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Previously on The Avatar Rhythm
|"For all my life, I've wanted to hunt down the Avatar for what he did to my grandfather Kaito. So I came here to do just that, and the only friend I make happens to become my enemy. Hotaru is the Avatar!"|
|— Shirou from The First Seminar|
|"The boss spoke again. "We will fake a crime with a child I have chosen, making it look like the child was attempting to kill Taro. Then, the child will have to face the Fire Lord in a fatal Agni-Kai match. When the Fire Lord kills the child we have chosen, because it won't be in a duel that both players have agreed on, Taro will be sent to jail because of murder.|
"Boss," asked the female voice, "Who is the child that you chose?"
|— From Out of the Ashes|
|"Shirou backed away from the wall in horror. He had heard enough. Whatever Goro was planning, it wouldn't be good, and he had to get to Royal Chaldera City in time. Now his motivation wasn't to kill Hotaru, but to keep Taro alive. There wasn't much time. The Fire Nation's future was in his hands, and the clock was ticking. He didn't know how many people Goro was working with, or if his plan was already underway. But people were depending on him, and he would have to live up to his reputation."|
|— From Out of the Ashes|
|The Heat of the Moment|
June 29, 2011
This is Chapter 10 in The Avatar Rhythm Series
As the sun set over the outskirts of the Fire Nation Capital, Shirou sprinted across the rocky terrain, against the will of his injured leg, bruised and bleeding. The only things that motivated him were the thought of Fire Lord Taro falling, Hotaru being murdered by her own father's plan, and the fact the he was the only person who knew of this dastardly plot that was dodging every citizen who actually did care about the Avatar. These thoughts pushed him forward, through the burnt grasslands and rough mountain roads that lead to Royal Chaldera City's back entrance. If what Shirou had recently heard through the walls of The Fire Lily Inn was true, then he'd have to move fast.
Meanwhile, in the Fire Nation Royal Palace, Taro sat calmly upon the floor of his room, staring into the distance, meditating. This was a rest he would need. The only noise was light, crackling flames, and they barely even lit up the room.
All of sudden, he heard a loud metal clunk at the door, and opened his eyes.
"Who goes there?" the Fire Lord shouted, bracing himself for something bad. "Come out or I'll blast your head off, with no hesitations!"
The room stayed silent.
"Show yourself!" Taro screamed, backing up. Somehow, he knew that he was being watched. Somehow, he was right.
Suddenly, the huge metal door burst open, and four men rushed in, along with two more from each side of the room. In one synchronized lash, they all whipped out their arms, the ones the sides shooting fire, and the ones in the middle shooting chain, ready to lock him down.
Shirou was still climbing the mountain as Taro was helplessly being captured in the Royal Palace. After about five hours of straight running, the injury on his leg was taking its toll, as if it wasn't hard enough climbing mountain ridges already.
Luckily, the sounds of the city were audible, and that made Shirou keep moving. Actually, he didn't know how close he really was. He put one hand up onto a close ledge above him, and dragged himself up from there.
"Oh. My. God."
"There's the Royal Palace," he whispered to himself. "Oh, and there's my house!" But searching for monuments was going to have to wait. There was only one way he was going to get to the city quickly. Shirou hesitated, thought about the circumstances, then jumped. Right off the ledge.
With a hard thump he hid the rock wall, and then started sliding down, gaining speed, to the roads of Royal Chaldera City. As he dodged rocks, the slide became faster, and as he neared the ground, Shirou leaped off the wall, and skillfully rolled onto the ground.
He looked left, right, left again, and then sprinted across the street, trying to find his way through the back alleys of the Fire Nation's noble city. It was the most confusing thing he ever did, all moving so quickly. In fact, before he could stop himself, Shirou was sprinting down a road, with two armed Procession members at the end, looking straight at him.
"Hey!" they shouted in unison, "Stop right there!"
He was going so fast, that would be impossible to do just that, so instead, without much first thought, Shirou jumped, leaping right over their heads.
He kept his speed after landing back on the cobblestone road.
Suddenly, he looked to his right, and ducked, because a large carriage was quickly driving through the roads. All four of its wheels just missed Shirou's fingers as he fell flat to the ground, hoping to avoid it.
When it past, he stood up again, and resumed running.
When he sprinted by the rows of houses, an old man popped his head out a window and cried, "Stranger, you, umm, Shirou! There's something going on in the Royal Palace! It's with your girlfriend Hotaru!"
"She's not my girlfriend!" Shirou shouted. "She's not even my normal-friend anymore! But, umm, thanks anyway."
He sprinting off to the Royal Palace, knowing that Hotaru might be in danger, or worse. Taro. He kept running, and running. Running into danger, and running out of time. Personally, he didn't think those two thoughts mixed very well. As Shirou approached the Royal Palace, he started sprinting like he never did before, and kicked the enormous door right open, quickly regaining speed.
All the guards started shouting, yelling, and shooting fire, but besides for dodging the attacks, Shirou completely ignored them.
"You don't know what's happening!" he pleaded, as he rushed through halls. "The Fire Lord might be in danger!"
So Shirou kept sprinting, now lost. He looked down the hall, and remembered one of them very familiarly. He turned, ran down that one, and then saw the curtains he was looking for. With the Fire Nation's logo sewn into them.
As Shirou ran through, pushing aside the curtains, he shouted, "Taro! I have come to... Oh, no."
The Fire Lord's room was empty. Goro's henchman had already came, and were probably already bringing him and Hotaru to the Agni-Kai arena. If Shirou didn't intervene now, one of them would die, and the other would be brought to prison for the rest of their life.
He had predicted right. Meanwhile, Taro and Hotaru were being pushed off a Komodo Rhino by an associate of Goro with a large beard, with their hands tied behind their backs. He lead them into the basement of the Royal Arena.
"Now you two," he said once they were inside, "Stay there, or we'll kill both of you. Another one of our friends will be here shortly." The man walked away, up into the crowds that were gathering to see this fateful match.
Goro sat at a podium in the front of the arena, and raised his hand until the audience was silent.
"Ladies and Gentleman, people from all nations," he announced, "We have a very sad and memorable occasion today." He pretended to wipe his eyes. "This morning, my daughter Hotaru tried to murder our own Fire Lord Taro, and for it they were instantly put to a fatal Agni-Kai match. For those who don't know, that means they will fight to the death. Being the highest ranking governor of this nation, I am in charge of the match, and my good friend will announce it." Goro stepped back, and the man with the beard stepped up to the podium.
"Hello," he said, in a low, gruff voice. "This duel of Agni-Kai will now start."
Hotaru and Taro each walked into the arena from their sides, and threw their excess shoulder garments to the ground, leaving the duo with thin royal armor.
Suddenly, the gong rang, and the match began.
The two players of this fatal Agni-Kai looked at each other, and they knew that neither of them wanted this to happen.
But it had to.
Hotaru opened her eyes, and they were glowing bright white. In a deep, rumbling voice that sounded nothing like hers, she spoke.
"Fire Lord Taro, we have been manipulated and brought to end this duel. You will fall."
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