by Luckie 🍀
Our first contestant.
|One foot in front of the other, Jobiah bravely crossed the line, stepping through the portal and into the Fire.
Stories from other tribesmen were gallant tales of the inner arena. Men gloated of their bravery inside the Fire, surrounded by flames as the Elements watched them fight for honor. In this moment, he learned that those tales served him no purpose.
Instead, he found himself in a small bassinet, wrapped in a blanket.
The instant he stepped through the fire he felt small and insignificant. His weapon had disappeared, and his surroundings were not that of a battleground surrounded by flames, but the inside of a mud hut and himself reverted to a baby, once again.
Secure, he felt as if he was in a different time, one that faintly existed. Smiling down at him were two familiar faces who bore yellow scars on their face, yet he couldn’t pinpoint who they were. He sensed was having déjà vu.
Taking in as much of their features as he could, the faces began to dissolve into a blue mist and the sky above him altered into thick, grey clouds. Sadness came over him as bone-chilling fog consumed the scenery and morphing the landscape, completely.
Waving his right hand in front of his face, he noticed that he was no longer a baby, but now a three-year-old child.
The bassinet and blanket also dissolved into blue mist as his clothing became a tattered loincloth and a poncho, both made of animal fur. Wooly boots were strapped strategically around his feet.
The ground beneath him became translucent blue and flexible as the environmental sounds increasingly came into focus.
Fine lines began to spider out from under him, like glass sustaining too much weight. Faint screams drew his attention from behind.
Spinning around, he spotted the same two faces that had been smiling at him a few seconds ago, now in danger.
Desperately he wanted to walk over to them but something was holding him back. He stood in horror as he watched the two people, yellow scars on their face, huddled together in fear. The sound of breaking glass becoming more strident.
Before his eyes, the two familiar faces fell through the ground, bits of frozen water and ice splashing around them.
Finally released from his paralysis, he was pushed towards them by an invisible force, the thin ice breaking beneath his weight with every stumble.
A dark cloud materialized, surrounding him as he saw the ground reform, the two people banging with balled fists at the ice from underneath. Dropping to his knees, he screamed at them. Begging them not to leave. The cloud around him became thicker, when suddenly a peal of bubbly laughter came into focus, growing increasingly louder.
The two figures under the ice slowly stopped fighting, then disintegrated into a yellow mist, which rose above the ice and dissipated into the Air.
Jobiah had a sudden realization as he watched. A notion that had been lost long ago inside the mind of a child and replaced by madness and the desire for vengeance.
He was so young when it happened, that he had forgotten why he chose to battle the Element of Water, and why he had trained with the Water family in preparation for this challenge.
Bubbly laughter became deafening, as vivid images flashed through his mind; reminding him that his parents had been Scarred by Air and that the Element Water had murdered them by trapping them under ice, right before his very eyes.
He sought vengeance from Water. He refused to battle the Element of Air because he knew that when a member of the tribe died, they were absorbed by the Element whom they battled back when they initially crossed the line and earned their Scar. The thought of battling what was essentially his own parents within the Fire seemed unfair; another reason he chose to battle the Water.
Branches of the dark cloud still engulfing him, he glanced down to see that he was back to his adolescent self with his Elemental Weapon gripped in his right hand.
The Water Weapon was a powerful trident, it’s long handle made of smoothed seashells and iron, atop with razor-sharp tines fashioned from sharks’ teeth, designed specifically for facing off with its corresponding element.
Raising the trident above his head, he brought the forks down mightily into the ice beneath him.
The laughter continued to surround him, now as if it was coming from a thousand different voices. The atmosphere around him exploded into shards of water and ice, placing him in a large arena that was surrounded by fire.
Before his eyes stood the Elements: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. Represented by tall, humanoid silhouettes they were made entirely of their element, eons of previously Scarred tribesmen absorbed within.
Each one smiled sinisterly at him as Jobiah shouted at Water, demanding that they battle in the name of vengeance.
The Element Water, amorphous and made entirely of blue liquid, inched slightly closer, sneering all the while, then disappeared from his vision.
Heavy rain then began to pour down, blinding Jobiah with steam and a wall of water.
The powerful trident sliced through the rain as he slashed blindly, leaving black rips behind, but it wasn’t enough to alleviate the rain. Flames blazed around him, as the rain continued to pelt his juvenile body in thick shrapnel, blurring his vision.
Unable to see, he continued swinging at the rain, slicing thin black tears but making no progress. Panic began to set in, forgetting his training in the heat of the moment, still taken aback by the visual of seeing his parents die right before his eyes for the second time.
The rain began to let up, he had hacked just enough to alleviate the downpour that was bearing down on him. A deafening roar filled his eardrums, out of the corner of his eye to the left, a tidal wave crashed down, pulling him into a cyclone of water and fire.
Water filled the arena, a cove of fire blazing brightly around it. Jobiah was tousled by the wave, unable to gain control of himself, at first.
As the wake settled, he was finally able to use the trident to weigh himself down, sinking to the bottom floor of the arena. Opening his eyes, he immediately caught sight of a shark swimming towards him at full speed.
Hungry, the shark’s mouth was a black gaping hole, full of the same teeth mounted on Jobiah’s trident. Pressing forward, it gained speed and momentum in preparation to make the kill and devour him. Finally, he thrust the trident forward in the fashion of a javelin.
Red blood colored the blue water into a shade of light purple when the trident pierced its belly. A feeling of confidence overcame him. Three more sharks charged at him, he sliced through each one with ease as he gained control of his emotional pain and distorted it into pure rage.
Part of his training had included holding his breath, but the oxygen in his lungs had finally diminished. It was dire that he catch his breath. Using the trident and his strong legs to spring upward, he cut through the water like a bullet towards the surface.
The water had become progressively colder the closer he came. Though, when he got there, he realized that it was frozen over, and his teenage body was too fatigued to fight on.
Above him, a watery version of his former child-self stared down at him as he weakly attempted to pierce the ice with his trident, with no prevail.
The tribe stood quiet around the Fire, the drums and chanting abruptly came to a halt. A huge plume of smoke shot up into the canopy of thick branches and leaves above, tinted a shade of blue.
Everyone, including the tribesman and the contestants, dropped down on one knee, bowing their heads and thrust one clenched fist in the air, continuing the drums and chanting, once again. The first sacrifice had been taken.
Jobiah had crossed the line and was invited to join the Light, now absorbed into the Element of Water.
Written for: "Musicology Anthology"
Momma loves her baby
And daddy loves you too
And the sea may look warm to you babe
And the sky may look blue
Ooh baby blue
If you should go skating
On the thin ice of modern life
Dragging behind you the silent reproach
Of a million tear-stained eyes
Don't be surprised when a crack in the ice
Appears under your feet
You slip out of your depth and out of your mind
With your fear flowing out behind you
As you claw the thin ice