water. This magic was even more powerful when performed over water.
If activated in a desert, this magic might be far less effective. That was a lesson for every new magic practitioner: the power and potency of magic depended on where you were.
With the help of the Lock, the ice formed a shell more solid than it was designed to be. However, this shell of ice didn’t touch the giant snake, merely encasing it. Then a deep blue flame arose inside the shell. The giant snake were immediately covered with fire. All of the flames were drilling into the snake’s body. The ice shell remained untouched by the fire.
The snake had nowhere to hide. Howling in pain, it twisted its body crazily. The net of fire soon penetrated into the body of the snake, leaving a faint light on the surface.
The twisting snake lashed out at the ice shell fiercely, cracking the ice. But then the ice shell shattered and collapsed inwards as well. In next to no time, the giant snake was tightly wrapped by a thick layer of ice.
Black smoke came out from every part of the giant body of the snake. Squeezed between extreme heat and extreme frostiness, a series of cracks took place all over the body. It was the explosion caused by the suddenly melt then vaporized ice.
The colossal ice ball exploded into countless pieces, along with the giant monster. Burnt flesh and bone was spread everywhere.
The giant snake was killed!
Amon felt like he was about to faint, it took some effort for him to find his balance. Shocked, he sucked in a breath through his teeth when he realized what had just happened. The Song of Ice and Fire was so powerful that, if he had been accidentally included in its range, he wouldn’t have had a chance to survive.
Though he hadn’t met and would never be able to meet him, he had to admit that this Nero indeed deserved to be called the master scroll maker. In this scroll were sealed two advanced magic which were of common types but had great power: the [Freeze] and the Fire Sea. Amon had just performed both of them when defending the first wave of attack from the monster. But Nero’s scroll activated these two magic in a more deliberate way. The Fire Sea was triggered right after the Freeze, inside the ice shell, compressed to the extreme, then exploded along with the ice. The drastic difference and sharp variation in temperature had eventually caused unimaginable damage to the enemy trapped inside. As an advanced magic scroll, it was no less powerful than quite a lot of supreme magic scrolls.
The frightening, seemingly invincible giant snake perished. Some of its parts were still floating in the river. Amon could even see the two scrolls that he had failed to activate floating in the river too. He waved his staff. A gust of wind picked up the scrolls and blew them into his hand. Amon simply put them back into his bag.
Amon seemed to have slayed the monster neat and clean, but behind the emotionless face, he was still far from calming down. Surprised and excited, he even felt regret when thinking back on what he had just done. Being the first time to use scrolls in a fight, he had obviously wasted at least one scroll. If he wanted to kill the monster, it sufficed to use the Lock and the Song of Ice and Fire. If he wanted to escape it and flee to the bank, he could just have used the Lock and the Wall of Chaos. It would have gained him enough time.
Either way, he had consumed a precious scroll for nothing. If he had more magic power left, he might have even activated all the five scrolls, causing more waste. But the feeling of regret went away quickly. There was no time for him to do the calculation at the moment. After all, he was doing his best to save his own life and the lives of the people on the ferry. Scrolls meant nothing to a dead man. It was just that next time he should do it with more calm, not throwing all of them at one time.
Peace came to the Euphrate River once again. Five of the six quanting poles were lost, so Amon still had to navigate the ferry. The ship approached the bank smoothly, going through the turbid water, pushing away small pieces of ice and scales.
Amon’s eyes ranged over the quiet surface of water in front of him, and an unusual object caught his attention. He flicked the staff, and a long strip was summoned from the water. It was an about seven feet long, semi-transparent golden string. Landing into his palm, it coiled to a little ball. Twiddling this stuff, Amon found it pliable yet incredibly tough. It seemed to be a part of the giant snake. Most of the monster’s body had turned to ash under the power of the Song of Ice and Fire, but this small part survived. It must be a kind of distinctive material.
Putting it into his bag, Amon suddenly realized that the ferry had been tranquil ever since the end of the heart-quaking fight. Confused, he looked back and found that almost everybody in the cabin was prostrating towards him. Even the two warriors beside him dropped their swords when he looked back and kneeled towards him. Inanna was the only one beside Amon who was still standing.
There was also a stink left in the cabin. Some of the passengers had wet their pants in the great panic.
“Why are you doing this? You don’t have to. It’s all over. Please get up. Let’s see if anybody’s hurt.” Amon leaned on the staff and spoke to them. He could hear a slight tinge of tiredness and weakness in his voice.
As a reaction to his words, the crowd started to shout, “Thank you! Great mage!” “Thank you for displaying your magic power!” “Thank you for saving us!” “Thank God Marduc the great!” “Thank god and thank you mage!” The ecstasy of survival turned into all forms of praises. Many passengers started to shed tears of excitement.
The boat owner went to Amon and kneeled to him again,
“Please forgive my negligence, esteemed mage! I failed to observe a dear lord on my ferry… But how come you travel in disguise?”