“Are we all accounted for?”Phoenix's orange eyes glanced around the hall. Hazel nodded, a strand of her ginger-colored hair falling to cover her freckled face. Iris nodded as well, only slightly, from where she sat elevated on a cloud. Everyone else present nodded or muttered small ‘yeses’ looking to their leaders for their guidance on what to do next.
“Good,” Phoenix said, the unnamed leader of the group. Iris cleared her throat.
“We have many orders of business to deal with today. Thank you all for coming on such short notice.”Iris said, her voice airy and light, nothing like the sharp edgy voice of Phoenix.
Hazel readjusted the flower crown on her head and smiled at the people. “We promise you are in good hands,” she said, her voice calm and unwavering. Small fairies flitted around the room, setting down scrolls in front of the trio. With a flash of pixie dust, they disappeared as soon as they had come.
“We may as well get started.”Phoenix said, “First of all, there has been talk of expanding the village. That would either mean finding a way to fly higher and perhaps find a way to live in the Space Sector or expanding through the ocean. Of course, that would mean many changes in the ways we have been living. The topic of expansion will be covered by Mistress Iris, as she is the speaker for the air. The second order of business we will cover today is the drought. We want you to know that we are not ignoring your complaints and are doing all we can to ensure your safety. This topic will be covered by Mistress Hazel as she is the speaker for the plants and flowers that are at risk with the drought. Finally, the last topic that will be covered in today’s discussion will be how we are preparing to stay warm this year during the winter. I will cover this topic, as I speak for the fire that will warm us up. However, this is the least of our concerns since we are in a drought currently. Mistress Iris, would you like to begin?” Iris nodded, her cloud magically lowering so it was level with the rest of the trio’s seats.
“As you all know, our population is rising by the day,” Iris said. Murmurs of agreement filled the hall. “We, as your leaders, have been searching for a solution to the problem, day and night. There are multiple ways to deal with overpopulation. We looked into having a limit to the number of children that would be allowed, however, that seemed much too outrageous,” the people sighed in relief and clutched their children a little tighter. Iris looked around before continuing. “We also looked into expanding through the land, but we fear it is dangerous. And, so, we have decided that the only way we can deal with this problem is by expanding either through water or air. I will be traveling in three days’ time to the skys in order to assess the situation. Is this all understood?”Iris said, her silver eyes scanning the people’s faces for disapproval. “Good. Hazel, if you will.”
Hazel nodded. She clutched the armrests of her leafy throne and set her feet on the ground to appear as tall as possible. She was the shortest of the trio, and the most childish. However, she was by far the most powerful, as she could bring life. Phoenix was logical. She was stoic and mostly unfazed by life. Finally, Iris was mature and stony. She seemed like she was the oldest of the group, though they were all the same age, down to the last minute.
‘“As I’m sure all of you have noticed by now, we have been facing a drought. Yes, we have been reading all your letters. Yes, we can see what’s happening. And, yes, we have received all the complaints from the Fauna Cluster saying their animals are dying of dehydration. Trust me, personally, hearing and feeling the pain of the land has been unbearable.” Hazel closed her eyes and sighed before going on. “We have tried everything we can think of. I’ve tried using my connection to the earth to summon rain. Iris has tried manipulating the clouds. This is…… This is the first time we have had something to deal with that we really have no previous experience with. We are trying our best. For now, we have no solution except to keep conserving water like we have been doing. Thank you for your patience. Is all of this understood?” Hazel finished, looking to the people as Iris had done before. They all nodded. Small whispers were heard from one corner of the hall.”What was that?” Hazel said, curious. A small boy with a pale face and white-blonde hair stood up. It was easy to tell he was from the Frosty Cluster. He was only about 6 or 7. The trio eagerly awaited him to speak. Although age did bring wisdom, it was always the young ones that had the best ideas.
“Well…..You speak for the earth Mistress Hazel...And Mistress Iris for the sky.”
“And of course Mistress Phoenix for the fire. But...but….who’s to speak for the water? You have always said that the forces of nature must always balance each other together. Don’t you think the water should have a say?” Phoenix stood up.
“Come here, little boy.” it was a command, not a question. The boy shuffled nervously to the front of the hall, being careful not to get too close to Phoenix, as her connection with fire could harm him due to his frost background.
