Chapter 2-Firesong's Background
Lightning Clan was powered by electricity, in fact, it was the only clan that used electricity. This was because everyone had lightning powers. We had realized how fortunate they were. Machines and other marvelous inventions covered the place. When it had been daytime, we had noticed that the townsfolk hardly worked at all compared to people from other clans. Plus, Lightning Clan accomplished more with their spare time. There were machines that could sew a shirt for you, milk a cow, turn on lights, make heat, drill holes, boil water faster and keep it hot, and many other things!
Yet Firesong had been right about them, they were shady people. If they were trustworthy, clans would trade for their inventions and live in ease too. Rockstorm and I were very interested in their contraptions. Yet Firesong reminded us to stay focused on the reason for why we were here. We were to keep hidden and avoid staring. Rockstorm and Firesong hid in an alley and I hid by a tree waiting for the coast to be clear.
“What are you playing with Rockstorm?” asked Firesong.
“A humdinger, I found it in a dumpster in this alley,” he replied matter-of-factly.
“Are you sure you’re handling that right?”
“Yeah, I think so,”
“Why is it making that humming noise?”
“It’s a humdinger, remember?”
“I think you made up that name,” admitted Firesong.
Meanwhile, I was getting quite close to the statue. It was in the shape of a man holding a lightning bolt. He looked as if he were going to throw it. The crystal was in the center of the lightning bolt, it looked like it was simply a ball of electricity. I gulped. The explosion was probably going to be painful. Covering my ears, I sneaked up to the statue till I was about 3 yards away. I heard this sizzling noise and started to run with my hands still on my ears. Since it was night, not many people were about, many were already in bed.
Suddenly, an earth shattering noise erupted from the statues and rocks and cement flew through the air. I ran for cover. When the dust cleared and the remaining stature parts weren’t flying through the air, I ran back to the statue to retrieve the crystal. People were all groggy, shaken and definately awake after that. Many were hurrying to the statue to see what had happened. As soon as I touched the Lightning Crystal, it zapped me. Frantically thinking, I took off my shirt and wrapped the crystal in it and ran as fast as I could out of the clan. When I was out, I kept running, we had agreed to meet at Bolt Lake.
“Rock! Hear that?!” screamed Firesong.
“How could I not? It was like a cannon was fired in my ears!” he shouted over the noise.
“Quick! Let’s confuse them!” she commanded.
Together, they threw smoke bombs Firesong and Rockstorm had made while they had sat in the alley. Everyone was all in a frantic, confused mood and they wandered about in the dark. Some got hit with falling stones, others decided that they were going to stay inside. After a while, Firesong and Rockstorm left the clan and went to Bolt Lake.
I had time to bathe all the grime and dust off me in Bolt Lake. It was around midnight when Firesong and Rockstorm met me. Though it was quite dark, I noticed in the sliver of moonlight that Rockstorm’s pale face was black. Firesong saw me looking at him and cast an annoyed look at Rockstorm.
“What happened?” I asked.
“Let’s just say, I knew he wasn’t playing with it right,” Firesong sighed as she folded her arms and turned the other way.
“Playing with what?” I inquired.
“My humdinger I found, it exploded and--well, that’s why my face has soot on it,” explained Rockstorm.
He went to the lake to wash it off.
“Did you get it?” questioned Firesong turning around to face me.
“Yeah, it’s in my shirt,” then seeing her walk over to it I added, “but be careful, it shocked me pretty bad,”
“Don’t worry, people from Water clan are more sensitive to it than people from Earth or Fire Clan. We can take it from here,” stated Firesong as she unwrapped the crystal.
She stood gazing at it. It was the brightest crystal we had seen yet.
“It’s beautiful,” she marveled.
I was starting to think Firesong’s hair looked especially beautiful in the moonlight. She turned around and saw me staring, I quickly turned away. Thankfully, she thought I had been looking at the crystal too. Then Rockstorm came over.
