Not everyone remembers the first words ever spoken to them.
But I do.
It's not a memory that I can easily forget.
The blanket brushed my face lightly, and I squinted upwards with my bright blue eyes, the color every babies' eyes are when they are still newborns, as I was. The first thing I see when I fully open my eyes is not my mother, which is what most babies would see.
It's the Classifier.
He looks carefully at me as I stare up at him. I didn't think anything; my thoughts weren't able to form quite yet - it was still too early in my new life. But I what I do know is exactly what he said.
"This is it," he said, tearing his gaze away from me and onto some unknown figure that I can't make out, a little distance away from me.
A slight pause.
"She's a Flame."
* * * * *
My mother once told me the story of the Flames. It was a
beautiful tale, one I asked my mother to repeat many, many times,
though she only ever said it to me on one occasion, and never
I remember every word.
I guess you could call it my personal bedtime story - minus the part that I only ever heard it one time. Still, I loved that story so much, I felt like I had a connection with it. A special connection that I couldn't describe. It just was a part of me somehow.
It's a part of all of us Flames.
* * * * *
At the beginning of time, there was only ice. Frozen earth
covered the entirety of the planet and the creatures that roamed
it knew only of cold, colder, and freezing.
Man was one of these creatures. They didn't have any coat of fur to keep themselves warm, so most of them froze to death in the brutal Ice Age.
But one didn't. One of them decided there must be something they could do about this.
So they came out of their cold cave which Man mostly lived in and stepped into the colder climate outside. And they looked. They searched for something - even though they had no idea where to look or even what this thing might be. For days they trudged through the thick snow, their feet heavy. They were so exhausted and wary that they bumped right into a tree.
They fell to the ground and looked up. Above them towered a magnificent redwood, its branches baring many leaves and looking very much alive although it was unbearably cold. They stared up at it. Suddenly it came to them. Why are there trees on this Earth? they wondered. They must have some purpose. They must be here to help pull Man out of his misery.
Carefully, they broke a branch off the tree and brushed the snow off a spot on the ground. They put the stick down and examined it. Now how this piece of life can help us? they thought to themselves. He thought back to when he broke it off the tree. I broke it off, yet the tree still lives. Why is that? Why is it so strong? They puzzled over this.
Finally, they decided to break the stick in half. Still broken, and not dead yet, they realized. And when brought together...
There must have been a god looking down on them and helping them as they tried to solve Mankind's problem, because what happened next was not only incredible, but impossible. You could call it a flaw in history, or you could just say that it is simply a legend. Either way, no one who has harnessed the power of fire at all yet could have ever achieved this.
They brought the sticks together so sharply, sparks flew. They blinked and tried it again. More sparks came from the sticks. On their third try, sparks came but then something different... something red. Something red and orange. It flickered almost nervously, as if scared about its first entrance to the world.
They stared what had just been created. Hesitantly, they draw it closer to them. Something radiated from it, something that scattered the cold back to its hiding places. It was driving the cold back. It was reversing it.
"This is it!" they exclaimed. "This is the answer to Man's problem!" As quickly as their feet allowed them to move, they powered through the snow to go tell his fellow people.
The discovery changed Man forever. For years afterward, this person shared his treasure with the rest of the world. Man no longer retreated to cold, dark caves in order to bear the frigid weather. They started making small villages and weapons to conquer the animals next. Large groups gathered around every night, able to stay warm because of this treasure that they called Fire.
And so the first Flame was born.
* * * * *
According to the rules of science, fire and water cancel each
Well, that's exactly what the Flames and Ices have been trying to do for thousands of years.
In history lessons, the textbooks do not to focus on the origin of the two clans hate for each other, but rather on the actual fighting occurring between them. All the skirmishes, battles, and wars fought, all fought for some petty purpose. No matter how many peace treaties or proposals written up, all of them ended up torn, burnt, or simply violated. The slightest thing will set either of the clans off and we'll be at war, again.
You could put it as my history teacher, Ms. Edin puts it: That because of our highly opposite and contradictory views and values, we find it hard to see each other's side of the argument, or imagine ourselves in each other's shoes.
Or, more accurately, and the way I put it: I guess you could say we just plain hate each other.
Of course there was a start to all this. But as I mentioned previously, that piece of history is very vague and made seemingly - as crazy and stupid as this sounds - unimportant.
If it's so unimportant, then why do we have all this fighting in the first place? That's a question that they never seem to ask themselves, though they ask themselves just about everything else to do with the Flames' and Ices' rivalry.
According to our history textbook, the start of our rivalry started about ten thousands years ago.
The first flickers of fighting between the clan of the Flames and
the clan of the Ices started with little battles. Small groups of
each clan would gather together and challenge each other to a
duel. Bets would be placed on who would win, and reputations were
made. Some of the figures of these reputations included Cortez
Crew, an Ice who started winning many of these duels with
apparently very skillful use of ice control. Many Flames were
suspicious of his constant victories, and soon it was revealed
that Cortez had many Ices hiding around the area that the duel
was held, controlling his ice for him. Outraged, several hundred
Flames tore through many Ice towns and burned them to the ground.
After many retaliations, it became certain. There was a growing opposition between the two clans, and it was acknowledged that they were quite undoubtedly enemies.
Cortez Crew. His name is taboo among us Flames. The reason for
him being so hated is obvious but really, if you think about it,
childish. He cheated, sure. But that's it. He didn't really harm
anybody, unless you count his opponents in the duels. I admit
that the Flames' reaction was probably a little extreme.
But don't get me wrong.
I hate the Ices, too.
Not because of Cortez Crew. He was alive thousands and thousands of years ago, what does he have to do with me or even my clan right now? What he did was already done and can't be changed. No, he's not what I care about.
I care about the Clan Duels.
Out of everything they could have taken into account with the little information they have about the beginnings of Flame-Ice conflict, they decide to keep this senseless, heinous tradition. The tradition of battling each other. Not for humor, not for protection, not even to attempt to reach an agreement between the clans. The reason for the Clan Duels is stated in one word and one word only - "pride." Battling each other, firstly to win, and secondly for the sake of battling each other. It's not this part I am concerned with, this is just the "it's-an-old-tradition-so-we-should-keep-it-going-just-because-it's-dusty" theory at work.
What I care about is protecting my people.
But I am soon to find out that I may not be able to do even that anymore.
I might destroy them all. I could destroy them all.
And I think that's the thing that I am the most afraid of.