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|The Frozen Shores of Fire|
This is the ninth chapter of. This chapter will officially introduce the two new characters in my fanon series. I apologize if this chapter is not up to standard.
What happened last time...
Syra is finally able to suppress her curiosity and abandon the scene of the Main Sanctum where the Council of Elders had gathered to discuss the possibility of war. She came home to discover a letter sent by her friend, Sarita, a twelve-year-old girl of the Southern Water Tribe.
Meanwhile, Siro bids Zorin a goodbye after his brother departed from Sen Go to continue his military training in the town of Luazon. He receives a letter from his twelve-year-old friend, Kuzon, who invited him to spend an overnight at his beach house on Ember Island.
The Frozen Shores
She flew her bison gracefully over the stunning, seemingly never ending sea, its rich blue color captivating her. The surface was calm and uninterrupted, the water appearing revitalizing and refreshing despite the fact Syra knew it was chilling to the bone.
If only I could know what it's like to live underwater, she thought to herself, loosening her grip on the leather reins.
She knew many children around the world longed to possess the ability to fly, to soar through the heavens without a single care in the world. She, however, already knew the taste of freedom in the air. She wished to explore the oceans, to discover a universe beneath the surface, venturing into the unknown.
What if I could see and breathe underwater? she wondered, casting her eyes to the placid ocean. What if Pala could, too? We would journey through the sea, behold whatever magnificent treasures lie underneath.
Tightening her grasp of the reins once more, she commanded her bison to sail closer to the surface of the icy seas, feeling as though at any moment, she and her beloved pet could plunge under the surface.
Another thought occurred to her, one less pleasant. What if we're adventuring through the sea when the tides suddenly begin raging? Perhaps as we're swimming along a storm shadows the sea, waves thrashing us about with the currents heaving unpredictably.
Her mind flashed and she saw a vision of herself being tossed violently by the waves, ready to sink, to be pulled under, knocked unconscious and drown, Pala roaring and struggling to stay afloat.
And what if I were to use Airbending? She thought. What if I encased Pala and myself in an airball? What would happen should the air currents freeze the water surrounding us, if we were to be imprisoned? Trapped forever in a mass of ice, a frozen sphere, an iceberg...
Syra bit down hard on her lip, casting a cautious glance at the vast sea. What had caused her to think that? Her fantasy, her imagination had slipped from her grasp, weaving a horrifying chain of events such as that. She shoved the dark thought to the back of her mind. Her eyes darted to another something... something shadowy.
"Whoa!" A sudden flash of dazzling crimson erupted from beneath the glistening blue surface. With a rapid twist, a swift jive, the shimmering of scarlet scales and a split second glaze through its coal black eyes, the mysterious creature sank into the icy water.
The incredible display was repeated several times, the unknown creature, or rather ones native to its kind, leaping from the depths of the sea. Syra's deep gray eyes hardly had time to capture the sight of one launching into the air, its moist scaled reflecting the sun's rays, before it plunged once more into the water.
"What a rare sight!" Sister Min exclaimed in awe. "To think I would witness the frenzied display of the Mandarin Icelin Koi. I've heard so much of their beauty!"
Syra grasped the reins even tighter; she instantly regretted her choice to fly Pala just above the surface of the South Pole seas. She had wanted to a close-up view of the wide open body of water, the currents that glinted in the early morning sun, but the sudden appearance of the strange Icelin Koi had transformed her smooth ride into a somewhat tumultuous flight.
Pala grunted and swerved, attempting to avoid the frenzied leaps of the Koi. The creatures themselves were no longer than two feet, however, being gathered in multitudes altogether made the scenario a bit too hectic for the young eleven year-old.
"Yip-yip!" she commanded her bison.
Pala began the slow ascension when a flash of white and black caught her eyes. Syra squinted and to her delight, caught sight of several Otter Penguins diving into the sea from atop small ice floes. The peculiar little creatures waddled about, bent their round heads over the water in a curious manner before slipping into the ocean without so much as a splash.
"They're Otter Penguins!" she cried out with laughter and glee. "That means we must be close to the Southern Water Tribe!"
They passed low over the sea, speeding by startled penguins who peered awkwardly at the two Bison, strangers of their land. The Icelin Koi continued their acrobatic leaps. Syra eyed several audacious penguins dart about, trying to catch the Koi whose jubilant leaps appeared taunting as if to say, "Catch me if you can!" Her fear began to subside. At length, a thick, distinct gray-white line appeared on the horizon and just moments later, the glorious shores of the South Pole came into view.