“Cover that up, will ya?” Rockstorm suggested. “It’s so bright it’s practically a beacon reading: ’Over here! We’re the thieves who took your crystal!”
We did and then the three of us made camp for the night. After a quick snack, we went to bed and fell asleep.
I woke up to find Rockstorm gone, and Firesong cooking breakfast. It was fish she had caught from the river. I had become tired of fish every since I had had to eat it more a month straight. Yet a hot meal sounded really good and I was shivering.
“Where’s Rockstorm?” I asked Firesong as I washed my face in the lake.
“He’s putting the Lightning Crystal with the Water and Ice Crystals by that other volcano. He flew out early this morning and said that he’d meet us at Lightstream’s treehouse. We figured we could stop by her place on our way to Earth Clan,” she explained.
I came over to the fire and sat there to warm myself up. I guess she saw the look on my face when she handed me the cooked fish.
“I know, I’m not a fan of fish anymore either, but I was really cold, and if we eat this fish from Bolt Lake, we can preserve our supplies of food for later,”
She really did represent thinking in this trio. I admired that, as well as other things about her. She saw me staring off into space.
“What is it?” she asked.
“Uh--I was thinking of Lightstream’s treehouse and that awful liquid she had us drink,” I lied.
Firesong shivered at the thought.
“Ugh! I still can’t get that taste out of my mouth!”
“I had to plug my nose!” I chuckled.
“And the color! It was such a dark green, I almost mistakened it for black!” she exclaimed.
“You know a drink is odd when it’s practically black,” I admitted.
I saw Firesong grow serious.
“What is it?” I asked her.
“I just realized that we probably shouldn’t be complaining about her drink when she saved our lives,” she spoke solemnly.
“She did heal us,” I agreed.
“Well, mostly,” Firesong added, gesturing towards her wing. “Come on, let’s pack up and head for Lightstream’s!”
We got there late at night because we walked. Rockstorm was already there. I figured he had transformed into his dragon form to get there faster. He had been there nine hours earlier, and the two of them had spent the day getting to know each other. Lightstream served us soup and bread. It was delicious! It felt really nice to eat a hot, home cooked meal instead of cold rations.
“Well? Four down, two to go I hear?” inquired Lightstream sitting down to eat with us.
“Yep,” I replied. “We’re off to--”
“Earth Clan? Rock told me everything,” she stated.
I looked over at Firesong. She was very solemn and had a sorrowful look on her face. It wasn’t as stoic as the face she had made this morning. It was more like the face she had made the last time we were here, when she saw Rockstorm and his grandmother hug. After dinner, she went straight to bed, while Rockstorm and Lightstream talked on her balcony. After chatting a bit with them, I went to check on Firesong. She was lying there awake staring at the ceiling. Her brow was furrowed and I could tell the wheels in her head were turning. She saw me come over and sat up in her bed. I sat on my makeshift bed. Lightstream had set them up for us again.
“Oh good, I’m glad you’re here. I’ve been listening to them jabber all night!” she spoke gruffly.
“Well, imagine you had just met a long lost relative that you’ve never seen all your life,”
“Sorry, but I can’t,” she snapped. “And besides, both my grandparents are dead,”
“Do you have any aunts or uncles?”
“Nope, they all were killed or drowned. One was born dead,” she stated sadly.
“Drowned? How many were put in danger like that?” I wondered.
“We had a river that runs through our clan, but that isn’t it. Drowning is a penalty,”
“So...your family is a very mischievous one?”
She nodded. We were silent a while.
“I noticed you looked rather upset those times when Rockstorm and Lightstream were really hitting it off,”
“So I represent caring--I-I mean being considerate!” I said, raising my voice. I was surprised at how fast I had become irradiated. “Rockstorm said that you thought of us as family now that your uh--well...”
“Family kicked me out? Yeah, you two are all I have now, sort of,” she remarked.
