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|"Colors of Fire"|
Lost and Found
February 25, 2012
Author's note of June 24, 2015: This chapter is in the process of being rewritten. I hope to update it soon and I will keep my subscribers (and anyone else who desires to be kept in the loop) know the moment it happens.
Previously on Heiress of the Nile
Seventeen-year-old Lostris had a dream about her past, about a fateful day in the Earth Kingdom province of Gebel Nagara. During the assault on the city, Lostris, her sister, Tayla, and their caretaker Taita managed to escape, parting from Queen Amanra forever. Their escape did not last, and in the commotion of the ensuing battle, Taita was knocked out cold, and Tayla was grabbed, her ultimate faith unknown to Lostris.
A flock of turtle ducks flew up, startled by the loud, dismayed cry of a young woman. Lostris had fallen backwards into the water, drenching the papyrus plants that obscured her drop from potentially prying eyes on the other banks of the great Nile River. Irritated, the princess pushed herself back onto her feet.
"Let's try that again, shall we?" Taita failed to suppress the amusement in his voice.
"Oh, I'm glad that you find my failure amusing!" Lostris snapped at him, frantically trying to untangle a slimy root out of her long, brown hair. "Come on! Let go, you stupid piece of perverted plant li—HA!" Almost hitting a nearby sunbathing badgerfrog, she tossed the plant aside. Its croak one of distress, the animal hopped away.
"Poor animal; he's going to have nightmares about giant plants trying to eat him tonight for sure." Taita laughed but quickly raised his hands in surrender upon seeing the deadly glare Lostris shot at him.
"Just ... Shut up, and let's go again." Annoyed, Lostris grunted and resumed her fighting stance.
Her mentor moved closer and loosened up her stance. "Princess, you know that you're not going to get this when you're agitated. Mere willpower, no matter how strong, will not help you to master this technique. You have to relax and focus." Lostris snorted in annoyance again, to which Taita raised his eyebrows. "Okay, that is not relaxing. Come on, close your eyes. Feel the rays of the sun. Feel its warmth fill your being. Breathe it in. You feel it?" Lostris nodded slightly. "Now bend it."
warmth fill your being. Breathe it in.
You feel it? Now bend it." - Taita.
She opened her eyes, a determined look donning her soft features. A drop of water ran down her cheek and fell towards its family below. The moment it dropped into the larger water, Lostris spread fire over the lagoon with a sweep of her left hand, quickly following up with a powerful half-moon fire kick of her right leg. Repeating the movement while nimbly shifting her weight through the waters, parting it, she brought her right palm up and her left hand down, fire trailing her motion. "Come on, focus. You can do this," Taita muttered inaudibly under his breath, as he watched the flames dance around her, engaging the princess in an eternal, blazing dance.
As Lostris completed her spin, she sent the fire forward with a decisive punch. While the powerful blast traveled on, she jumped up and executed a perfect roundhouse kick in order to bend a crossing fire arc to deprive the hypothetical opponent of any possible escape route. The power of the kick, however, was too much to control; she was flung backwards and plunged into the water. After thirty seconds, worried when she had not yet emerged, Taita waded over to the spot where she had vanished. Arriving there, he could not help but laugh as he saw the Crown Princess of the Fire Nation lying crossed armed on the bottom of the lagoon, pouting over her failed maneuver. Offering his hand, he pulled her to her feet and escorted her back to shore.
The secluded lagoon had a small island in the middle, surrounded by beds of papyrus plants, waving in the gentle late-morning breeze. Now that the waters had calmed down again, three heron ibises landed from the sky in the middle of the lagoon. With their long, curved beaks, they snatched one fish after the other out of the shallow, muddy waters. Taita had no eyes for nature's enchanting scenes, or for the birds loving the fish, as he feared another outburst from the princess. Lostris took a deep breath and lowered her eyes while exhaling, but she quickly raised her gaze again, smiling broadly.
"At least I didn't fly through the air; it was only a few meters this time. I definitely call that an improvement."
The mentor smiled at his student's lighthearted mood, but he could not help but feel the sour taste of anger and sadness sweep over him. This flash of darkness did not pass Lostris unnoticed.
"What is it, TaTa?"
Taita cracked another smile at his princess, fully aware that her use of the childhood nickname was not a coincidence, but a way to make sure that he would not try to dodge her question.