"There's the Southern Water Tribe!" she exclaimed excitedly.
The extraordinary village, a collection of elaborate igloos where the citizens went about their daily lives, appeared before them. Pala and Raul grunted as they glided swiftly over the crystal clear waves lapping against the shore toward the grand villa set in a frozen wasteland.
It's so good to see you after so long!" Syra found herself wrapped in a tight embrace, her friend, Sarita, having rushed to hug her mere seconds after their landing. "I see that Water Tribe parka I gave to you still fits you comfortably." Sarita released her grip at last, taking a few paces back to survey the Air Nomad girl with her thoughtful, light gray eyes. Syra herself eyed her friend, noting that the Water Tribe girl had grown since their last visit. Her eyes caught sight of two familiar figures strolling towards them: Sarita's parents, Osira and Malo.
"And you remember my parents, Osira and Malo?" Sarita gestured to the kindly, middle-aged couple casting beaming smiles at Syra.
"It is wonderful to finally have a chance to see you again, Syra. You've grown so much since we last saw you," Osira sang out warmly.
The young girl wondered to herself why parents always mentioned how different their child's friends appeared since last seeing them. She saw Sarita muster a slightly impatient smile before the energetic twelve year-old seized her arm.
"Come on! We have a lot to catch up on. My mother prepared a steaming pot of Sea Prunes for us. Let's go!" Without waiting for her friend to reply, she began briskly jogging to her house, still tightly gripping Syra's arm.
Moments later, the duo pushed aside the heavy, blue velvet curtains draping over the doorway to the sturdy igloo and strolled inside the comfortable dwelling adorned with furs and snow-crafted furniture. Syra found the lifestyle of the Water Tribe people fascinating from their peculiar houses modeled out of snow to their exotic dishes. The aroma of freshly stewed Sea Prunes wafted in the air, a black cauldron centered in the corner of the abode.
Sarita settled comfortably on the Polar Leopard rug while Syra, unwilling to touch the skins laid on the rock solid floor of snow, chose to seat herself on a stool intricately carved from driftwood. The misty steam emanated from the pot and encircled the two like a thin veil of coziness and pleasure. With smooth, circular motions of her right hand, Sarita stirred the stew and ladled out the Water Tribe delicacy into two ordinary clay bowls.
"So, now tell me," Sarita broke the unintended silence that had shadowed over the room and offered Syra a bowl of the hearty stew. "How did the Airbending tournaments go? I've been dying to hear the details!"
Syra bit down hard on her lower lip and lightly tapped her fingers against the side of the durable clay bowl. The outcome of the Airbending tournaments was not something she relished in reminiscing; she could still hear the call of Mika's voice, mimicking that of Tyla's, so persuasive and longing and envision the twinkle in the clique's eyes as she slipped into the crowd.
"Hey, are you alright?" A sudden voice jolted her out of her reverie and she turned her head sharply to see Sarita eyeing her, a confused look plastered on her face. "For a few moments, you seemed distant."
Syra rubbed the back of her neck with the sleeve of her parka and sheepishly remarked, "Oh... uh, yes, I'm fine. I guess I did zone out there for a second."
The twelve year-old seated casually before her, legs crossed, leaning on one arm for support, nodded and took a sip of her stew. "Well, now that you're back to reality, let's hear about that Airbending tournament."
Syra inhaled sharply, her gray eyes settling on the dish of rich brown stew she grasped in her hand. After a brief pause, she tipped her head back and swallowed a good portion of the Sea Prunes, the mixture steamy and delectable. Setting the bowl in her lap, she began delving into her entire experience in Airbending tournaments. "Entering this competition, I had only one aim: to emerge victorious..."
"No! You have got to be kidding me!" Sarita jerked herself upward in such a sudden motion her currently ice-cold bowl of Sea Prunes swayed over sideways, spilling out onto the pallid floor. She simply ignored the accident and gazed at her slightly bitter friend with empathetic taupe eyes.
"I'm dead serious," Syra replied solemnly, unconsciously tightening her clasp around her own bowl of stew. Her foot repeatedly drummed against the left leg of the driftwood stool.
