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This is my piece of writing for Minnichi's writing contest.
My original character, Shom, and Tarrlok will be fighting today.
The sunlight filtered through the leafy canopy, leaving dappled spots on the forest floor as a young man with long black hair tied in a ponytail and donned in green clothes trotted through the undergrowth.
His name was Shom, and he was an earthbender.
It was a cool evening, just a few miles away from his village, Taoe. The town was a small town, but peaceful and beautiful. Dozens of elegant buildings stood stably and proudly, cobble roads were twisting canals inside the walls.
To the north, east, and west, mountains sheltered the village, and south was a huge expanse of trees. Shom loved strolling through the leafy land when his busy life permitted. With just him and his thoughts and his bending, it was a peaceful reverie from a hectic life.
The day was one of those days were Shom had little to do, which gave him the perfect opportunity to escape into his wonderful woods. He walked over a babbling brook and under a tepee of fallen trees. The natural beauty of the forest was one of Shom's favorite thing in the whole world.
After nearly an hour of walking, Shom reached a promontory protruding high above a sea of green. The cliff was jutting out of a foothill to the mountains, hanging precariously above the rippling waves of a multi-green colored ocean. It was beautiful. It was the true image or serenity.
Beyond the sea, on the brown shores, stood Taoe. A small castle was standing in the center of the town, the home of the mayor of Taoe.
As Shom looked over the valley and hovered small rocks over his open palm, he noticed a slight disturbance in a clearing half way between him and his town. Instantly, Shom leaped to his feet. With his sharp eyes, he peared at the clearing. A stranger garbed in strange blue clothes was walking towards the town, and his fingers were covered in shards of ice.
Realization hit Shom like a boulder in the face. This man was a waterbender, and he was coming to attack Taoe. And how easy would it be for him, considering the fact a waterfall tumbled down just a few steps away from the outer wall.
Several knives were dangling from the man's belt, probably backup if his bending failed him. Shom's heart pounded in fear and anxiety as he watched this waterbender stride calmly towards his village. He realized that his family and friends could be in potential danger. This man seemed extremely powerful, a match for a dozen earthbenders. Shom had no doubt that he could wreak havoc upon Taoe, but Shom wasn't about to let that happen.
Summoning all his courage, Shom stepped back from the precipice and then bounded forward, leaping forward.
For several seconds, he fell through the air. Then, acting quickly, Shom twirled his arms and bended up a huge pillar of earth, before softening the top into mud almost as thin as water. To break his fall before he slammed into a pool of mud that felt as hard as a stone wall, he threw a large rock into the pool. A split second later, he splashed into the slush.
Shom shot up from the sticky mud, gasping for breath. His right leg pained him a little bit, but the impact could have been much worse. He quickly crawled out of the pit and stomped on the pillar, sending it back to the ground.
Ten feet from the forest floor, Shom leapt off of the collapsing pillar and hit the ground at a run. He nimbly dodged between the trees and bushes, leaping over fallen logs and ducking under low hanging branches.
However, he couldn't evade everything. Branches whipped at his face, leaving several small scratches on his tanned face. Shom ignored the pain and continued to dart through the woods.
For about a square mile, the thick forest turned into sparse pine trees, and Shom saw the waterbender disappear from the pines and into the deciduous trees. His eyes narrowed and he sprinted after the waterbender.
For nearly ten minutes, Shom chased after him before he was only about one hundred feet away from the stranger. Quietly, he skirted around the intruder and towards a clearing. Then he scrambled up a tree like a monkey squirrel. Silent as a shadow, he perched himself in the boughs, waiting for the stranger to wander by.
Finally, the man in blue calmly walked out of the trees, placid as someone on an evening stroll. Well, he appeared to be on a stroll. But when one looked past the normality, they would see the claws of ice on his fingers and the knives dangling from his belt.
As the man hopped over a mossy log and stepped over a bramble patch, Shom leapt fifteen feet from the tree and landed on the ground, shaking the earth. He stood up and clapped his hands once.
The man did not seem shocked at all; he just looked at Shom and stumbled a bit as the ground beneath him rumbled. Quickly, he recovered and then smiled.
Shom did not return the smile. Instead, he frowned and glared at the waterbender. "Who are you?" he asked hostily, "and what do you want?"
He seemed a bit shocked by the ferocity of this verbal attack. "Why the hostility, young man? I'm only passing through?" he replied in a soft, charismatic voice.
Shom's eyes flashed in anger. "The knives, the ice claws. . . " he muttered, the violence still hinting in his voice.