"Nothing, my princess." Lostris crossed her arms, and for a moment he had the feeling that it was his beloved Queen Amanra who was staring demandingly back at him; keeping his eyes locked on Lostris's, he revived Amanra's image a while longer. More talking to the late Queen herself than to her daughter, Taita's voice was a soft breeze, barely audible over the massive load of guilt the words carried with them. "I have failed you."
Lostris's optimism quickly vanished as she stared at her friend in utter disbelief. "How can you say that? You haven't failed me. Not now, not ever. It's not your fault that I can't get this move." She flashed her white teeth in a heartwarming manner. Her skin, caressed by the sun, had the color of oiled cedar wood, making her lovely smile stand out.
Overwhelmed with thoughts of Amanra, Taita was unable to keep looking into his student's eyes, and he pulled her in a close embrace, resting his chin on her head. "I love you as if you were my own, but I have failed you. You're seventeen; in two and a half months you'll be eighteen and eligible to ascend the throne like your father and mother have before you. And yet, I haven't been able to properly nourish your firebending prowess, not like your parents would've wanted, not to the extent I know you are capable of."
Lostris broke free of the embrace and took a few steps back, a concerned frown gracing her face while vividly refuting Taita's words. "You call that a failure? You are everything to me. I have everything because of you, as I wouldn't even be here if you hadn't found me in the desert that night!" Haunted by that painful memory and his guilt, she started to feel the sting of salty tears prickling behind her eyes, but her voice rang clear over the secluded little island. "After I lost Mom and Tayla, you were the one that took care of me. After the Phoenix Council had appointed Lord Naja as my legal guardian, you were the one that kept me safe. For as long as I can remember, you have been a shield over me. You have been my mentor and my tutor. You have taught me to read and to write, to sing and to dance. You have taught me the mysteries of the stars and the marvelous wonders of nature. You have taught me the finesse of the martial arts and the way of the bow. You have taught me firebending techniques against Naja's command, even though you're not a firebender yourself. You have shown me how to find happiness and contentment in many things. All that I am, all that I know, I owe to you. My mother had made you a free man, and yet you prefer to live a servant's life in order to keep your promise to her. I am grateful for everything you've done, and so is she. I may not remember much about her, but I do know that." A single tear broke through the watery barrier that Lostris had tried so hard to hold back. Completely ignoring the droplet's existence, she continued in a regal manner, poking his chest with her index finger to emphasize her words. "So don't you dare feel like you've failed me when you have saved me. I will not have any of it. Understand?"
Taita was moved by her sudden outburst. "You remind me so much of your mother right now; she would've yelled at me as well. Have I ever told you that?"
"Yeah, every time I yell at you."
The corners of his mouth rose to form a smile. "She would've been so proud."
"You think so?"
"No, I know so."
"I miss them so much, TaTa." She rushed forward into Taita's arms to be embraced like the little girl who missed her family. "I had that dream about them again last night." Every fiber in Taita's elder body tensed up, listening intently as Lostris proceeded. "The same dream as always. We were all so happy back then, but then the dream ends in that blinding white light; I wake up, and I will have lost them all over again." He gently caressed her long hair, as the girl fell silent for a moment. "I don't understand why the spirits keep forcing me to relive that night over and over again. Why do I need to lose them and have my heart ache for my family each time?"
"The spirits don't mean to be cruel. Sometimes they use dreams to cross the boundaries separating their world from ours to relay a message to those lucky enough to receive it. You have to figure out who saved you that night and what the source of the white light is. Everything in a dream always symbolizes something specific in one's life: A special person, a certain feeling or pain. Unmask that, demystify it, and the dream will go away. I know it is hard to relive your mother and sister's last moments, but the spirits always have a reason for everything. As soon as you understand, you'll find the answers you seek." Taita held Lostris at arm's length, studying her face, her cheeks glistening with silver tears. "I know you can unravel the mysteries of the spirits. They wouldn't have sent you that dream if they doubted that you could."
"You know, if the spirits have some sort of cosmic message for me," she commented, smiling through her grief, wiping away every visible trace of it, "then they should try sending a messenger hawk or something, not a freaking dream. In case they didn't know already, I am asleep then. Who thinks clearly when they're sleeping?"
"Well, dreams are the subconscious trying to deal with the things you've encountered in your life. So technically, you are thinking very clearly in your dreams as you are putting things in perspective then."