Sarita scowled, muttered an incoherent statement under her breath and blew a few loose strands of hair that had fallen lightly over her forehead. She eased her tense position and leaned against the rock-solid wall of her igloo, continuing to ignore the spilled contents of her meal. "Man..." she breathed, scraping a handful of loose snow and tossing the crystalline substance about in her palm. "I mean, second place is great, too, but considering the circumstances..." She trailed off, leaving her statement unfinished.
"That's what I thought," Syra mumbled. "There was a bright side, though, that followed the whole incident. After their whole nasty trick, Sister Iio, the Superior of the Eastern Air Temple, offered to personally tutor me in Airbending. Now, almost every day after school ends, I meet with her to practice new Airbending techniques and believe me, my extra training sessions are paying off; I'm farther ahead of my class than ever!"
Sarita faintly grinned and replied, "Well, at least some good came out of that whole mess!" She eyed the spilled stew and utilized Waterbending to clear the muddle away. A thoughtful silence shrouded the air once more, only the soft, repetitive sound of water dripping from an unknown source.
Several moments flew by until at last, she rose, snow crackling beneath her weight as she stood, and chimed, "I know what'll make you feel better! Let's have a little competition of our own! C'mon, have a little one-on-one between us!"
Syra, her interest and curiosity sparked, rose abruptly and questioned, "You mean like a bending match? Trust me when I say that you'll win in two seconds flat."
Already ambling towards the draped doorway of the abode, Sarita, her ashen eyes twinkling with anticipation and delight, spoke through an anxious grin, "That's not exactly what I had in mind."
"Woo!" Charcoal black, vanilla white, the shower of frosty snow as two stout personages skimmed on their rotund, feathery bellies, the entire South Pole flashing at lightning speed before two pairs of enchanted eyes. Laughter and lightheartedness, as opposed to ominous, intuitive feelings that perhaps the world was gilded, glimmering on the surface yet corrupt underneath, consumed the air.
Syra's hair was blown about by the frigid winds as she swerved through the twists and icy peaks of the landscape atop her plump Otter Penguin. A few stray tears escaped the corners of her eyes as the arctic gusts surged past her. The shoreline seemed almost within her grasp, the azure horizon widening before her as she and Sarita blazed across the snowy slopes.
"Victory shall be minneeee!" Sarita bellowed, sledding off a jutted edge and soaring through the crisp air.
Syra threw her head back in laughter and shouted, "In your dreams!" She steadied herself on her Penguin and leaned forward, veering through every odd and end, every crevice and twist she came upon. She narrowed her eyes, determined to reach the shoreline before her rambunctious opponent.
Cold, hard determination, a flurry of commotion, somersaults and several moments later the frozen shores were not met with a victor rather the snowy slopes were met with two young girls who lay in the snow, cheeks scarlet red from the frost, laughing. Two lazy Otter-Penguins shook out their feathers and began waddling away from the scene, leaving their sledding companions to roll about on the ground.
Neither of the two had claimed victory, having both unexpectedly fallen off their Otter-Penguins. When Sarita had missed a jar in the slope, she was tossed off her dazed Penguin and into the plush, white bank. Syra had let herself become momentarily distracted by this spectacle and without warning, lost her balance herself.
Their giggling fit having started to wear off, the friends picked themselves off the ground and stood side by side, gazing at the shoreline that had only several moments ago, been their victory destination. It was a rare moment of silence, soothing, calm; even Sarita, normally outgoing and talkative, had fallen quiet, contemplating the breathtaking view.
The eleven year-old was mesmerized by the mass of turquoise blue stretching beyond the horizon, the gentle lapping of the tides, rolling onto the shore only to fall back out and be swallowed by the ocean.
In a soft voice, she asked, "Don't you ever wonder what it's like underneath the surface?" She heard the crunching of snow as Sarita shifted the weight of her feet. "You know, just to plunge under the surface and see what it's like?"
"Let's do it then," came a calm, self-assured reply. Without waiting for a reply, she began casually leaping down the slope.
"Wait a minute!" Syra called out, jogging over to catch up with her friend who had nearly reached the shoreline. "When I said I sometimes want to just plunge under the water, I didn't mean actually going for a swim."
They were now standing on the shoreline, gentle tides washing over their boots. Sarita looked over her shoulder at Syra who was standing a few paces away and replied, "Yeah, I know."The tides roared, unnaturally pushed aside as two graceful arms waved side to side, raising two walls of water. Two ordinary figures being swallowed by the swells of the ocean, the ceiling of air, of cloudless sky, dissipating, sealing shut. The doorway leading to the frozen shoreline close, was locked tight. Left behind was a single room, a room of air submerged under a continent, a planet perhaps, of water. The globule of chilled air engulfed by cobalt blue. Her fantasy a sudden reality, she realized and she broke into a wide smile.
