So, since I'm not invited to those meetings with Star and Tamwyn and pretty much everyone else, I always am the last to know that we need to travel, or fight, or something. So now, we're going back to the Water kingdom (this is an idea I like - no fighting) to talk about war and such (not as much fun as I would like it to be.) But you know, my opinion doesn't actually count for anything.
And so we traveled. I still loved the feeling on flying through the air, especially since we don't get cold, ever. Though flying through clouds is extremely uncomfortable, and since now I know that I am literally fire, I now understand why it tires me out so much. So, in short, avoid clouds.
But the feeling of the air blowing past me is so great. I wish I could fly forever, and that it wouldn't be so draining, like running can be for a long period of time. Though this doesn't make your calves hurt. As you can probably tell, I was never on the track team at my old school.
We arrived on the outskirts of the Water kingdom just as last time, with its huge river working as a moat and the white palace sparkling in the distance. But unlike the last time we were here, two Water people, one man and one woman, were standing on the edge of the river, waiting for us. The man was tall, and extremely muscular, and he looked powerful, definitely some one I did not want to irritate in any way. The woman was also tall, but slight, delicately built, and she too emanated power. I wondered if in all the element tribes, the women that look the weakest always turn out to be the strongest. I mean, Starfire looks like I could break her in half easily, but on the contrary, she break me much quicker and easier than breaking a toothpick in half. Both the man and the woman had the darkest black hair I had ever seen. I could only describe it as the color of the night, when there are no moon and stars to guide you. The woman's eyes were a dark, sapphire blue, but the man had pale blue eyes. I suddenly recognized him.
"It's you!" I exclaimed, and everyone looked at me like I was a crazy person. I didn't care. "You're River, the man that tried to murder me before I got here!"
He looked affronted. "I never tried to murder you! I -" he sighed. "We thought that by capturing you, we would be saving innocent lives. We though that would be the end of the war. We see now that we were sorely mistaken. I - I am sorry. Extremely sorry."
I gave him a warm smile, because I realized that he wasn't evil at all, no matter how I had first perceived him. He just wanted this over, like we did, and had thought that initially we were the enemy. "I think that it's alright now." I told him, and he smiled to, looking relieved that I wasn't going to try to attack him or something. Starfire squeezed my shoulder in a 'good job' sort of way, and then turned to the woman.
"Well?" she said expectantly. "What are we waiting for? We've got a meeting to attend!"
The woman smiled and used her hands to separate the river before us. We walked through. I looked at the small party behind me. Since this wasn't a mission or anything, we didn't need fighters, nor a big group. Blaze had come, at my request, as well as Starfire, Tamwyn, a man I had been informed was the strategist (and who didn't seem to get along very well with Star), and two other men who had introduced themselves and was leaders, ranking semi close to Star. Their names were Coal and Chaleur, which was apparently French for heat (we're so unoriginal, I'm beginning to notice.) They seemed pleasant enough.
We walked through the city, which seemed smaller than the last time we were here, somehow. Maybe because we didn't have a huge party slowing us down. The women that had followed us the first time ran up to us. One of them spoke in a deep, motherly voice.
"Are you all going to the war meeting?" She asked, looking surprised that we were here. I nodded to her. She smiled. "Good. We are headed there as well." And so they walked with us.
Okay, maybe we took a short cut or some thing, because I am positive the route to the castle was longer the last time we were here. Regardless, we arrived there quickly. The guards, knowing who Starfire was, and knowing the three women, let us enter the gates and the palace it self. I liked being here this time around, because there was no sense of scary urgency, no tension or any fear that things could go badly and that we might be murdered. This was going to be a peaceful transaction, but unfortunately not about peaceful things. Well, I guess you can't have everything.
Once we reached the throne room we had seen before, with its amazing statues and tapestries and marble floors and walls, the three women from the Water tribe took the lead, showing us through a door I had not initially noticed. We were lead in to a much smaller room, this one rather plain with a deep purple, round table in the middle and high backed silver chairs seated around it. No one but us was there yet. We all sat, the three women looking at home but the rest of us (my party, I mean) looked rather uncomfortable. Starfire remained standing. She isn't really the type to sit and relax any way, that much was obvious to me (and every one else, I might add.) Eventually, people filed in, young and old, all tall, lean, all with black hair and blue eyes and slightly grim expressions. This was not turning out to be as fun as I hoped it would be. Though, hey, one step closer, right? Right.
Finally, every singer chair was filled, except for one, which was the tallest of all the other chairs, and probably reserved for the king. I suddenly wondered why our king wasn't here. It seemed as if he didn't care at all about the war, because I know for a fact he never goes to the council meetings or anything. Maybe he's just too old or too busy or something. I mean, it can not possibly be easy to run a tribe as big as ours, especially during war time. And any way, let's face it, he's got Starfire and Tamwyn running the show around here.
The door opened once again, and we all turned to see the Water King enter, looking just as magnificent as the last time we saw him. He smiled at the small crowed seated around the table, and opened his arms wide, as if trying to hug every single one of us at once.
"Welcome, friends from near and far. I assume we should get right to the discussing?"
"Yes, that would be nice, thank you." Said Star, who was still standing, when it would really be more polite to just stick her ass on the chair. But god forbid Star do some thing she does not want to do. The strategist looked at her, clearly pissed off. But I think he always has that expression on his face. Or maybe he only does when Starfire is near bye. I could understand some of his frustration with her. After all, Star really is not an agreeable person.
The king was did not find her behavior strange, or offensive in any way, or if he did then he did not show it, which I found kind of him. He smiled at her again, and took his place at the round table. "So," he said, placing his elbows on to the table, with his finger tips pressing together gently. "What do we need to discuss?"
