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Book 1: Ocean
Chapter 3: Kai
Fire Fountain City is a large industrial town in the Fire Nation. It is so-called because of the huge statue of Fire Lord Ozai with flames gushing from his mouth that used to stand in the city centre. After the One Hundred Year War, the statue was pulled down and a new one erected of the new Fire Lord Zuko, this time with flames flickering on his hands. During the War, Fire Fountain City supported the Fire Nation in its plan to take over the other three nations. Once the War ended, the City went back to how it was before; a happy, lively town full of fun and cheer. The Fire Fountain Fair is a permanent attraction in the City, with games and challenges for children and adults. Fire Lord Zuko had a theatre built in the City, similar to the Ember Island Theatre. Plays are performed to the residents twice a day. Overall, Fire Fountain City is a flamin' good time.
Jinn smiled his greasy cart-dealer smile.
"Step up, step up!" he called to the crowd, "Forty silver pieces to anyone who can win!"
As usual, a small crowd collected around his dealer table. They tittered in excitement.
"And who's going first?" Jinn said. A young girl near the back caught his attention. "What about you, darlin'?" he said, grinning, "Fifty silver pieces for you - if you win..."
The girl smiled shyly and stepped up. Jinn slid his three stone cups onto the table and showed the crowd a small grey pebble in his hand. He flipped the pebble into a cup and placed them on the table. They made a scraping noise as he turned the cups around and slid them across. Soon the crowd was looking confused. Jinn quickly slid the cup with the pebble near the back on the table and the pebble dropped soundlessly into his hand. He replaced the cup with the others and gave them one last spin.
"Where's the pebble, my dear?" he said slyly, "Pick a cup."
The young girl frowned and pointed to the correct cup. Jinn grinned again and flipped it over.
"Sorry," he said, "Try again." The cup was empty.
After the particular crowd had all had a go and left, a single thin old man approached the dealer table. He was holding a thick scroll in his wrinkled hand.
"May I have a go, please?" he asked rustily. Jinn grinned and nodded.
"On one condition..." said the old man. Jinn secretly rolled his brown eyes. "If I win," said the old man, "You must take this." He held up the scroll.
"Alright..." said Jinn, "Let's play then!"
Jinn placed the cups on the table and dropped the pebble in. He twirled them around a bit like always, and slid the pebble cup to the back.
"Pick a cup..." he said when he was done.
The old man pointed to the correct cup. Jinn grinned like always and flipped the cup over. "Sorry," he began, "Try-!"
The pebble was in the cup!
The old man passed the scroll over to Jinn and held out his hand. "Forty silver pieces, please!" he said.
"But-!" said Jinn, "You can't-!" Cheat!"
The old man raised his eyebrows. His eyes were startlingly golden.
Jinn handed over his last forty pieces and grudgingly took the scroll.
The old man turned around and vanished.
Jinn sat at his dealer table and stared at the scroll. It was white paper, with twirling red designs around the edges. The Fire Nation emblem was stamped on the paper. Just as he was about to unroll it, his dealer table caught fire. Jinn screamed. He leapt out of his chair and screamed again as a fireball flew past his head. Another fireball whizzed out from behind a building and almost hit him. Jinn pushed over his table and scurried down a side street. He ran for ten minutes flat pausing only to throw the scroll through a window, until he stopped and rested against a stone wall. He heard a shout from inside a nearby house and saw fire burst from a window. Jinn cried out as a flaming figure smashed through the window and rolled on the pavement. The figure dusted itself off - extinguishing the flames - and turned towards Jinn. Her golden eyes flashed with malice as she smiled. A bright fireball burst into life in her hand, and she swept her arm across, turning the fireball into a fiery stream. She snapped her arm forward, and the stream whipped at the air in front of Jinn's face. Jinn screamed and ran. He turned a corner and kept running. He saw an open door up ahead and dived through it. He was inside a house with a thick red carpet and steaming tea on a small table. Jinn was greedy and thirsty, so he ducked down and slurped the hot tea. As he drank, he heard a crash. He spun around to see the mysterious Firebender fly through the window like a missile, with fire streaming from her feet. She laughed loudly and knocked the tea cup from Jinn's hand. He placed her palm on his chest and pushed. Jinn fell backwards into a tough wooden chair. As he screamed, she kept laughing. She held up two fingers and a bright orange flame burst from the tips like a flaming dagger. The Firebender leaned closer until her face was centremetres from his, and held the flaming dagger to his neck. Jinn gulped.