She dared to run her fingers through the wall of the air bubble. An icy pain shot through her arm from the wintriness of the water yet she kept gliding her fingers through as though the cold could not hurt her. As though nothing in the world could hurt her.
The Shores of Fire
"About ten minutes 'til we reach Ember Island, folks!" an announcer proclaimed from an overhead deck. "Make sure you've got all your belongings and such before you leave the boat!"
Siro stood motionless, leaning his arms on the side of the wooden vessel, overlooking the sparkling waters and the island slowly forming on the horizon. A tin bowl of murky stew, chunks of vegetables floating in thick soupy mud, was gripped in his hands. He looked down at the stew in disgust, wondering why the food served on boats was always so terrible and why he had even wasted a copper piece on it in the first place.
He turned to view the backside of a Sea Lion, its large head rubbery and pink, thick leathery reins tied about it, trudging through the ocean toward the far-off beach. He contemplated the bowlful of mud in front of him and, rapidly surveying the area to make sure no one was watching, tipped it over, spilling the contents off the side and into the water.
"Hey! What's your deal?" he heard a gruff voice speak from behind him.
Maybe someone was watching after all, he thought, feeling ashamed of having been caught. He whizzed around swiftly to see a young man in his thirties standing casually on the deck, a leather satchel slung over his shoulder.
Without giving Siro a chance to reply, the man continued, "You seem a little too young to be traveling by yourself. How old are you?"
So maybe he hadn't seen..., he thought. "Twelve," he muttered, scratching the back of his neck in discomfort.
"Pretty young to be riding on this boat alone. Anyone come with you?" he asked.
"No," Siro replied, wishing the man would leave him to overlook the approaching island again.
His mother, Zala, had journeyed with him to the ferry station this morning. The two had left early in the day, shortly after dawn, and ridden by carriage to board the earliest ferry to Ember Island. He had sulkily stood on the wooden deck at the rear of the boat, gazing at the rapidly disappearing port where he knew his mother was watching as the ferry sailed across the Yatoma Sea.
"Okay, kid," the man said. "But just be careful on Ember Island. You never know who you might come across." Siro, his back turned to the stranger, heard light footsteps against the wooden deck, strolling away. "So long, kid, and have a good vacation!"
He could barely take in the man's farewell, though, for at that moment a sharp bell pealed and the announcer proclaimed, "We have reached our destination, folks! Behold the magnificence that is Ember Island!" An uproar of applause and cheers erupted from the anxious tourists and vacationers.
Footsteps vibrated off the wooden deck to the bow of the boat, eager citizens laying their eyes upon the splendor of the isle. Siro's weary brown eyes could only lay themselves upon the tin bowl, an abhorrent slick of stew still collected at the very bottom. A filmy reflection peered up at him, disoriented and perplexed, only not Siro's reflection. His father's reflection, staring at him dead in the eye, cold, callous. The one who loathed him, despised him, did not concern himself with his son's contentment.
Suddenly nauseated and blinded by fury, Siro flung the tin bowl, focusing all his energy into discarding the lackluster, ordinary object that contained his father's stare. The object fell into the vast ocean with a simple plunk. Only he didn't feel any better. He knew his father still despised him.
"Hey Siro? What's up, dude? How've you been lately?" Siro stepped off the boat onto a creaky, slightly unstable plank boardwalk, constructed of worn-out boards plied off useless seafaring vessels, to witness Kuzon waiting for him, his arms outstretched, a look of delight spread across his bronze face.
Siro, carrying no more than a worn leather overnight bag, grinned at his high-spirited friend and was met with a sharp strike on the back.
"C'mon, man," Kuzon urged, throwing his right arm across Siro's shoulders. "We'll spend a few minutes at my beach house then we'll hit the beach."The two friends sauntered past enthusiastic vacationers, tracing their way up a smooth dirt path where farther ahead lay a grand, comfortable-looking house, constructed of whitewash stone, the roof built with brick red tiling and a solid wood porch overlooking the smooth ocean. Surrounding the dwelling were rocky outcrops, a small collection of palm trees jutting from either sides of the pathway and a vast field beyond. They climbed up the cool stone stairway leading the doorway.
