They wished me unwell, always. Greetings reciprocated with recurrent splashes. I never meant any harm. And yet, they forced me to stay clear. I wished for friendships with the streams, the rivers, the ponds, the lakes, the seas, and the oceans. They seemed to calm me in unimagined ways. The past is a history long gone. But I still see hope on the horizon. The intense clouds had gathered in communion with the endless ocean that spread across the vast surface of the planet. Amid lightning and thunder stood those who would believe in me, in my way of life. And together, we would all live in harmony.
As I made my way through the blazing lands, burning everything everywhere as the intense heat bullied and disintegrated everything it touched, my family shook hands with heat every time before anything caught fire. Nothing to stop it from dispelling its magic, from objects hugged upon by intense heat, and the unstoppable fires that burned down everything to its ashes, my siblings and cousins welcomed me with open arms, attempting to comfort me with their offer.
“Come. Lay your hands on anything you desire. We shall all have it for ourselves,” hissed a fire spirit, and sprinkled some burning residue from its objects into the air above.
“I see no reason and comfort in that,” I slid sideways, touching a few dry leaves, creating fire on those I had touched.
“This,” smiled the fire spirit, and elevated itself up by consuming the higher branches of the tree, “is what we are brother. If you cannot do this, you’ll fall into the depth of the unknown, the void, and nothingness.” Smoke from the tree rushed above, greying out the hues of the fires it had created. “We’re born this way to consume everything that lies in our path. If you don’t, we shall all drown into the mercy of the whole that lies within the planet.”
“I do not see any purpose in what we do. Why burn anything that hasn’t done any harm upon us?”
“Perhaps our gods will convince you and free you from your enslaving thoughts. Reach the blazing core and discuss your problems there. I shall not waste my energy and comfort of satisfaction from my purpose.” The fire spirit hopped on other dried twigs and branches, burning even more dead trees.
On my way to meet the fire gods, I met with an elevation reaching high into the mountains. As I reached the border where the fires consumed everything, I saw no more consumption beyond.
A rumble occurred, shivering and stuttering my presence as I turned back, “I see you wish to pass through my lands. What, may I ask, brings you here?” The earth shook and blended near my flaming feet.
“I come in peace, my earthly friend,” I said, careful not to separate myself from the collective, “I mean you no harm.”
“Well, don’t you worry about that, child. No harm comes to me from your presence. Whatever you do only helps me become stronger, allowing life to grow back again.”
“I was looking for a way to reach the fire gods in the blazing core. But I guess, I’ll have to find a way around.”
“That, you’ll have to. But if I may ask, what’s on your mind that makes you wish to seek the fire gods?”
“I do not seek your audience with you for my need. I know I cannot stay here long enough so that you can consume me after all of my tracks have disappeared within the guts of your family. I do not wish to reach the darkness, where no light can seep through, no warmth can ever survive.”
“There, I would say, you’re partially correct. True, there isn’t any light or warmth, in a way. But if you’re able to reach way down towards the earth’s core, you’ll find an everlasting, endless source of bright light and fire that has burned since the beginning. That, along with the wind and cold, has allowed me to exist.”
“That’s not true. When you gobble down the fires, they die out. How could you possibly be so cold-hearted? I very well know for the fact that someone like me isn’t capable of surviving inside you. Not even the fire gods.”
“That is correct. Even the fire gods are insignificant children in front of the earth’s fiery core.”
“I’m not going to fall into your trap, and I’m downright wasting my time.”
For all I knew, the earth demon wished for my downfall. But I ignored his illogical and unreasonable speech. I traced myself backwards towards the flaming core.
Hiking my way back, I encountered a river spirit, calm as the river shifted and rolled across the riverbed. “You’re faster than a wolf,” it swished its way to sprinkle some water along its coast.
“Watch it! That could’ve killed me.” Although the water droplets vaporised, I stumbled and shuddered as the coldness slapped onto my face.