Suddenly, the man gave off a deep, imposing laugh. He closed his eyes, opened his mouth, and leaned back while holding his stomach. The setting sun glinted on his white teeth for just a moment, before he calmed himself and looked back at Shom. "These are dangerous times, m'boy! Of course I am carrying weapons around!"
Narrowing his eyes, Shom crossed his arms. "Then explain to me why you have been walking around with ice claws for about an hour," he growled tersely.
The man made no reaction for a moment. He opened his mouth, paused for a second, and then closed it. Shom smiled smugly. The traveler was tongue-tied--which meant he was hiding something.
Shom jumped towards the man and prepared to throw some earth at him. He moved his hands in outward and leapt forward. . . but before he hit the ground, the earthbender lost all control of his body.
His eyes widened with shock as he was overcome with pain. Using most of his energy, he looked at the man he was just about to attack. Fear shot through Shom's body when he saw the grimace and anger on the man's contorted face. The waterbender had his hands protruding from his body, his arms parallel to each other. On the top arm, his hand was turned upwards, with the palm facing Shom. The bottom hand was the same, except upside down.
The man violently threw his arms to the right. Shom flew in through the air and slammed into a tree, bruising his right shoulder. Shom then rose back in the air, controlled by Tarrlok's monstrous style of bending.
Suddenly the sense of being a puppet vanished and Shom dropped to the ground, panting with exhaustion. His hair fell about his face in disorganized tangles and he had one arm on the ground to give him support.
Shom tilted his head towards the stranger and cursed at him. "Who are you?" he asked, hopelessness and sadness hinting in his voice.
The man laughed again and smiled wickedly. "My name is Tarrlok," he replied. Then he flashed his hand upward. Water flew out of a nearby stream and slammed into Shom's chest. The sheer force shot him into the air, but Tarrlok twirled his arms with extreme dexterity and formed the water around Shom's body. The water turned to solid ice, pinning Shom to the wood about three feet from the ground.
Laughing, Tarrlok strutted away calming, his paranoid chuckles echoing through the forest.
Shom watched with helpless eyes as his new enemy walked towards his village. His family, his friend, and the citizens of Taoe all flashed through his mind as he realized this man could take that away from him in an instant.
He roared in anger, "NOOOOOO!!!" before passing out from pain and exhaustion.
The world seemed to tilt and turn as Shom opened his eyes. Everything was blurry and out of focus. It took him several seconds before he could finally see straight. Jumbled images and confused thoughts tumbled through the waterfall that was his mind. It took him many more moments before he began to think straight and remember what had occurred.
The battle flashed through his mind and then he realized that Taoe was in danger! He screamed again and began to struggle against the ice holding him back, feeling cramped and uncomfortable with his head the only free part of his body.
Shom wriggled back and forth and managed to break his shoulders out of the frozen water. He sighed in relief and then worked more until his arms were out. He quickly broke off the ice down to his knees. By the time he had gotten that far, he fell forward because of the lack of support. Shom landed flat on his face and pain wrenched up his nose.
Shom sat up and rubbed his nose, tears leaking out of his eye from the impact. He shook his head and got over it, standing up. Shom took a step forward, but his legs were wobbly and he crumpled to the ground.
"Agh!" groaned Shom. "Come on, legs, work!" He pushed himself off the ground and then began to stagger forward. He made it out of the clearing before he collapsed on the moss beside a large oak tree.
For five minutes, Shom staggered around trying to walk before his legs started to strengthen. He began to hobble towards Taoe, and then he began an awkward fast-walk, and then onto a jog. Soon, he was sprinting through the woods.
When Shom saw a large rock that marked he was about a quarter mile away from his town, he realized it was about time to speed his way to the town. He jumped in the air and pounded on the ground when he landed. A massive pillar of earth shot up from the ground and smashed through the trees. Shom bended a rock up to his hands as the pillar pushed him off of the ground until he was soaring high above the valley. The town was nearly directly beneath him, and he could see the waterbender, Tarrlok, attacking Taoe. Already the front wall was smashed and several bodies lay on the ground.
Shom began to plummet to the earth hundreds of feet below. A few moments later, when he was near the ground and twenty feet behind Tarrlok, he braced himself for the impact.
The earthbender landed, packing such a punch that a miniature earthquake shook the ground for forty or fifty feet in all directions. The earth rippled as if a rock was dropped into a pond. Tarrlok shook and then fell to the ground, unaware of what had knocked him over.