“Well, we’re a team. Plus, I think that this issue is really bothering you and if we ought to stay focused on our goal we can’t have anything distracting us. So, would you mind telling me?”
She took a deep breath.
“You’re right, I should. I’m just so used to having to deal with problems on my own. But, if I’m honest, I don’t feel comfortable sharing deep topics with you yet. I think I need to get to know you better,” she admitted.
“Ok, so how did you and Rockstorm meet?”
“What?!” she exclaimed.
“I figured chatting would help you get to know me better,”
“Ok, but why did you ask that question?”
I remembered that Rockstorm had told me he knew that Firesong had a crush on him, and that she’s not comfortable sharing back stories. Asking that question had broken both of those standards she didn’t like to talk about. And yet I thought to myself: we need to get past this.
“Tell you what, you answer my question, and I’ll let you ask anything about me,” I decided.
“Alright, when you’re banished, they leave you with no supplies. They also give whoever they banish a public beating.”
“All for someone who disagrees with them?”
“We aren’t punished for simply disagreeing. I was penalized because I went against the moral standings that are the foundation of our clan’s beliefs. If you don’t believe that Fire Clan is meant to rule Aranthalas, you’re not one of them. So after my parents threw me out of the city, I was too hurt to walk very far, I only made it to the edge of the forest before I collapsed.
When I awoke, I was staring into the brown eyes of Rockstorm, the one who saved my life. I felt hopeful and relaxed around him. Rockstorm had been traveling with his father and brothers in their wagon. They were on their way to Ice Clan. I was in desperate need of help, yet Rockdust had a schedule to keep, so Rockstorm and I walked to Earth Clan. I was so grateful and I still owe him one. He told me to meet him at the north volcano in the jungle when I had fully recovered. He dropped me off at his aunt’s house and left to join his father again. I stayed with his aunt and sister for a few weeks. Then I went there and waited, and then that’s when I first saw you and Rockstorm,”
“Wow,” I breathed. “And don’t worry, with all the dangers going on, you’ll have plenty of time to save his life,”
She smiled that wonderful smile of hers.
“We should probably get to bed,” she suggested.
So the three of us all fell asleep in our makeshift beds, which were nicer than sleeping on the ground.
The next day, we got ready to travel to Earth Clan. We thanked Lightstream and left.
“I haven’t seen Glissanstone is forever-well, you know,” sighed Rockstorm. “I also miss my dad, and well, everyone in my family. It’ll be nice to see them,”
“Just keep in mind that this isn’t a family reunion,” reminded Firesong.
“Why not?” argued Rockstorm. “Geyser hasn’t met my family and I’ve met his. You haven’t seen my aunt and sister in a while. Gey also hasn’t’ seen what Earth Clan looks like and I’ve wanted to show him,”
“Yeah! That sounds fun!” I agreed.
We both looked at Firesong pleadingly. It wasn’t long before she gave in but made it clear that she was totally against the idea.
Rocksotrm then began telling me all about his family. I already knew his dad and two older brothers. Yet I hadn’t met his aunt and younger sister. Rockstorm’s mother had died shortly after Glissanstone was born. Yet Rockdust still had to make a living, so he left his daughter to live with his sister-in-law. Even though they technically weren’t related anymore since Rockdust’s wife had died.
“You’re lucky you even have other relatives to go to,” muttered Firesong.
“You don’t?” questioned Rockstorm.
Firesong sadly shook her head.
Remembering our discussion last night I put in: “I’m sure your family loves you too,”
Yet this only made matters worse.
“Then why didn’t they defend me when I was publicly beaten?!” she exploded.
Smoke was pouring out of her ears. The smell made Rockstorm and I space ourselves from her as we walked so we wouldn’t get gassed out. Yet after a while the smoke stopped and she began steaming instead.
“They let me nearly get killed! Not even my little brother did anything. They didn’t even save me after I was thrown out!” she cried.