"My parents aren't home right now," Kuzon told Siro as he began opening the door. "They're out working right their part-time summer jobs now, but they were disappointed they didn't get the chance to greet you when you arrived."
"It's okay," Siro replied.
The door creaked slowly open and the two stepped inside the shady interior of the house. The main room was quite extraordinary. Two plush velvet sofas stood facing a cozy brick fireplace, a hand-woven rug splayed out in the middle of the room. Like the outside, the walls inside were whitewashed, the flooring made of polished wood. Several antique-looking chairs and tables were situated throughout the space, seashells and coral adorning the place, giving color and vividness.
"Wow, this is a real incredible place you've got," Siro mouthed in awe.
Picking up a cream colored conch shell and eyeing it closely as if to examine it, Kuzon replied, "Yeah, it is. Surprisingly, though, it didn't cost my parents much." He set the shell down on a nearby table and spoke up, "Well, guess it's about time we hit the waves, right? The guest room is right over there, so you can change."
"Thanks," he muttered, slinging the overnight bag over his shoulder and strolling toward the room.
The guest room was a cozy bedroom, containing a single twin-size bed, the sheets smoothed and ready-made. In the far corner stood a polished wooden vanity and an ordinary-looking wardrobe. A small writing desk was set along the back wall near the bed. Like the main room, the guest room was decorated with various shells and stones.
Siro hastily threw his pack onto the bed and wasted no time in changing into a plain pair of swim trunks. Grabbing a damask towel, he stepped outside to find Kuzon already dressed, sitting on a chair, lazily tossing a pearl oyster back and forth between his hands.
"Oh great, you're ready," Kuzon said casually, rising from his seat and slinging a blanket over his shoulder. "C'mon, let's go. It's a beautiful day outside."
The ashen sand crackled beneath their feet with each step, the pale, aquamarine sky stretching endlessly overhead, lazy silver clouds billowing by. The palm trees rustled overhead as a gentle breeze caressed through their emerald leaves. Overhead, ivory white seagulls soared past, letting out their high-pitched caws. The two walked in silence, not knowing exactly what to say.
A wad of sputum suddenly landed inches before Siro's bare feet, halting him in his tracks. Kuzon had stopped dead in his tracks as well. He sharply turned his head to glimpse the uncouth stranger and flinched at the sight of a man standing in the shade of a nearby palm tree.
He was a wretched, miserable figure to look at, his bleached white hair mussed and limp, his clothing filthy and tattered. He was middle-aged, deep lines furrowing along his forehead, his russet eyes wandering and glassy and his teeth crooked and yellow. He stood slouched against the thick trunk of the palm tree, sober and lost, groaning under his breath. When he spoke, his speech was a bit slurred yet coherent enough to be understood.
"It ain't right," the strange man uttered, seemingly addressing the two young boys yet his eyes straying from their faces, searching for something distant, something imaginary. "It ain't right what they gonna do to them free spiriters."
Siro stood motionless, slightly trembling at the vagrant who was before them. He could hear the foamy waves crashing against the shore, seagulls crying out in their shrill voices. He heard a small child giggling and the sound of light, carefree footsteps against the sand in the distance.
"They ain't done nothing to us," the stranger continued, immersed hopelessly in his own dimension. "I had a feeling this was gonna happen one day. They gonna burn them free spiriters to ashes. And it ain't right."
Siro's eyes were fixated on the lone man before he felt a sharp, almost painful grasp around his arm and was whipped away from the frightening stranger by Kuzon who began racing across the beach. Shafts of sunlight bathed over him and he inhaled the bitter yet comforting aroma of sea salt.At length, they finally came to a stop on the beach, Siro's heels rough and reddened from scraping against the sand. Both paused for a moment to catch their breath. Kuzon raised his head to ensure they were a significant distance away from the deranged man.
"Who was that man?" Siro asked, pushing aside several loose strands of hair. He sat on the ground, his legs sprawled out, his feet wedged into the sand.
Kuzon was bent over, resting his hands on his knees. "I have no idea. I've never seen him before. Gee..." He exhaled through puffed out cheeks and, flipping loose hair from his eyes with a twist of his head, began sluggishly striding forward.
