March 18, 2012's story
Far from the prying eyes of humans, there lived many gods, competing with a race of creatures called the benders - people who could control the elements - fire, earth, water, and air. One of them secretly had an affair with one of these benders, Amneris and had a child, Chione, the first chosen one, and the only one that could keep peace in the world, the one who could control all 4 elements: fire, water, earth, and air. But when evil consumed the world and the people needed her most, she vanished. But her legacy continues...
I wake up in the morning and grasp on the other side of the bed for Rosie. Instead, I'm greeted by her cat, Corbierre. The biggest, fattest, ugliest cat in the history of the universe. I shove him aside and sink my feet into my black leather boots.
On the old table my father made out of rippled oak before he died, is a bowl. I check beneath the bowl to see if Rosie had given me anything for today - which she knew was hunting day with Eddie in the woods. And what do you know, wrapped up in leaves is a small, round cheese. Rosie's gift to me on reaping day. I tuck it inside the pocket of my hunting jacket and whisper a silent thank you to her.
Hathor is the smallest district in all of Amun. We mostly are coal miners, but some of the more well-to-do make instruments for the Capitol and the other districts. My father was a coal miner, and my mother's family made flutes, but they also owned an apothecary. Because most of us couldn't afford doctors, apothecaries healed us. My father and mother met because he would always sell medicinal herbs he found on his hunting trips.
I cut a hole in the fence seperating Hathor from the woods. Most of the time, the fence is protected by magic, but since the Peacekeepers are usually too lazy to set the fence on fire or electrify it, it usually is safe. I slip through the hole, fetch my bow and arrows, and wait for Eddie at our usual meeting spot, at the lake.
And there he is, a few minutes later, carrying a bundle underneath his arm. I nod at the bundle and say, "What's that?"
"What, this?" he says, laughing, taking it from under his arm. He waves it in front of my face so I can clearly see it's a loaf of bread. "I shot it." I laugh, take it from his hands, and take a sniff. "Mmm... smells fresh. Where'd you get it?"
"The baker. For a squirrel. Think he was feeling sentimental today. Even wished me luck."
"Well, we really do need the luck. I mean, one of us... in a month or two..." I drew my finger across my throat to imitate someone slitting my throat open. It was a rare occurence, someone would get close enough to someone to slit their throat open without them getting a knife stuck in their stomach first, but it happened to the occasional someone who was stupid enough to let them to without defending themselves.
We spend the rest of the day in silence. Arrow after arrow goes into animal's eyes and throats. Eddie throws his spears. I fish and shoot my arrows. I didn't like doing it, but my family - especially Rosie - needed it. A lot. For plants, I use my abilities as a bender to unearth the roots that are burrowed deep in the ground and dig them out. Very few of us are benders here in Hathor, and even the people who have bender abilities only can control one element most of the time. There was one person who could control more than one element - the Chosen One - but she died thousands of years ago. Besides, I never needed anything except earthbending, and why I even learned earthbending is an accident.
When we finish hunting, I'm satisfied with our game. 24 fish, five squirrels, 2 wild dogs, and so many herbs and roots my game bag can't fit all of it, so I dump some into Eddie's. We stop at the black market - the Foro. I sell a lot of our herbs and roots and 14 fish to Sae, the woman who sells slop from a pot. It's always great to keep in touch with her - she's the one to go if you need to get herbs, fish, or wild dog off your hands.
I head home to wash up for the reaping. A tub of warm water is there waiting for me, and I just sit there and soak off all the mud and dirt from my fingernails and skin. I even wash my hair. When I finish, my Gran - who had raised me since my parents died - hands me one of my mother's old dresses. A blue thing that matches the colour of my mother's eyes. Rosie's wearing my first reaping outfit - a mauve blouse and skirt that Gran manages to make it stick to her with pins - but is still ill fitting, and it curves out like a ducktail. "Tuck your tail in, little duck," I say to her, flattening the ducktail down. She giggles and says in a quiet tone, "Quack," but the ducktail doesn't stay down. I give up and decide to help her cook. We decide to save the fish and herbs for dinner, to make it special. For lunch we eat rough bread out of our paltry grain rations. I have a hard time trying to swallow the stuff.
As we head down to the square, I clutch Rosie's hand tightly and hug her when she has to go. Instead of leaving, she rests her head on my chest and cries. "W-what if I'm chosen for the Cryptograms?" she says, her blue eyes blurred by her tears. I hug her head tightly and say, "It's ok, Rosie. It's your first year, your name's only been in there once, they aren't going to pick you."
This seems to cheer up Rosie a bit, and she wipes away her tears, smiles, and leaves to go with the other 12-year-olds.
I leave to go stand beside two people from the musical part of Hathor, you can tell by their dark hair and greenish-blue eyes. Both of us being from the poorer, coal-mining part called the Seam, me and Eddie have honey coloured hair and hazel eyes. It's freaky how much everyone looks like one another.
The mayor, a curt, short man in a grey suit comes up and unrolls a scroll and starts reading the history of the Cryptograms. There once were 13 districts, living in peace around the Capitol. Those districts included Renenet, Maat, Yaam, Ptah, Imhotep, Ra, Anhur, Neper, Anedjti, Thoth, Osiris, Hathor and Anubis. However, Anubis was angry at the Capitol. Angry because it thrived but left the Districts surrounding it poor and helpless. With the help of all the other districts except Maat, Anubis rebelled against the Capitol. However, since Maat was just and fair, they decided to join the Capitol's side. With help of Maat, the Capitol took down the districts and reduced Anubis into a pile of rubble. The remaining survivors from Anubis joined Hathor and mined coal. To think my ancestors once were from Anubis was frightening. They said Anubis was the most dangerous and powerful district, but the Capitol still destroyed them.
When he finally finishes, the woman who does the reaping, Trudy Rehmann, comes up and says in her usual happy, cheerful tone - "Happy Cryptograms! And may the odds be ever in your favour!" She then strides to the girl's reaping ball and sticks her hand in it. "Ladies first!" I suddenly then realize with a jolt that this year, it's Eddie's younger sister Noel's first year too. Just as I wish luck to her, myself, Noel, and Rosie, Trudy has grasped a slip of paper and has unfolded it. The crowd is dead silent now.
And then she reads it out loud.