Rockstorm and I were silent. We had learned to simply hear her out and wait until her fury had ended, then we would talk to her.
“So I told myself I never wanted to see them again! And that is why I hate it when everyone else has wonderful family reunions and loving families. It only reminds me of what I never had!”
“Alright Firesong, we understand,” Rockstorm spoke gently to her.
I wondered if this is what she had been stewing about this past week? Was this why she was so upset last night and didn’t feel comfortable talking to me about? Either way, she had let it all out now. It’s no use to keep emotions bottled up, they’re bound to come out eventually.
“Anything else you want to tell us about?” I asked her softly for fear of another eruption.
Firesong took a bunch of deep breaths, stopped steaming, and drank a sip from her cantene.
“No, I’m done,” she sighed calmly.
Phew! The tempest had passed! It was good she had let down some of her barriers. It made us grow closer as a team and as friends. From then on, Firesong didn’t have much difficulty talking to us about her feelings.
We reached Earth Clan in three days. We entered that day because we were going to see Rockstorm’s family.
“Do you think your clan will give you the cold shoulder once they realize you took their crystal?” I inquired Rockstorm.
“No, they know we intend to use the crystals for good. They always believe the best about people. They might even hand us their crystal if we ask for it,”
“What?! You mean we won’t have to steal it?” gasped Firesong.
“Yeah, isn’t that nice?”beamed Rockstorm.
“But I kind of liked our nickname the Crystal Thieves,” I sighed.
Rockstorm chuckled, “Me too, and we still are, just imagine Fire Clan, our toughest challenge yet,”
As we walked through the town, no one stared or batted an eyelash at us. It was like we blended right in. Earth Clan was undeniably chill.
As we approached his house, we didn’t see Rockdust’s wagon, which meant he and his other sons weren’t here. Rockstorm knocked on the door.
“Just a minute!” called a woman’s voice from inside.
Instead, a little girl opened the door, she looked like she was five. She had short, curly, dark brown hair and her face was covered in a sea of freckles. She wore a green dress with white and yellow flowers on it, and two big yellow bows tied back her curly hair into pigtails. He wore a huge grin and exclaimed: “Wocky!” as she ran to hug him.
Rockstorm squatted down so she could easily hug him and shouted: “Hey Glissy!”
Firesong turned away for a brief moment, recovered herself, and turned around with a smile plastered onto her face. I could tell this was hard for her.
“What are you, seven now?” teased Rockstorm.
“No, I’m five,” smiled Glissanstone.
A woman came out the door with a smile on her face. She wore a dark brown dress that matched her straight hair. She was wiping her hand on a striped apron tied around her waist. She was Rockstorm’s aunt. Rockdust was an only child and his wife had a sister, that sister was Limestone.
“Rockstorm!” she squealed from excitement, “Come ‘ere and give you’re ol’ auntie some sugar! What’s it been, five months since I’d last seen ya?”
She looked at us.
“Firesong!? My, my, let me see here...hmm...yep, definitely have grown taller since I last saw yeh,” She turned to me, “Oh! Oh! Oh! This must be your other friend you were talk’n to me about..what’s it...no, don’t tell me...Geyser right?”
I nodded and smiled.
“Oh and I see ya’ll unlocked your true potentials! My, my, you’ve all grown up so much!”
She wiped a tear on her apron.
“Now, come inside and eat! Glissanstone and I made strawberry jam yesterday and made some cornbread today to go with it! Come in! Come in! Sit down! Make yourself at home! Glissanstone, could you get us some plates?”
We sat at the kitchen table and helped ourselves to fat slices of cornbread with strawberry jam and butter. Rockstorm’s aunt was named Limestone, but everyone called her Aunt Limea (Lime-uh). Aunt Limea was what she wanted Firesong and I to call her too, so we did. She brought out some milk to go with our cornbread.
