It was predicted long ago by my ancestors, a winter storm would come and if the Zhang family line failed to act the entire earth would be turned into a frozen planet. I was going to finish the job, nothing would stand in my way. My name is Peter Zhang, I’m the eldest child of this house, then follows my sister Venus and of course our mother Fei. We have been living by ourselves, my father passed away three years ago.
You might wonder what makes the Zhang’s so interesting? Well, the Zhangs come from a long line of fire tribes, we can wield fire like a weapon or however we please. Zhang’s were believed to be part of the first group of humans on this earth, we created fire, we brought light to this world. The fire tribe was prosperous and helped the other tribes, as well as the humans that could not control the seasons. Fire, Wind, Agro, and Ice tribes all worked with each other to create a balanced world. The fire tribes brought summer, the wind tribes would bring autumn, the agro tribes would bring spring, and the ice tribe would bring winter Sadly, the ice tribe began to feel superior to other tribes and wanted to become kings and queens. One day, the ice tribes tried to bring an eternal ice age, the other tribes launched a counter attack which ended with the ice tribes being banished.
Throughout the years more humans forget about the pact we made to help each other. The tribes lost contact and no longer worked together but still continued their purposed job. However, the prophets in the fire temple wrote a scroll warning the tribes that a war was coming, winter would appear at our doors. My father, long before his passing, would often read these scrolls and told me that it was my responsibility to fight the war to keep the seasons in order. On my twenty-third birthday, the seasons would unite to fight the cold. The only problem was that I didn’t know who I was fighting nor who would help me fight the battle. Are there other prophets that have written for the other tribes? That would be really helpful. First thing first, I need to find the scrolls my dad read to me. I’m going to need coffee to figure this out.
“Hey Peter!” my friend Yvette yelled from outside. She was a loud person and was known around town as the hippy chick, she reminded everyone that eating meat is killing you and so much other nonsense.
“Hi! What’s up?” I mumbled shyly
“I was marching in the go vegan parade and I saw you and thought I’d say hello. What are you up to?” she questioned.
“ I… um…am ordering coffee,” I muttered awkwardly, startled by her loud voice.
The barista yelled my name
“Peter! Cinnamon latte!”
“That’s me!” I responded.
As I approached the counter a guy around the same age as me bumped me out of the way. I thought he had accidentally ran into me, but when I turned around he gave me a cold glare, I knew he meant it. Yvette noticed
“What’s the deal with that guy? You know what I’m gonna go over there and…” she thundered angrily.
“Yvette, don’t do that, maybe he’s just having a bad day!” I groaned, faking a smile to pretend it was just an accident, I distracted her by buying her a coffee.
She happily drank her coffee in the car on the way to class, she rambled on about how Island Cafe is the best because it makes its cups from recycled material and some other facts that were frankly, a little boring. On the college campus, I ran to class on the third floor and noticed my coffee was cold and since cold coffee is gross, I heated the coffee with my hands quickly so no one would notice. The professor was a no show again and this angered me because he always expected us to know the material and be able to take a test. Also, the fact that I’m paying the professor for nothing. Luckily, a classmate had found a graduate that was super into history and was willing to teach us for free, since he believed the world must be informed. I always felt really awkward around him because he would get really close to me and could guess things about me that were surprisingly correct. He would always joke he was my distant relative.
At the midday break, I went to the cafeteria to meet with Luis,
“I was at the salad bar and they didn’t have any radishes! This is an outrage! An offense to my culture!”
“Stop being such a drama king!” yelled the lunch lady. Luis wanted to become an actor, he really likes flaring out, he always says you never know when a casting agent will be nearby.
“Luis! Just sit down!”
“Alright! Hey, is Yvette going to eat lunch with us today?” he asked.
“No, she had to study for her chemistry exam” he nodded in agreement.
“Did you notice it’s getting warmer during the winter?” he inquired concerned.
“Yeah, everyone thinks it’s global warming, my mom told me that long before even our grandmothers were born, the winter was warm and it was only because the ice tribes were planning to attack,” I replied.
“The ‘scrolls’ reveal themselves differently for everyone, some people have dreams, others have a prophet appear in the form of the element they control” he had a point.
“How did you discover your scrolls?” I felt an answer approaching.
“You’d be surprised! I was at an audition and I felt very fatigued, I was suddenly very dehydrated and while reciting my monologue I passed out. In my dream I saw a man with long silver hair. He told me that soon I would have to aid a friend in a battle to save the earth from an eternal winter.” Luis’s scrolls revealed themselves so easily.
“I need to find my scrolls!!!” I was unexpectedly loud.
“What did I say about yelling Luis!” the lunch lady hollered, I lowered my voice,
“Sorry!”. I sayed shyly, while Luis laughed.
