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|More from ByBray||Drama||PG-13||Positive||One-Shot|
|Reflections of the Sun
Truth is to be discovered, not created.
April 3, 2013
|"A man that hails from the flame,
During the beginnings of the Hundred Year War, a young adolescent finds truth in a nation engulfed in darkness.
Reflections of the Sun
Hatred. Violence. Fear. They were all the same; each one composed of the three main components. The truth I had been told all of my life was slowly coming to fruition, and all I could was sit back and watch.
Until the man in the dark red suit shattered the truth.
"You disgusting grunt," the Fire Nation soldier spat in the distance, kicking a young adolescent into a rustic street alley. A plume of dust circulated into the air, which blurred my already strained view. The childish figure cried out in pain, as he hit the cement wall in place behind him, falling forward onto the ground. "People like you don't deserve to exist in this world!" he harshly exclaimed, as the boy lied motionless on his chest. The soldier turned away from the child, almost as if it was a wounded animal, left to die in its lonesome. He continued down the dusty street, as heartless as his brethren. As heartless as his nation.
My eyes had taken in the entire situation from a small cracked window in my squat, cramped room. "Disgusting," I hissed, glaring at the departing soldier's back from the decrepit window, "how dare you tell anyone that they are disgusting." Adrenaline slowly enthralled my veins, as a wave of complete animosity swept over me.
"All of you are the same. Beating innocent people like savage animals, because you believe you have the divine right. You are simply made to believe you have the rights you enforce. You're nothing better than the ground you walk on," I thought to myself, as I noticed the injured adolescent beginning to rise in he distance, instantly halting my thoughts of hatred and anger.
"Help him," my conscious whispered, as I let the curtain fall and scaled the ladder leading into the main room of our modest home. I sprinted towards the door, stepping on the weak wooden floorboards, and flinging the rickety door ajar.
I could see the boy holding his hand over his arm, as he leaned against the shabby wall next to him. Tears were steadily streaming down his face, accompanied by a slow trickle of crimson blood from a gash on his forearm. I started over towards him in a trot, but quickly escalated to an all out sprint.
"Hey," I called out breathlessly, as I approached the now weeping juvenile. He looked up timidly and slowly, showing the extent of the laceration on his arm. Covered in blood and dirt, as well as bearing a broken-heart, he cried hysterically; he was in such a pitiful state, only the Fire Nation scum could have left him to suffer. I glanced at his face in order to get a good look at it, but he didn't seem familiar.
"My name's Jiru," I whispered hoarsely. "What is-" I paused for a moment to breathe, "your name?" He sighed meekly in response; it was almost as if he couldn't stand to resurface forgotten memories.
"I was named Minoru- but I've always gone by Mino," he replied concisely, quickly making a corrective rush to show his preference.
"Where is your family?" I accidentally pondered out loud. He shook his head again, and then looked down at dust piled between his knees.
"I don't know," he whispered with tears, "the Fire Nation took them away a long time ago. I've been on my on since then."
"My father was taken away many years ago; he and a group of fellow earthbenders tried to revolt against the Fire Nation. I never saw him again," I murmured, trying to relate to him. "In a way, I know how it feels." We sat in silence for a short minute.
"Here I am, a fifteen year old, with a broken, shattered thirteen year old's heart and mind in front of me. I have to do something," I thought to myself, while Mino attempted to tend to his injury.
"Come with me," I said, offering my hand to help him up. "Let me show you my home." He nodded and sighed a breath of relief.
He was alone. He was scarred. And he needed someone.
I invited Minoru into my home for a a few days until I could figure something out; I couldn't just leave him on the streets. Those days quickly morphed into weeks, weeks turned into months, and after a few months, nearly a year had passed and he still lived in our home. I've always been a single child who dreamt for a brother; fate had finally given me the upper hand.
Mino now thinks of my mother as his. He has no memories of his own mother, nor his father. Ever since he came to live with us, my mother found new lines of work to house the new addition. She's hardly home, which leaves the two of us to tend not only to our humble haven, but our lives as well.
