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Previously on The Avatar Rhythm
|"Shirou opened his eyes to see the waste around him. After the fall, he was only left wearing a thin scorched tunic and shorts, with his hair left scraggly and charred. Stones settled over his chest, and a large boulder was upon his leg. Sadly, the distant place he landed in looked even worse. Rocks circled the area, and ash covered the ground. There were still small flames leaping around the dead grass covering the ground that hadn't already been burned. It was a wasteland, and Shirou was stuck in the middle of it. There in the ashes was his blackened Water Tribe bracelet, and when he dug around near it, there was a picture frame. He scraped off the black burns on the glass, and saw the picture of Kaito, the grandfather which motivated him through this. And he was going to motivate him now, too. With his back aching, he turned around, and was sorry to see that Royal Chaldera City only seemed like a speck in the distance. He must have been rolling for a long time. "|
|— From Into the Fire.|
|Out of the Ashes|
June 28, 2011
This is Chapter 9 in The Avatar Rhythm Series
The sun rose over the outskirts of the Fire Nation that morning as Shirou awoke in his camp of stone and fire. Against the will of his aching back, he pushed the large boulder off his leg, and revealed a 6 inch long strip of skin that was covered in a dark purple bruise, with bleeding scabs scattered around its perimeter.
"Ouch," Shirou muttered to himself, as he knocked away the gravel and stones over his body. The fire around him had burned all night, and was still burning now. When Shirou lifted his charred tunic up, he was horrified to see a layer of ash had coated his skin underneath. He would die just for one shower, but that would have to wait. Time was running out, and he needed to get back to Royal Chaldera. His first stop was a small village he saw in the distance. It's smoke signaled there were people living there right now, and that meant there had to be someplace to rest, and someplace to be cleaned.
Shirou got up, stretched his legs, put on the Water Tribe bracelet that had tumbled down with him, and looked into the horizon at the nearby village.
Then, he started walking.
After about 1,000 feet of burning gravel roads, shoes wearing out, and smoky eyes, Shirou got closer and closer to the village, and an old man became visible at its outskirts.
"Hey!" the man shouted, "Where you come from? I saw you get out-a that rockslide!"
Shirou walked up to him, but gazed up at the sign above them. It read, "Fire Lily Village". The town was desolate and lonely, with just a few thin citizens and members of The Procession wandering around the overgrown stone streets. "The town's name," the man explained, "Is in honor of the Fire Lily, a native flower that grows in countless numbers here. During summertime, they will bloom a magnificent red that looks almost like fire. It's really an amazing-"
"I don't care about the plant," Shirou answered. "I've been stuck in a bed of burning earth for the past twelve hours and I need a place to rest. What do you got?" The man was taken aback, but became organized and spoke. "Well, this is a small town, but we do have the Fire Lily Inn. It's only got two rooms, and you should be lucky! The first was just taken yesterday by some group of people, and you can have the second."
"Thank You," Shirou replied. "Show me where it is."
Hours later, Shirou was resting in his rented room of the Fire Lily Inn. He had no money with him, and had to pay by giving up his bracelet. It didn't matter though, because this was a sleep he longed for. The only problem was that the group of people in the other room were so loud, he could barely get an eye closed.
"Hahaha!" he heard through the thin wooden walls. "We'll get him good! Now, do you have the lawbook?"
Shirou looked confused, and listened some more.
"Okay, okay, only the boss will see Taro today. Come on, we'll all get to see him during his Agni-Kai! Hahaha!"
Suddenly, Shirou became interested, and pushed his ear up against the wall between rooms. Somehow, he was afraid of what might be spoken.
"Let boss speak!" Someone with a gruff, low voice called out.
Then Shirou heard a familiar voice, but he couldn't quite place it. "Settle down everyone. I have brought the official Fire Nation lawbook, last revised by Fire Lord Kazihiro. If it wasn't for that revision, our plan wouldn't be possible." This voice was probably the boss.
"Wait, don't we already know the plan?" asked the gruff voice.
"You don't know why it works," replied the boss. "Basically, were going to send The Fire Lord to prison through a fault in our own National Law. Nothing we do will be illegal."
Shirou raised an eyebrow as the boss continued. "There are three laws we have to know. The first is called the Law of Fatal Agni-Kai. It tells that Agni-Kai battles can only be to the death if both players agree on it beforehand. But there is one exception. If any common citizen or child under the age of 18 attempts to kill somebody from the Royal Family, they must face the Fire Lord in a fatal Agni-Kai."
"Where are you going with this?" asked a new female voice from the other room.
The boss answered. "The second law you must know is the Fire Nation Murder Law. When anyone, regardless of rank or royalty, kills another person, unless it's in a Fatal Agni-Kai match that both players have agreed on, the murderer must be sent directly to jail for a one-year period. After that, the government may choose what to do with them."
Shirou was astonished. Here, right in the Fire Lily inn, he happened to step upon the hidden plan to put the Fire Nation in waste. But then, he realized there was more.
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?"
Shirou got the chills in his room when he heard what the boss said.
"A young girl named Hotaru."
And suddenly, the familiar voice clicked in place, and that made Shirou shiver. The boss of this criminal organization he was overhearing was Governor Goro, Hotaru's own father. He still couldn't believe it.
"And the last law you must know," Goro said, "Is the Non-Royal Heir Law. It says that if the Fire Lord is put out of office under any circumstances, and he has no wife or children, then the highest ranking governor can temporarily take the throne."
The gruff voice gasped.
"Being the highest ranking governor in the Fire Nation," Goro announced, "I will take the throne. Being the highest ranking governor in the Fire Nation, I will decide what to do with Taro after his year in jail is over. Being the highest ranking governor in the Fire Nation," he shouted with a cackle, "I, Fire Lord Goro, will rule this Nation with an iron fist. Maybe I'll have to give up my child, but if she went off to the Western Air Temple, it wouldn't be very much different."
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.
After all, Hotaru had once called him brave, that she liked his guts, and Taro had said he had a heart brighter than anyone else at their first meeting.
So Shirou ran out the Fire Lily Inn, and started running. Running out of the ashes, and into something much, much worse.
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