Lostris was dumbstruck at her mentor's quick reply. "Don't act smart with me, mister! That was so not the point! The spirits should just clearly state what they want or leave me alone. I don't need to relive my mother's last moments over and over again. And yes, it is only my mother's last moment. You said that it was hard to relive mom and Tayla's last moments, but my sister isn't dead." She felt the upcoming anger burn in the back of her throat like poison upon seeing Taita's pitiful look. "Don't look at me like that! I am not crazy and I am not holding onto the past. They never found her, Taita. Not a trace that she is alive, but not a trace that she is dead either ... unlike with Mom ..." Losing her train of thought for a moment, Lostris shook her head, and her blue-gray eyes found the sapphire disks of Taita. With fierce determination she was set on making her point known and stubbornly stared down his compassionate gaze. "Why is everyone so quick to assume that she's dead? I refuse to believe that she is; I won't believe I lost her as well, until the moment I see some proof of it!"
Not refuting her hopeful statement, Taita merely tucked a loose strand of hair behind Lostris's ear. "You know ... There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune." He smiled at her quizzical look. "You'll understand someday. For now, just remember to never lose hope. If you believe that she still is alive, then we will find her someday."
Taita stabbed the oars of their little boat deeply, creating a series of tiny whirlpools in the surface of the green water. Having fixed her hair, Lostris carefully slid the Crown Princess headpiece over her top-knot. Harmonizing perfectly with the royal tiara, the golden object glinted in the sunlight reflecting of the water, now shining like a field of diamonds in the midday sun. Her sweet voice rang through the air, spinning the words of an old love song.
"Taita, sing with me!"
Every single word you speak, every
Move you make, is a little gift
It's like I'm caught in a reverie
On the waves of your sea I drift
I want to --
The melodious sounds of the tenor and soprano traveled over the river and reached the guards on the shores before the rowing boat came into sight.
-- hold you, want to hug you
But I'm stuck soaring just above
Someday, the skies and the seas so blue
Will break the barrier - for love
A deep and powerful man's voice, lacking the clarity and purity of the others, softly muttered the end of the song to himself. Tanus averted his eyes from the princess in the boat and turned to the Royal Fire Guard that stood at the ready on the docks. With the timbre of a young elephant lion roaring over the desert, Tanus Harrab, Captain of the Fire Guard, bellowed his last orders to greet the princess and escort her back to the palace.
The honored guard respectfully bowed when the princess walked by. Tanus observed how she gracefully floated to the front of the convoy where Meren Cambyses stood beside the jewel-encrusted chariot drawn by two neatly curried horses; he helped her on the footplate and rose up beside her. Tanus turned his own mount and assumed his position in front of the chariot; he lifted his right hand with the fist clenched, and, as a single man, the column moved on to the palace that towered over the City of a Hundred Gates, beautiful Thebes.
Glistening and beautiful in gold and precious stones, the Grand Vizier of the Fire Nation and caretaker of the politically underage princess gazed in the direction of the docks from upon his balcony. Fixated on the Royal Procession drawing near, Naja's eyes, yellow and implacable like that of the hunting tiger leopard, radiated cruelty and ruthlessness. With regular exercise and swimming, he had in his early forties preserved the athletic body he had acquired during his days as Fire Lord Tamose's right hand in battle. The red wine in his glass swiveled around, representing the storm behind his calm exterior; a single drop of the ruby alcohol splattered the balcony rim.
"Can you explain something to me, General Intef?"
The general quickly stepped out of the shadows and made his obeisance. "My knowledge is yours, my Lord."
"How is it that she is still so loved by all, when the people hardly see her? How is it that the soldiers still worship the earth she struts on without her ever having raised a weapon? How is it that even the Imperial Fireguard reveres her like she was Rairet, the Fire Spirit herself, when she can't even perform more than the basic bending forms?" The venomous despise was clearly audible in the vizier's voice. Naja's knuckles whitened as his fingers strangled the slim neck of his wineglass, keeping his gaze riveted on the young princess who laughed and enjoyed herself with the second captain of her guard. "Spreading smiles wherever she goes ... It's disgusting. It's like an infected ulcer I can't cure. I took away the roots that bound her to this earth, and still she flourishes. I took away her bending which would prove she's worthy of being the Fire Nation's princess, and still she lights up the sky ... . So beautiful. So loved. So revered. So ... like her mother." The foot of the glass broke when he slammed it down on the balcony rim. The fine particles of desert sand resting on the stone quickly quenched their thirst with the blood-red water before being burned into the tablet by Naja's heated breath. The vizier gazed fascinated to his index finger where a thick drop of ichor was slowly trickling out of a minuscule glass-cut. He squished the droplet between his index and thumb and rubbed it until the wound had stemmed. Naja felt at ease with the feel of blood on his hands. His mind flooded with thoughts of someone else's crimson life spilling over his hands, he glared at the approaching procession once more. His soft lips curled into a deadly smile, as he straightened one of the heavy golden chains on his bare chest. "Let's go, general. It's time to assist our princess with the affairs of state. For now."