“Oh, I didn’t mean to hurt you. I felt heat along the ground. So, I thought a sheet of sprinkled water might suffice. As it is, you shouldn’t crawl so close.”
“I know. But I’m searching for the blazing core to meet the fire gods. We need to change, all of us.”
“Change,” the river spirit waved closer, bringing along the tide, “what do you mean by that?”
As the river come close, I was forced to back off. “You all know how I feel about you and your family. This conflict and chaos is destroying both our families. We all need to unite and live in harmony.”
“We all know that can never happen. It’s our destiny. We’re all cursed in some way.”
“But there is also the good we need to see as a unity.”
“If all the elements intermingled together, that might be the perfect harmony for all of us.”
“Speaking of the earthly demons isn’t quite the way I’d want.”
“If you see the larger picture and mixing in utter chaos, we’ll neither live nor die.”
“I’m not here to discuss philosophies.”
“As you can see, it’s all about calming down to still your mind and thoughts. Unless you don’t see it within yourself, you won’t realise a lot of things.”
“I don’t need to listen to you blabbering philosophical approach to some random thought. I don’t have time for your nonsense.”
“Well then, I’ll just go on my way. And you can go wherever you like. It’s your loss.”
I began to wonder along the way what sort of philosophies the river spirit would’ve started with if I’d have stayed any longer. But my role to set things ablaze wasn’t burning through my spirit.
Deep in the blazing core, I reached within the dense fire hive where the fire gods celebrated, sprinkling embers high into the air above.
“And what brings you here?” asked one of the fire gods, who turned towards me, and bent down to level with me. The fire god displayed its strong presence via its intense energy, and the heat it emitted all around it.
“You would know what I think and feel. And yet you ask me to speak out.”
“Oh, we all know, but we were just having fun. To be on the serious note, do not be afraid of your life as a fire spirit. We all have a role and a responsibility to perform. If you wish to not act as to what life dictates upon you, we all wish you farewell for your transition. But you know very well how it feels. I’m not going to say it so you can do the inevitable before your time here is done. But eventually, each one of us takes a form that limits and grants advantages over the ways of another. Nobody’s perfect. The question you need to answer is when you wish for it. The how is always for you to figure out, and I shall not delve into it, for there are many ways to pass on.”
“I’m unable to comprehend and understand what you speak of.”
“Only time can answer a few questions your mind makes. Remember, there is no such thing as good or bad, right or wrong. It’s a perspective, a lens through which we all see things in ways we desire to perceive. When that’s done, it is you and I who create a path unique to each individual self, and yet they are all the same in a sense, and they all lead to the same destination. Whether to set foot on a particular path is a choice you make.”
“Philosophies are the only element I hear everyone speak of. Can anyone be direct?”
“Don’t you live and act based on a philosophy of your choosing? And if reality contradicts, don’t you find yourself questioning the way of life? It is what we all do no matter how big or small things are.”
Filled with rage and chaos, confused and unable to think, I smashed myself back to the ocean side, finding the calm sooth me, the cool wind barely touching my face.
“I hear you,” the wind spirit spoke, “my friend. And I also feel your concern. If you wish, I could take you to the water gods.”
“And where will I land? The vast open ocean where no land can be seen until the ends of the earth? Where the stormy skies blow my life off of me in chunks? I have no place there. I’d be asking for a death wish.”
“What if I said I have a plan to take you all the way there and back, without any harm come to you?”
“Is there one?”
Enveloped within the fury of the wind, and attached to the objects I burned, the very optimistic wind spirit transported me towards the stormy skies of the ocean. There it spoke out to the water bodies, and then the time of waiting arrived.
“How long do I have?” I asked as a couple of flickers erupted and left me.
“Long enough to make it back. Don’t worry.”
The fury of the storm enclosed us, and I simply hoped for my survival. Minutes later, lightning and thunder surrounded us.
I began to worry. “Are you sure about this?” I asked concerned, regarding my fate that now rested in the hands of a wind spirit.
“I shall do my best, my friend. But I guess it’s going to be a rough ride for you,” it replied.
