|More from Henryjh98||Adventure||G (all ages)||Here||No update page|
January 1, 2014
Devion's mouth dropped open and he dropped the box, causing it to tumble to the ground as Kialuk scrambled over to where Devion was.
"What are you doing here?" he exclaimed.
Kayun brushed the dust off of his robes as the stood. "I wanted to come with you guys," he replied simply.
"B-but... w-w-hat..." stammered Kialuk, at a loss for words.
"I snuck onto the boat while no one was watching," explained Kayun, "and hid under that crate."
"But why did you want to come?" Devion asked.
The young airbender shrugged. "I wanted to be here when the Fire Nation came. I wanted to do something... something more than 'help' you Islanders reform your ways." he said, adding air quotes around the word "help".
"What's this?" came the captain's booming voice from further back. "A stowaway?" The three boys turned to see the tall man walking towards them, his expression unreadable.
Kayun gave a weak smile and scratched his head. The captain crossed his arms and shook his head.
"I guess there's nothing I can do about it," he muttered. "We're already here. You'll just have to deal with the chief."
Heaving a sigh, the captain turned around and ordered everyone to continue. Slowly, all the teenagers shifted their eyes away from the stowaway and went back to work as the cutter sailing ship pulled into the busy port of Palua.
Devion looked at Kayun and shook his head before grabbing his bag, stuffing his sleeping roll in it, and then picking the box up with Kialuk. Together, they joined the stream of people leaving the boat and followed them down the long dock. Dozens of boats were moored to the many piers extending from the cove.
A group of men clad in white robes with blue lining were walking down the beach towards the five Water Tribe boats. Chief Moi and four other senior Kiolu warriors broke away from the rest of the men and strode up to meet the incoming men.
Curious, Devion and Kialuk moved past everyone in front of them and dropped their box on the beach about fifty feet away from Chief Moi and the other men. They were talking in quiet voices, and from the way Chief Moi talked to the man from the other group, Devion assumed the man was the mayor of Palua.
They talked for about another minute and then Chief Moi turned back to the gathered warriors from Kiolu. "Mayor Kiona says the Fire Nation are docked on the other side of Palua and that he was about to send me a message," he announced loudly. "He also told me that we can set up camp beach beside the harbor. I will go and check out the Fire Nation and speak with them briefly. The rest of your, please begin making the campsite."
Chief Moi and the warriors around him turned and followed Mayor Kiona into the city. Everyone started to move along the harbor. Devion and Kialuk picked up the box and lugged it towards where Chief Moi indicated they would take shelter.
The small beach beside the harbor was quiet spot. A line of palm trees separated it from the harbor and one side was backed by rocks and plants at the base of the mountain. The sea wrapped around the other two sides of the sandy strip.
"Do you think this is big enough for us all to take shelter on?" asked Kialuk as he and Devion set the box down against a large rock.
Devion squinted and looked around. "Probably," he said. "There are about three hundred of us. The senior warriors will get tents, and I'd say are about fifty of them. Everyone else will have to sleep in the open, so we'll all be able to fit."
A soldier walking by stopped when he saw Devion and Kialuk sitting on the box. "All boxes are supposed to go over there by Hanuk," he said, pointing at a tall, lean man with short brown hair.
"We'll take it right over," said Kialuk. He dropped his bag in the sand and then rolled out his sleeping roll. "So people don't steal this spot," he added, glancing up at Devion.
Devion did the same as Kialuk and they once again picked up the large wooden box from the sand. They carried it over to the large stack of boxes. Devion awkwardly climbed up onto one box as Kialuk heaved the crate up to Devion, where he slid it above two other boxes.
Wiping their hands on their clothes, the duo moved back to where they had left their sleeping rolls and bags. Nani and Waipae walked onto the beach and Devion raised his arms. Nani saw him and tugged on Waipae's shirt. They both walked over to Devion and set their bags down on the sand.
"This is nice," Waipae said, looking around at the beach. "It should be pretty comfortable to sleep on."
"I just hope the tide doesn't come up here," muttered Nani. "That would ruin my night if I got sucked out into the ocean while sleeping."
All four of them laughed and then they settled down on the ground. Devion wiggled his feet in the warm sand and pulled up a handful of the grains, watching as they showered down between his fingers.
"I wonder how long we'll be here?" he asked after several minutes of silence.
"We'll find out soon," Kialuk commented. "Look, there's Chief Moi and the others."
