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Chapter 3: The Burning Iceberg

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"Okay, Stephan," Andrew said to me. "Where do you want to go now? Cora and Kora are off limits right now, of course."

"Hmm..." I thought about it for a moment. "How about Aora?"

"Why Aora?" Andrew asked.

"I just thought we'd go in alphabetical order," I replied. Andrew nodded and we headed off.

The closer you got to the town of Aora, the colder you got. Behind the town, you could see an enormous iceberg that somehow made it inland. I looked at Stan, thinking he would be frozen solid from his lack of clothes, but nope, he just kept walking] He gave me a strange look when I looked at him, though.

We knocked on Aora's house and told him about what's happened so far. When I asked him about the gem, he said while looking down,

"Oh, um, someone took it,"

"Who?" Andrew asked him.

"How am I supposed to know?" he said angrily. "But he was very weird looking, wearing a toga and had blue and red hair.

"A toga?" Jennifer turned to Stan. "You and him might get along."

"You tryin' to pick a fight, girlie?" Stan responded.

"Oh," Aora yelped. "He was also wearing these gauntlets. They seemed to be modeled after fire and ice." Andrew was about to ask Aora more questions, but was interrupted when the door flew open.

"Aora! We have a problem!" one of the villagers screamed. We all headed outside and it was snowing. When one of the snowflakes landed on my hand, it felt like it was on fire. I let out a gasp as it hit.

"Burning snow?" I wondered. Jennifer pointed at the tip of the iceberg.

"It seems to be coming from there," I looked at the iceberg then at the town. The town appeared to be steaming.

"Whoever took your Gem must be using it to burn the village with snow," Andrew said. "Come on, everyone." He all took off toward the iceberg. Just climbing the iceberg was hard enough, but we had to deal with the burning snow as well. Looking back at Stan, he seemed to be unaffected by the snow. He must've been through a lot to handle fire. Jennifer on the other hand was constantly sneezing and she had her hands in her pockets to keep them from being burned. It seems she's not use to this temperature.

When we arrived at the top of the iceberg, we found a hole that appeared to be melted inward. We all hopped in out of the burning cold. I looked at everyone and saw we were all red; every exposed part of our body was covered in burn marks. Andrew reached into his bag and pulled out four Medicine Vials. He gave one to each of us and told us to drink up. When I did, I could still see the marks, but they no longer hurt.

"The villain must be deeper in the iceberg," Andrew said. "Let's move on." As we continued deeper in the iceberg, it got colder and colder. Stan was still not shivering, but his burn marks matched his outfit, making him look like an all-red man.

"Is there something on my face, kid?" he asked me when I looked at him. I turned away and walked closer to Andrew. When we reached a point in the iceberg, the floor turned to ice. Jennifer slipped and fell.

"Some warrior you are," I said, laughing.

"Hey, I've never been in a place like this!" Jennifer yelled.

"Quiet!" Andrew whispered. We heard what sounded like drops hitting the ground. Andrew walked further ahead and stopped when he saw a puddle of snow. He stared at it for a bit and then the puddle started shaking. It grew a body, arms, and a head that formed a snowman. Andrew jumped back as the snowman was attacking. Then I saw Stan shoot the snowman with a fireball and the monster melted instantly.

"Was that supposed ta' be a challenge?" he scoffed. He continued forward and we followed. The rest of the iceberg was entirely ice, so Jennifer and I constantly slipped. At one point, she swung her bow as she fell and struck Andrew. He didn't seem to mind, however, and he helped us up as we fell. Moments later, we arrived at a large room with a man in the center, firing ice and fire into the air.

"Are you the one that's causing the burning snow?" I yelled out. He turned toward me and just let out a heat blast from one of his gauntlets, but Stan countered the attack with his own flame. Fire and ice were everywhere as the man flared around, firing them in every direction. Andrew hit each of the ice chunks and dodged the flames as he pressed forward. I ran with him, though a couple of the flames singed my shoulder and arms. Jennifer drew her bow and fired, but a flame hit the arrow causing it to drop. The man dodged both of Andrew and my attacks and shot a few ice shards out. We dodged, but the shards continued forward, hitting Jennifer. In a few seconds, she was frozen solid. Stan rushed inward and swung his axe and fire wand violently. He was hit with flames a couple of times, but they didn't seem to do much. Stan managed to hit the man causing him to fly at the wall. The man was implanted into the ice wall.

"Ha! That's how you take out a boss, kids!" Stan triumphantly yelled. Andrew and I took the man out of the wall. When he came to his senses, he muttered,

"W-where am I?"

"Don't try to trick us, kid," Stan said.

"No really," the man said quietly. "What am I doing here? Who are you?"

"Exitilus must've made him do this," Andrew said.

"Exitilus..." the man said. "The last thing I remember I was talking to a man with that name."

"What did he want?" I asked him.

"Um... He sent many of us to the different towns," the man answered. "I was sent here to cause destruction."

"What's your name?" Andrew asked him.

"Uh..." the man thought for a while. "I...can't remember..."

"Where do you live?"

"...Wa... Kr... Ah, I just can't remember!"

"What's wrong wit ya', kid?" Stan asked.

"I... I was born with memory loss issues, I know that. But my name, where I came from, Exitilus must have made me forget the rest."

"Why don't you use a Gem, Stephan?" Andrew said to me. "Use it to restore his memory."

"Uh, right." I took out a gem and held it to the man. It glowed, so it did something.

"I... remember something. Exitilus called me Freezeflame, but I doubt that's my real name."

"Why don't you go down to Aora?" I said. "He'll figure out what to do with you."

"Y-yeah, thanks," Freezeflame said as he got up. "Um, here. Exitilus gave me this, but I don't have a use for it." He handed me the Gem.

"Thank you," I said. "Let's help him out of here." Andrew and I picked him up.

"Hold on there!" Stan yelled. "What do we do with her?" He tapped Jennifer on her head.

"Take her down with you," Andrew said. "We'll thaw her out in town."

"Aw, I like her like this," Stan joked. "She's much quieter."

"Pick her up," Andrew said sternly. Stan, somewhat reluctantly, lifted Jennifer up over his shoulder and I had the gem take us back to town.

Back in town, Aora decided to let us stay the night. Stan set Jennifer down on Aora's couch as I used the Gem to thaw her out. When she returned to her normal color, she let out a shiver then a sneeze.

"C-cold..." she whimpered. Andrew gave her a blanket. "Did... we win?"

I laughed a bit. "Yeah, Exitilus had him forget most of his memory, though." Jennifer looked over at Freezeflame.

"Sorry for the trouble," he said.

"Heh," Jennifer shrugged. She fell asleep afterwards.

"Let her rest," Andrew said. "Tomorrow we'll head for the town of Dora. I'm sure she'll appreciate the change in climate."

The next day, Jennifer was back up on her feet. Aora offered to take care of Freezeflame for the time being and we headed out.

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