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|More from BlackMonkey||Adventure||PG (Parental Guidance)||Good||Here|
Previously on The Avatar Rhythm
|"There was a scraggly, skinny man who was atop a stage, shouting at the crowds. "Welcome friends, newcomers, or strangers! Today you will get a small demo of magic tricks coming straight from the Fire Days Sorcerer. You can just call me Shinji.""|
|— From The Fire Days Festival|
|"Shirou scowled. Ignoring what the Avatar did to his grandfather was still impossible. Mikio had killed him, and Hotaru had completely burned the only picture he had left of him. Shirou didn't forget about things like that. "|
|— From The Final Flames|
|""Shirou," Akata said quizzically, "Well, you know how you said something about needing someone killed?"|
|— From The Island|
|The Fire Nomad|
August 2, 2011
This is Chapter 14 in The The Avatar Rhythm Series
Night was falling as Shirou peered at the huge wooden door to the monastery of the island that he washed up on. Akata, the boy who rescued him, was standing about five feet away.
"Shirou," he said, "You have to be quiet and settled while walking around in the monastery. The assassin who is hiding there is terribly scared, and will hide when if he hears dangerous-sounding noise. If you want to do work with him, then you will have to be careful."
Deciding not to respond, Shirou slowly creaked open the door, grabbed Akata's candle, and took a look inside. All over the ground were ceremonial rugs, shiny benches, and large stone statues of successful Air Nomads.
"Take off your shoes," Akata whispered. "The monks will find out if they see your footprints. Plus, it's traditional not to wear them in the monastery. Oh, and don't touch the statues. Or the banners."
"Why so many rules?" Shirou asked as they tiptoed across a large purple rug in their bare feet, looking for another door with just the light of their single candle.
"Our ancestors had very strict teachings," Akata replied, "Especially when it came spirituality, meditation, and our monasteries. As my mother said, our island doesn't follow some of our old rules as well as we should, and we don't follow some of our old rules at all. But our community, including me, is still fairly spiritual. It's disrespectful to break our ancient rules."
"Woah," Shirou muttered. "You should come to the Water Tribe. There we just say a couple prayers every month, and that's it. We all step on the same ice, use the same weapons, and train for military in the same classes. Not a very peaceful and monkish life. By the way, have you ever been to another nation?"
"Turn down those stairs," Akata said, pointing to a dark doorway in the end of the room. "And yes, I have been to the Earth Kingdom before. Once. Just to visit my mother's friends. They live in a big city called Omashu."
As the duo strolled down the dark stairs, they stayed silent. On the walls were huge orange ceremonial banners that had ancient names embroidered into them.
"Who is this?" Shirou asked, confused. "Who are you bringing me to? What kind of assassin would hide in this ancient, traditional monastery?"
"He's not hiding for the reason you're thinking," Akata whispered. "He's hiding from people, he's scared. And nobody knows who he is. We just call him The Fire Nomad. This man, ragged, lonely, and empty, he's a Firebender, always traveling, without a home."
"Well, if he's an assassin, then I'll need him either way," Shirou replied, while opening a small wooden door, "There's someone who needs to be killed in The Western Air Temple."
"Shirou," Akata quizzically muttered, "I think you're obsessed with killing this person. I know it just sounds like cliche monk-talk, but you should choose a non-violent solution to your troubles. Killing only leads to more killing. Be peaceful. Why don't don't you just stay here and live with us?"
Shirou stopped in the hallway. "It's complicated. After 18 years in a palace of ice, watching my brothers and sister Waterbend, growing better and better, impressing my parents, I grew bored of waiting. I needed to be 30 to join the military, And 20 to start training. I had no friends. Royalty was just something to make you lazy and careless. So I left the Water Tribe. And I don't want that to happen again. Soon I would become popular in this town, and popularity makes you stupid. I need to leave. I need the Fire Nomad."
Akata looked down. "I guess you're in the right place then." He stared at a small wooden door in the end of the room. "He's in there."
Shirou looked at the door. It was rotting, old, and coated with spiderwebs. Hesitantly, he knocked.