“Maybe We both wandered out only to see the history graduate acting weird.
“Yvette sent a text! The history dude is asking for you all around campus”.
“Peter they’re in your father’s grave, your father’s grave!” he seemed distraught and bewildered.
“What is in my father’s grave and how do you know he passed away?” I was scared by this man.
“I am your uncle! I promised your father I would protect you from any danger until your time came for you to help in the war, you must find the scrolls, they are hidden in your father’s grave”. All of this information hit me so fast, I couldn’t comprehend what was happening. Yvette came running,
“We have to leave now, someone is searching for you and your uncle”
“Where are we going?” replied Yvette, “To the cemetery” I responded,
“We’re going to need shovels” Luis was a quick thinker.
At the cemetery, we ran to my dad’s gravesite.
“Peter! We need to find the thing that goes in here!” Luis pointed to the hollow bowl that was in front of the stone.
“Fire in the bowl” Yvette was laughing uncontrollably at her own pun.
“Move aside!” I beamed confidently, I mustered up a fireball and threw it into the bowl.
“Nothing happened!” I was wondering if I had done the right thing.
“Peter, the quote says ‘may the flame burn for all eternity’ maybe you’re supposed to continually put fire in like a water stream until it opens”. I burned the bowl with a constant stream of fire, successfully opening my father’s grave. The grave shook and then broke in half. A long staircase lay before us,
“Are we supposed to go down?” Yvette quaked, a quiver in her voice.
“What do you think?” Luis, the king of sarcasm and drama. I snapped my fingers for a makeshift lamp in my palm. Going halfway down the staircase I noticed neither Luis nor Yvette were following,
“Are you guys scared?”
“No way! I was just admiring your skills.”
Yvette wasn’t the type to easily follow into a dark mysterious underground grave. I wandered down until I reached the bottom where I saw another bowl, and poured fire in it like before. This time it opened to large stone walls and turned on the oil lamps. After walking through the doors, I was swallowed by darkness, then a flame appeared as I approached it, the flame began looking more like a woman in a scarlet red dress.
“Peter, come near! You are part of the descended Zhang family that will fight the rebellious ice tribe. Your father tried to defeat the ice tribe when he realized it was very likely that you would have to battle the ice tribe. Sadly, your father was not the one designated to remove the ice tribe, he died bravely,” the woman looked heartbroken when she told me this.
“I am assigned to aid you, as you know by now you need to search for scrolls, however those scrolls never existed,” I was very perplexed.
“Your father wrote chinese characters on a scroll and pretended to read those to you, he knew the prophecies by heart, he knew that the information I am about to tell you was too important to be written on paper. The fire tribe knew that it was to easy for the ice tribe to appear unexpectedly and steal the scrolls. We know these prophecies by heart and now you will know them, they pertain to you. Within the ice tribe there is a dark power, they aim at destroying the world in eternal winter. You must seek assistance from the ally tribes and defeat the winter before it’s too late to act. You must send your family for they will be persecuted. Send them to the fire temple in rural tibet, there you will find safety for your family”.
“One last thing, remember not everything is as it seems!” the fire woman began to flicker away.
“Wait! The information you gave me is too vague!”
“You’ve already encountered the ice tribe, may that lead you to complete the prophecy!”
“What? Hello!…fire lady!” no one answered my plea. I don’t get what she means! Who have I encountered that is part of the ice tribe? I stepped out to inform Yvette and Luis.
“Peter, duck! Yvette a little help over here!” a man flew over my head,
“Yvette can you tie this guy up to the wall?!”
Yvette moved her arms in the air gracefully pulling roots from the ground while Luis made a sphere, in his hand, of air to hold the second strange man in the up.
“Peter! Look behind you!” an ice shard headed toward my chest, I threw a fireball at the shard and melted it before it came near me. The man sprinted towards me, Luis blew him against a wall. I climbed up the stairs with Yvette and Luis following, At the top I was met by an older man with a cold glare, he seemed familiar
“Dad!” the man had a striking resemblance to my late father. He threw a storm of ice arrows, Luis provided a small cyclone to collect the glass like arrows.
“No! Do you think your dad would do something like that to his son?” Replied Luis, I returned the favor by scaring him with a cloud of fire,
“You make a good point!” I uttered, Yvette sped in front on us in the car.
“Get in!” Luis jumped in before she could ask again.
I packed my family’s clothes and bought them train tickets to take my family to the end of the line where they would wait for the fire tribe guardians take them to their safe place. After, they left I felt deep grief, I hadn’t told my family goodbye, the what if’s? Became a reality. I began spiraling down a well of depressing thoughts, I wasn’t confident enough, the fate of the world was up to me and that is an immense amount of responsibility.
Yvette began to notice my saddened demeanor,
“Can you not right now? Like I’m trying to be confident on based off your confidence! I’d really appreciate it if you weren’t sad and act like the great person you are!”.
