Opening by @dirge
“You can’t to do that,” she said in her broken English.
Her face was contorted in a rage, highlighting the wrinkles that came with late age. Lee Minkyung slammed the door behind her as she entered. “Other students. Yes. Say this is not equal. You can’t do that.”
Lee Minkyung pointed her finger towards the student in question, Park Dasol. The child’s lips still quivered in fear and anxiety, after having flunked her summoning test with a total and complete bomb.
“She failed. Yes.” Minkyung said. “Why you give her…another chance?”
Sarah Lopez folded her arms. Her excitement after first having met Minkyung deteriorated five minutes after their first class together, half a year back. Where Sarah’s style was calm, orderly and authoritative, Minkyung’s was hectic, erratic and authoritarian. The perfunctory policy of the Korean Magical Education Bureau regarding Korean instructors always shadowing foreign instructors in the classroom weighed on Sarah. It was Minkyung, and Minkyung only, that she butted heads with. Every day since then had been like brushing teeth with a razor blade.
This conflict, Sarah knew, was inevitable.
All other classes were perfect. Latin Summons accompanied with Bek Jinsoo, went smooth and the children brought out a myriad of lesser demons without error. History of Incantations with Lee Jaeyun was exciting, with students ready to participate, eager to learn the variations on Germanic blood rites and how these symbols shifted over time.
Sarah didn’t want to hate Minkyung. But damn if that bitch didn’t make it hard as hell not to.
So when Minkyung taunted Dasol in front of the class for failing to summon a basic familiar, that was the last straw.
Minkyung paced up to her and pulled Dasol’s breathing mask down, asking her why she was afraid to speak in front of the class. Dasol, large for her age, and in fact the largest girl in the school, stared down at her feet. Minkyung pulled the mask and let it snap back on Dasol’s face and at that, Sarah intervened.
She’d never intervened before. A foreigner wasn’t supposed to intervene in a Korean’s affairs. Especially an older woman’s affairs.
But Sarah did. And when the class ended, she brought Dasol along for an opportunity to summon the familiar with just the two of them in a side room meant for student studying.
Minkyung rambled on about how unfair it was. And Sarah finally broke.
“Shut up,” she said. “Stop talking and leave. Let me talk to Dasol. Let me help her, and that will be that.”
“Excuse me?” Minkyung bawked. Her neck shrunk back like a turkey and her splotchy makeup grew disheveled as the woman’s taut skin stretched over her face.
“Leave!” Sarah demanded.
Minkyung protested. Then they heard it.
“Hajima!!!” Dasol shouted in Korean. Sarah knew enough by this point to understand.
The student was shouting ‘stop’.
But she wasn’t talking to her teachers.
Sarah found herself cursing inwardly. Something a teacher for any Magical Education Bureau really shouldn’t make a habit of, but she’d had a long day.
The older woman was attempting to stare her down, her short stature grew before Sarah, exaggerating her features. Minkyungs neck protruded, flaps of skin stretching out, shoulders broadening. Her petite nose bulged - taking on a hooked point as she peered down at Sarah.
“You will regret.”
The inevitable clash of wills. Wills reinforced with a strength of power that could split the foundations of this ancient building, but Sarah knew that was the last thing Dasol needed right now - the student had been struggling to concentrate all day. The sheer panic on Dasol’s face during the Passage of Blood rites that morning, Sarah couldn’t let the day end like this for her student.
Minkyung continued to puff up her form, her dark beady eyes burning into Sarah, her lips tracing a favourite incantation.
Sarah now looked up at the formidable woman. The Korean Magical Education Bureau didn’t accept foreigners often, Minkyung was underestimating Sarah in a way that would prove dangerous. Did Minkyung really want to do this… The transmutation summoning of the House of Lee would be shown to be nothing before the power Sarah could already feel dancing over her skin… the power calling her…
Dasol’s plea held desperate tone, the young girl had bent over, tears brimming her eyes, fear etching her pale face. Frantically, Park Dasol ripped off her breathing mask, clutching her stomach, doubling up.
“You do this. Baby students. Your fault.”
Minkyung spat, flem filled disdain hitting the cracked tiled floor. Sarah had lost her patience with the older woman, the soft whisper from the other side crept up her spine, the voices, the power beyond, urged her to summon it.
“Foreigners. I done with you.”
Fortunately for everyone in that room, Minkyung stalked out in a flurry, her anger stirring up her magic, a single feather falling free from her thin hair as she marched down to the head teachers office. Sarah was certain this wasn’t over.
“… haji … hajima … hajima … hajima …”
Sobs interrupted Sarah’s brooding thoughts.
“hey, it’s okay Dasol, no one is forcing you, we’ll take our time with the summoning, you’ll get there!”
The student shook her drained face, clutching her abdomen, pain cracking her thin voice.
“… hajima ...”
Slowly, gears turned in Sarah’s mind, to call the Bureau old fashioned would be an understatement; discussion of certain topics was beyond prohibited, the girls moved into the residence at eight, it taught them all they knew. The strict regime prepared the girls there for everything a magical life could throw at them. It failed when it came to the one thing every normal life would hold.
Sarah reached for her handbag, sitting down next to Dasol. It wasn’t demons, or incantations, it was a very normal problem, and as she retrieved a box of tampons, she passed Dasol the very normal solution.
What an opening! Damn @dirge, you know how to light a fire and walk off! I was so tempted by the many magical ways this could go, but the moment it was out, I said to @gaby-crb, if I get chance, there is one way I want to take this. Not exactly the blood rites mentioned the first half, but the mention reminded me of a tale one of my mums friends would tell about trying beetroot for the first time and having her first 'time of the month' - not knowing what it was and making a false connection, and the sheer "stop it, stop it" panic, so this felt prime. Not had much time for editing or image finding on this one, but there is still time to enter tonight so hopefully you are feeling inspired by the immense possibility of this first half!
This is an entry to @bananafish's #finishthestory contest which is out every week! Still time to check out this enticing prompt by the very talented @dirge - so much to get inspired by in this one. Check out the latest round for all the rules and see where you would take this opening.