A mutual look of understanding and approval was exchanged between the two men before being pushed aside by a look of alarm when the softest tingle of glass on metal reached their ears. With the trained reflexes of a soldier, the two men turned on their heels and identified its source within seconds: A shaking wine bottle, resting on a golden platter in the hands of a trembling servant. Intef calmly walked over to the quavering man, and, smiling like a viper cobra about to devour a rabbit mouse, politely took the plate out of the servant's shivering hands, while Naja opened his arms in a gesture that was about as inviting as a dragon's lair; a firm nudge in the back of his knees, however, forced the scared man to enter.
With a voice as sweet as poisoned honey, the Grand Vizier attempted to put his prey at ease. "Come here, come here, step into the light; you're shaking all over." With the courage of a weasel monkey, the man stepped into the sun's warm embrace, not daring anything else than to obey the command of the Fire Nation's vizier. "What's your name, dear man?"
"Tod, my Lord."
"Ah, Tod, my good old servant Tod." Delighted to see the man cringe every time he uttered his name, Naja took his time to proceed. "It seems like we are in a pickle, you and I." His tone of voice and expression was like that of a friendly man, but his eyes were as cold and hollow as that of a corpse.
"W-we are, my L-Lord?"
"I'm afraid so. You see, you have heard some things that weren't meant for the ears of a lowly servant. Now what do you suppose we do about that?"
A cool breeze, originating from the Nile, swept over Tod, giving him the unshakable feeling that Osiris, Spirit of the Dead, was breathing down his neck, draining the color from his face, turning it to the milky grey of dead ashes. Having been around the palace long enough to have heard the rumors accompanying Lord Naja, Tod dropped to the ground and promptly prostrated himself before the vizier. "Please, my lord, have mercy."
"Mercy?" Naja repeated the word as if he was unsure of its meaning. "Tell me, dear man, have you perhaps done something you should receive mercy for?"
Shivering again, despite the hot midday sun, Tod raised his head, staring at his superior, his eyes widened in horror. Upon hearing Intef's hushed chuckle, he realized too late that he had admitted to overhearing Naja uttering thoughts of purest treason and giving voice to regicide. The vizier snapped his fingers, and the strong hands of General Intef, roughened by firebending and the wielding of swords, pulled Tod to his knees.
Lord Naja wiped the cold sweat-streaked face with one finger, lifting it to his lips as though he was feasting on the fear of his prey. Spreading his nostrils wide, he inhaled a deep breath, taking in the sense of despair that was lingering around them. The faint sound of the sentry bellowing orders to open the palace gates and let in the Royal Procession reached them. Distracted by the arrival of the fox antelope, the tiger leopard diverted its attention away from the scrawny rat hare in front of him. A deep frown cast a dark shadow over his handsome features. The lethal aura that surrounded Naja slowly subsided as his duties as a vizier and regent drew closer.
With a haughty look, the Grand Vizier looked down upon the man groveling in the dirt at his feet. "It seems as your salvation has arrived just in time to call me away. The spirits are smiling down upon you, my dear Tod." Emptying his lungs in a relieved rush of air, Tod began to kiss Naja's feet as token of his gratitude. With a hard thrust, Naja's heel made contact with the servant's forehead, and the man was flung back. "Nevertheless, it is time for you to join them." Naja's smile evolved into a low chuckle upon seeing Tod's utter despair. He moved through the room toward the door where he tossed back a last glance to the duo on the balcony, and gave a short nod. "You may proceed, general."