Devion looked over at the palm trees and sure enough, Chief Moi and the other four men were walking onto the beach. Chief Moi's brows were furrowed and his face looked aggravated and bewildered at the same time.
He hopped up onto a rock and cleared his throat loudly. Even over all the noise of settling in, everyone fell silent and turned their heads to face their chief. "The Fire Nation is camping on the mountainside," he began. "There are about three hundred of them and they have five large, steel ships. I briefly talked with the captain and he claimed he was here on peaceful terms. We organized a time tonight to meet and discuss the Fire Nation's presence in the Island Tribes. That is all."
"I wonder what they want," muttered Waipae. "Why would they have attacked one of our ships if they were here on 'peaceful terms'?"
"That's what we'll find out tonight," came the deep voice of Chief Moi as he walked up behind Waipae. Frightened, he jumped forward while sitting a foot before turning around to face Chief Moi.
"I'm sorry," chuckled Chief Moi. "I can tell you weren't expecting me to come over here." Without giving time for a response, the chief looked over at Devion and Kialuk. "I want you two to accompany me to the meeting tonight. You witnessed what the man said back in Kiolu. It's only right you should be there."
Devion smiled. "Thank you, sir," he said, dipping his head. An excited bubble rose in his stomach. He was going to attend an important meeting between two nations. Now, it wasn't between the two leaders of the nations, but it would still be very significant.
Nani looked over at Devion and Kialuk. "Well aren't you two lucky?" she said. "That's a real honor, actually. I wish I could go. It'll be very interesting."
"Yeah, it will," put in Kialuk. "I'm a little nervous, though. These Fire Nation men sound dangerous. It could escalate into a battle."
"Chief Moi will make sure we'll get out of there if a battle happens," Devion said. "There's no way he'll put us at risk like that."
Kialuk nodded and leaned back against the rock while Devion stared out at the ocean, his mind rushing with thoughts of the upcoming discussion.
Θ Θ Θ
Night had fallen and fires were springing up around the camp on the beach. Devion, Kialuk, Waipae, and Nani were huddled around their small fire, watching the flames burning away at the wood. Just a few minutes back, they'd gotten through the long line near the boxes and were served some sea prune stew, a slice of bread, and a cup of water.
Most of the teenagers had sorted into small groups and found spots to spend the night back by the rocks. All the other men had gathered into bigger groups and set up their sleeping spots closer to the water. Every few minutes, a cacophony of laughter arose from one of the groups.
So it was unusual when an outburst of noise came from where Makanui and his friends sat a few dozen feet down from Devion and the others.
"Go away!" someone yelled.
"We don't want you near us," another person hissed.
"Get out of here!" shouted Makanui angrily.
A dark shape rose up from a few feet behind away from the group and wandered about ten feet before hopping up onto one of the rocks. Devion instantly knew who it was--Kayun. Feeling sorry for the way Makanui and his friends treated Kayun, Devion stood up and beckoned over towards his fire.
"Kayun," he said. "Come over here."
Kayun hopped down from the rock and walked towards the fire, sitting down against one of the rocks. "Thanks," he muttered. "You're basically the first people that have shown me any kindness. Most of the people my age have been rude and mean, while the older men have basically ignored me."
"Well, the older men ignore us, too," Waipae muttered with a laugh. "So don't feel too bad about that."
"But everyone else has no right to treat you like this," Nani said, casting a disgusted glance over at Makanui. "It's just cruel."
"I have a question," interjected Kialuk. "You know there's potential for a battle, right?"
Kayun nodded slowly, taking a sip of his stew.
"You're an Air Nomad," he continued. "Air Nomad's are supposed to be peaceful. You came here knowing there could be a fight and that didn't stop you. Why?"
Kayun sighed loudly. "I was sent here with the other missionaries as a punishment," he began. "The elders thought it would help to straighten me out, because I've always been a rule breaker. But what they don't understand is that I don't want to be a monk. I don't want to be an Air Nomad. I want to be an airbender, not an Air Nomad. I never had a choice in my life up until now. By coming on this boat, I can prove that just because I'm an airbender doesn't mean I'm a nomad. I want to do something in this world besides sitting around in a temple and talking about peace."
For a moment, there was silence. Then Kialuk said, "That actually makes quite a bit of sense, and I think you were really brave for coming here."
