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Previously on The Avatar Rhythm
|"You must think it's kind of ironic that I came to the only school where Firebending isn't a required class to learn the art. But, the thing is, the program they have is apparently amazing, and I have to get good. The Fire Days Festival is coming to the Royal Plaza next week, and my father signed me up to perform."|
|— Hotaru from Everburn Academy|
|The Fire Days Festival|
June 5, 2011
This is Chapter 5 in the The Avatar Rhythm Series
It wasn't an ordinary day in the Fire Nation Capital Plaza. Ships full of colorful cargo were streaming into the harbor, and men of all different shapes and sizes were setting up large red tents around town, with flames and laughter filling up the gaps.
Meanwhile, Hotaru and Shirou were walking down to the commotion from Royal Chaldera City, gazing at the Fire Days Festival being built from above.
"What will I do?" Hotaru asked, as they trudged down a long, stone staircase. "I have to do a complete Firebending form in front of everyone, in just about 1 and a half hours. What if I mess up, or if I fall, or my bending is stopped by a huge storm cloud passing in front of the sun?"
"Hey, cool off," Shirou said, "You're an expert Firebender. Anyway, look at the sky. It's just about as clear as it gets."
He was right. There couldn't be a better day for the Festivals to happen. Still, Hotaru kept a worried look on her face.
"You don't get it Shirou," she said. "You're not a bender. If I mess up on this, my dad, my teachers, Taro, the crowds, they'll all get mad at me. I've only been bending for the past year, and I haven't started taking real lessons since we enrolled in Everburn Academy this year."
The rest of the walk was silent.
Down in the Festival Tents, performers were starting to dress up and practice, as the first Fire Nation families were arriving to watch the events. As the day turned to evening, more people came to the see the shows. Smoke and smiles filled every tent, and the Fire Nation Capital was experiencing one of the most exciting times since The War ended.
After Shirou split up with Hotaru, wishing her luck for a good show, he drifted into the nearest tent. There was a large man in an exotic red outfit standing on a podium, telling jokes and making fire.
"Hey everyone," he said, "Just to let you all know, it's two-thirty right now, so the grand ceremony of these Festivals will be starting in about a half hour. So let's make this a half hour you'll want to remember!"
Two short henchmen of his, sent streams of fire into the air, and the crowd went wild. Shirou was disgusted, and moved to the next tent, which was putting on a Firebender magic show. By the looks of it, this wasn't going to be as cheesy and pointless as the last one.
There was a tall, 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."
He pulled out a wheeled cage into the room, with a dragon hawk inside, flapping it's wings and bashing it's head against the wire.
"This is my messenger bird," Shinji said giving the audience a glare or two. "I need to send him somewhere, but a villain trapped the poor bird up in this prison, and I just can't seem to get him out." As if the dragon hawk was agreeing with his owner, it gave out a high pitched cry of distress, and the crowd gave a mournful sigh.
"Oh, I feel so bad for him!" Shinji wailed. "I can't get him out and I've spent far too long watching him suffer." He pulled back his fist, and an ember or two shot out from between his crusty fingers.
Once the crowd realized what the magician was going to do to that harmless bird, a gasp ran through the air, but before they could farther react, it was too late. Shinji shot out his fist, and huge ball of fire burst into the cage, with a quivering dragon hawk inside.
"No..." whispered Shirou to himself.
But, amazingly, as the smoke cleared, and a hawk-less cage was left on the stage, Shinji kept a smile on his face, because after a couple seconds of shock, an-unharmed dragon-hawk, the same one from the magic trick, flew around the tent, and the audience burst into an over-enthusiastic applause.
Shirou, extremely eager to see the next trick, was stopped by hand on his shoulder. As he looked around, he realized the hand belonged to Governor Goro, Hotaru's father.
"Hello Shirou," he said cheerfully, "I see you like the magic show."
Shirou nodded his head.
"Well, anyway," Goro continued, "Hotaru is about to perform, and I just was wondering if you wanted to see the performance."
"Sure," stated Shirou, as he followed Goro under a tent flap.
As the afternoon started to drift away, and night crept in, more and more people streamed into various tents and houses. Shirou and Goro, along with many other anxious citizens, were gathering around a huge stage in the center of the Fire Days Festival grounds, and standing around the sidelines were members of The Procession, the group of Earth Kingdom taxpayers that Goro had described around a week ago. A tall man in a royal outfit was speaking to the audience.
"Everyone, gather today for an assembly of happy citizens like you've never seen before," he shouted.
"These events have been traveling around Fire Nation territory for more than 300 years. Now, it arrives once again in the Fire Nation Capital. To introduce the Fire Days Festival, let us salute, Fire Lord Taro!"
On key, the Fire Lord, with dark red and gold robes flowing behind him, strolled onto the stage, with a smile on his face.
"Welcome!" he proclaimed, "Welcome to the fourty-second Fire Days Festival. Let's thank all the performers for coming here, and you for attending! To start off the grand ceremonies, we have a spectacular Firebending performance from a student straight from the capital's own Everburn Academy. Hotaru of Royal Chaldera City, amaze us."
Hotaru walked out of the curtains and on to the stage, quivering just the slightest bit. She was dressed in long robes and armor, and if you weren't friends with her, it would be hard to tell that it was Hotaru.
She got into position, with knees bent, and eyes looking far, and then moved back one of her feet, raising her arms at the same time, bringing a ring of fire up and around her, spinning and twirling in a red hot-blaze. Hotaru gave a couple kicks, and flames shot out around her as she started to step forward.
As far as Shirou could tell, the crowd was amazed at the sight of Hotaru hopping about the stage, almost dancing, with flames and embers swirling around her. It was a mixture of grace and fury, but all wound together so nicely that it was hard to tell the two feelings apart.
On the stage, Hotaru was walking forwards, bringing her arms up to create a huge wave of flames behind her. As bits of ash sprinkled onto the audience, they knew that this was the finale.
Hotaru brought her hands up, as the great wave behind her shrunk and swirled around her fists. Embers were swirling around the sky, lighting it up with red, cracking stars. The air was thickening with smoke. Everyone was amazed. And suddenly, Hotaru sent out a hot, burning fist, but this time something different happened.
Instead of shooting out with the punch, all the flames and smoke flew out behind her, and a huge blue bolt of lightning blasted from her fist, filling the stadium with a light electrical charge, shooting sparks from all sides of the sky.
It wasn't like anything Shirou had ever seen before. The sky was just flickering blue, on and off, all because of Hotaru's punch. When he glanced over his shoulder, Goro looked like he was on the verge of ever happy tears.
"You proud of her?" Shirou asked, almost definite on what the answer would be.
"More proud than you could imagine."
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