“Let me tell you a story…..Millions of years ago, people lived in harmony with nature. Representatives like me and you were not needed to help maintain balance. You wanted fire? You could make it with a few sticks and some friction. You wanted to plant some flowers? All you needed was a couple of seeds and a sufficient amount of water. But then, humans started overusing the natural resources that they were generously given. They misused their fire. They tore down trees. They released toxic fumes into the air, almost obscuring the sun from their view. And so, Mother Nature had to do something. “ Phoenix paused for dramatic effect. The entire room was focused on her. Even Iris and Hazel, who knew the story by heart, were listening. Phoenix had a knack for telling stories….After all, all the best stories are told around fires. She smiled before continuing. “She disguised herself as a human and went to village after village. She was searching. Can you guess for what?” she asked the little boy. The boy shook his head. “She was searching for people. The best of the people. And not the best in terms of wealth, but the best in terms of compassion, in terms of empathy and kindness. These people would be representatives of nature. Mother Nature couldn’t do it on her own anymore. So, she found four people. One to represent the earth,” Phoenix looked to Hazel, “One to represent the skies,” she looked to Iris,” One to represent the fire,” she looked to the people,” And, of course, one to represent the water. These people would be given powers of sorts. They would be connected to their element. They would help maintain the balance of nature. The one connected to fire would, for example, help keep forest fires under control. This worked, for a while. But it became too much. Too much for the earth representative to care for animals as well as the land, too much for the water representative to care for the ice and snow as well as the oceans, too much for the fire representative to deal with fires and light, too much for the air representative to worry about smoke and clouds both. So, Mother Nature set out again. She formed groups. Groups like the Frosty Cluster and the Fauna Cluster to help the main representatives”
“What happened to the people?” the little boy asked, wide-eyed with wonder.
“Why, they killed themselves off, with war and their own faults. That is a story for another day, however.”
“Well then, what happened to the water representative?”
“I’m getting there. Be patient, young one. Generations of representatives came and went. Once the humans died off, it was easier for Mother Nature to choose. Every century, 4 were chosen. One night, the water representative tried to use her powers to her own advantage. Water is a very powerful element. It can overthrow fire any day. Earth needs it to survive. Water can be in the air. So there was a battle. Using combined forces, the other elements won. After all, even the most powerful being can be defeated by teamwork. Humiliated, the water representative hid away. Working together as always, the remaining trio managed to keep things organized despite having no one to speak for the water. No water representative was ever chosen again. We don’t know why. That’s just the way things are now. So we’ve learned to manage, with a little help from Mother Nature. That is why, my dear boy, the water does not get a say.”
“But…..but….that doesn’t explain anything! Why wasn’t another water representative chosen!! That isn’t fair!” Phoenix furrowed her brows at the boy.
“Did you not like the story?”
“I did…...but it doesn’t answer my question. You know what? I bet the water representative is still chosen, they just hide away.” the boy said, stomping back to where he was seated. Murmurs filled the hall.
“SILENCE!” Phoenix yelled her face turning red. The people gasped and stopped speaking. “I think you’ll all agree with me when I say this gathering has been long enough. We can talk about how we are to stay warm in winter some other time. You are dismissed.”People began filing out of the hall silently. The hall soon emptied of anyone but the powerful trio.
Phoenix sat back down. The story had worn her out. She put her head in her hands. Iris slowly stood from her cloud and closed her eyes. Hazel stared at the wall, then winced like she had tasted something sour.
“We need to do something about the drought. I can’t go on much longer.”Hazel said at last, breaking the delicate silence.
“Well, what do you suggest, Hazel?”Phoenix said, not moving from her position. Iris sighed and opened her eyes. As if she had just gotten a massive headache, Hazel lifted her right arm and massaged her temples.
“There’s no need to lose your temper, Phoenix. Nothing compares to what Hazel must be going through right now.”Iris said, looking worriedly at Hazel.
“I know….I’m sorry…..We just…….I just…..I’ve always had a solution. And now, Hazel has to suffer because I can’t think of one.”
“Phoenix. Stop blaming yourself. It isn’t your fault, and Hazel doesn’t think so either. You know that.”Iris said, putting her hand on Phoenix's shoulder. Though most opposing elements could harm themselves with contact, Air and Fire were actually very close.
“I’m scared.” Hazel said,”What’s going to happen when more trees die, when the land dies, when things stop growing? Am I going to….”she couldn’t continue. Phoenix sat up straight.
“No. Stop. We have to stay strong. We have to deal with this like anything else. Together.”Phoenix said, finally going back to herself. Iris gave a tiny smile. Hazel sighed.
