Nurturers & Destructors is a serialized novel, created during the 2021 A2Z Challenge hosted by Blogchatter
“What do you see around you?”, asked Grandpa Mike, enthusiastically wagging his thick eyebrows which overshadowed his twinkling eyes. Zacharia was just happy to see his confusion reflected on Jill’s face. At least he wasn’t being clueless alone. Jill asked, “Around us… where?” “Where else, but here…”, said Grandpa Mike, waving his arms around. “A crazy grandpa who brought us out into the wilderness”, Zacharia grumbled, loud enough for the other two to hear. Jill giggled and Mike scowled, his enthusiasm suddenly draining out of him. “Kids, what you see around you, the trees, the plants, the animals, the lake… what’s that?”, Mike kept probing.
Receiving nothing but silence, he almost felt like giving up… and then he remembered that these were his grandchildren. Shrugging to himself, he explained, “So, while this is definitely not what I pictured myself doing and expected your parents to have brought you up to speed, here goes. What you see around you is life. Nature is the source of all energy that flows from being to being. Plants, to animals, back to earth and the cycle repeats. So, there is always balance and as Nurturers, or budding Nurturers as you are, it’s your responsibility to help maintain that balance. And it’s my responsibility to help you figure out how… or well, not really my responsibility, but I took it on myself.”
Jill chimed in, “Thanks Grandpa!” while Zacharia said, “You shouldn’t have…”, to which Mike raised an eyebrow. Taken aback, Zacharia sheepishly finished, “… taken such troubles… it’s very nice of you, Grandpa”. Mike became Grandpa Mike again and nodded his head, saying, “Damn right it is. Now let’s make the most of the next couple of hours. I am about to teach you the basics of Defensive Elemental Science.” And as though she knew exactly what was coming, Jill let out a soft, “Oooo…”, which meant that this time, Zacharia felt quite alone in his state of cluelessness.
After about 3 hours, Grandpa Mike sat down under the tree at the side of the clearing that they were practicing in. Since they started, three things had become clear. One, Jill didn’t have a clue about Defensive Elemental Sciences, or rather any science or signs for that matter. Two, Zacharia was indeed more subdued, just like Deborah had told him. But as time went by, he was opening up… And three, teaching kids was nothing like instructing a platoon of ready-to-learn, disciplined Legionnaires. Either it was because he was their grandfather or it was because they were his grandkids, or maybe it was just because they were his daughter’s kids, but he just had this nagging feeling at the back of head that they could do more, that what he taught them wasn’t what they needed to know.
For now, he had given them a ball and just asked to throw it around without touching it. There was just one rule, they could harness only the Air Element. Had it been his platoon, he could have pulled up a chair, sat in the shade and watched them take the mickey out of each other. Here, he wasn’t sure who’s mickey was being taken. Right after he had first thrown the ball to Jill, he saw her scrunch up her face, ball up her fists & concentrate so hard that he was pretty sure he heard one of her nerves popping. And after all that, she caught the ball in her hands, which meant he had to spend another 30 minutes explaining how to concentrate and also, how ineffective clenching your fists is, for controlling the Elements. After all this explanation, she passed the ball to Zacharia, who managed to make it rain and drenched all of them… and missed the ball, entirely. Another round of explanation later, Grandpa Mike felt his age and had to take a break and found the tree to take shelter under.
Looking at Grandpa Mike, Zacharia felt annoyed… and guilty, because he had actually conspired with Jill and they really had planned to take Grandpa Mike’s mickey today. In fact, they both had already read up quite a bit and had been practicing their Elemental control zealously over the last two weeks. And seeing Grandpa Mike get tired after trying so hard, without giving up on them, was just… not making him feel good at all. So, as Grandpa Mike kept shuffling around trying to find the right posture to get more comfortable, Zacharia looked the tree earnestly and in mind, imagined how he wanted the trunk to be reshaped and then he raised his hand.
“How did you do it? Which of you did it? You have got to tell me… how did you guys manage to metamorphose the tree?”, Grandpa Mike was adamant. One of his grandchildren had reshaped the tree to make feel more comfortable… and before that, they were playing with Air Element. That meant, one of the kids could work with multiple Elements… without training. Could it… was it… but, it wasn’t possible… Who was it, anyway?
Grandpa Mike was growing hysterical, as he screamed “Please tell me, kids… who was it?” “It was me… sorry Grandpa”, said Jill meekly. Zacharia turned and looked at her, first in disbelief and then in gratitude as she simply nodded at him, with a weak smile. He really didn’t want her to take the fall. “Oh no, no, no baby. It’s fine. It’s just that, we haven’t had many Nurturers who could work with multiple Elements with such ease. It’s not impossible, but to think that one of my grandchildren… it’s a great honour… it is, indeed.”, Grandpa Mike kept rambling. “What is, Grandpa?”, asked Zacharia, growing weary of this sudden change in Mike’s demeanour.
“Well, in the beginning Nurturers were able to work with all the Elements”, began Grandpa Mike and Zacharia mumbled, “Here we go again…”