Enraged, Shom charged at the waterbender, his hands shredding the earth behind him. His anger poured out of his body and into his bending. The effects were magnificent, as the earth behind Shom was being ripped apart, causing fissures and holes in the center of the town without damaging a single building.
Tarrlok heard Shom rushing towards him and reacted swiftly, swifter and much more ferocious than the earthbender had expected. A large puddle of water lay beside the intruder and he used it to his advantage.
Tarrlok rolled from his facedown position and flung his arms towards Shom, who was only about ten feet away. The water in the puddle followed his movements and flew up into the air. A huge blast of the liquid hit Shom square in the chest. The seventeen year old screamed in pain as he was thrown backward.
He hit the ground hard and grunted as his back banged against the packed soil. By the time he had a chance to react, Tarrlok was already sprinting towards him with water streaming behind him. At the last second, Shom pounded the earth beside him and had it propel him over his assailant.
Tarrlok, frustrated, spun around with his teeth bared in an angry snarl. Shom pulled up a wall of earth the height of his waist and shot small pebbles at the waterbender in rapid succession, a hailstorm of tan hail pelleting the intruder.
Tarrlok howled in pain but used his water to block the rocks. Then he shot three foot-long icicles at Shom. He dodged the first two, but the third one glanced off his shoulder.
With a silent cry, Shom backed away from his opponent and backed towards the city. His shoulder felt extremely pained and there would be a major bruise there. Then he heard something whistling through the air behind him. Instinctively, he ducked and another icy dagger zoomed over his head.
Shom dug his feet into the ground and shifted the dirt around him so he faced Tarrlok. The man charged towards Shom, his forearms covered in ice. Shom took one foot out of the ground and stepped to the side while thrusting his arm forward. The ground in front of Tarrlok rumbled and split open about seven inches. The waterbender stumbled to the side and veered away from Shom.
Leaping out of his stance, Shom landed next to Tarrlok. Much to his distress, he hit the ground too hard and Tarrlok was able to jump up from the shock of the pound. He then proceeded to punching Shom in the stomach and pushing him to the ground.
Shom coughed as the fist rammed into his abdomen and grunted loudly when he hit the ground. He lay on the ground for a moment, pondering about his awful day. His face was dusty, scratched, and bloody. His hair was lying in a tangled mass atop his head, and his clothes were ripped and brown, not to mention sodden.
Then Shom, summoning the little energy that remained in his body, spun around on the ground the kicked out, sweeping Tarrlok's legs out from under him. The waterbender collapsed to the ground and Shom leaped towards him. He jumped onto Tarrlok and pinned him to the ground, staring him in his dark blue eyes. Shom's startling green eyes were filled with enmity towards this man who had disrupted his peace, disrupted his normal life in Taoe.
Tarrlok summoned his strength and pushed up against Shom, causing Shom to be the one pinned to the ground. However, before Tarrlok could stand back up, the earthbender wrapped his legs around the waterbender's.
Shom grunted and his face was screwed up in pain and concentration. Tarrlok's face resembled his opponent's, for both were vying for the victory.
Finally, Shom managed to tip Tarrlok to the side and then he was back on top. Shom let his arm slip from Tarrlok's chest onto his collarbone, just below the neck. Tarrlok wheeze, struggling to get air in. His freed hand began to claw at Shom's arm. The earthbender winced, but he did not falter.
Shom drew his face so close to Tarrlok's that their noses were almost touching. He spat, "Why did you come here?"
Tarrlok laughed, which threw Shom off guard. Tarrlok seized the moment and used his momentum to roll over. He was now on top of Shom. Then he looked straight into the young boy's eye and replied, "You'll find out soon enough!"
Shom's eyes widened in fear. "What did you do?" he screamed. He thrust upward, sending the man flying off of him.
Tarrlok laughed again, just lying on the ground. Swiftly, he stood up and prepared for battle.
Filled with rage at this usurper, Shom spun in a circle and whipped his arms out so hard and fast it looked painful. He proceeded to raising his arms above his head until a massive slab of earth was hovering ten feet above him.
Tarrlok's demented, evil eyes widened with fear as Shom chucked the earth at him. But right before the rock smashed over him, right before it pulverized the devil's spawn, Tarrlok smiled. It was such a crazy, malicious smile that Shom was deeply perturbed.
The rock crashed over him, sending up a huge cloud of dust. The debris flew everywhere, but it failed to hit Shom. He stood with a stoical look on his face, emotionless.