“Now, we Earth Clan folk have heard of this war in the northeast that went on. What’s it called? The War of the Dragons or somethin’? Anyway, word from spies travels fast and we can tell you’re here for our crystal,” she spoke.
She sure gets right to the point. All there was left to do was just sit there and say yes’um.
“Yep, that’s it,” I sighed.
“Oh! But it really is so good to see ya’ll again--and Geyser at last! Yet you’ll probably just be here for what...two days?”
“Probably so,” agreed Rockstorm.
“Well, if you see Rockdust tell him to stay out of trouble for me. Can’t have anyone else gettin’ into trouble, not on my watch,”
“Who else got into trouble?” asked Firesong.
“Mommy,” murmured Glissanstone.
“No deary, I was going to say these three right here in front of me. What with going to war at such a young age, traveling all over Aranthalas, and doing adult’s work. Surely y’all know that I can’t help but feel a bit worried for y’all?”
We said nothing.
“Now, back to business, you’ll give us back the crystal when you’re done with it right?”
“Of course,” replied Firesong.
“Do you know why you need it?” asked Aunt Limestone.
“We need to unite them into one to save the world,” explained Rockstrom.
“Sounds like wherever you heard that from left out a few details,” admitted Aunt Limestone.
“Well, it’s a pwophecy Aunt Limea, they don’t tell you vewy much,” reminded Glissanstone.
She smiled. “Anywho, any news from yer adventures?”
“We found my dad’s mom,” stated Rockstorm. “Her name is Lightstream and she lives in this treehouse in Firewood Forest.
“Oh my! He was sure his mom was long gone by now! Well, well, when he returns I’ll make sure to tell him that,”
“If it isn’t any trouble, we would like to speak with the chieftain today,” said Firesong, “If that’s alright?”
Rockstorm and I knew that she wanted a break from this family reunion stuff.
“Oh sure thing deary! You three go on up to his place and have a good talk with him. When you get back Glissanstone and I will have supper ready,” agreed Aunt Limea.
“Thank-you!” smiled Firesong giving her one of her dazzling smiles.
I wondered if she did those to me.
So we left. I was rather bummed we had to leave, even though we were going to be back, but I really thought Aunt Limea and Glissanstone were super nice.
“So where does your Chieftain live?” I asked Rockstorm
“In the biggest hut in the clan. It’s ten minutes from here, on that hill over there,” explained Rockstorm.
“What do we do when we get there, Rock?” inquired Firesong.
“Well...when we get there, two guards will be standing outside of the entrance. We have to state our reason for coming. Then they will send a messenger to take our request to the chief. The messenger will then tell the Chief our request, and then he will tell the messenger when he is ready to meet us. When he is ready, we come back to the entrance, and do the whole thing all over again,” stated Rockstorm
I groaned at the mention of ‘do the whole thing all over again’.
“Good thing I said we should leave when I did,” remarked Firesong.
Rockstorm and I had wanted to stay. Firesong simply wanted to get this whole shenanigan over with.
Ten minutes later, we arrived at a wall made of stone that surrounded the Chief’s two story hut. It was called a hut, but in my opinion, it resembled a barrack. Sure enough, two guards stood outside the entrance of the wall. On the wall, centurions stood look out over their hill and the entire clan.
“Halt! State your business!” commanded one of the guards.
“We request to see Chief Grumblepound,” Rockstorm spoke loud and clear, “We wish to arrange a deal with him,”
The guard took out a whistle and blew three short blasts. A messenger came out of the two bronze doors and halted. The guard retold the message to the messenger. Then the messenger disappeared behind the heavy doors. We waited for five minutes.
“Why is everything so heavily guarded when Earth Clan is ‘chill’ about everything,” questioned Firesong.
“While we’re open and friendly with the other clans and want to keep the peace, that makes us more vulnerable for an attack,” sighed Rockstorm as we waited outside.
She nodded and mused over this. In Water Clan, our Chieftain didn’t live in a barrack surrounded by a stone wall. We relied on military support, so guards were posted everywhere.
