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|The Summer Solstice|
August 7, 2013
The Summer Solstice
Devion hit the wave and flew up into the air, droplets of water spraying around him. He grinned widely as he splashed down back onto the surface, the sunlight sparkling on the water. Tilting his weight to one side, the long board of ice arced and turned around, sending Devion speeding towards the shore.
Nearly three dozen people stood on the white beach, watching gleefully as the four teenagers surfed through the bay on their ice boards. They clapped and cheered and jumped up and down whenever one of the surfers pulled off something interesting. Seeing a wave nearby swelling up, Devion extended his arms and gracefully flicked them upwards with squeezing his fingers together. A smooth loop of ice shot up from the water, gleaming in the sun. Devion directed his board towards it. Speeding along the water, he zoomed onto the ice and grabbed onto the rims of the board as it flipped with the ice and then propelled Devion forward.
The waterbender turned the board over in midair and hit the water roughly, almost flying off the slab of ice. Luckily, no one on the beach saw and he grinned even wider as he heard the spectators on the beach start to go crazy with applause and cheers.
A burst of water flew up from the bay surface and splashed onto Devion. He shook the water off his face and turned to see one of the other surfers, Makanui, coming up beside him.
"Quite a stunt you pulled off right there," he said with a wicked grin on his face.
"Thanks!" replied Devion, feigning gratitude. "You know, it was really cool when you slipped off your board on that wave."
That wiped the smirk off of Makanui's face. "Are you challenging me?" he asked.
Devion shrugged. "Did I ever say I was?" he replied nonchalantly.
"Have it your way."
Makanui threw his arms back and shot himself forward. Moving his arms in undulating motions, a large wave quickly rising up about seventy feet in front of them. It grew larger and larger until it was about ten feet high. Makanui flashed a smug look at Devion and then rode forward. Just as the wave was beginning to curl, he surfed up the wall of water and flew into the air, spinning his board three times before coming back down on the water. The people on the beach cheered loudly, interested in the spectacle.
Sighing loudly, Devion raced forward and slid under the curve of the wave, riding at the same speed of the crashing wave. Quickly, he spun around and jumped the board into the air, forming a hole in the roof of water with his arms and shooting up into the open air. He landed down on the top of the wave but slid down the front and slipping off the board so leg sunk into the water. The spectators cheered, but not quite as loudly as they did for Makanui.
A loud round of laughter came from Makanui, who was lazily surfing about twenty feet away, bobbing up and down at the force of the wave. "Nice one, Dev," he hissed. Narrowing his eyes, Devion slowed down his board and hopped back onto the slab of ice. He moved himself forward with a few swipes of his arms and started to speed forward, preparing to create a large wave. But as he raised his arms to begin bending, a tall pillar of ice rose in front of him.
Although Makanui was trying to make Devion crash, Devion already had his arms raised, so he was at an advantage. He shot out his arms and raised them into the air while swirling his hands. A ramp of water bobbed in front of him and his board hit it as he threw his arms down. The water surged up and Devion flew towards the top of the ice pillar. He skimmed the top with his board and spun off it before coming back down to the water.
The people on the beach started to applaud loudly and the other two waterbenders who had been surfing were now sitting on their boards, drifting with the tide of the bay. Devion smiled back at Makanui. "Thanks for the help!" he called.
Before he could respond, Devion spun around and began to swirl his arms over his head. The water ahead began to shift and turn as a large slope of ice rose from the water. He set off towards the ice at a fast speed, but out of the corner of his eye he caught Makanui racing behind him.
Speeding up a bit, Devion's board skated onto the ice and he soared off of the incline and shot his arms up with spinning his hands in a circle. A stream of water rose from the bay and parted in the center, serving as a giant tube.
Smiling slyly, Devion crouched down and entered the tube of water. The sun streamed in through the rushing water, creating a rippling effect of blue light. His heart started to race as his bending lost force and the tube was collapsing behind him, threatening to ruin his trick.