He knocked again, harder this time.
Shirou picked his hand up, clenched his fists, and thrust in on the old, rotting, door, which immediately cracked open, and fell apart below him, splinters shooting in every direction. He stepped back, losing balance, and fell over backwards in the pile of destroyed wood, smashing the back of his head on the hard, stone floor.
"The monks are going to kill you," Akata said, as a dark figure's silhouette appeared in the doorway.
"What are you doing here?" the man said, stepping into the light of the candle. He was revealed to be thin and scraggly, shivering in fright. "Who dares disrupt the Fire Nomad?"
Shirou stood up, brushing splinters off his tunic. "I do." and when he looked at the man carefully, The Fire Nomad seemed awfully familiar. "Wait a second, I remember you."
The Fire Nomad gasped.
Shirou cleared his throat. "You're that guy from the Fire Days Festival, aren't you? Shinji, isn't it?"
The man stepped back, aghast. "Who are you? How did you know that? Wait, you're a bandit, aren't you? You're a spy for the Quadrination Bandits! You must be! Trying to get my bounty, aren't you?"
Akata looked confused. "Shinji? The Fire Nomad's name is Shinji?" He looked at the man. "Is your name Shinji?"
"And who are the Quadrination Bandits?" Shirou asked.
The assassin revealed as Shinji scowled, raising his fists. "Liars! Get out! Get out or I'll blast your head off!"
"We're not liars," Shirou stated. "And we're not leaving. I saw you performing in the Fire Days Festival about three months ago. You announced your name to the crowds. And now I want to hire you. I want you to kill someone for me."
Akata nodded his head in agreement.
"Very well," Shinji said angrily. "But you'll only get my help at a price."
"Do you want money?" Shirou asked.
"I have no interest in money," he replied. " I will help you kill whoever you want dead, as long as you protect me from the Quadrination Bandits."
Shirou looked confused. "Who are they? What do they want with you?"
Shinji turned away his head. "It's a long story. More than 200 hundred years ago, my great-great grandfather was an admiral for the Fire Nation during The War. Before he died during a raid to the Northern Water Tribe, he tried killing the Moon Spirit, and since then our family has been cursed. Ten years ago, only at the age of fourteen, I traveled into the Spirit World, and met with a frightening spirit named Koh. I tricked him to lift my family's curse, and it worked. When he found out what happened, as a price he layed a new curse to me. A bounty. Koh made sure that whoever killed me would get a treasure greater than the biggest treasure in the world. More useful than power, and rarer than gold. The reward that Koh promised to anyone that killed me was immortality. He wanted me, the boy who fooled a spirit, to suffer. And since than I've had to worry about the Quadrination Bandits, an organization whose sole purpose is to get my reward, to kill me. The Bandits have four members, master benders from each nation. They want me dead. To avoid their grasp I have to travel around the world, cautious to give out my real name. Shinji. Before I hid here, I was hired for the Fire Days Festival Staff, just like you said. And before that, I lived in a small Earth Kingdom village. And before that I lived on a sailboat in the middle of the ocean."
"Woah," Shirou said, "I think you'll be good for what I need you for."
"What's that?" he asked.
"I need you to kill the Avatar."
Shinji wasn't even phased. "If you'll protect me from the Quadrination Bandits, then it's a deal. Lets get going. We have work to do."
As they were leaving, Shirou looked behind him at Akata.
"Don't kill her, Shirou," he said. "Be nice. Don't kill her."
"I'll think about it."
"And Shirou," he said. "Bye. I'll miss you."
"Bye, Akata. I'm sure we'll meet up again somewhere"
Hours later, Shirou and Shinji were packing their supplies into a small sailboat. Both of them we're silent. They had been up all night planning, and now they were about to leave, and the sun hadn't even risen.
"Let's go," Shirou said, "It's a long way to the Western Air Temple."
"It will be easy," Shinji muttered.
"Don't get your hopes up. We're just two guys on a boat, against the Avatar, with a gang of powerful bandits on our toes. In all reality, we probably won't win."
For the collective works of the author, go here.