Sunlight diffused into the room, reflecting off of the wooden floor boards, and thus creating a warm glow. "Mino..." I called out groggily, my eyes trying to adjust to the morning sun. My face felt heavy after a night's rest, and I tried my best to conjure up words. "We need to... get up."
"Five more minutes," he pleaded, as he rolled over in his makeshift bed. It was only six inches off of the ground and was quite bare. Though Mino didn't care; as long as he had a roof over his head, he was grateful.
"You know Mom wanted us to run up to the market," I countered, as he slowly sat up; his hair was jagged, like that of mountain chains at their peak.
"Oh yeah," he croaked, as he rubbed his eyes, "you're right." We both stood up and threw on our clothes. Mino carefully climbed down to the main floor from our attic bedroom, not missing one rung on the squalid ladder. I quickly followed suit, regained my composure, and we left the house, assuring that we locked the door behind us. The market was around an hour away by foot, but as long as we were together, it was safe to not expect any trouble.
We stepped out into the desolate street, as a burst of wind whipped up a minute vortex of sand and dust. I quickly shielded my eyes, and ran alongside Mino further down the vacant pathway. "This place truly is empty," Mino said, as we paced down the road.
"No surprise there," I started, "the Fire Nation scared away half the people that lived around here after they took away all of the earthbenders. It's been living hell since then." We continued step-by-step as I voiced my opinion, until Mino stopped in his tracks. The air carried an ominous hum as wind chimes rang out in the distance, and a soft breeze stirred the dust by our feet. Mino shifted forward, as he stared into the small side alley with a towering cement wall erected in the back.
"This is the place, isn't it?" I said monotonously, not expecting a verbal reply. "It's been almost a year," I added, as I glanced over my shoulder; I could faintly see my room's window through the veil of the dusty haze. Mino simply nodded his head, and I put my hand on his shoulder. "We'll get 'em back. With two earthbenders like us, one of them wouldn't stand a chance," I said with a slight chuckle, but Mino nodded his head in discontent.
"That's just it, Jiru; there isn't just one. They have an entire army. What do we have? Two inexperienced earthbenders that will be arrested and thrown in prison if caught bending. Now, who do you think would win that fight?" He asked condescendingly, as I slowly let my hand fall to my side.
"You're right," I whispered halfheartedly, "you're right." I took a step backward, and breathed deeply, coughing as the powdered air engulfed my lungs. "Let's just-" I began, but had to clear my throat, "keep walking."
The sun gradually moved overhead, as Mino and I neared the market. The rays burned our necks, and drops of sweat rolled down our faces, as the increasingly scorching sun pursued our shadows. An uneasy quiet had followed us the entire time, but it was shattered by an eerie call out from an alleyway's crevice.
"Well, two little punks out on their own are they? Seems a little warm to be walking in your lonesome," the figure jeered as he stepped out of the cast darkness that slowly revealed his identity. He was an intimidatingly tall, muscular man adorned in a Fire Nation uniform.
"It's one of them," Mino spat, as I instinctively moved in front of him.
"What do you want," I hissed, as the man in the Fire Nation uniform edged towards us.
"I don't know," he started, as he stopped at the foot of my shadow. "You tell me," he bellowed, reaching out and gripping my shirt. I reached up and grabbed his hand, thrusting it away; he snarled in response.
"Don't bother us- we don't want any trouble," I said coolly, despite the situation. He simply grinned in return.
"You don't want any trouble? You deserve it," he sneered, snagging hold of my arm. In a quick flash, he threw me to the ground, my head deeply impacting the earthen road first. I tasted iron in my mouth, and I felt a sharp pain in my right arm. I heard the man chuckle as I came to a rest.
"No," my conscious whispered, "not like this."
I tried to prop myself up, and my arm quickly gave out; I fell back to my knees. The man merely laughed at my struggle, and he averted his focus to the now trembling Mino.
"Now the real question is," he roared, "what should I do with the little disgusting grunt?" His voice resonated in my psyche as old memories resurfaced; he was the soldier that attacked Mino in the alley. I maneuvered my way into a crouched position, as Mino worked up the courage to speak.
"You- your people- the Fire Nation itself is the disgusting one. You use your power to make people fear you. You don't govern the nations; you simply abuse those in them," he said, slowly developing into a shout.