But the next moment, he shot out of the tube just as the last of it tumbled back towards the sea and sped through the air before coming back down onto the water. The crowd on the beach went ballistic and started to hop up and down, screaming, clapping, and pumping their arms in the air. Devion raised his arms triumphantly and swerved back around to see Makanui glaring at him as he swam back to his board a few feet away.
"Looks like I beat you," Devion said good-naturedly.
"Maybe this time," replied Makanui angrily as he clambered back onto his board. Devion shrugged and turned his board back around. The tide carried it towards the shore. Devion released the energy he had been using to keep the board from melting and then dove into the water as the ice started to drip into water. He swam the remaining distance and then stepped onto the beach as many of the spectators crowded around him.
"Nice job, Dev!" someone cried.
"Great surfing," said someone else, patting Devion on the back.
Smiling and kindly thanking everyone who praised him, Devion pushed through the crowd and walked over to his best friend, Kialuk, who was standing a little bit away from everyone else underneath a large palm tree.
"That was some pretty cool stuff," he commented.
Devion flashed him a smile. "Thanks," he replied, turning back and looking over as Makanui and his usual gang of six or seven friends walked up to him. They started talking to Makanui, turning around and glancing at Devion every couple of seconds. Makanui, however, never took his narrowed gaze off of his nemesis. "Although, Makanui doesn't look to happy," he added, facing Kialuk.
"Way to surf, Devion!" called a girl somewhere on the beach.
Kialuk smiled and gave Devion a nudge on the side. Curious, Devion turned around and gasped silently. Nani, the most beautiful girl in the whole town of Kiolu, was walking by him with some of her friends, grinning at him.
"T-Thanks," he stuttered, watching her go by as she set off on the path towards the town. Her long, dark brown hair swung behind her, shiny and smooth as it always was. Her skin was deep brown, sun-kissed, and flawless. The way she moved was perfect and beautiful, just like she was. Devion's hungry blue eyes followed her all the way until the other people streaming off the beach blocked his view of her.
"Looks like somebody's got a crush," a voice said jokingly. Waipae, another one of Devion's good friends, walked up behind him and Kialuk. He placed his arm around Devion and smiled. "I can't blame you though," he said. "Nani's pretty hot."
"Get off me," mumbled Devion, his cheeks red while he pushed his friend away.
"Anyway, those tricks you did out there were sweet!" Waipe exclaimed.
"Yeah," agreed Kialuk. "That was some pretty impressive bending." Although the comment was honest, Devion could hear a hint of jealousy in Kialuk's voice. Skinny and short, Kialuk had never had much bending prowess.
They walked up the sandy path lined with palm trees towards Kiolu with all the other people who had been relaxing on the beautiful beach. Up ahead he could see the town. Kiolu wasn't anything grand; it was a collection of a few hundred modest, three- or four-room houses made of wood with thatched roofs. In the center of the town there was a large square with a fountain in the middle and there was a large town hall (although it was still made of wood).
The grandest building in the town of Kiolu was the manor house that sat above the bay. Where Kiolu was located was on flat land, but as the bay grew wider, the land sloped up. The manor laid nearly two hundred feet above the mouth of the bay. It was a beautiful stone building that highly resembled the ancient temples that lay within the jungles east of Kiolu.
Kiolu was a charming and peaceful place, which was highly unusual since it was the capital of the tribe. Nearly two thousand residents lived there, the most populous town in the whole tribe.
They strode into the plaza right at the front of the town, overlooking the beach through the scattered palm trees that separated the town from the shore.
"So are you guys going to the party tonight?" asked Waipae as they navigated through the large crowd.
"Of course," replied Devion. "It's the Summer Solstice. Why wouldn't we go to the party?"
Waipae shook his head. "No, I'm not talking about the festivities this evening, I'm talking about the party. Out on the cliff top."
"There's a party on the cliff?" Kialuk asked.