After five minutes, the messenger returned and announced that we may follow her into the ‘hut’ as she called it, to speak with the Chieftain. We did and she showed us into the barrack.
There sat the great Chief Grumblepound of Earth Clan. He wore iron armour and had his brown beard braided into three braids that ran down to his chest. In his hand was a spiked hammer made of gold with a long handle. Even when sitting you could tell he was very tall and had a thick, sturdy build. I gulped as I looked at his weapon, I could tell he had used it before, and won. We bowed when we entered and waited for five seconds to rise.
“Well, I see you have come to make a deal with me!” boomed his loud commanding voice. “I’ve heard about the work you’ve been doing, sounds rather risky!”
“Yes Chief Grumblepound. We assure you, we are not thieves. In fact, we were chosen by the Dragonstone itself to use all six crystals to save Aranthalas and possibly defeat Red Blood,” replied Rockstorm.
“Is that so? Well, while you’re saving the world and all, mind returning the stolen children to my clan while you’re at it?” he declared sarcastically.
I remembered the kidnapped children. What a responsible leader to think of the kidnapped children.
“It poses a question we haven’t had to think about for centuries,” explained Chief Grumblepound, “We haven’t been in much contact with Fire Clan ever since the War of Endless Death, but every clan other than Lightning have isolated themselves from Fire Clan. It is making me consider my clan isolating completely from Fire Clan. If I give you my crystal, we will be at risk. Every clan knows that Fire Clan is preparing for another war. They attacked Water Clan because its defenses were low from the lack of their crystal, and nearly won. What if we’re next?”
Rockstorm was silent for a while.
“Chief Grumblepound, I understand that Earth Clan is at risk if you give us the Earth Crystal, but let me make it clear that we have your clan’s best interests in mind. We want what’s good for everyone, for the world of Aranthalas. If the Dragonstone knew that taking your crystal would destroy our clan, would it have prophesied we take your crystal?” argued Rockstorm.
Smooth one. Firesong gave me a knowing look. I nodded. We knew that the prophecy hadn’t actually said to take the clan crystals. It merely said to combine those that are inside into one. What if we had got it wrong? While the three of us were certain the Dragonstone was referring to the clan crystals, if we happened to be wrong, that would cost us greatly. Rockstorm had just said taking the crystals were harmless. Clan defenses were low worldwide, and Fire Clan is the most shielded and powerful as of now. If we had got it wrong, we would be punished and isolated for stealing practically all of the clan crystals and using them for possible harm.
“Fine, I will give you the Earth Crystal, but promise that when you have fulfilled the prophecy, you will return it?” demanded the Chief after much thought.
“We promise,” we stated, even though we kind of doubted the probability.
“Very well,” sighed Chief Grumblepound gravely, “Follow me,”
We walked outside the barrack with the Chief accompanied by two guards. He led us to the statue, it was inside the stone wall that surrounded his barrack. The statue appeared to be a miner who was mining a rock, and inside the rock, was the Earth Clan Crystal. Chief Grumblepound lifted his hand at the guard patrolling the area. The guard walked over and with one swing, cut the crystal out of the stone. He gave the crystal to Rockstorm.
“Guard this crystal with your life, Rockstorm, son of Rockdust, son of Duststorm,” commanded the Chief.
“I will,” agreed Rockstorm.
Then we were shown out, with the Chief looking concernedly at us as we left. As we walked back, I asked Rockstorm: “Why did he say son of Rockdust, son of Duststorm at the end?”
“It’s polite and formal to name your father and grandfather when being given an honor,” he replied.
So Rockstrom had been given an honor. I wondered if I had ever received an honor. The realization hit shortly afterwards. I had received an honor, all of us had. We were chosen to save the world, we were destined to touch the Dragonstone and live. No one in history had ever done that, this was truly the greatest honor anyone could have ever been bestowed upon.