"You little..." the soldier retorted, as he raised his hand high above his head. A small flame developed into a growing jet of orange.
"No," I whispered, realizing what was happening in its extent. "NO!" I screamed, as the man's hand slowly began to aim downward. It was like a slow motion picture playing through my mind, as I rose up, driven by adrenaline. I sprinted towards Mino and rushed to push him out of the blast radius. I could feel the heat of the fire radiating towards me, and I saw the glow encroaching me, but I didn't care. Mino was my priority.
I had a minor flashback, and I saw Mino being beaten in the streets nearly a year ago.
"This time," I thought to myself, "I can make a difference." Just as I shoved Mino away, an incomprehensible pain shot through my body, and my vision began to fade.
"Jiru?!" I heard Mino scream, as my mind slipped away, and my body hit the ground with a thud. "Jiru?" he called softer, as his tears fell onto my back. I could tell that it was painful, but the weariness of the shock made it tolerable. The Fire Nation soldier's footsteps fell into the distance, while I drifted into a sleep-like oblivion.
As for what happened after I blanked, I'll never recall.
My eyes slowly opened, and I gazed at a polished wooden ceiling. It wasn't familiar; as a matter of fact, I had no clue where I was. I sat upright in what appeared to be a bed, only to be met by a sharp pain pulsating through my back. I leaned over in anguish, clutching my fists as the wave swept over me. Eventually, the pain subsided, and I looked around the spacious room. It was fairly plain: only a few trinkets, a well-made carpet, and a large Earth Kingdom symbol adorned the dormitory.
"Jiru?" I heard a familiar voice call out, as I was careful not to strain myself again as I turned my head. I couldn't tell who was speaking, but his voice was so recognizable, I had to have been rather close to him. He sat in a small chair in the corner, with a gleaming smile etched on his face. "How are you feeling?" he asked sincerely, standing up and coming to my bedside.
"Okay, I guess," I replied hoarsely, "what happened? Where am I?" I looked down, and I could see the mass of bandages wrapped around my chest, abdomen, and right arm.
"You took the blast, Jiru," he started, slightly choking up, "that soldier tried to kill me." I couldn't remember anything; I felt as if he was describing a book that I had never read. He must have seen it in my eyes, for he knew what I was thinking, or rather, what I was trying to remember.
"I don't-" I paused, "I don't know what you mean." It was true; I didn't have the faintest idea of what happened. But as he spoke, something in his voice was on the verge of triggering a switch in my brain - as if I could almost remember, but I couldn't turn the memories into worded thought.
The boy simply stared at me with a tepid smile, as if he knew what was now playing through my head, continuing on with his story.
"You saved my life - do you not remember?" he questioned hesitantly, as I sat in silence. Try as I might, a mental blockade prevented me from accessing my thoughts. It was as if a glass wall separated me from my memories; I could see where they were, but their shouts fell on hushed ears.
"I don't know... I think I do," I harshly whispered, relaxing my palm against my forehead. "What is happening to me," the frail voice in my mind whispered. I did something substantial, but even knowing that, I have no utter clue where I even am, let alone how I arrived here.
A sudden knock at the door subsided my train of thought; another faint knock was followed by a creaking opening, and in the doorway stood a young woman. She had long, luscious brown hair, complemented by a beautiful face. "Hello, Jiru," she stated, as I slightly flinched at her mentioning my name - it was the only thing I knew to be true at this point. "How are you feeling?" she pondered, as I exhaled in strain.
"Alright, I guess," I murmured, inching myself into a straightened sitting position. This woman had similar effects on my mind as compared to my young friend: the way it triggered my thoughts, loosening the barrier in my mind, and things of that nature. "If I may, who are you?" I asked plainly, as she returned with a warm grin.
"My name is Reika, I'm the local healer for your countryside. Your friend," she paused for a moment as she motioned to the boy sitting next to me, "brought you here after you were assaulted. You were in pretty bad shape." Assaulted? Bad shape? My head began to pound furiously.
