Now, I’m aware how juvenile and cheesy this will sound. I’m not making excuses – I am genuinely proud of everything you’re about to read, because it’s mine. It might be cliche-ridden nonsense, it might have been done a thousand times before, but this specific version is mine. And that’s enough.
Last time, I spoke briefly about my fascination for the classic elements. Here’s a little #tomfact for you – I am midly OCD about the order in which they are written. It’s always, always earth, air, fire, then water. No other order is acceptable. Ever. I don’t know why. I guess that’s the first order in which I saw them? But then why did the least flexible part of my brain take over at that point? Who knows.
A twist. Everyone needs a twist.
Let’s imagine, for a moment, a fairly standard medieval fantasy world where magic exists. A rare few are born with the ability to wield either Earth, Air, Fire or Water magic. Just one.
One of the lovely things about the elements is that you can unpack them into so many different tropes. The good, the bad, and the ugly – it’s all in there if you want to look for it.
Earth is all about the physical world. It’s about flesh and stone and root and moss. It’s about solidity and endurance, but also transformation and augmentation.
Air is fast, flighty. It’s a whisper and a roar. It’s unpredictable, constantly shifting, but also the spark of life – as established in the creation myth.
Fire is soothing warmth and destructive rage. Beautiful, violent, devouring, purifying.
Water is deep, thoughtful, calm, but can explode with sudden savagery. It’s a drop of dew. It’s the vast, unknowable ocean.
You can imagine each one can be used flexibly. A warmage flinging fireballs, or a priest cauterising wounds and creating campfires. That kind of thing.
Mages stick to their own kind. They absolutely do not mingle. Not with their ‘neighbours’ (i.e. a Fire is next to Air and Earth), and under no circumstances whatsoever with their nemesis. Earth and Air, Fire and Water.
The rules are set, and they are simple. Then, they are broken.
Two mages of differing elements (for the sake of argument let’s say Fire and Earth) fall in love. Have a child.
The child has power too, but it’s not Fire, and it’s not Earth, it”s a combination of the two. It manifests in an entirely new way.
Another child is born. Another. Another. Soon enough there is a second generation of mages, wielding strange new powers in four new elements.
Fire + Earth = Blood
Volcanoes. Lava. The blood of the earth. These scarlet warriors are judge, jury and executioner. Ruthless moral arbiters who, when wounded, can conjure disturbing bladed weapons from their own red hot blood. Cut them and they only get stronger.
Fire + Air = Star
Uncanny. Unearthly. Strange glowing metal from meteorites forged into impossibly sharp weapons and lightweight yet impervious armour. Inescapably ‘other’, floating through the night sky looking for signs that will unravel the mysteries of the future.
Air + Water = Storm
Weather. The soothing caress of a light summer rain on an upturned face, or the unrivalled destructive power of the splitting sky – whirlwinds, jagged lightning, shards of ice slamming to the ground. Also, of course mist, fog, and illusion. Medieval life depends heavily on the whims of weather.
Water + Earth = Death
Rot. Decay. Disease. Swarming insects and slithering reptiles. Dark glass bottles full of thick green fluids. Assassins. Necromancers. They say they merely seek to pierce the veil of the beyond to learn the truth, but to do so they have to walk in deep, deep shadow.