Siro leapt to his feet, picked up his beach towel and began heading after his friend. He was still shaken from the unexpected encounter and from the words the stranger spoke. After walking a bit farther down the beach, the two stopped and laid their blankets out on the sand. Vacationers and local residents alike were sunbathing, milling about and chatting casually. Nearby, several teenagers were engaged in what appeared to be a heated game of Kuai Ball. Siro plopped down on his blanket.
"I'm going to get some ice cream. You want?" Kuzon asked.
"Yeah, that'd be fine," Siro replied, shading his eyes from the sun with his hand. "Except I didn't bring any money with me on the beach."
Kuzon simply waved his hand down and replied, "Eh, that's fine. I don't really care. I'll just use my own money." He rummaged through the pocket of his swim trunks and fished out four copper pieces. "Be right back," he muttered as he started promenading down the beach.
Siro looked to the ocean, several happy-go-lucky swimmers diving under the water, a few people surfing on colorful boards. He remembered when Zorin took him out to the water and dunked him under. Those days... when he was ignorant. His mind traced back to the stranger's words; he shuddered as the image of the vagrant flooded his mind. His mind traced back to something else, a conversation, bits and pieces of a statement, some statement his father made. The secret invasion of the Air Nomad civilization... Those were his words. Was that what the stranger meant?
He let himself fall back onto his blanket sprawled out and covered his hands with his eyes, fed up, tired. Tired of hearing everything he had no right to know. He needed to escape reality, but didn't know how. Not even an overnight at Ember Island could relax his mind.
"Hey, are you okay?" He looked up to find Kuzon standing over him, two ice cream cones held in each of his hands.
Siro immediately straightened up and attempted to grin, lying, "Oh yeah, sorry. Just the heat."
"I know, it's pretty hot out today. Here you go," he said, offering Siro one of the half-melted ice cream cones.
"Thanks," Siro told him, taking the cone, melted ice cream dripping down its sides onto his fingers. He began licking around the edges, savoring the sweet taste it brought.
Kuzon bit the bottom of his wafer cone and let the melting ice cream pour into his mouth. His turned his head, surveying the area, his eyes soon falling upon one girl who looked around their age, sitting on a lounge chair. "Hey," he said, lowering his ice cream cone, not minding the fact that it was practically spilling out onto his blanket. "She's pretty cute. Think I should go over and talk to her?"
Siro, reminded of his brother's own ways, answered, "Go ahead. Be my guest."
He watched Kuzon and laughed when he saw him offer her his ice cream cone which had transformed into an indistinguishable lump of pink and brown by then. The puzzled girl impulsively reached for a red bucket beside her, held it over his head and dumped the contents over him: seawater mixed with dirt and a few leafs of seaweed.
A young girl of about five years of age, who appeared to be the girl's sister, began crying and yelled, "Mommy! Kaera ruined my seaweed garden!" Kuzon abruptly dropped his wreck of an ice cream cone and knelt forward, spitting out seawater and frantically wiping his eyes.
"Kaera, what did you do?" her mother, previously lying on a towel now peering at her daughter, scolded. The girl simply shrugged and shot a poisonous glare at Kuzon who was stumbling his way over to their spot, Siro grinning at the sight of it all.
The rest of the sweltering day was spent lazing on their blankets, soaking up the rays of the sun. Siro and Kuzon occasionally went for a dip in the water, challenging each other to splash fights. Kuzon asked once that he be completely buried up to his neck in the sand which Siro was obliged to do.In the late afternoon, he caught sight of Kaera heading over to the Kuai Ball arena and persuaded Siro to participate in a little "friendly" competition. Kaera, although still annoyed at Kuzon's attempts to start a conversation with her, agreed to play against Kuzon. His proud bragging that he would dominate over her in the game proved dead wrong when she won the game, ten to three.
Kuzon brought out his more mischievous side at one point, perhaps going a bit too far, when he pretended to be a helpless, drowning victim, laying facedown on the shore, allowing waves to wash over him. Several vacationers caught sight of him and became panic-stricken, calling for help.
Four beach patrol guards raced to the scene, prepared to handle the emergency only for Kuzon to spring to his feet and shout triumphantly, "Ha, fooled you!" The loungers, who had only moments ago been completely frightened, became instantly frustrated and angered by the hoax. The patrol guards issued a stern warning to Kuzon, chastising him and threatening to expel him from visiting the beach again should he trigger a false emergency. Siro was doubled over with laughter at the audacity of his friend.
His mind often flickered back to the deranged stranger, but he made an effort to keep the image of the vagrant out of his mind.