With the skilled precision of a hunter, Intef pulled a braided rawhide rope, knotted at close intervals, over Tod's head. Standing behind him with a smirk on his face, he thrust a short, stout baton of cedar wood through the rawhide loop and twisted it until it came up against the pale skin of the unlucky servant. Naja closed the door, bitterly regretting not being able to stand and watch. While he strolled down the hall, he was closely followed by Tod's agonizing screams. With every sound, he pictured the servant's skull elongating and constricting to the force of the tightening rope as Intef would twist the baton yet another quarter of a turn. Instead of moving away from the sound of Tod's dying gasp, his scream was now a single unbroken peal that reached its crescendo. As an ultimate ending, the sound of a palm-nut crushed in the jaws of a feeding camelephant plunged the corridor into utter silence. Naja smirked and spread his arms wide to welcome his ever lingering friend, the immanent silence that follows death, as he discreetly turned the corner leading toward the Phoenix Council. When he passed the throne room, he paused for a moment.
"For eleven years, no fire has burned here. But soon, I shall light these halls like never before!"
The unmistakable grunting of fighting men, mixed with the cheers of spectators, filled the courtyard.
"Eighteen copper pieces on Meren!"
"I'll take that bet. Two silver pieces saying the captain takes it home."
A group of spectator soldiers each placed their bets while their commanders, bare-chested, sweating and panting heavily in the evening heat, encircled each other.
"You sure you want to continue, captain?" Meren smirked at his commander, while sweeping off sweaty pearls of his brow and taking on a sword-fighting stance. With his wooden training sword held high, he launched forward.
Tanus nimbly parried the attack with one of the sticks he was holding, a replica of the magnificent dual dao swords he usually wielded in battle, and retaliated with a strong blow that struck his friend's wooden shield. "Don't worry about me, soldier."
Stung by the jab at his rank, Meren aggressively chose to attack again, wiping his superior's smirk off his face, now contorted in effort and concentration, focused on avoiding the many blows. Finding his sword trapped between the dual blades, Meren knocked the wind out of Tanus by suddenly shifting his weight, creating an opening to land a blow on Tanus's back with his shield. Staggering to keep balance, his commander was forced back by the relentless fury of attacks the second in rank bestowed upon him. Seeing an opening in Tanus's defense, Meren aimed a few quick thrusts at the head and chest, diverting attention away from the unguarded legs. Ducking under Tanus's swing, the soldier quickly turned around on the ground, swooping his adversary's legs from underneath him. Throwing up dust, the captain fell on his back with a loud thud while Meren erected himself again, accepting the wild cheers for his successful attack.
Still slightly dazed from his painful fall, Tanus had to endure Meren's whispered mockery, only audible to him. "I don't get you. You are a good guy, captain of the Royal Guard at the age of nineteen, a mediocre fighter, not too shabby on the eye, and yet, you've been single for the longest time. Something's not right with that."
Tanus smiled up at his friend. "I've told you before; I'm just a one-woman kind of guy. I have found my other half, so why would I settle for a little when I have the one who completes me?"
"Maybe because those 'littles' would actually know that you think about them like that and might even reciprocate your feelings?"
"I'm just fine as it is; don't worry."
"Oh, but I do, my friend, I do. You've got it way too bad." Meren's eyes twinkled in amusement, fully aware of Tanus's growing annoyance, as he decided to push the right buttons to completely anger his friend. "She's not even that pretty if you ask me. Although, when she came out of the water the other day, I wouldn't have mind taking me some of that." Pushed by the jabs at the woman he secretly loved, anger flared up in Tanus's eyes, strengthening his tired muscles. "Anyway, this fight has gone on for too long, it's time to end it. Maybe I'll get a victory kiss from her; who knows what the boundaries of her admiration for the champion will be. What do you think about that?"
Meren smugly raised his sword to deliver the final blow to merely strike dirt as Tanus had rolled out of the weapon's path. Trying to sweep Meren's feet from underneath him, Tanus quickly turned on his hands. Noticing his superior's movement too late, the second captain couldn't avoid the kick entirely, but was able to remain upwards; staggering backwards to recover his balance, he unwillingly allowed Tanus that moment of grace he needed to lift himself to his feet again.
"If you're going to end something, do it! Don't stand there talking about it like some old lady!" Tanus rapidly swung his swords around, landing a whirlwind of cuts and thrusts on Meren's shield. The pressure to hold it steady in front of his body weighed heavily on Meren's biceps, but he had yet to find an opening in Tanus's relentless attacks. Although strained by effort, Tanus's voice, not louder than a whisper, but threatening nonetheless, reached him clearly above the banging of wood on wood.
"You are wrong."
Meren was forced to raise his sword up high to parry a blow aimed for his head.
"She is beautiful."
He was just in time to shift the shield to his side, blocking an attack that would have struck his kidney.
