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March 11, 2014
In the misty, murky rain I waited, beneath the dark faltering clouds I wandered the premises, hoping- I was, to my disdain very prepared to leave, I had always counted patience as one of my virtues and qualities, yet undoubtedly it almost failed me. The brown mahogany door, carved simplistic and set against the cream white of the building slowly and suddenly opened by a crease, moaning with seemingly planned anticipation. I waited, unsure of what to do, standing among unfamiliar rural villages of the The Fire Nation, I was out of my element. The door remained empty- I shivered, it opened to dark shadows. The darkness unnerved me, when finally he stepped through. Old he was, in simple gowns that were loose around his legs and his shirt was sleeveless.
"Hello?" I offered.
Be swift in speech of your intentions and flee if you must, I'm old, not weak.
He was so...abrupt and blunt-
"I have no intention to harm you or offend You in any way."
He disappeared into the darkness, I expected the door to close on me then and there, but to my surprise he returned, with an umbrella.
Your getting wet! He announced with a fiery grin...and cold glassy eyes. The spirits are weeping...do you enjoy their tears wetting your brow?
What a strange thing to say, I noted on the atmosphere he carried with him, unnerving, standing alone in front of a modest house in a plain and desolate yard, void of everything but a rusting, long since unused swing set that oscillated slowly.
He made no rush to speak, in fact, I allowed the rain to spill and moisten my silks for 5 minutes longer. He stood there still, the smile removed but the gold of his eyes remaining lifeless, jaws and stubble chewed slowly in a constant circular motion. His grey hairs frayed about in the gust.
A turtle hound bounded over from cover of a large elder tree and with silky steps he arrived at the veranda, out of sight again. I finally approached steps and stood face to face with him The turtle hound barked. I peered nervously at his pointed fangs...and his relaxed and comforted posture.
"Is he yours?
The old man leaned over chuckled half-heartedly with more lifeless eyes No, come in.
"Who's is it?"
Does it matter? Come in.
May I make a quick note? No, this is not the recount. I simply am stating the conditions of which I met Sozin. As a writer I find it is unequivocally my purpose to portray a character, a persona in perfect detail. And his is so aberrant, so uncommon it would be wrong not to explain from the outside observation. To explain him from within is...difficult. I have concluded that it would be best to record his words to the point for minute effect or to obtain coherence. Luckily he is poetic, and his words not very different from my own.
Unwilling to enter his premises, I waited in the veranda at a red table of lavish design and soft, cushioned seats. I waited for even longer till he returned with piping hot tea and two boxes. After pouring a cup for us both he offered me a sweet, and then he folded his legs quite femininely despite his physique.
What is it you wish to know? he asked solemnly as he fervently drank his tea.
"Are you familiar with the tea house by the florist?" I asked.
"I told them of my plight, and I asked if anyone in the village had a story to tell."
"One from before and after preferably."
Before and after?
"Yes the century before the Comet that ended the Hundred Year War and its continuation after."
So why do you need me?
"I was told you were a grand story teller with a grand tale."
Yes...Well I think so....yes in my mind story is a grand one, or maybe it is only an illusion of grandeur. It is unclear to me...a man's conscience is a strange thing...It could be a terrible tale, maybe it is dull and unrefined, but the strange forces at work you find in the corners of my mind...have warped my vision...
Yes he did say that!...the strangeness....it flowed from his tongue, and it intrigued me!! He intrigued me! Do you understand the struggle I must face with my work? Now know this, I am writing a book, a collection of consciences and memoirs from the old era, and to do this I find the most interesting person and write notes. These are my notes.
"Will you tell me?"
No, it is too long. I will however, talk about a few moments of my life, that have affected me to say the least...Are you ready for them now?
Then listen! and listen closely, he said, For I led a great life, I unequivocally do deserve and am worthy of every and any, if any, accolades you have the power to bestow.
I pulled from my pocket a black fountain pen, and here oh expectant reader, if you have had the patience and resilience to wait, I leave you briefly to be absorbed by his story, while I write and watch the rounded clouds of steam rise into the air from the tea in my cup.
My father often told me I was special, destined for greatness...Unequivocally I concluded that he was both correct and incorrect. My tale begins with my father's words, for no babe retains such early memories, despite longing hearts and empty minds or a strong lust for identity, our minds of material matters will objectify these thoughts if they persist, and we'll only invent memories we wished we had. So I take my father's words for a truth, it accounts for too much to be a lie.
Son, fortunately you were born to patriots, and it was beneath the golden brilliance of Sozin's comet that you were born into this world. Beneath the glare of a trailing spark, beneath scarlet skies of a world unbalanced by the humour of the universe. I will never cease to remind you that most fire benders could only experience this...but you were born into spiritual flux...blessed by Sozin himself!
But patriotism is fragile and its songs and beliefs ceased, you were born stronger than any man and yet you had no control over your breathing. The first sudden fire made me realise the truth of our predicament...Like a falling star, it glittered but brought no luck or happiness, just dread, a foreboding sense of dread...It was the second fire you caused that burned down a maid, screaming she was as the vermilion flames crawled across skin burning her black and lifeless, her throaty call was actually a plea from help, but in the confines of the red nursing room where your mother lay for your birth, when we sweated rivers of salt when confronted by your flames we did not hear her. I did not hear the others either when they joined her, the bodies burning, acrid and acidic stenches filled the room as their bodies slowly gooed. But, No, remember? You did not harm your mother, but yes you scared me dearly. The others did burn, but the filthy truth of it all was I was genuinely relieved...
Son, know this, in these situations a man begins to know himself, and I was only for your mother. While their voices became I dying chorus, I smiled to see your mother had survived the ordeal, laying with you in her arms. I realised I did nothing to keep the fires at bay, for they had not threatened us. And in that moment of ash we felt strong. Our family lived, the weak died, we, your mother and I we remembered our nurse and the portrait of Sozin, of the restaurant we first ate together, and his portrait buy the window. Our wedding when his monument protected us from jealous winds and gusts...and in that moment
I, Sozin, was born in greatness.
He stopped there, and I only stared in silence. The mood was frozen in the moment, the rain stopped and the sun shone happily upon the veranda. His grotesque beginning put down, immortalised in ink, and he opened his second box.
"What happened to your mother?"
She died when I was 3 years old. he replied as he pulled out a pipe to smoke and slowly filled it with tobacco. And with his breathing hardening the contents burned, and I watched his sombre smoking, the many ringlets of ash rolled slowly away.
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