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One, two, three, four, the drums got faster and faster. One, two three four, the ocean’s roar added to the beat.
Mila’s hands rocketed on and off the top of her drum and her eyes remained fixed on the fire beater in front of her.
The bursts of flames that shot out of her fists and palms had streaks of blue in them. Ribbons of fire shot around the young girl like snakes as she continued her dance. The ribbons joined, they grew, flew in a circle around her.
The drums became even faster then stopped abruptly as the last burst of fire ate up the darkness.
Mila set her drum flat on the sand and stood up for her turn.
She took her stance half way between the ocean and the fire tribe. The drums began a slow beat. She remained still. Gradually the drums became faster. The beat was echoing up the soles of her bare feet. The orange, red and gold scarves rippled around her in the breeze. The numerous gold bangles jingled as she bounced on the balls of her feet. Her thick gold ankle bracelet began to glow with the fire Mila was summoning.
The drums became faster, two beats a second. Mila shot off. Fire burst from her fists on either side of her. Fire falcons rose to the heavens before diving down and twirling around a Chinese dragon. The falcons faded and the dragon turned into a wave of blue fire. It hit Mila with the vision of an enormous wave before disappearing. She stepped forward and fire began curling out from beneath her feet. She through her arms forward and fire trails followed her, their light scaring the night.
The drums became faster still. Mila jumped foreword, flames reaching around her. She landed and someone joined her. He played the counter part in the dance. Mila stepped back and flung fire at him. He took the step foreword and molded the fire into an eel. While the eel spun around them Mila turned to face the drums. He stepped between them, facing Mila.
Fire was flying back and forth. The drums were getting faster and faster. The dancers twirled and stepped, light and heat and power flying between them.
All at once the drums, dancers and fire stopped.
Mila tried to catch her breath and looked up into her dance partner’s face. She didn’t recognize him.
The rest of her tribe stood up, abandoning games and the drums to come and see what was going on.
One brought Mila her golden Circlet and she placed it on her head.
“Who are you?” Mila asked the stranger,
“Prince Zafara.” He said and bowed to the Princess.
Mila brushed her curly brown hair behind her shoulder.
“Welcome, if you really are.” She gave a small curtsey. “Forgive me but, it’s a little unwise to be wondering all the way over to our retreat by yourself, especially if you’re a Prince.
“Ah! I have five men in the rocks.” He waved to the boulders and stones a little down the beach. Five men began making their way towards them.
Every visitor was wearing light leather armor.
“We’ve come to ask for help.” Zafara said, turning back to Mila.
“What help do you seek?”
“Refuge, actually. Our whole city was taken by the water chasers.”
Mila tipped her head to the side and put her hands on her hips.
“So five men and you survived.” She said sarcastically.
“No, of course not! Every survivor is walking down here with solders, hoping for somewhere to stay.”
Mila began walking off down the beach, away from her tribe and the visitors.
Zafara and his five men followed her.
“You can stay. Though it will be very likely you’ll be bringing the water chasers here. So you better be ready to fight with us.”
“Thank you Princess Mila.”
Zafara bowed and so did all his men.
They walked off and a few minutes later Mila saw two of his men run to some horses, mount and ride off.
The tribe had resumed the dancing and games, though some of them still looked at the visiting Prince.
Mila turned away from the site and walked off the beach and into a small forest.
She walked a little further in, feeling eyes on her all the time. Someone came up behind her and took her arms.
“Well done.” He chuckled in her ear.
Mila’s head bent in shame as she was lead to the hollow tree. She was pushed into it and down some stairs. At the bottom she was let go and she walked into the middle of a large room.
Mila looked up at the water chaser’s leader, King Tiroh, sitting in a chair.
“Thank you.” He said and gave her a smile that sent tingles down her spine. “You’ve been so cooperative.” He laughed and leaned back.
He waved his hand and ten guards ran up the stairs and out of the tree.
Mila walked to the side of the room and leaned against the dirt wall. She could still feel the Kings eyes searching her.
The two remained like that for a while. Guards talked amongst themselves.
Finally footsteps sounded on the stairs again and thirteen fire beaters came down the stairs followed by the ten water chasers and a struggling Prince Zafara and his guards.
“Let me go!” Was the first thing he shouted. His hand broke free and he punched the guard in the face.
The water chaser pulled his arm back and froze them together with ice.
Zafara let out a furious yell and was shoved to the ground at the water chaser kings feet.
“Let’s play a game.” Tiroh smiled. “It’s where you make this easy on us and don’t alert your cities survivors to the coming danger.” He stood up.
“Why should I?” Zafara spat at him,
“Because, I’m the master here. You are nothing but a pitiful prisoner.”
The guards pushed Zafara to the wall next to Mila. After that they left to run over the plans with the other guards.
Mila sunk down next to the prince.
“I’m sorry.” She said,
“Why didn’t you run! Why didn’t you give me a sign to turn around and leave.”
“They had arrows trained on us the whole time.”
The next morning every single prisoner was outside. There were fire’s going and Zafara and Mila were arguing quietly with each other.
“We could still run!” Zafara said,
“No we couldn’t! They’d shoot every single one of us. Chaser’s will come out of the forest in seconds and freeze our feet to the ground.”
“We could send some kind of signal to the rest!”
“No! No fire unless they tell us.”
“That’s it!” Zafara cried triumphantly.
“What? No fire?”
Mila looked at him like he was crazy.
“Fire beaters are always using fire! The survivors coming here will shoot fire balls in all direction as celebration to the end of the journey!”
Mila still didn’t get it.
“I always have to be the other end of a fire celebration. When I don’t play with fire they’ll know something’s wrong.”
Finally Mila got it.
“Great, let’s just hope it works because here they come.”
Zafara turned around and saw all of his survivors coming down the beach, fire shooting in all directions just as he had predicted. His hands remained firmly at his sides. Not a single spark of fire was seen in the camp.
The survivors stopped, murmuring to each other. Then they all turned around and ran.
Mila looked at Zafara. His face was very grim.
Water chasers ran out of the forest. They ran after them. The ocean’s tide slowly began to rise and the Beaters ran up through the forest.
“Come on!” Mila yelled and began shooting at the water chasers. Fire was spurting in all directions.
People yelled in pain. Blood drops hit the sand. Within the minute there were corpses on the ground.
Zafara and Mila fought their way to King Tiroh. As soon as they were within eight meters their fire turned on him. Other tribe members hit him with their flames. A few solders came riding down the beach on horses, ready to fight.
Tiroh stepped back. Fire hit him in all directions and at last the heat killed him. His blackened corps hit the ground.
The Fire beaters wasted no time on turning to the rest of the battle. It was confusion. Screams and yells echoed through the air.
Who knew how long it had lasted? Everyone was simply happy that it was finally over.
Mila looked around. Everything was a mess. Her own friends were on the ground. Her enemies lay next to them. Some fire beaters made their way over to her, dragging captives to her.
“Kill them.” She said and turned away from the last blood shed.
She searched for Zafara, dreading that he would not be among the living. When she finally found him he was lying on the ground. Ice shards were sticking deep into his skin.
He handed her a small ring. His cities royal seal, then surrendered to death.
Mila turned to her new tribe members and knew the others would be coming out of the trees soon and began looking for the injured.