Meren jumped over a low kick aimed to his knees.
The muscles on his arm burning in agony, Meren lost grip on the handle of his sword as Tanus landed a double strike on the blade, sending it flying.
"She is smart."
An excruciating blow struck the center of the shield, running painful vibrations through the whole of Meren's body.
Pearls of sweat left deep marks in the coating of dirt accumulated on his face.
A low strike to the upper leg struck home, sending a stinging pain up Meren's spine.
Tanus's cross attack, striking the shield at both ends at once, twisted it out of Meren's hand.
With a blow to the knee, Tanus deprived Meren from his balance, knocking him over. Like a tall tree sawed at the base, the soldier fell on the ground. Having the wind knocked out of him, he coughed heavily while looking up to his captain towering over him. With a faint smile, knowing the fight was over, he couldn't resist making a last jab at his friend. "Still, you can have anyone you want."
"Enough!" Wasting no more time, Tanus ended the match by resting the point of his sword on the downed soldier's chest, right above his rapidly pounding heart, making the surrounding spectators go wild over their captain's victory. Retracting his weapon, he offered Meren a hand and pulled him back on his feet. "I don't want anyone else but her."
Smiling, Meren raised his hands in defeat and made way for the raving soldiers, crowding around them to congratulate the combatants on an entertaining fight.
Startling her chambermaids, Lostris stormed into her quarters, pushing the door open with such force that a piece of the richly decorated fresco was slammed off the wall when the door made contact with it. She removed the Crown Princess headpiece and threw it toward her dresser. Missing the piece of furniture, the royal artifact ricocheted through the room.
"Please, calm down," Taita entered the room and picked up the headpiece that had come to a halt in front of his feet.
Pointing aggressively with her tiara to her eldest servant, Lostris's anger, searching for a target, locked onto Taita. "I am perfectly calm!'
Knowing where this would lead, Taita nudged at the chambermaids to leave the room. Lostris smashed the tiara down on her dresser in an effort to hold back the raging storm within her. As she followed the motions of the exiting servants in the mirror, she briskly attacked her hair with her brush, another outlet for her anger. The tangible tension was only interrupted by the rapid strokes of the brush through her long hair. Her mentor smiled reassuringly at the startled servant girls to put them at ease while they left the room and closed the door behind them.
"You should know better than to display such forms of indiscretion in front of people, Princess Lostris. Such behavior is unfit for the Crown Princess of the Fire Nation." Taita's stern voice irked her fury.
"Whatever. It's not like it matters one bit what I do." Her mentor's disagreeing look was the last drop, making her temper break through the dam of inhibitions. "Don't look at me like that, Taita; you know it's true, at least on a political level! Naja has the Phoenix Council eating out of his hands. It doesn't matter what I say, Naja's word goes without question. He may be my regent, but by the power the old Council members have vested in him, he can do whatever he likes; he can order me to do whatever he likes!" Pacing through the room like a desert storm contained in a bottle, Lostris raged on. "The Shrikes have plundered and ravaged another village in the Earth Kingdom, close to our borders, and yet we do nothing!" Fire trailed her hands and scorched the floor in front of her feet. "Our armies are trained; they're ready, but they do nothing. The Shrikes are within the grasp of justice and yet the Council refuses to move. Those old tarts are just too afraid to go against anything Naja says. As the top general of my father, Naja should be hunting those sparrows down to the ends of the earth instead of advocating raising the taxes in the city to build another palace wing to accommodate his enormous ego!"
"Ha, princess. Some princess I am. My word means nothing in that Council. I would've gotten more response from a plant! The word of the underage Crown Princess means nothing against that of the highly-praised Vizier Naja." Lostris stopped in her tracks, violently wiping the tears of rage out of her eyes; with forced calm, the sound leaving her throat was more a growl than the sweet voice she normally had. "I'll make them regret ignoring me like this. In two and a half months, I'll be crowned Fire Lord, and there is nothing Naja can do to stop that. My remarks will then be an order, even to the Council."
"Violence is never the answer, Tris, you know that." Sensing his opportunity, Taita spoke again in a level tone. "Your mother wouldn't want you to plunge the nation into war just to avenge her. Both your parents spent their lives trying to show the world that there are other options to solve conflict than taking up arms."
"And look where that led them." The cold words, fueled by rage and loneliness, left her lips. Never expecting Taita capable of having such a dark shadow passing over him, she knew instantly she had gone too far.