Nodding Waipae said, "Everyone's going to be there. You guys should go. It'll be a bit after sundown, so after an hour or so of the regular celebration, head up to the south cliff. Some of us are going up early to set up, but just be there."
"Okay, we will," said Kialuk as they reached a three-way split in the main street of Kiolu.
"See you guys tonight," Devion called, turning left as Waipae continued straight and Kialuk went right.
His friends waved at him and he turned around a corner, heading towards his home to get ready for the upcoming night.
Θ Θ Θ
The sun was sinking in the sky, illuminating the bay with beautiful hues. The water appeared to be liquid gold while the rock cliffs reflected dazzling orange sunlight. Devion walked down onto the beach, staring at the magnificent sunset. It was perfect for the beginning of the Summer Solstice celebration.
The soft beach was already packed with citizens. Most of them would be attending the opening of the celebration, although some would be traveling to other islands or towns in the tribe for their own celebration.
Devion's mother, Laona, walked beside him in her yellow and white skirt and a loose white shirt billowing in the nice breeze. She was in her late thirties, although she looked as if she just turned thirty years old. Her face was tan and kind, the skin slightly weathered from the days she had spent traveling the islands. Devion assumed she must have been rather pretty when she was a girl, for there were still remnants of beauty in her sweet face.
"Hey, Mom," said Devion. "Tonight, a little bit after the celebration, there's a party up on the cliff top. Can I go?"
"I guess so," she replied quietly. "But it's the summer solstice. Don't you want to be down here for the celebration?"
"Mom, I'm sixteen," her son remarked. "I need to go to some parties."
Laona sighed. "Just be safe and don't do anything stupid," she muttered, putting her arm around Devion.
They walked onto the beach and joined standing in the crowd that was facing the rocks to the right. About three-fourths of the way down the beach, a large pile of boulders and rocks blocked the rest of the beach. On the other side of the rocks was the harbor, a collection of ten or so wooden docks extending from the rocky shore, several boats moored up against them. Traders and merchants from around the world often came through Kiolu to stay a few nights, although they mostly would dock at the towns on the outer islands.
For a while, Devion and Laona waited around as more people flowed onto the beach. They talked to each other about past festivals, comparing them and deciding which one was the best. Their conversation then drifted on to discussing what they thought might go on during the upcoming festival.
Finally, a voice came from the top of the rocks and everyone in the crowd fell silent. There stood a tall, muscular man with long, black hair wearing yellow and white clothing with blue trim. Chief Moi, the loyal and powerful ruler of the Island Water Tribe.
His voice deep and smooth, he began to talk. "We gather here today to honor the Summer Solstice and the return of summer to these beautiful islands, the jewels of the Mo Ce Sea.
"For five hundred years, ever since the great Water Tribe explorers settled on these islands, we have assembled together to celebrate the longest day of the year. It is a happy and magnificent day, something given to us by the great spirit Lakula, guardian of the Island Water Tribe.
"The Northern and Southern Water Tribes have always used the moon to draw the power we must need for waterbending," continued Chief Moi. "But our ways are different. Yes, we are powerful during the full moon, but we are most powerful in the evening, when the setting sun warms our chi and allows us to control the warm waters of the islands.
"So tonight, we gather to display our skills with bending, meet with our friends, and celebrate the existence of our beautiful land. Ladies and gentlemen, Happy Solstice Day!"
A loud chorus of cheers rose from the gathered civilians. Chief Moi jumped down from the rocks and everyone started to drift around, grabbing fruit drinks from the tables along the beach.
Devion looked around with a smile on his face at the happy, joyful, and smiling people. The Summer Solstice was always one of the most fun holidays in the year, and also the craziest, he remembered as a young started to climb up a palm tree towards a bunch of coconuts.
The party had begun.
2,454 words in The Summer Solstice.
|Flames on the Horizon Chapters|
|Book 1 - Embers|
|~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~|
|Book 2 - Flames|
|Book 3 - Inferno|
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