“Thanks…I guess we can go figure out where to go now,” I spoke.
“So you said the woman told you you’ve already encountered your enemy, who is she talking about?”
A long pause filled with silence was suddenly cut by Yvette
“Hey!!!! I remember we went to that cafe and that one guy bumped into you! Remember Peter?”
“That makes sense he did seemed too shrewd to be so reckless.”
“Where are we supposed to find him?”
“I think we should start at the cafe”.
As we drove from the gravesite, Yvette complained that she felt bad about driving a car that was producing such a large carbon footprint.
“I thought you didn’t know how to drive,” Luis was starting to get agitated
“I do know how to drive! I just never passed my drivers test…” Yvette grinned awkwardly, turning to look at Luis.
“Yvette! Peter, she doesn’t even have a license!”
“Luis…there is an ice mafia searching for us… the last of our problems is Yvettes driving.” Yvette was still staring at us.
“Yvette turn around!” I yelled, she swerved before hitting a deer.
“Hey Peter…” she mumbled shyly.
“Yes?” I answered a little annoyed.
“Maybe you should drive…hehe”
“That’s a great idea! We don’t want to kill the prophesized one!” I laughed at our misfortune.
When we arrived to the cafe, we realized there was a large group of mysterious men dressed in black. A man distinct man in a gray suit approached the car.
“We got to make a run for it he’s gonna find us!” Luis whispered.
There was a sudden silence, we closed our eyes hoping we could be wisped away like Dorothy when she wished to be back home in Kansas. Then, we saw flashes of red and blue lights, Police? The lights were to irridescent to be a police car. The door clicked open, all three of us began making a course of action if the gray suited man opened the door. Just when we thought we were going to have to kill a man who didn’t deserve to die. The history graduate opened the door, we almost attacked him had I not yelled Luis to calm down.
“Prof?” It had only been a quarter since I met him, I didn’t really have a name for him yet.
“Hurry! We need to leave before more ice tribe men arrive!” he sounded concerned. We ran 4 blocks to his car, I was very confused as to why he parked so far away were we would have to run to the car instead of parking nearby.
“Why’d you park so far?” I needed to know, I was too curious.
“So the ice people think we fled by foot, they will keep their search small, and we’ll be in a distant location.”
“Distant? How distant?” Luis had never traveled far from home.
“Lhasa, Tibet” He replied with certainty.
“Hey, just wondering, what are we supposed to call you anyway?” Yvette was a bit confused on what to call the former teacher replacement.
“Hmm…you can call me uncle. I was a close friend of your fathers” he replied.
“Just wondering again, was the history professor actually like that or did you pay him to leave occasionally to gain Peter’s trust?” Yvette was more inquisitive that day than I had ever been in my entire life.
“I actually didn’t even have to pay him, he literally ran to his car and left when I offered to substitute, then spread the word that someone had reached out to me to teach your class.” He planned this with so much caution.
We promptly arrived at the airport. I thought we were going to take the train. When I asked uncle why we didn’t just take the public airplane, he told me that public transport was too dangerous, we had to travel in a jet off the grid. I suddenly got sick with uncles words. I put my family in danger, what if the ice tribes followed them! It takes 41 hours to arrive from Beijing to Tibet by train. I endangered my entire family, I only have them left.
“I have to call to know if they’re okay!” I was afraid for their safety.
“No, I’m sorry Peter. I can’t imagine your anxiety right now, but you’ll only be putting your family in more danger,” he groaned conflicted. I felt warm tears roll down my face, like salty water sreams. I was given the power to wield fire as I please, but I had no control over this situation. Yvette and Luis hugged me and we sat in silence until we arrived.
Upon arrival, we were met by men with robes of the same.color as the scarlet dress the flaming woman wore. These are the people who are going to greet my mother.
“I need to take a really long nap!” Sneered Luis as he yawned. As my friends slept, I studied the ancient books on ice tribes and the rivalry between the ice and fire. That’s when it hit me, I had already fought against my opponent, the man who threw the ice shard, I can defeat him. He’s fast to get angered and no one can control their power with anger. I had it figured out. Two days passed, I read as much as I could, I didn’t have the luxury of failing
“I appreciate that we’re being fed, but I would really like some ramen right now. Maybe we can go to a convenience store nearby?” Luis wanted to help me destress.
“Ramen sounds good!” I replied excitedly.
At the convenience store, all three of us ravaged the store searching for comfort foods and snacks. When we went up to the counter, the tv was on.
“It’s a real tragedy what happened to those passengers on the train from Beijing to Tibet.” the clerk whined mournfully.
“What happened?” I was feeling frantic.
“The train slipped off the railway. There seems to be foul play involved.” the clerk had sealed, my lonely fate.