The emblazoned sun was now half sunken beneath the glossy ocean like a buoy, as if to peer at Ember Island once more before the day's end. The evening was still searing hot, white flecks of sunlight dancing off the surface of the water like gems.
"Hey, want to see if I can get us tickets to an Ember Island play at the theater?" Kuzon asked, his skin even more tawny than before. "They hilariously butcher every performance they act out, but I could use a good laugh."
"Sure, I don't mind," his friend replied.
"Alright, I'll see what's playing at the theater tonight. Maybe they'll even be acting out that ancient play, "Love Amongst the Dragons", if we're lucky. I shouldn't be more than fifteen minutes."
Siro watched his friend briskly saunter away, becoming nothing more than a mere speck in a matter of moments. His eyes turned to the rich, claret sunset over the horizon. His mind flashed back to the stranger's garbled statements. It ain't right what they gonna do to them free spiriters. The maniacal, hazy look in his glazed eyes as he swayed back and forth unbalanced and muttered, "They gonna burn them free spiriters to ashes. And it ain't right."
Without thinking twice, he sprung to his tired, aching feet and sprinted across the beach, nearly colliding into a startled middle-aged woman carrying a towel. The salty wind rushed against his face, his eyes began to tear from its sting yet he kept running. Past several tanned teenagers who had just finished a game of Kuai Ball, past a small flock of seagulls probing the sand for fallen scraps, past the serene ocean to the shady collection of palm trees.
He nearly collapsed from exhaustion, all the energy having dissipated by the time he arrived at the tree where the stranger had stood. Only the stranger was gone now. Siro wiped the tears from the corners of his eyes with his hand, grainy from shards of sand. He knelt there, gasping for breath, every ounce of previous strength having vanished.
After several moments, he unsteadily balanced himself onto his feet and glanced about him, searching in vain for a glimpse of the stranger. The vagrant was gone now, alone, probably wandering about Ember Island listlessly, his glassy eyes fixated on something that was not there.
Siro's eyes fell the ground where the vagrant had stood, droning his eerily prophetic words, and felt a severe wrench of iciness scale up his spine, despite the fact the sun was still smoldering in the titian sky.
In the ashen sand was etched a crudely written yet distinct message. Siro's face went pale as he read the six words inscribed in the ground.
They'll all fall down.
- The title of this chapter, "The Frozen Shores of Fire", is an oxymoron, meaning the title contradicts itself. "The Frozen Shores" refers to the Southern Water Tribe; "Shores of Fire" refers to the Fire Nation.
- Other titles for this chapter that were considered include "Distant Friends", "The Fantastical and Forgotten" and "The Shores of Ice and Sand".
- The name for the species of fish in the Southern Water Tribe, the Mandarin Icelin Koi, is a reference to the user, .
- Syra's thoughts about becoming trapped under the sea and frozen in an iceberg mirror the scenario where Aang becomes lost at sea with Appa and freezes himself in an iceberg.
- Can anyone guess who "them free spiriters" are?
- The last line of Siro's story is directly related to the title of chapter nineteen of this fanon series, "Ashes, Ashes... We All Fall Down".
- Siro feelings about the food served on the boat is a play-off of people's feelings about airplane food.
- Siro's need to "escape reality" is a reference to the very topic the author recently chose to write her English essay about.
- Possible questions readers may be asking about Siro's encounter with the deranged stranger may include "How did he seemingly know about the Air Nomads fate?", "Is he truly insane considering he knew about this?", "Will he appear again in this series?" and "Who is he?". This answers, in order, are: "He attained the knowledge through a dream", "Yes, he really is mentally unstable", "No" and "Just some stranger who's lost in the world."
- The author admits that writing the last line of Syra's story made her tear up a bit.
For the collective works of the author, go here.
|When Air Nomads Walked the Earth Chapters|
|Prologue: As the Sun Rises - Two Separate Lives - Triumph and Tragedy - Tutoring and Results - The Limitless Sky - Eavesdropping - What Next? - Dreams and Rebellion - Life Carries On - The Frozen Shores of Fire - Ragged Edges - Has He Returned? - The Sound of Laughter - Thrilling Revelations - The Unwanted Truth - Eve of the Red Sky - Dragons Over the Horizon - The Blazing Earth - Ashes, Ashes... We All Fall Down - And Then There Were None - Epilogue: When Night Falls|