"Your mother would've been proud of you this morning, but now, both your parents would cringe in their graves if they could hear you. There is an old Air Nomad saying that your parents knew and understood very well, 'Revenge is like a two-headed rat-viper. While you watch your enemy go down, you're being poisoned yourself.' They died indeed while upholding their ideals, but never did they give in to the temptation of vengeance." Feeling Lostris's anger subsiding to make way for deep remorse and guilt, Taita walked over to her, showing her the Crown Princess headpiece. "This has been worn by great and noble people before you. You did well by taking it off before uttering words of warfare, unfit for a daughter of the House of Tamose. The royal blood of a long line of Fire Lords, the blood of Tamose and Amanra, flows through your veins, making you the destined and rightful ruler of this nation, no matter what the Phoenix Council or Lord Naja say. I know you miss your family, but warfare will not bring them closer; on the contrary, it will take them farther away from you. Remember that you are never alone as long as you remember who you are." Taita took Lostris's hand and placed the royal artifact in her palm, where it weighed heavily upon her soul, before leaving the room.
Lostris wanted to call after her friend, to apologize, but the object in her hand made her feel unworthy to talk to him after what she had said. Firmly clutching the headpiece, she closed her eyes; a single tear ran over her cheek and splattered on the metal flame, hard and cold in her grasp.
- Again, I have to thank Wilbur Smith to provide me with the names of Lostris, Taita, Tanus, Meren, Naja, Intef, and Tod.
- Also, a thank you to Wilbur for the way Tod was murdered.
- Another pair of thanks go to Shakespeare to let me "borrow" one of his phrases from "Julius Caesar".
- A big thank you to TAD for letting me pick her wonderfully musical mind and use part of the lyrics of a song she wrote a good while ago.
- The head title and images stand in relation to the sub headings. They don't talk about actual colors, but are more a metaphor for the different sides of fire, of a drive one can have -for those who don't mind me playing captain obvious here.
- Much to the annoyance of one of my editors -I will not real which of the three but it's the one I personally know- I have taken some liberty with history here, as the Egyptians didn't really have glass back then, glass-goo, so Naja would've more likely have used a metal cup or something.
- "Dreams are the subconscious trying to deal with the things you've encountered in your life." --> Freud, meet the Ancient Egyptians. Ancient Egyptians, congratulations, you just time-traveled.
- There are again some reference to Disney movies in this chapter - of course.
- There is some foreshadowing in this chapter, both the confessions of the past as to future events.
- Why have I (well, technically Seliah) named the Fire Spirit Rairet? The Ancient Egyptians didn't really have a Fire God, but they did have many gods that were associated with fire, the Goddess Sekhmet being one of them. However, since many people mainly associate her with War, that wasn't really fitting. What is fitting is that she is the daughter of Ra, the Sun God, also known as the Eye of Ra. So with the courtesy of Seliah, she put Ra + iret (eye) together to form Rairet, which seemed appropriate for the Fire Spirit (technically it should be iret-Ra, but let's face it, that's just not as catchy at Rairet).
- There is a fun mythology story about how Sekhmet came to be, so if interested, you can always ask me, or if you really want the best story teller for this, ask Seliah.
- "Or for the birds loving the fish" is a reference to TAD's .
- While I was in Edinburgh, I took a ghost tour, and at one stop, the guide showed us a display of torture appliances, and pointed at a knotted rope with a short stick at the end. He said, "Now let's see who has the most horrific imagination. Who can tell me what this was used for?" Needless to say, I won the horrific imagination title.
- Taita's last words before leaving the room are the same Amanra told Taita and her girls before they parted.
- Only Amanra knew of Lostris being the Avatar.
- "The spirits always have a reason for everything" is a wink to an often used sentence in Charmed, "Everything happens for a reason."
- I learned what the "Rule of Three" was in this chapter.
- The dream Lostris is talking about is the same one she had in the prologue.
- It will not be the last reference to that dream.
- She's been having the dream regularly since she turned sixteen.
- "Naja" refers to the sacred cobra in the royal ureaus crown, so basically his name means snake.
- Quiz question: the first who can tell me in detail why I have hotlinked three of my images instead of uploaded them gets a Belgian waffle like only a Belgian can hand out.
- This chapter counts 5757 words.
|Heiress of the Nile|
|Book 1 - Lost and Found|
|☥ ☥ ☥ ☥ ☥ ☥ ☥ ☥ ☥ ☥ ☥|
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