8 No Way Back!

A young man who had just turned eighteen walked on empty roads, advancing towards his town. As carriages went past him, people gave him weird gazes as he was completely topless, appearing like a beggar.

There was a small strip of cloth which was wrapped on his right hand, hiding the black mark of awakening. A beautiful ring graced his finger.

After two hours of restless walking, Gabriel finally reached the entrance of the town. He could see only a rare few people in the streets. Most of them had already gone back home by now.

Gabriel avoided the path which went through the church entrance and took a separate path. He wasn't sure if the Head Priest had left already or not. He didn't want to meet him by accident at the moment.

Along the way, he stopped a middle-aged man and asked him if the Head Priest was gone.

The middle-aged man who was fawning over him respectfully until yesterday looked at Gabriel with complete contempt now. Gabriel was already banished from the Church of Light and the academy, and this news had spread through the entire town. Almost everyone had lost their respect for him.

His present was destroyed, and now he had no future either. The man didn't feel the need to be respectful anymore. No matter how talented Gabriel was, his future was going to be tainted now.

"You are too late. The High Priest left a few hours ago. And he also banished you from the Church of Light for you blowing him off. You've also been banished from the Academy of Elements. Now you're nothing." The man lazily stated before he left. He didn't want to talk to the kid more than he had to.

"He banished me from the Church of Light?" Gabriel repeated, letting out a deep sigh. He gazed at his black ring. "Not as if I could've joined the Church of Light if he hadn't. But being banned from the academy does hurt. I thought I could've joined it without being caught."

He was really disappointed with what he heard. However, overall, he was somewhat relieved. He believed there was only one person in the town who could find his secret here, and that man had gone. He could relax at home for a little while as he tried to come up with a plan for his future.

As for Hawrin and Jarvin, he hadn't forgotten them either. He just didn't have the strength to do anything now as he had been walking since morning. For now, he needed some rest and something to eat. He hadn't eaten anything all day. He went straight home.

Reaching the entrance of his house, Gabriel was just about to knock on the door when a shocked voice came from the back.

"Gabriel! There you are! Where had you gone?! And why are you topless?"

Gabriel could recognize that voice even in his dreams. This voice was his light in the darkness. It was the voice of Maya.

Gabriel looked back. "Maya, it's you."

Before the young lady, he was really relaxed. She was the only one he could trust. He ran straight to her and hugged her tightly. "I'm so glad it's you. Open the door right now. I need to get inside."

"What happened? You idiot, so what if you were nervous about the selection? Did you really need to run away and hide? You've been banned by the High Priest of Light now. Don't worry though; I think you can still talk to him and ask for forgiveness. Just come up with a nice excuse. Don't worry about the future. Things aren't that bad yet." Maya patted the head of Gabriel as she hugged him back.

"That's not what I'm worried about. I don't care about the Church of Light anymore. My life... It's in shambles. If someone finds out what had happened, I'll be killed without a chance to explain. Let's get inside the house. I'll tell you everything." Gabriel held the hand of Maya and started pulling her toward the house.

"What are you talking about? Why will you be killed? Who will kill you? They'll have to go through me first." Maya tried to calm Gabriel, knowing he was really distressed.

"Don't worry; I won't let anything happen to you. You can tell me everything. We can find a solution together. Tell me what happened. I'm here for you," Maya let out, extremely concerned for Gabriel. What was he talking about? What could have happened to him that made him say such things?

He was her friend, and she didn't want him to be hurt. "Did you have a fight with someone? You made enemies? Tell me; I'll go talk to them."

"I didn't make anyone my enemy. Instead, the entire world became my enemy without me doing anything." Gabriel freed Maya and took a few steps back.

He looked at his surroundings to make sure no one was there before he started unwrapping his right hand, taking a deep breath. If he could tell this secret to anyone, it was the girl before him who had been with him through thick and thin.

There was only one person he could trust in the entire world... His childhood friend Maya who was no less than family to him.

After taking off the strip of cloth, Gabriel raised his hand to reveal the black mark of Darkness on the back of his hand. "This is why the world will kill me. It's not what I wanted, but it happened. I need to hide myself for a little. I need rest. Moreover, I can't go before the Church of Light unless I have a death wish. Help me hide... I promise I'll find a solution soon."

