This is an excerpt from my Nanowrimo 2021 project, a contemporary fantasy with a side of romance. In a nutshell it’s Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire.
The conceit is this is a society where people make transactions in the form of giving literal blood, sweat, and tears to two elemental gods in exchange for earth- and water-based magic to fight with. The main character, Kry, is a bad-tempered young man who failed to live up to the expectations of his ice user parents and went to the opposite extreme of utilizing lava instead. The context to this scene is he’s a mentor to a younger earth user, Terro, who failed to get the magic to work in a fight with him.
Warning for self-harm and some general violence.
Kry slams his fist into Terro’s gut. He’s knocked flat on his back in a matter of moments by Kry’s sheer size and strength. He steps on the center of Terro’s chest, careful not to put all or even most of his weight on him. The nonnies won’t like it if he crushes in the ribs of a user freshly admitted to the islands.
Terro is at that stage of teenagehood where he’s all arms and legs. Makes Kry feel ancient at the ripe old age of twenty.
“You didn’t even use magic,” Terro gasps out.
“Didn’t have to. I’m not bothering the goddess for that crap.” Kry sneers. “That was embarrassing.”
“Yeah, right.” Terro struggles to get out from under him, kicking and thrashing, clawing at his ankle. “You’re just being lazy.”
“Maybe.” He shrugs. “You’re not worth it.”
“That’s funny for someone like you to say.”
Kry narrows his eyes, putting more pressure on his sternum. “Oh?”
Terro gasps, but doesn’t back off. “You’re a reject who had to go crawling to the goddess. I can feel how she pities you.”
“Is that what you think?”
“It’s what everyone thinks.”
Kry scoffs. He bites down on his forearm, careful to avoid preexisting scar tissue and the prominent veins. His teeth, sharpened for just this purpose, cleave through the skin. The goddess laps it up, hungry as always. Kry breathes out, savoring the familiar sensation of his hand being engulfed in lava. It’s white-hot today, practically liquid glass, oozing at a rapid rate to form thick drops of heat.
He hangs his hand over Terro’s face, prompting a shout of panic. If the goddess is feeling compassionate, she’ll shield him, if not, well—
“This is what you wanted, isn’t it?” Kry hisses.
Terro yelps, twisting to try to escape the heat. “I’m sorry! I’m sorry, please don’t—”
Kry’s neck prickles. He glances up to see the only other mentor on this rock of an island. Salina. She watches him with a water bottle raised to her lips.
He steps off of Terro and pulls his hand to his side, suddenly ashamed. Some of the lava dribbles down to the sand, but most of it starts to cool around his clenched fingers.
Salina stares at him a moment longer from her place close to the coast. Her dark hair is pulled up in a high ponytail that sways from side to side as she turns away.
In the months since he’s been appointed, she’s drifted around like a ghost clad in workout gear, never really approaching him after their initial introduction. She’s the opposite of him in every way: a water user, average height, lean. Kry can only imagine what she thought when saw him; a mountain of fat and muscle, the Glaser family reject.
Terro groans, then sits up and starts brushing the sand off his back and arms. “You two ever going to do anything or just make eyes at each other forever?”
Kry kicks Terro flat on his back again.
When he recovers his breath enough to speak, he chokes out, “It was just a question!”
“Go home. The ferry’ll be here in a few minutes.”
“I know that,” Terro says, always wanting the last word.
“Then go.” Kry kicks a bit of sand at him for emphasis.
“Afraid I’ll make you look worse in front of—“
Terro scrambles to his feet. “Okay, okay, I’m going.”