Footsteps sounded on the sand near their fire and a soldier walked into the orange light. "Chief Moi is ready to leave for the meeting," he told Devion and Kialuk. "Meet them at the palm trees as soon as you finishing eating."
Devion nodded hastily and swallowed the last bit of his soup and shoved the bread into his mouth. "See you guys later," he told his friends through his full mouth as he stood up. "I'll tell you all about it."
As they said quiet goodbyes, Devion and Kialuk turned away from the fire and jogged towards the palm trees, weaving around the dark forms of sitting men. Chief Moi was waiting there with seven other men, all of whom Devion recognized as senior warriors from Kiolu.
"We will meet up with Mayor Kiona in town," said Chief Moi. "The Fire Nation captain and his delegation will be waiting for us at the beach. Do not fear," he added at the uneasy faces of the men. "The mayor has scattered guards all around the meeting spot, so if anything goes wrong, they'll be there as backup."
That reassured everyone, but Devion still felt a little nervous. These very same Fire Nation soldiers slaughtered twelve men who were doing nothing but sailing into port. He hoped everything would be peaceful, because he didn't want a confrontation against powerful firebenders.
They walked up the beach and into the town. Devion looked around Palua with a smile on his face. It was quite a gorgeous town. Due to the mountains on both sides, darkness fell over the city, but soft golden lights stood on wooden poles every few feet, illuminating the stone roads. The wooden houses were larger and nicer than most of the houses in Kiolu. The nightlife here was much busier than Kiolu, too. People strolled through the streets and walked in and out of taverns and restaurants. Palua was quite a charming town.
Citizens gave the group of Kiolu warriors a second glance, but other than that, no one reacted to them. They made it through the pleasant town in about five minutes before Mayor Kiona and two men dressed in the white clothing of Palua stepped out of a house right beside the beach.
"Ah, you are here!" said the mayor kindly, spreading his arms. "We must hurry. I'd prefer to get this meeting done as quickly as possible."
"I wholeheartedly agree, Kiona," replied Chief Moi, his jaw barely moving. Devion could tell the chief was very tense and nervous about this meeting.
In silence, the thirteen people walked down the slope from the town and onto the white beach. A wooden table had been laid out about fifty feet from the shore. Torches illuminated the sand around the table, giving off a soft, orange glow.
As Devion looked around the beach, he noticed that the harbor was positioned to the right of the town, instead of being straight on the beach like the other side of Palua. He also observed that the beach was totally empty. There were no Fire Nation soldiers anywhere.
Chief Moi stopped and held up his hand, signaling for the rest of the group to halt. He looked around the beach, breathing in and out deeply. "Where are the Fire Nation?" he asked, his voice loud and clear.
Mayor Kiona looked around nervously. "They should be here," he muttered. "I told them to arrive before we did."
Dark figures jumped down from the ledge at the south side of the beach. Instinctively, Devion spun towards the movement and crouched down into a bending stance. The other warriors followed his gaze and drew their weapons or prepared to bend.
"Don't attack!" hissed Chief Moi. "It's the captain and his men."
Slowly, everyone relaxed, though Devion's heart was still pounding. They walked to the table and Chief Moi sat down at one end. The Fire Nation captain and his men reached the meeting spot and the captain sat, too.
Devion narrowed his eyes as he looked at the man. He wore an entitled expression on his face, as if everything that happened around him was supposed to be for him. His face was elongated and thin with a graying beard sitting upon his pointed chin. His hair, almost completely gray, was tied back in a ponytail. Overall, to Devion, he looked like a snarky, deceiving son of a gemsbok bull.
"Hello," he said, his voice cold and cunning. "I am Captain Uso of the Fire Nation."
Chief Moi stared back at him. "I assume that was directed more towards my men instead of me?" he asked, raising his eyebrows.
Uso nodded slowly. "Now, what would you like to discuss?"
"Why are you here?" Chief Moi questioned directly. "What is your purpose in the Islands?"
The man's eyes flickered and the right corner of his mouth tilted into a sly grin. "So brusque," he muttered, shifting in his seat. "We're all here just to talk, are we not? Such hostility for a peaceful meeting, isn't it?"
Devion breathed out loudly, ready to spit out a stream of words insulting Captain Uso for being a lying murderer. But he kept his cool and clenched his fists as the discussion went on. "You asked me what I wanted to talk about, and I told you," grumbled Chief Moi. "I repeat, what do you want from us?"