"Where's the Fire Scroll?" she hissed.
The house exploded as he screamed.
Kai leapt into the air and flipped. He twirled around and landed like a cat. Kai rolled to the side and punched the air. A stream of fire burst from his fist, narrowly missing his older brother, Zhao. Kai rolled backwards onto his feet and sprung upwards. His hands snapped at the air three times, and three fireballs flew at his brother. Zhao leapt and flipped so he was standing on his hands, and kicked at Kai. Two long, thin bladelike flames blasted towards him, and Kai ducked. One whizzed over him, but another stabbed into his arm. Kai cried out and fell backwards. Zhao twisted around and ran to his brother. The flame was extinuished, but to Kai it felt like a large fire was slowly crawling up his arm. He groaned in pain. Zhao looked over at his arm, where a large, evil-looking purple mark was starting to blossom.
"I'll get..." muttered Zhao, "I'll get the herbalist!" He stood up, turned around, and ran off into the garden.
The pain in Kai's arm was beginning to lessen. What if I'm starting to die? thought Kai. He sat up and looked around. He was in his parent's garden, a big circular area of green grass. A strangely-shaped pond sat in the middle, with turtle ducks and badgerfrogs sitting on the glassy surface. Kai stood up in the grass and looked over at his house for the arrival of Zhao. He wasn't coming. Kai had all but forgotten about the pain in his arm, and when he looked, he saw the mark was fading to a small pinkish blemish. How strange, thought Kai.
Kai heard a loud caw and looked up to see his pet messenger hawk, Neo. The bird landed on Kai's uninjured arm and fluffed his blood red feathers. Neo pecked at Kai's arm.
"What is it, Neo?" said Kai.
Neo looked up at the wall surrounding the garden. Kai followed his gaze and gasped in surprise. A single feminine hand was hooked over the edge of the wall. Neo took off, his feathers flashing in the sun, and Kai ran to the wall. Another hand grasped the stone and a face appeared on top. The intruder pulled itself up and stood on the wall. It was a young woman, wearing dark red robes, and with pitch black hair blowing in the wind. Her golden eyes shone with malice. Then she saw Kai.
She cried out in surprise and lost her balance. She tumbled off the wall into the garden, but managed to land like a cat and roll over, like Kai had done only minutes before. The woman popped up and stared at Kai. Something changed in her expression, and she roared like a lion as she blasted simultaneous jets of fire at him. Kai screamed and ducked. The fire shot over him and he rolled to the side. The woman spread her arms, and a wave of flame burned around her in a circle. Kai leapt back to avoid the fire, and counter-attacked by shooting a fireball at her. It flew towards her, but she brought her hands together on it and it exploded. The woman cartwheeled to the side and sent a stream of bright fire from her foot. It burned past Kai's head as he dived down. Kai leapt up and swept his arm across, conjuring a thick blade of fire which he sent towards the woman. She laughed crazily as she leapt over the flame, flipped, and struck out her hands. The fire collected in her palms, and she pushed her hands forward. The fire blasted towards Kai, and he slid to the side. The woman laughed again and blasted fire from her feet, propelling herself into the air and at Kai. He screamed and ducked, his eyes closed, as she flew past him. She turned around and flew back at Kai, but this time he was ready. As she neared, Kai dived to the side and struck out his leg. She caught on his foot and fell to the ground. Kai congratulated himself and turned to see Zhao running towards him from the house.
"Where's the burn?" said Zhao, looking over Kai's arms.
"Did you see that?" cried Kai, jumping up and down, "The woman! And the fire! And the bam, boom, boosh!"
Zhao looked at him like he was insane.
"Come on!" cried Kai, "The woman!" He pointed to the ground next to him.
"What woman?" asked Zhao.
Kai looked down. The mysterious Firebender was gone.
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