Sprinkles of ocean water jumped up and mixed with the water droplets from the storm that fell around us.
“How long can it survive like this?” a voice spoke.
“It’s the end for him, being so far away from land.” Another one said.
A third one raised its voice. “Maybe, he wants to become like us.”
“Don’t worry about them,” mentioned the wind spirit, “They’re just water spirits, and won’t harm us at all.”
A lightning struck nearby, cracking the air into a crisp burning sensation as a giant wave rose up from the ocean. “What makes you to challenge death, fire spirit?”
“You see, I’m not here to offend you, fire god,” I replied, my essence shivering for a few moments, “I’m constantly soothed by all of your family by your presence, and I do not feel the need to burn anything. Nonetheless, I’m supposed to follow what life dictates upon me. I do not wish any harm upon the objects that can burn. And neither do I have a desire to vaporise any of you that flow the courses along the planet’s surface.”
“Then why are you here? What do you want?”
“I simply ask for a harmonious living between all the elements existing on this planet. Can’t we even try?”
“And what did the fire gods tell you?”
“They only came up with their own philosophies that dictate their life. I, on the other hand, believe we can stop harming each other, and help each other to create a better place than what had been before. I’ve heard rumours and legends of the great slabs of ice melt, and that storms swirl across the globe, and fires burn through the lands where the scorching heat has absorbed and exhausted most life forms to their end. But, can’t we all recreate what it was like before all of this happened?”
“We are the essence of life,” the water god splashed a wave. “We bring, grow, and sustain life for all. But to do that, we require the contribution of all other elements that exist. If we live in harmony by not being what we’re supposed to do, we may get an urge to not do what we’re all supposed to do. Have you thought about what would happen if you were to behave like earth, air, or water? Everyone’s given a task to perform. The nature of a given task works in harmony with a given element. These tasks are interrelated in ways that allow a complete harmony of the existence as a whole. Although water and fire do not go along, there is harmony between all of us when seen as a bigger picture.”
“So, even when I burn the things, I’m contributing to everything that helps everything else?”
“That is correct. However, doing works of intentional and unintentional harm towards elements directly or indirectly, such as the given history of mankind’s ignorance, can create disharmony, resulting in disastrous side-effects of destruction of various species. We as the basic elements of nature are gifted, and cannot be destroyed by such situations, unless a planet-wide atmospheric calamity occurs. Right now, we are the only ones gifted to survive and recreate a better ecosystem. We’ve seen how intelligence allows for a species to destroy them. What we’re yet to experience are the works of nature’s unimaginable life-giving force that learns through its own history of survival, disregarding the intelligence of the planet’s native dominating inhabitants.”
“Although it sparks a flicker in my mind, I still do not understand things in the full spectrum.”
“We are all here to work in ways that have been dictated by nature itself. If we were to exploit it for ourselves, we already know the answer to that. Right now, you have to believe what your responsibilities are. Whether you’re in sync with what nature asks of you, is for you to ask yourself.”
“Excuse me, fire spirit,” interrupted the wind spirit, “I think it’s time we returned back to land.”
“That would be a wise choice,” announced the water god.
“Thank you so much for your guidance. I shall ponder upon what’s discussed. I shall take my leave now.”
Farewell, little fire spirit. You’re stronger than you think. But remember your responsibilities as well.”
After I joined my family, I felt their warmth, the closeness I desired so much while I was out there on the ocean, enveloped by the wind. I realised how much pain I’d given to my family by not being responsible, by not contributing to burning down all that was necessary for the harmony of all in the larger picture. Apologising and acknowledging my errors, I delved into a much harmonious relationship with my family. There was always the welcome warmth of every family member I had known. My mind, my thoughts eased out, my life became simple, disconnected from self-doubts I had for everyone else. I had begun a new life, a second life.
Acknowledgement: This inspiration comes from the Reedsy prompt – Write a fantasy story about water gods or spirits.
Please feel free to check out their other writing prompts at https://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts