Tropical Ki

Submitted into Contest #83 in response to: Write a fantasy story about water gods or spirits.... view prompt

25 comments

Fantasy Teens & Young Adult Fiction

The men arrive on a large boat, all clumped into a crowd on the surface, hats obscuring sunburned faces and overgrown beards. Binoculars held up against squinting eyes, sight blurred by sweat and the jostling of the sea, they cannot see the petite girl on the horizon.


She waits for them on Elina Beach, the fine sand slipping between her toes and clinging to her ankles. The sun is unforgiving, and a patch of green foliage from the palm trees above basks her in a cooling shade. This is not the first time she has dealt with the visitors. Ma Makia assigned her a few seasons ago too, but there were only a few curious scientists to turn around. The large gang of men on the magnificent ship make her shiver with a sort of excited nervousness. The chaos and lack of uniformity in their movements is fascinating.


The ship stalls a few hundred yards away from the shore, and they drop an anchor. She feels the reverberation of rusted metal on the seafloor, and senses the rippling of the waves from the anchor outwards. Such distasteful material and unnecessary force makes her nose wrinkle. How can they be so ignorant of the Ki of the water, of the disruption they bring?


Thin plastic is brought out from inside the boat, decorated with red and white, and the sweaty men take out tools to manipulate the air and force it inside. She sighs at the sight of them and the consumables they deem necessary. Ma Makia told the children of the world outside the island, of the constant cycle of production, use, and destruction all for greed. 


Just in this moment does she realize the men using their plastic air pockets use the material out of laziness. Their heavy bodies drop clumsily into cheap boat-like things, and using sticks of harder plastic, they push the water back so they can move forward. The girl feels it as one would feel a gentle wind pushing her hair backwards. Insignificant in the grand scheme of the water’s Ki, but irritating in their aggressive way of going about it.


When the men grow close enough to shore that she is sure they can touch the wet sand 4 feet below, she lifts the water underneath their boats just enough to throw them overboard, in tune with the water’s Ki. The nervous chatter she heard between them before turns to cries of protest, followed by accusations towards each other for being the ones who capsized the boat. Nobody seems to comment on the synchronous flipping of all the mini inflatable ships.


That ought to humble them.


The leader of the group arrives on shore first. He is an older man, gray hairs sprinkled in with his dark ones. She can tell he is the leader because of his ridiculous hat, a poofy stained yellow that had been half-submerged during his dip in the water. He holds himself with an ego, his back straight and mouth curved into an incessant frown, as if he cannot allow himself to relax even in a place such as this. She stands and waits for him to talk first.


“Hello, sweetheart,” he says with an unmatched, business-only tone. The pet name is irritating, and it acts as an unfinished narrative of a kind old man. “I need to find your parents, can you help me with that?”


“My name is Briony, what is your business on our island?” Her voice is sharp and clear, filled with neither empathy nor malice.


He raises his eyebrows in surprise, as if he expected her to be dumb or mute. “You speak English well.”


“As English is the only language I know, I should hope I am proficient in it.” She bristles. The scientists were more respectful than this man, and hid any of their judgement. As more of the crew stumbles onshore, they stand and gawk at Briony. Her tamed hair, tightly woven clothing, and clean appearance seems to throw them for a loop. She is more similar to their own children than they care to imagine.


The captain brushes off seaweed from his shirt, lifting his chin up in an unconscious attempt to appear taller. “My apologies.” He clears his throat. “We came here on reports of some unusual abilities?” He phrases it as a question, as if still unsure of what he speaks of.


“What do you want pertaining to these abilities?” The captain looked stunned for a moment at her lack of denial at his whimsical claims.


“Proof.”


“So once you see these abilities, you will leave without further disturbance?” Briony asked, thrilled that the men would be so simple to deal with. The captain shrugged in response.


Briony feels the water nearby, the waves gently crashing against the wet sand. The ripples of fish swimming through. The sea is her and she is the sea, she has aligned her Ki. Raising her hands up to the sky, Briony lifts up water from the beach into a large vertical column.


It takes the men a moment to realize what is happening, but as they turn their faces toward the masterpiece, any semblance of order falls away.


“Bloody hell!” one of them curses loudly, and his partner laughs. “We found it!”


Briony allows the water to fall away, drained by the effort of manipulating its Ki at such a large scale. Her shoulders sag and she struggles for a minute to draw air into her lungs. A heavy hand is set on her shoulder, and looking up in surprise, Briony is face to face with the captain.


“Astounding,” he remarks quietly.


Briony attempts to lift his oppressive hand off her, but he tightens it around her shoulder to the point of pain. “Hey!” She kicks, but he catches her leg and trips her onto the sand.


“What are you doing?” She huffs, and tries to scramble away from him. The captain's crew surrounds her, preventing any attempt to escape.


The captain doesn’t answer her question. “Take her,” he orders his men.


Rough hands lift her off of the sand and she is pulled into a mass of bodies. The smell of salt and sweat stings her nose. In the confusion, she isn't sure which is left, which is right, which is up, and which is down. They pull her every which way, making her feel like a ping pong ball being hit back and forth across a ping pong table. A thick fabric is pulled over her eyes and rope binds her wrists tightly together. It happens so fast she isn’t sure what is going on. 


“Let me go!” Briony cries out, as she thrashes about. The bodies near her don't retreat. Hands grip her more tightly, forcing her to stumble only towards where they wanted her. “Please, I gave you your proof!”


“Silly girl,” one of the men whispers uncomfortably close to her ear, “you are the proof.”


The men retreated as quickly as they came, leaving only faint footprints on the hot sand of Elina beach, and taking only one naive girl.





March 01, 2021 23:29

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

25 comments

Janey Finch
18:38 Mar 04, 2021

The fact that I thought of Moana means you were really great in your descriptions!! And also, I loooooooove the pace the story moves at, how it's not overly descriptive and briefly goes over an event but still includes really great imagery. For example, "The ship stalls a few hundred yards away from the shore, and they drop an anchor. She feels the reverberation of rusted metal on the seafloor, and senses the rippling of the waves from the anchor outwards. Such distasteful material and unnecessary force makes her nose wrinkle. How can they b...

Reply

Natalie Dafoe
19:04 Mar 04, 2021

Thank you :)) I had fun writing her initial impressions of them from a "better-than-thou" perspective XD. And im glad you could form an image in your mind, that was what I was going for.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Rayhan Hidayat
01:59 Mar 02, 2021

Nice ending, but I’d love to see more of a conclusion. Maybe a short line realizing that she may never see Elina Beach again, or realizing that the people she looks down on and hates so much for polluting the water are capable of much more evil than she thought. Idk, just spitballing 😜 Nice work!

Reply

Natalie Dafoe
15:35 Mar 02, 2021

I've added in an alternate conclusion, I would love your feedback on it :) Thanks for your advice! Looking back on it the final sentence made the story feel unfinished.

Reply

Rayhan Hidayat
08:09 Mar 03, 2021

It's better! There's a sense of irreversible permanence to what happened now. But if you wanna spice it up even more, maybe bring back a phrase that was used earlier in the story. Like when Briony thinks "that ought to humble them," maybe have the captain say that when he captures her. or just have a line saying how humbling it is to be outsmarted and overpowered by her kidnappers. It shows a hint of character development that way because she goes from seeing herself as untouchable, someone who can tip a boat over at her will, to realizing h...

Reply

Natalie Dafoe
19:02 Mar 04, 2021

Yes! That would definitely break what somebody else pointed out as a flat character, and give her a learning experience to grow from. Thanks!

Reply

Rayhan Hidayat
04:34 Mar 06, 2021

No worries!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Philip Clayberg
01:42 Mar 02, 2021

This is a really good story. Thank you for writing it. I confess that the ending didn't surprise me, considering the behavior and speech of the men. They got what they came for. Whether she'll eventually be able to escape or not, I don't know. I hope so. Maybe she'll even show the men how absurd and selfish they were before returning to her island. Maybe she'll also learn that not all visitors to her island are to be trusted. Naivete can have negative consequences sometimes. Editing comments: The men arrived on a large boat [Eithe...

Reply

Natalie Dafoe
15:34 Mar 02, 2021

First of all, a huge thank you for taking the time to read over this so thoroughly. Your revisions and grammar fixes are very much appreciated, and I've edited most of them in. I consider it a win that you were able to predict / expected the men's actions, as I've been trying to work on more foreshadowing and less out-of-nowhere plot twists. There is definitely a lot of places to work off of if I were to make a part 2. Thanks again!

Reply

Philip Clayberg
16:48 Mar 02, 2021

I confess that I went to check your stories when I saw that you'd read one of mine (I didn't even know you were on this website before then). You're very welcome. I try to help with my suggestions and (of course) they're optional suggestions. If they help, great. If they don't, that's okay. I'm always grateful when other writers on this website give me editing comments about my stories (though they don't usually look like my editing comments do). Because they'll spot things that I somehow missed and now, thanks to them, I can go back a...

Reply

Natalie Dafoe
19:01 Mar 04, 2021

Thanks! I could definitely use some of these ideas, especially if I end up extending this story into another one :)

Reply

Philip Clayberg
23:12 Mar 04, 2021

You're welcome. All yours. I was brainstorming so I'm not sure if any of the ideas will bear fruit or not. I'm hopeful that they will. I do have one question: Why is Briony on the island by herself? Doesn't she have any parents somewhere (maybe they're sea gods) and siblings (like herself)? Or is it just one being like Briony per island? In which case, do all islands have one being each like Briony on them, or maybe just one like her for every 20 or 30 islands? It sounds like she's pretty rare or the pirate captain and crew would li...

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Monica D
23:30 Mar 01, 2021

I love the cliffhanger! Bravo what an amazing story!

Reply

Natalie Dafoe
00:44 Mar 02, 2021

Thank you Monica :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply

Wow, great job! Your writing is amazing as always. The opening: “ The men arrive on a large boat, all clumped into a crowd on the surface, hats obscuring sunburned faces and overgrown beards” is perfect. Would love for you to check out my newest story, “Falling Ashes” and let me know what you think. Thanks!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Gerald Daniels
15:39 Mar 02, 2021

Lovely flowing, descriptive prose. Great story.

Reply

Natalie Dafoe
15:55 Mar 02, 2021

Thank you :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
D. Owen
10:54 Mar 02, 2021

Interesting.

Reply

Natalie Dafoe
15:56 Mar 02, 2021

I'm glad you think so :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Cynthia Scott
05:06 Mar 02, 2021

I loved this story. It has clever description and very clear emotional beats. Awesome job. 👍❤

Reply

Natalie Dafoe
15:31 Mar 02, 2021

Thanks! :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Stephanie Barber
00:41 Mar 02, 2021

Great ending! I relaly enjoyed the read.

Reply

Natalie Dafoe
00:43 Mar 02, 2021

Thank you!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Angel Elle
00:18 Mar 02, 2021

This story is strangely reminiscent of a poem I wrote about a month ago. Well done. 🌸

Reply

Natalie Dafoe
00:44 Mar 02, 2021

How interesting! I'm glad you enjoyed it

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply