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“Curtis...”

“Where’s the real Ellis.”

“...”

‘Why is it so hard to decide? Maybe it’s those sparkling eyes, low eyebrow, curled lips. Exactly like Ellis... but different. Who is she?’

“Forget it,” Curtis walked off, taking a few steps..

“Curtis!” Tears started condensing in her eyes.

He halted. The light orbs surrounding them were bright, but the atmosphere turned rather sullen.

No, this was something else. But Curtis couldn’t understand.

“Don’t forget—“ A tear dripped from her chin. “—me. Please.”

Dozens of pseudopodia came in from all directions. Green-mustard gas sublimated into the air.

A wood piece snapped in the distance, causing Curtis to regain his senses.

Then a thought surfaced. It was an unusual one considering the circumstances.

‘Save mana.‘

His spellbook exploded open. Blue and gold light fused into one. White symbols showered him. A lithograph appeared beneath him, frost swirled from the centre of the motif.

A large spell. Contrary to what he had told himself.

‘Save.. mana?’

{Absolute Zero Field}

Another two mana crystals on his necklace went dim.

With Curtis at the centre of the shockwave, the pseudopodia projectiles blew up into shards. The weird mustard gas disappeared. Everything around the radius of 10 meters turned into ice. If it weren’t for Curtis' pity and doubt, ’that‘ Ellis would have also broken along with the rest.

‘Ellis’ stared at the situation dumbfounded.

Surrounding trees morphed into extravagant white pillars; leaves dropped to the ground, turning into snow. Massive ice crystals surrounded the place; purple crystallite glistening from within.

“Where’s the core.”

“Yo..you’re going for the core?” ‘Ellis’ startled.

“Where is it?!” Curtis felt the reaction of {Soul String} suddenly turn cold. He should really stop wasting time here.

“You’re actually going to leave me?”

“Stop it,” Curtis clenched his fist, he didn't know why.

“Curtis, stop! It’s pointless! It's not like I can reach you even if I wanted to!” her voice tapered off as she spoke. Permafrost patches could be seen covering some parts of her body.

Curtis twitched.

His hesitation and stalling..

“It’s hard to believe, isn't it.” Her face was turning pale with a weary voice.

“You can’t be the real one,” Curtis muttered in disbelief.

“Hahaha...” she laughed bitterly. “If you want to know where the core is, it’s right here”, she pointed at her chest. A fist-sized pulsing bump was seen underneath her skin, just beside where she pointed it was her alluring, amorous cleavage.

“And your soul?”

“It’s at a faraway place.”

“That settles it. I’ll shatter that core and come find you,” Curtis didn't know what he was saying, the words just flowed out his mouth.

“How? You’ve already tried for years!

‘Years?’

Curtis opened his clenched fist.

“Come back.. come back..” Ellis pleaded.

Something inside him snapped.

“Curtis..”

“I’m sorry,” another phrase entered his head, “Please wait for me.”

{Fire}

“What are you doing!? Wait, no! Please!“

Curtis had made a choice. He wanted to stop hearing those words, that voice.

A deep throbbing pain erupted in the chasms of his heavy heart. Flames swirled around her, condensing bright and brighter. Not another sound was let out when her entire body disappeared before him. The floor became ash, the snow wasn’t even able to prevent the scorch mark. A few mellow coloured particles sank down from the air— the broken core.

‘This was for the best. Wasn’t it?’

“I miss you,” a serene voice sounded inside his head in a whisper. Before the world turned deathly silent.

Curtis felt his stomach churned, pain rushed through his head.

A part of him wanted to know why he was so mad, the other part— he felt something shatter.

Just when he thought he may have made a wrong choice, Curtis felt a tug from the {Soul String}, growing colder.

Ellis.

She was safe.

While the pain continued to rack his brain, Curtis came in front of a capsule. A cocoon half-way inside the soil.

Curtis rubbed the frost covering the surface away with his hands. Underneath the ice wasn’t the aforementioned transparent membrane where one could look through to see the victim trapped inside. It was a greenish-brown, totally opaque.

The {Soul String} said that Ellis was here, specifically.

Splash.

A liquid that felt as cold as ice flowed out. It wasn’t sticky, eliciting a sweet smell. Curtis’ clothes were drenched in the liquid that came spurting out.

And inside the cocoon was indeed Ellis. She still had her pink coat on, her blue adventurer dress worn underneath.

Her face was pale with her breathing slow. Some of her loose disorderly hair stuck to her cheeks.

Curtis let out an exhale. If Ellis was fine, then why was there this unresolved feeling still mingling inside his heart?

|

|

Curtis brought Ellis back to camp. Relighting the campfire to warm her and using water magic to dry her clothes, Curtis laid Ellis on the ground.

Looking at her sleeping face, Curtis thought she was rather cute despite having come so close to death.

‘Everything would be fine so long as she remains like that-- right?’

Curtis felt a little sentimental. He took out the red crystal from his pocket to drive his attention elsewhere.

‘I-I still don’t understand what happened.’

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dotturndot

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