"Aghh..." I spat, as I cringed in my quaint bed. Reika sprinted to my side and bent water out of a pouch tied to her waist; pockets of water surrounded her hands as she gently placed them on my temples.
"I need you to relax, Jiru. This should help," she said, almost in a calming coo. A bright light engulfed my vision, so I closed my eyes and stared into the darkness of my subconscious.
"This time, I can make a difference."
A voice echoed in my psyche and ricocheted off of my mental barriers. It wasn't strange though; I knew exactly who it was.
It was me.
My eyes shot open, as my normal breaths turned into gasps. "Mino-" I croaked, surprised at myself. The faint echo flooded my head with memories of my brother, causing me to remember his name.
"Do you-" Mino started, slightly perplexed, "remember anything?"
"Not really," I whispered breathlessly, "just your name." I swung my legs over the side of the bed, as I tried to stand.
"Wha- where do you think you're going?" Reika shouted, placing her hand on my uninjured arm, keeping me seated.
"Just for a short walk," I returned, with a warm smile. I could see the disapproval in her eyes, so I backed up my reasoning. "I think the fresh air will help jog my memory." She developed an annoyed look on her face, but eventually shook it off.
"Very well- but only for a little while. You're still weak, and you need to rest," she demanded, releasing her grip on my arm.
"Fine," I replied, "only for a bit. Mino, can you help me out?" I asked lightheartedly. He quickly rose from his seat and lent me a hand, walking me out of my makeshift bedroom. We stepped outside of the healer's house and walked across the dirt road, which was empty from the looks of it.
"Let's just have little walk around," I proposed, despite the constant sting of pain through my back. Mino gave a nod, and we started down the road.
"We can't go too far, it's dangerous to be out here too lo-" Mino nearly finished, but stopped short. Footsteps crunched as a shadow emerged from an alley off of the street. I picked my head up, only to be met by a man adorned in a red cloak, with a Fire Nation insignia emblazoned on the chest.
"You, two again," he began, "didn't get enough last time, eh?" He laughed shallowly, glaring at both of us. By those words, a mass of memories flooded my head, as the barrier in my mind was broken. In a miniature epiphany, I remembered everything.
"You're all the same," I suddenly spat, sliding my arm off of Mino's shoulder. The soldier smirked in response. "All you know is violence- you've used hatred and fear to get what you want this entire time," I continued, growing weaker as I finished.
"You kids ought to be taught some respect," the soldier hissed, raising his hand high above his head. I closed my eyes and put my arms up to try and defend myself from the attack that was soon to follow- but, it never came. I slowly opened my eyes, to see a different soldier with his hand around the other's arm.
"Enough!" the new arrival shouted. "I know what you did to this one, Hidou. You should be ashamed," he criticized, glancing at my bandages, The soldier named Hidou simply huffed and yanked his arm from the other soldier's grip.
"Don't treat me like I'm a child," Hidou sneered, slowly turning to walk away. "Next time, don't even bother." He paced down the street and veered off on a branching road, disappearing from my sight. The remaining soldier looked at the two of us.
"I'm sorry about him, you two. I promise not all of us are like that." His eyes glistened in the sun, and he smiled calmly; he must have seen the look of disbelief on both of our faces. "There are a few of us that have respect for others, but only a few." He redressed himself and stood up straight, giving us a slight wave. "I do hope your injuries heal," he added, turning to leave.
"Thanks..." I replied softly, confused by the situation. He carried on down the road, as we watched him fade away, still in utter shock.
Did he just apologize? A Fire Nation soldier that cares? I couldn't believe what I had seen before me. My entire life had been centered around the fact that they were all scum.
That they were all disgusting.
That they were monsters.
But the man in the red suit before us just shattered all that I had known.
The prompt proposed by
Write a one-shot about an Earth Kingdom boy meeting a Fire Nation soldier during the early years of the Hundred Year War and talk about the fear the boy feels of the Fire Nation soldier but that the soldier really isn't that bad.
Henry proposed this prompt, and I wanted to respond to it as creative as possible. Through trial and error and a little revising, this is the result! I hope you enjoyed it, and I look forward to writing more one-shots similar to these.
For the collective works of the author, go here.