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Previously On The Avatar Rhythm
|"Later that night, Shirou was escorted to a house three blocks away from the Royal Palace in a Komodo Rhino drawn carriage. As Shirou left, the guide exclaimed, "We are honored to house the son of Chief Riku," and was gone. Shirou was exhausted from his escape of the Northern Water Tribe. He hadn't told anyone the Chief did not even know of his coming here."|
|— From The Stranger|
|"When I came of joining age, the Dry Warriors had disbanded. With three brothers and a sister who were all Waterbenders, I was soon forgotten by my parents, enveloped in a world of royalty. The Avatar, an overly publicized freak who can bend all the elements ruined the life I never had.""|
|— From The Stranger|
|The Fire Lord|
April 26, 2011
This is Chapter 2 of the The Avatar Rhythm Series.
A warm morning mist was settling on Royal Chaldera city. The first sounds of the day were starting to be heard in the neighborhood.
Inside his house, Shirou's eyes quickly fluttered open at the sound of the palace bells. "Ughh," he grumbled, as the grogginess of his body started to slowly fade out. "Great. Morning." As far as he could tell, it was raining outside, and by the looks of it, it wouldn't clear up quickly. Shirou, fully awake, rolled out of his bed and went to get breakfast of Frosted Fire Flakes, which he ate in peace.
All of a sudden, Shirou's doorbell rang, and he wearily rushed to see who it was. Surprisingly, Governor Goro, who had eaten dinner with him on the night of his arrival, was waiting on his doorstep.
"Shirou!" He exclaimed, "It's so great to see you again! How have you been doing?" Shirou shrugged his shoulders. "Very well. I've heard you've been talking with my daughter Hotaru. She's such a lovely child. Anyway," he continued, noticing his listener's exhausted form, "You have big news up ahead. I have received a message from Fire Lord Taro, and he wishes to see you this afternoon in the palace. I hear he has something to talk to you about." Shirou gave him a confused glance. "Well, the message said it's some sort of welcome. He wants to know how the Water Tribe is doing." Shirou's eyes widened. "I will escort you there," Goro said. And they were off into the storm, dripping, and soaking, and bringing frowns.
Later that day, Shirou was being brought to the palace on the back of a Komodo Rhino. As they rode through a small, cobblestone road, Shirou noticed a band of people with green uniforms that were leaning against a tall brick wall.
"Who are those guys?" Shirou asked, as the Komodo Rhino strolled away.
"Crazy Earth Kingdom taxpayers," Goro replied. "They call themselves The Procession. They torture every citizen from every nation. The Earth Kingdom pays them with the taxes they collect, so only about half of the money we give away is actually given to the government. I got news that they just very recently started working in the Water Tribes, too. Oh, we're at the palace now!"
He was right. Looming above Shirou was a huge golden building, with a large red tower, above that.
"Good luck," Governor Goro said from the top of the large, horned animal. "Many of the Fire Lord's men have went off for a meeting with the Fire Sages today, and won't be in the palace. As a matter of fact, I have to get there after this. Just take a left once you come into the palace. The Fire Lord's room is straight across the main hall." And with that, he was gone, eager to get out of the storm.
Shirou just stood there for a moment in the rain. Did he really want to do this?
Hesitantly, Shirou opened the large palace doors. Like Goro had expected, the hall was empty. Before he could find where he was supposed to go, he was enveloped in the tremendous pictures of past Fire Lords covering the walls. The art was amazing, but more importantly, the legend that it told was even greater. Only once had his father told Shirou the story of the Fire Lords. Sozin, the bringer of The Comet and war. Azulon, a Firebender of power and devastation. Ozai, the conquered warlord. Zuko, the balance seeker. Lu Ten, the lost ruler. Kazihiro, the man of great peace. Taro, the first trusted. But something puzzled him about the list of paintings. In between the Ozai and Zuko pictures, lay an almost blank canvas. Only a faint outline of a women and blue fire motifs could be seen.
Before there was time to ponder the absence, he jumped at the startling voice from behind. "The history is not one to be forgotten." Shirou looked behind him, at a tall, strong-looking man, dressed in red velvet robes and golden armor. "Taro," he said. The Fire Lord nodded. "You must be Shirou. Isn't it so easy to be sucked up by great art? Come follow me to my room. We have more important matters to discuss."
The Fire Lord's room was lit up with the blaze of fire surrounding his throne, that Taro did not even bother sitting atop. Instead, when they got there, he just sat down on the wooden floor next to Shirou. For a couple minutes, they just quietly gazed at the high pillars and designs above them.
Shirou looked puzzled. "But Taro," he said. "What do you mean? Why are you telling me this? Did I come here for reasons other than a lecture?" The Fire Lord kept his cool. "Calm yourself, it will all be okay. You came here so I could see you. I wanted to get to meet the Water Chief's son. I wanted to see what he was like, and why he is so strong." Shirou raised an eyebrow. "A nineteen year old boy that gave up a life of royalty and came here, to learn in a new life. You are very bold, and brave." Suddenly, a flashback of what Hotaru had told him flashed up in his mind. "I like your penmanship, and your guts. Most people don't have the heart to say who they hate." She was saying he was brave in a way too. Maybe, maybe he was as Taro described him.
The Fire Lord continued. "I welcome you more than any other individual that has immigrated here. I believe that you, Shirou of the Water Tribe, have a heart brighter than anyone else. And that's not just because of you coming. Ever since you got to Royal Chaldera, I've been watching every move of yours, every breath. I've studied each decision you've made. I can tell."
Confusion, anger, and guilt had been raising in Shirou's body, and now, it burst. "Stop! Please! Just welcome me! I'm not some sort of saint. I don't want to be treated like a guest of honor! All I wanted when I came here was to be a refugee, a loner. I never expected to live among the noble people, and be honored and sent around!!! Can't I just go to Everburn Academy and learn a thing or two?" And with that, Shirou stomped off in an uncontrollable fury.
Taro sighed. "Just like my great grandfather. He's on thin ice, and one wrong move may break his ground."
Many thoughts and shameful feelings crossed minds that night. Shirou felt more guilty than ever. "Why did I do that?" He asked himself. "He's the wisest man in the world, and when I get advice, I put him down just about instantly." After staring off into space for a while, Shirou sorrowfully rummaged through the few belongings he brought with him from the Northern Water Tribe. A knife, coat, bracelet, family picture, and a sketch of Kaito. But as he looked around, he found one more object that was almost entirely forgotten. As a matter of fact, he wasn't really sure why he brought it.
It was a book. Carved into the spine was the title, "The Fire Lord". Somehow he knew he'd need it. Shirou opened the book, and started reading.
Even on the first page, there was a useful bit of inspiration. "Dedicated to the Strangers."
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