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Previously on The Avatar Rhythm
|"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, has 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.""|
|— From The Fire Lord|
|""You have to be calm," he whispered. "You have to be very, very calm. Just breathe, and be calm. Feel your chi run through your blood. Feel your chi become calm and clear."|
Shirou suddenly pulled his knife out from it's sheath, and held it inches in front of her face.
|— From The Meeting|
|The First Seminar|
June 26, 2011
This is Chapter 7 in The Avatar Rhythm Series
As beads of sweat ran down his forehead, Shirou sprinted through the halls of the Fire Nation Royal Palace. He didn't even seem to notice the several Fire Lord portraits lining the walls. All Shirou could think about was a dreadful flashback that was taking over his mind. Just an hour ago, he was in Hotaru's porch, and saw her eyes glow a color that burned through his heart. After staring in shock, he sprinted out the door, to the Royal Palace, and didn't look back. His best friend was just revealed to be his worst enemy, and to him, the sides of good and bad had become twisted. Was it right to kill the Avatar, his friend? Was it wrong to keep 18 years worth of well-earned revenge inside of him?
Snapping out of it, Shirou yelled at the top of his lungs in the hall. "Taro! I need to see you! Taro! I need your help!"
His scream faded, and the hallway remained silent. But that didn't matter. Shirou turned around a corner, and saw a huge door, draped with red curtains embroidered with the symbol of the Fire Nation. It all came back to him. This was the Fire Lord's room.
Without much hesitation, he pushed aside the curtains, and stepped into an enormous room, with spiraling gold pillars, and only leaping red flames lighting the large emptiness. Like the last time he was here, Fire Lord Taro was not sitting upon his throne, but instead was kneeling on the wooden floor, with his back turned to the door.
Shirou was a bit scared, but became organized enough speak. "Taro, I have something to talk to you about."
"No," the Fire Lord answered, "I have something to talk to you about! Just yesterday, I received a letter straight from the Water Tribe's royal city. It was written by your father Riku ."
"The message was also sent to the Earth King and the New Air Nomad's Council of Elders. It said that his beloved son Shirou had gone missing from the North Pole without any notice. I didn't hear a word of this, and you betrayed your own father. The letter said that everyone in the Water Tribe was very worried about you and your well-being."
Shirou was quick with a comeback. "That letter was a lie. If he really liked me, if I was really his beloved son, I wouldn't have ran away in the first place. If he was really my kind-hearted father, then why did I feel so left out and forgotten all my life?"
Fire Lord Taro turned around, and glared at Shirou eye-to-eye.
"I want you to know something, and you better believe it. If I was anyone but me, you would be on this floor crying your head off right now until we scheduled a boat to pick you up and bring you home! But, I am me, and I'm not going to do that. I'm going to write back to Riku, and tell him that his son is perfectly safe and under my care. So you better be thankful, because from being the oldest in a family of six, I learned a lot about fathers. And I learned that they never, ever, hate their children. So stop making mean excuses and listen to me. Because now that I know you came here to stay, I am your guardian, and I command you to stop. And in return I will help you solve your troubles."
As the sun set farther down the horizon, Shirou replied. "My troubles cannot be fixed. 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!"
The Fire Lord kept his cool, and stared into the distance. "Shirou my friend, I happen to be the only person besides her parents and the Fire Sages to know that. When every Fire Nation child is born, their feet are ceremonially dipped in warm ashes to test if they are the Avatar. When we did the test to Hotaru, there were scorch marks left on the chi paths in her feet. Within days, the scar was gone, but we knew her secret. You may be wondering why she was born so long after Avatar Mikio's estimated death date. That is because Mikio wanted to leave a final imprint on the world by pretending to die four months before he actually did. The secret has always been very truthfully kept. Until now."
Shirou shook his head in frustration. "Taro! I have bigger problems to think about! What should I do? I don't want to kill Hotaru but I don't want the Avatar to leave unharmed. Since I learned about my grandfather Kaito, I've set these life morals that are all crashing down around me! It's a lose-lose situation, and I have to do something! I don't even know why I came here! Just a couple hours ago, I thought this life was going to be the most perfect thing. Now, I wish I never met Hotaru. What do you suggest I do?"
Taro took a deep breath. "Here is something that I have learned over the years. Every lose-lose situation is a win-win situation from an optimistic point of view. You might say that either Hotaru dies or you won't get your revenge, but I might say you either spare Hotaru or get your revenge. Then, you'll get something good both ways."
"Hey," Shirou exclaimed, smiling, "That's actually pretty cool."
Taro still continued. "Finding your options is good, but choosing the right one is the real task you must face. Which you choose, I can't change, but always remember that sometimes the world's balance must come before personal satisfaction. I cannot disrupt your destiny, because then it would be mine."
The two looked at each other straight in the face, locking eyes. "And as your guardian," the Fire Lord said, "I command you to leave. I will not help you any more than I already have."
Shirou started backing away, and muttered two words before running out the door.
Hours later, the sky was pitch black, and stars that were millions of miles away shone brightly in the horizon. Just about everyone but Shirou was asleep. For the past two hours, he had been reading his Fire Lord book, thinking and thinking. He knew that Taro was right, but there was still some old morals lingering in his soul that just were dying to have a purpose. There was a war inside himself, and now after Taro's speech, both sides seemed good. Maybe he wouldn't kill Hotaru, but he'd give her a piece of his mind, and show that death was just around the corner. Maybe he wouldn't get the revenge he longed for, but at least he'd get a taste of it. Maybe Hotaru was his friend, but now, that time had ended.
Little did Shirou know, there were more terrible problems than Hotaru and death to come. Little did Shirou know, his ex-friend's life wasn't the only thing that was going to be at risk. Little did Shirou know, things were about to get a lot worse.
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