Before Starfire could say what she wanted to say, the strategist piped up instantly.
"Well," he said, and his voice had an annoying, authoritative but pompous ring to it. "We believe that it is not necessary to fight any longer. At least, some of us believe so." He added, after seeing the glowering, seething look on Star's face. She looked ready to murder him. "Any way," he continued, "Every one in the Earth tribe has completely disappeared. The entire place is deserted and they are no where to be found. We have had no chance to contact the Air tribe just yet, but it does not seem like they want to attack any one just yet. We - I mean, some of us think that at this point we can just sit back and let the rest play out, and that it will work it self out quite easily."
The king had been focusing intently on the strategist the whole time, quietly considering every word the strategist had said to him. He nodded slowly, then turned to Starfire.
"Am I right in assuming that you disagree with these words, Starfire?" He asked, a small smile playing with his lips. It was as if the king enjoyed Starfire's reaction to the strategist's idiotic view of this war. Even I knew that what he said was pure stupidity, and his fear of fighting, and possibly dying, for a greater cause.
She smirked. "That, my lord, is the understatement of the century. The Earth tribe may be gone from their territory, but while they fled out of fear, they are simply biding their time, waiting for the opportune moment to attack again and finish us off. The Air tribe is the same, residing within their protective boundaries until they see a chink in the armor. The two tribes are blinded by old hatred that they do not see what they are doing, only that they want to win. They do not see that by winning, they are actually losing everything, like the earth as we know it. Or, knew it, I believe is more accurate, because currently, the world is falling apart and we can not sit back and let it continue any longer." This last part was directed mostly at the strategist, who scowled and looked away from her.
The king nodded slowly again, once again absorbing the information and taking a moment of silence to really think about the two points. Then he did some thing that surprised me quite a lot. He turned to me and asked "And what do you think about all of this, Prince Flame? Whose side are you on?"
At first, I gaped at him for a moment. Then I smiled at him, because finally I was not being considered as decoration, Starfire's bow and arrow and nothing more. I thought for a moment.
"I think that, it's not really whose side I'm on, because we shouldn't be so against each other when we need to be working together. But I do feel that the Earth tribe is not going to stay out of our way, because they are arrogant and will stop at nothing to win. They did try to kill me, after all, but Blaze here was nice enough to take the hit for me. I think they are just preparing to kill us all off. In fact, I firmly believe that they are hiding in plain sight. I mean, who could have fired off the arrow that nearly took me out?"
The king looked shocked. "I had heard word of them abandoning their city, but they are shooting at you as well?"
I nodded solemnly. "They are ignorant of my real position. They seem to think that I am the brains and the brawn behind the operation, and that if they kill me, then the entire Fire tribe will be greatly weakened. If any thing, if they kill me it will only fuel the anger and hatred against them, and then they will truly meet their down fall. But at the same time, I feel like they know of Starfire's ranking and yet do not even want to try and get her. They are cowards, that I am absolutely sure of."
He nodded, meeting my eyes and looking very serious now. He then turned to the strategist, looked him in the eye, and said "I do not mean to offend you sir, but I must be plain with you. You, my good sir, are a moron."
The strategist looked enraged and began hotly "Excuse me sir but I think that -" But Starfire cut him off with a gleeful whoop. "Thank you!" she cried, looking triumphant. "I have only been saying that for the past three centuries! Thank you very much sir, for understanding that much, if not so much more!"
The king and pretty much every one except for the strategist had a pretty good laugh about that. We roared with laughter while the strategist shouted over the mirth "Excuse me, but I have thought this through quite completely and I believe that I have a point, and that you have no grounds calling me a moron!" His remark was lost in the sounds of the hilarity.
"Ah," sighed the King, who wiped a couple tears that were rolling down his cheeks. "All right, all right, every one settle down now, we need to talk business now, we need to be serious."
Every one quieted down after another minute, and we all turned expectantly toward the king. He looked around to make sure that every one was listening before speaking. "Now, every one here, excluding the Fire strategist, who is greatly mislead in to believing he knows everything when really he knows nothing, is aware that the Earth tribe is not done with us yet, and for their own silly reasons, they are intent upon killing young Prince Flame here. We need to band together completely, and prepare for the most violent battle you may ever witness in all of your existence."
This killed the smiles that had still been on the faces of those around the table. But they knew that he was completely serious, and that we had to prepare.
Tamwyn spoke up for the first time during this meeting. "What do you suggest we do, my lord? I feel as if it may complicate things to move our warriors here, or to move your warriors to our land, it that was what you were thinking of doing."
He raised his eyebrows and smiled. "That was exactly what I was thinking, in fact. You have water on your land, do you not?"
Starfire's mouth dropped open, as did the women who had joined us on the way here. However, Starfire's answer was simply "We have a small lake in the back of the field, which we generally avoid. In fact, many do not even know it exists in our land. We included it when making the boundaries so that we could hunt animals that needed water. It was necessary for us, just in a different way it is necessary for you."
"Well then." He said, and I knew that his next words would make a final decision. "I will move all of my troops there in the next three days. In fact, some of them can go with you to your tribe right now."
"As you wish, sir" replied Tamwyn. "It seems as if it is our only option, since they are after Flame and they have figured how to get around our protective boundaries. But sir, what is our next step after this?"
"Well," he replied, looking thoughtful and a little surprised that we went with the idea of his soldiers on our land so easily. "I feel as if the next step would be to travel to the Air kingdom and have a talk with them, maybe get them on our side. They would give us a great aerial view of the land, and could potentially find the Earth people. Of course," he added grimly, "the Earth people could be hiding with them, in their kingdom."
"I sincerely doubt it sir" said Starfire skeptically. "That high up? They would have no power, and would be easily killed if we found them there."
Wait. Up where?