“I suppose so…”she said, taking off her flower crown and shaking her hair. The small fairies appeared back in the hall and took the scrolls from the table, disappearing with them once again.
“Isn’t it weird though? I mean, without a water representative, you’d think we’d have a little less water-related problems.”Iris said. Phoenix shook her head.
“The entire reason we might even be having so many water-related problems is because of the lack of a water representative. Remember the entire reason there are representatives in the first place. To help Mother Nature. She could be losing control of the water again. “
“But what if the little boy was right?” Hazel said, panic edging into her voice.
“What do you mean?”Phoenix asked.
“Well, maybe there is a water representative. I doubt Mother Nature would make us suffer like this. Maybe the water representative is trying to….I don’t know, avenge the last one’s failure. Maybe it’s her fault that there's a drought.”Hazel said, her eyes beginning to glow. They always got like that when she was forming an idea. “There'll probably be no way to expand through the water. She’ll sabotage it. Or he, of course. And maybe-”
“Hazel!”Iris cut her off. Hazel looked hurt, but stopped talking.”There’s no point in speculating. Go get some rest. You need it. We’ll discuss what to do tomorrow. Hazel sighed and nodded, getting up from her throne. She left the hall, leaving Iris and Phoenix alone.
“What do you think is going to happen. You think Hazel’s right?”Iris asked once Hazel was out of earshot. Phoenix got up.
“I don’t know. I’m worried about her. It isn’t fair. No one deserves to suffer like she is.”
“She certainly is stronger than I thought.” Phoenix nodded. She ran her fingers through her short hair.
“Well….See ya tomorrow,” Phoenix called on her way out.
“See ya…”Iris replied, staying in the hall for a few more minutes before making her way to her own pod.
The next day, the trio had a meeting as soon as the sun came up. They needed to figure out what to do about the drought, and the expansion.
Phoenix was seated at her large metal throne, first as always, when Iris arrived, knocking at the window. Being connected to the wind element, she could fly, although it wasn’t a power she exercised too often.
Phoenix looked up from what she was doing and quickly went to the large window to open it. Though their powers were strong, the meeting place was held at a high floor, and Phoenix always feared Iris would fall. Iris walked in.
“Hi,” she said as she conjured a cloud to sit on.
“Hi,” Phoenix replied, going back to her own seat.
“Where’s Hazel?”Iris asked Phoenix.
“Oh, I don’t know, late as always.”A couple minutes later Hazel barged in. She had dark circles under her eyes and her long hair was a mess. She walked to her throne and practically collapsed into it.
“Oh…..Hazel…..You look terrible!”Iris said, running over to her.
“Look terrible? I feel terrible.”Hazel grumbled. Iris shook her head as she put her hand on Hazel’s shoulder. Hazel sighed.
“Hi Hazel,” Phoenix said. She was off in her own world when she was thinking, and had only just realized Hazel was there.
“HI Phoenix. Well, are we going to get started?”Hazel said.
“Not until we get you in good shape,” Iris said. She was very sensitive sometimes.
“Look , Iris, I’m fine, really. Anyways, I’ll be better once we figure out what to do with this drought.”
“Okay….”Iris said, but she still looked glum when she was on her cloud seat. She was sitting cross-legged and her cloud was level with Iris and Phoenix’s seats. Hazel rubbed her eyes and tucked her hair behind her ear. Phoenix straightened.
“So….Does anyone have any ideas?” Phoenix said, looking at Iris and Hazel both in turn.
“What?! What do you mean ‘does anyone have any ideas’! You mean you just called a meeting without any ideas!?!”Hazel shouted.
“Well-I…..”Phoenix tried to say something, but she was speechless. It was a bit mean of Hazel to put the blame on Phoenix, but Hazel was the one who was suffering most from the drought so she had the right to want answers. In truth, Phoenix wished she had answers, that’s why Hazel’s comment hit her hard.
“Sorry Phoenix...I didn’t mean it.”Hazel said.
“It’s okay. I deserve it. Anyway, we really need to figure out what to do.”
“No. You don’t deserve it. You know who does deserve it? The water representative if there is one.”Hazel had been thinking of the possibility of a water representative all night.
The more she thought about it, the more it frustrated her. She had to deal with all this pain from the land and the water representative was probably just laughing about it.
“You know? There’s only one way to find out if there is actually a water representative.”
“And what’s that?”Iris said, interested.
“We need to round of everyone in the village,”
“We need to check for the mark.”
To be continued