‘’Like the cycle of seasons, where the winter is the last temptation of life, and where the beginning of life is in the spring, this story will begin: the tragic moment in which children lose their parents, become orphans, urchins, and live in misery. But in the middle of the scorched forest sprouts a tree, and a new hope begins to grow."
Chuang Jing Forest Edit
A beautiful sunset spread over the horizon, shattering onto a ripple thin of golden flecks, scarlet like jet. The gentle wind added a finishing touch to the village. Taking his day off from his usual routine, Sagre began to sing on his lawn, livening up the silent evening with his beautiful wife, Mei Li. The couple created their own night through singing, allowing them to relax after working hard all day.
Mei Li began their conversation. “You're pretty late today. What happened? Did the mice eat up all the rice again?”
Sagre turned back towards her, his face slightly concerned. “No, just a little tax benefit," he sighed. "Ah, Mei...This is a great night, yes, but I can’t stand it with the Fire Nation brewing.”
“Just enjoy the night," his wife replied soothingly. "We haven't had moments like these since our wedding.” Mei Li leaned back against his chest, which relaxed him somewhat.
Sagre gently turned her around to face him, gazing hard into her eyes. “You know, I love our children deeper and wider than those skies. I love them more than those stars.”
Mei Li simply grinned, knowing that her husband was extra tired and worrysome after working all day long. “Now now, let’s get inside. Jim can't wait all day for dinner.”
Giving in, Sagre pulled his wife into a tight embrace before walking with her to their house. Mei Li smiled at him as she made her way to the kitchenette, and she began to prepare fish to eat. The wind dropped down beneath the house, streaming the peace onto itself.
The sizzling grease within Mei Li's pan suddenly boiled over and and shot off in all directions, much of it searing her face. “Aaaa....!” she screamed. Her husband and two children ran to her immediately.
“What happened?" Sagre yelled. Seeing his wife's eye swelling, he quickly pulled out a healing balm from his great-grandmother. “Feel better?” he asked, tenderly spreading it about her face with his fingers.
“I just had a bad feeling...I don't know what to think, Sagre. It’s the Fire Nation,” Mei Li responded mysteriously, her eyes wide and frightened.
“Don’t say that. We've been here for thirteen years, and we haven't heard anything about the Fire Nation until now,” Sagre stammered, trying to comfort his wife. He continued to clean the burnt grease from her face, caressing her.
They went back to dining room to sit down with their beloved boys. As they prayed before their meal, a herd of fireflies began to hover about the humble little house. The tiny creatures illuminated the air, making the indoor rooms grow hotter and hotter, glowing with lights. “Amen. What’s going on?!” Sagre ended their prayer abruptly and feared for their beloved hut, turning to run forward through the veranda and onto the lawn. Mei Li hugged her sons close, hoping that their worst nightmares hadn't arrived.
The remarkable heat from the fireflies made the family begin to sweat, especially Jerry, the youngest boy from their family. He wiped a hand across his dripping, scarlet face. “Mommy, what’s happening?” he asked timidly, his voice breaking into sobs.
“It’s nothing, sweetheart.” Mei Li answered, wiping away her son's tears. She unconsciously held both her children even tighter.
Reaching the lawn, Sagre gave a laugh of relief upon seeing the fireflies. “My sons! Look at these! These are amazing!” he yelled, calling his children to come out.
“What’s...Wow. Daddy, are all of these what you call fireflies?” Jim was amazed by the beautiful illumination from the fireflies.
“I didn’t," Sagre replied sadly, realizing that his fearful eyes had become blind to simple beauty and that they could only see possible threats from the Fire Nation. "But...maybe we can," he continued hopefully, embracing his two sons and beloved wife. “Mei Li, let’s enjoy the food out here.”
The fireflies decorating the quiet night suddenly began to dart away, scattering frantically through the forest. “Hey, where are they are going? Why'd they run?” Jim wondered. Suddenly, across the shrubby forest, from beneath the canopy of trees, a thin ripple of fire lit up the footprints trailing towards the house. “Daddy...Dad! You should see this!” Jim screamed, pointing at the firelight. Bloodcurdling screams from the distrance began to ring into their ears, echoing throughout the little house.
“Run, Mei Li! Bring Jim and Jerry to the Guang Jhou!” Sagre ordered at once, pointing towards a hill that served as their emergency hideout for many years. “I promise, we'll all be safe!” he assured them. The scattered fireflies were flying towards the special hill, leading the fleeing woman and two boys along with them to safety.
Back at the little hut, Sagre tried frantically to preserve any of his family's belongings. As he entered his bedroom, however, the door suddenly locked behind him. The darkened room became shrouded with an ominous and terrifying silence. At once, everything suddenly grew hotter and hotter, and a horrified Sagre realized that his entire house was being engulfed in flames. Trying his best to resist the excruciating heat, he used the rest of his power to sprint towards the last wall that wasn't burning. It was covered in oil.
The fluid ignited the fire, and the exploding flames danced all the way up to the sky.
“What’s going on, Mommy?” Jerry began to sob once more, clinging tightly to his mother. Across the horizon, the blue line meshed with the dark clouds, shattered onto the sky, bringing to life the worst nightmare imaginable for the two brothers. “Mommy, why did we leave Papa alone?” Jerry suddenly shouted, his voice growing shrill with horror. The nightmare stretched on and on, never to end. Their beloved father, the strongest Papa they could have, their protector, joker, fun-loving father, had passed away, devoured by the red scarlet things.
‘’Burned all memory of Papa...‘’
“Papa...Sagre! You left us - why did you leave us? Not even a goodbye!” Mei Li screamed wildly, running towards the Gaipan with her two beloved sons. The horizon had turned red, glowing with the merciless heat of the fire, and smoke billowed all over. The once quiet and peaceful village was utterly consumed by the Fire Nation. People everywhere were being burned, dying without any last words. A woman screamed through her tears, released at last from her pain as her spirit left her broken body behind, which lay still and alone on the ground.
The peaceful night became a tearful night. Throughout the forest, the fire ate up the woods all at once. Nothing was left except for a painful memory that was forever carved into the hearts of the victims.
Jim and Jerry cried uncontrollably, breaking apart what was left of the peaceful night. Mei Li leaned down and gathered her sons into her arms, squeezing her broken eyes shut. “Good bye, Papa. We love you." Her voice cracked.
Mei Li and her sons slowly made their way back into their house. After recovering his body, they buried their beloved father on a lea. They almost envied him for looking so peaceful, so content as he lay there in the silence...forever.
Here lies Sagre
A brave father
A faithful husband
A loving Papa
Beloved by his abandoned family
Senlin Village Edit
The dawn finally rose again, bringing light to the tearful night. The rest of the victims from Gaipan moved to Senlin Village, hoping that their spirits would not deteriorate from the overwhelming sadness. The memories of the burned were still carved into their hearts.
“It’s so painful.”
“I can't forget...I'll never forget.”