“My family was on that train…”
The clerk tried to comfort me,
“There are some survivors in the nearby hospital, you should check,”
“Thanks!” I replied spiritless.
“I wish you luck!” the clerk couldn’t find the right words.
I always hated the hospital, mainly because I only ever went when I had to say goodbye to a dying family member.
“Hello! Are you visiting or checking in?” the receptionist seemed oblivious to her surroundings. Large groups of injured people sobbing in the waiting area.
“Peter!” Venus came running with her arms wide open. We hugged each other in a way that expressed our words of grief but still without speaking.
“I’m so glad your okay! Where is mom?” her eyes averted my gaze.
“She got really hurt, she’s currently unconscious from surgery.” Her voice shook.
“Can we see her?”
“Yeah, but like I mentioned she’s still unconscious.” I decided that I had to go see her, after everything she’s done for me, I owe her more than I can ever give materialistically. I began to feel the resentment for not saying goodbye to them, they understand why they had to leave, resentment towards myself for not saying all I wanted to say.
“Peter?!” she inquired, still groggy from her emergency surgery.
“Mom? I’m here, this is all my fault, I’m sorry.” I cried.
“Peter, before I tell you this I need to tell you I love you and I’m sorry for what I’ve done in the past.” I didn’t want to know what she was going to tell me.
“After your father left for a few years unexplainably, I fell in a dark depression that could only be described as vicious and emotionally draining. Your uncle, your father’s twin, came from nowhere to help me come back. He, however, took my friendship as flirtation, I myself for a while thought I loved him. When I rejected him he didn’t take it well. I was abused by him, I ended up pregnant and I could not abort the baby it’s not something I believe in. I wanted to keep the baby, your uncle returned and took him even when after your father agreed to raise him. Peter?”
“No, no, no there is no way you’re telling me what you’re telling me.”
“I’m sorry Peter! It wasn’t what I intended.”
“The opponent is…”
“Please Peter I beg you don’t fight your brother!” I felt as if my life had become a shattered mirror.
“It wasn’t a mistake you could avoid, it wasn’t in your choice.”
“Peter, I wrote a letter that is addressed to him, I need you to deliver it to him so that there is a chance for reconciliation” she had large wounds that the surgery could no longer aid.
“Mom, please don’t go!” I mumbled
“Peter, take care of Venus, and get that letter delivered, I love you Peter and don’t you forget that.” she began turning pale from lack of oxygen.
“Nurse?!” I yelled
“Please leave! She’s v-fib, 2 cc’s of amiodarone.” The nurse was moving as quickly as possible.
“Please follow me Peter!” the woman in yellow scrubs pulled me out and lead me into the waiting area.
“What happened Peter?” Yvette and Venus asked in unison.
“Mom isn’t doing so well, she’s sustained various injuries and I’m not sure she’ll make it further in the race for life.” I couldn’t find a way to tell Venus our mother was going to die.
“Venus and Peter? We did everything we could, your mother had a painless and peaceful death.” The nurse wasn’t used to delivering bad news, her eyes also filled with tears. I wrapped Venus in my arms, she was the only person that mattered now.
“Venus, I’ll get you transport to the temple don’t talk to anyone, you’ll be greeted by men in red robes.” I hugged her one last time before letting her go.
“Luis? Yvette? We need to find my brother!” They didn’t bother asking questions.
We set a trap for the ice tribe to appear, the sky turned a light blue, the mountains looked foggy in the distance, winter was here. First appeared a group of men in cars, then my brother got off the car, with the absence of my uncle.
“I’m here! Let’s get this over with!” He spoke with so much arrogance. I didn’t want to fight him, but I had to since it was my destiny.
“Listen, we need to talk about this, I don’t want to attack you!” I wanted to follow through with my promise. He threw the cyclones my way but not before Luis sent a wave of air that cut through the cyclones.
“Do you remember your mother?” I inquired.
“No, not really she died before I could even speak.” I had found the center of his anger, the lack of a mother figure.
“What if I told you that the she remains alive? She wanted me to give you this letter,” He did not want to listen, he continued to attack the group of three, I created an orb that temporarily paralyzed him, that’s when I notice, the winter storm was only getting stronger.
“The letter was written to you by our mother, she wanted to let you know before she passed away in the accident your father created that she loved you,” He began listening truly and he began to understand that my intentions weren’t to hurt him.
“Can we not fight?” I asked
“I was sent by my tribe leader to kill you because he said you would kill my entire tribe over rivalry.” He sounded confused.
“That’s not true, I was destined to kill the one who would create the eternal winter.” We both stared at each other we were searching in the wrong place.
“We need to stop the eternal winter”
“But who is causing the winter?” We were determined to answer the question and stop the destruction of the planet.