Uso placed an elbow onto the table and leaned forward. "I'm here to ask you for something by the direct order of Fire Lord Heizu," he answered.
Chief Moi shifted his shoulders and straightened up. "Ask away," he told Uso. "But that doesn't mean you'll get it."
"Over the past few decades," began Uso, "the Fire Nation has been using the last of our natural resources. After searching for years, some of our scouts have informed us that your islands are rich in natural resources that we might need in the future. What we ask is that you give us one or two of your less-important islands."
Devion's mouth dropped open. The offer was preposterous. Why would they ever give up one of their less-important islands to the all-consuming Fire Nation? It was horrendous, and he prayed that Chief Moi would decline Captain Uso.
"Give you one of our islands?" exclaimed Chief Moi. "For nothing in return?"
Shaking his head, Uso swiped his hands in front of his face. "We will not leave you empty handed, Chief Moi," he said. "In return, we would gift you with seven of our very own steel warships."
A chuckle came out of the chief's mouth. "We don't want your steel warships," he said hurriedly, looking around at his men, who nodded in agreement. Devion was one of the first to start nodding; a steel warship was exactly the opposite of what the Water Tribes used, and they were perfectly fine with using their wooden sailing ships.
"Fire Lord Heizu thought you would say that..." remarked Uso snugly. "So I'm afraid I have to tell you if you do not offer us one of your islands, we may or may not take it by force."
Anger and shock flashed in Chief Moi's eyes as he stared at Uso's smug expression. Devion knew he was struggling between keeping his pride as chief of a Water Tribe or protecting his people and sacrificing some of his land.
"I-I need time," he stammered. "But-but I thought you said you were here on peaceful terms?"
Uso chuckled. "I am here on peaceful terms. We haven't attacked anyone!"
"What about that trading boat you destroyed?" interrogated Chief Moi, flexing his arms as his hands were clenched into fists. "And the crew members you killed?"
For a brief moment, surprise sat on Uso's face, but it quickly vanished. "Oh, that small ship," he murmured casually. "Yes, that was an unfortunate accident. You see, we were moving through waters at night, and seeing as how our ship is much larger than a tiny trading boat of the islands, we accidentally crushed the back of that sail boat. As we boarded to tell them we would help them get to safety, the traders attacked us. Our only option was to fight back. It was tragic, really." He put on a regretful face, but Devion could see his eyes laughing cruelly.
Devion's eyebrows furrowed in confusion. His mind flashed back to the honesty on the stranger's face as he recounted the story of what happened to his boat. There was truthfulness in his voice, and Devion had known the man was speaking without lying. But here, this usurper Uso had completely changed the story. He was lying, making it up.
Before Chief Moi could open his mouth, Devion stepped forward. "You're lying," he said, his teeth gritted. "I talked to the man who survived your slaughter. He said you struck his boat and then attacked him and his crew. And he wasn't lying."
"Devion..." began Chief Moi warningly, but Uso cut him off.
"Do you really believe the word of a half-conscious, injured man over a fully sane, qualified captain?" he asked Devion, a hint of anger in his cold voice.
"Yeah, I do," replied Devion hotly. "Because he didn't take a force of fifty men and kill twelve men like you did, even if the dozen crew members did attack you first!" His chest heaving, Devion glared daggers at Uso, and Uso was watching back with narrowed, fiery eyes.
Uso threw a look of disgust at Devion and then abruptly rose from his chair, a light haze of smoke arising with him. "Learn to control your children, Chief Moi," he hissed. As he started to walk away, he spun back around and said, "You have one week to decide. I'll be waiting on a smaller island away from these people." His voice was full of anger and contempt, but right there, by the way he spoke, Devion knew everything he had just said about the trading ship was a lie.
The Fire Nation men walked back down the beach and towards their mountainside camp. Chief Moi slowly stood up and looked at Devion. "I admire how you acted," he muttered slowly. "But I suggest you do not do that around Uso again."
Without waiting for an answer, Chief Moi turned to the rest of the men. "We'll leave tomorrow at dawn," he announced. "Let's get back to camp. We have much to discuss."
And with those words, the group of thirteen turned away from the makeshift meeting spot and headed back to their campsite.
There are 3,555 words in Boiling Threats.
|Flames on the Horizon Chapters|
|Book 1 - Embers|
|~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~|
|Book 2 - Flames|
|Book 3 - Inferno|
|Subscribe to FOTH•••• Avatar Stories|
For the collective works of the author, go here.