Emira VS Kid Vicious

“Wanna see something cool?”

It was those words and a hint of a promise of friendship that got Emira here – descending a crumbling staircase hidden beneath a rusty wheelbarrow in what used to be the Academy’s garden.

Sure, she was new in town and had no friends, and Kid was the first person to acknowledge her existence. But skipping class with a stranger was totally out of character for her. It was scary. And kind of exciting.

Emira stepped on a rock and lost her footing. Thinking fast, she transformed her hair into grasping tendrils, locked them into the cracks of the staircase wall, and pulled herself upright.

“Careful,” Kid said casually, his bright red mohawk bobbing up and down like a beacon as he made his way down the steps.

He was a rebel. That much was immediately clear to her when she found him eating lunch by the Academy’s old oak tree. Her oak tree:

“Am I in your spot?” asked a voice so brusque, it could have come from the gnarled oak itself.

“I don’t own it,” she replied.

“Neither do I,” he countered. “You can eat here. I don’t care.”

It was the most another student had said to her in over a month. And it was enough to convince her to descend a dark, dangerous staircase to…

“We’re here,” said Kid, his voice breaking Emira’s train of thought.

She stepped off the bottom stair. It smelled different down here – humid. The ground was soft. And there was a crack of light creeping through the seams of a closed door. Kid pushed the door open; Emira gasped again. The room was filled with sunlight. And stretched out in front of her was a garden full of plants, ranging from dazzlingly exotic to downright weird.

She had so many questions but Kid was already busy rifling through the thick foliage, filling his arms with pink and white flowers on long, elegant stalks.

Turning back toward Emira, he presented her with a beautiful pink bloom. Emira blushed, probably even pinker than the flower. Maybe he cares after all, she thought.

“Smell it,” Kid said, gruffly.

She did. The flower smelled sweet at first, but beneath the sweetness there was something else, something bad. Like rotten fruit. And then the room started to spin.

“What is that flower?” she asked Kid, blinking her eyes hard. “It’s making me sick.”

“It’s better the second time,” Kid reassured her, thrusting the flower into her face.

When she crinkled her nose and turned her head away, Kid buried his face in the entire bouquet and inhaled deeply. Emira couldn’t help but smile. “See,” he said, “it smells better every time. Try it a few times and soon you’ll crave it.”

"No thanks,” said Emira.

Kid frowned. “What’s wrong with you? I thought you were cool like me,” he said.

Emira felt a pang of guilt. Then disappointment. Then anger. She thought Kid might be her first friend at the Academy, but he was just a bully. “I thought you were cool too,” she countered and turned to walk back toward the staircase. “Enjoy your stupid flowers.”

That’s when they started flying. The first flower stalk grazed her cheek before embedding itself in the soil in front of her and bursting into flames. The flowers weren’t just smelly; they were deadly! The next one hit her in the shoulder. Then her leg. Her whole body felt like it was on fire.

She had to protect herself. Emira morphed her hair into an impenetrable shield, and just in time. A dozen flaming stalks hit her Coif Shield and the blow nearly knocked her over.

She found the stairs and ran up. Only Kid’s voice followed her: “You’ll never have any friends,” he taunted, flinging a final flower. The flower bounced off her hair and landed on the step. Emira carefully picked it up and launched it back at Kid.

“Yeoowwwwww!” Kid howled in pain. Smiling, Emira ran in the direction of her class.