"This..." As soon as Maya saw the black mark, she was shocked out of her core. Her eyes widened as she took a few steps back from Gabriel. Her face went pale as her heart skipped a beat.

"Sign of the Devil! You've been tainted!" She yelled at the top of her lungs!

"Shhhh! Don't scream, you idiot! On the inside, I'm still the same me. It's just the mark of Dark Element. I can't go before the Church of Light because of this. They will imprison and kill me. You know I'm not a Devil. I'm Gabriel! We grew up together!" Gabriel expressed. "Let's go inside the house! I'll tell you everything!"

"You've been tainted! Your soul... You're not pure anymore! So that's why you ran from the Head Priest!" Maya appeared as if she was going crazy at the sight of the sign.

"Maya! Come to your senses!" Gabriel yelled in return. "Listen to what I'm saying! The Mark of Element doesn't matter! I'm still the same old me! Let's go inside. We can talk there. I don't want anyone else to find out. I only told you because I trust you. Just please, for god's sake, listen to me!"

Gabriel returned to the door and knocked on it. He didn't want to talk here. This place was too risky.

He glanced back at Maya. "Come inside. We'll talk there. I'll explain everything. I'll explain what happened. I'm sure you'll understand."

However, as soon as he turned, he noticed something which made his lips part slightly.

Maya had called out her staff. There were tears in her eyes, but she looked determined.

"Maya! Listen! Calm down! I'm Gabriel! You can't hurt me! Stop scaring me! Come inside and listen to me, for god's sake!" Gabriel roared, having a bad feeling about this.

He had thought that Maya would side with him, no matter what. She was his family. She knew him the best, and she knew what kind of a person he was. She should've known he was still the same. That's why he had told her. He couldn't understand why she was acting so crazy.

"I'm begging you; please come inside. Keep the staff back. I'm not an enemy!" He continued. "Don't do it..."

Maya had a tear-stained face, but she didn't send the staff back. "You've turned to darkness... I have to do this! I have no choice! It's for the world!"

Maya kept repeating the same thing again and again. She raised her staff. The small blue crystal in the staff started shining brightly.

"Water Spear!" she chanted.

A spear made purely of water appeared before her. As soon as she waved her hand, the spear shot straight toward Gabriel.

Gabriel would've usually jumped out of the way to avoid the spear, but he was standing right before the door, and he heard the sound of the door opening. He knew if he moved, someone from Maya's family was going to be impaled! He couldn't let it happen.

Moreover, what he was trying to avoid all along happened, and more and more people started arriving, wondering what the commotion was about. Initially, they couldn't understand why Maya was attacking Gabriel. They wondered if the two friends had a fight.

The water Spear shot toward Gabriel, aiming straight at his heart. Maya had grown up hearing the stories of Dark Mages and how they killed millions of people for strength.

She knew the sign of awakening the dark element meant the soul of a person was corrupted, and he was going to walk the dark path of blood! She didn't want Gabriel to take that direction and taint his soul further!

Even though he was like her family, she had made a choice. The choice for her was between the life of Gabriel and the life of millions of people that he could potentially kill if she let him live. If she let Gabriel live, the burden of all those lost lives was going to be on her soul. She had completely lost her senses.

Having no choice, Gabriel realized he couldn't dodge. But he also couldn't let himself be killed. He had to protect himself and the people behind him.

"Come to me!"

He yelled out loud as he raised his right hand. His ring transformed, changing back to the grimoire. The second page of the grimoire opened up, showing the first spell in the book.

"Shield on Undead!" Gabriel roared with all his might. It was the first time he was using a spell, and he knew if it didn't work, he was going to be dead, stabbed by his crush.

As soon as he chanted the spell, something happened... The sky suddenly turned dark. Thousands of dark spirits came out of the Forbidden Book of Necromancy, cackling like crazy. All the spirits started circling before Gabriel, making a shield!

The shield made of evil spirits... It had finally appeared... Everyone in the village saw it, including the Town Priest of the Church of Light, who had just arrived...

There was no way back for Gabriel now!

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