And then the dust cleared and shock hit Shom like a wave of heat from an oven:Tarrlok was gone. He had vanished. There was nothing there, just the cracked earth in which the rock slab had exploded.
Shom finally accepted his victory that was a defeat and shuffled back towards the broken wall of Taoe. He passed over the rubble and into the town. People began to poke their heads out of their houses, alleys, and he even saw someone coming out of a sewer.
The carnage was everywhere. At least a dozen bodies were scattered about the main street, the bodies of men who had tried to fight back Tarrlok.
"Oh, Shom!" cried an elderly woman. It was Hota, the healer of the village. "You need treatment right now! You are a disaster!"
Shom chuckled a bit; typical Hota to fret over him like that. But before he could respond, people began to ask him questions. "Who was that man?" "Why was he here?" "Is he dead?"
Shom replied, "I cannot answer these questions. He has vanished. I do not know where he is."
The sound of rushing water filled Shom's ears and he spun around in confusion. A wall of water rushed towards Taoe, a huge monster of the life-sustaining liquid.
Shom leaped high in the air and stomped on the ground when he landed. He rose his arms in the air and then stomped again. A wall of earth stretching from one side of Taoe to the other rose from the ground. It emerged about three feet, but Shom's bending faltered under the weight.
He repeated the actions and forced himself to think of Taoe and his family and friends. With immense strain, Shom pulled the wall out of the ground and threw his arms in the air. His face grew red, but he kept the wall standing as the water collided with the earth.
Despite his efforts, Shom could not completely stop the water from getting over the wall. A shower splashed down on the gathered citizens, soaking them head to foot. Once all the water had cascaded, Shom put a final touch onto the bending, allowing the wall to stay and keep the water from flooding the rest of the town.
Shom jumped onto the wall and put his feet into it. Then he pushed off of the wall and he flew up and over the wall. He was not surprised when he saw Tarrlok standing about one hundred yards from the wall of the town, bending a stream of water around him.
Shom screamed out in fury as he descended upon Tarrlok. The waterbender looked up in shock and the water around him dropped to the earth. Shom landed roughly on the ground and snarled at his opponent.
Before Tarrlok could fully process what happened, Shom lashed out an unleashed a fury of rocks upon the man. They almost all struck him, save a few the strayed, and Tarrlok collapsed in pain. He crossed his arm across his face to protect it from further damage.
Shom hesitated for a moment. This man's life is right now in my hands, he thought. What should I do?
Tarrlok sensed the pause and withdrew the hand from his face. "Debating what you should do, aren't you?" he cackled. "Either way, Shom of Taoe, you lose. . ."
His sharp words hit Shom like a brick. Either way, Shom of Taoe, you lose. . . How did he know who Shom was? Why did he know?
A nagging suspicion lingered in Shom's mind. He cried out in grief. The shout turned to anger and he stomped on the ground, drew his arms towards him, and then pushed out. Tarrlok smiled evilly and wickedly while he did so. Then a distraught expression appeared on his face as the earth began to rumble around him. Just before he had a chance to react, the earth shot up from the ground and flung him in the air.
Tarrlok's limp body soared hundreds of feet high and across the valley. His screams, filled with trepidation, echoed around the valley and rung in Shom's ears. When he was about a thousand feet away, the waterbender faded from Shom's eyes.
Shom subsequently turned towards Taoe and sprinted away, causing the earth to boost him up over the wall he had created. He hit the ground with and run and wove his way through the streets, heading towards his home.
It took him about two minutes to travel through the entire town. He rounded the corner of his street and rushed towards his house halfway down.
What Shom saw filled him with sadness. Where his house had stood was now just a heap of debris and rubble. He slowed down as he neared it and then stopped at the threshold. . . or at least where the threshold used to be.
Tears traced their way down Shom's battered face and splashed onto the dirty ground. He fell to his knees, his eyes wavering and his stomach filled with nausea. His eyes darted around until he found the thing he was hoping not to see; two bodies lying just a few feet apart, a woman and a man.
Shom screamed in anguish and sobbed freely. The salty rivers flowed down his cheeks and dampened the ground underneath him. His racks of weeping could be heard throughout the town and people came to see what was making the racket. Shom, however, payed no heed to them. His mind was focused on one thing.
That one thing was what Tarrlok had taken from them.
He had killed them.
He had murdered Shom's parents.
They were gone.
- Shom has a little sister, Ishi, but she was not there at this time
- "Salty Rivers" is a reference to one of Minnichi's chapters
For the collective works of the author, go here.