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|Splinters, So Many Splinters|
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July 2, 2012
I was found alone in the woods, nestled high in a tree several miles from my hometown, Kimanchi. I have the power to bend wood, and my caretaker, Gaidan, helps me develop my skills. I do not know who I am, nor do I know where I came from. But I will find out.
Voice of Akhang
Water. Earth. Fire. Air.
The monks would tell me how since the time of the first Avatar, there have been four bending elements, and a nation to go along with each one; The Fire Nation, the Water Tribes, the Earth Kingdom, the Air Nomads.
But everything changed fifteen years ago, when the Earth Kingdom split and a new element rose. On that fateful night, the sky lit up a great, white color, the color of my eyes at my most powerful. Nobody knew what it was.
I do. I know. A fifth element has come into this world, granted by the spirits. The element's entry has defied the Avatar sequence. Defied the world. But the new element is our only hope, our only way to survive. We must protect him, we must.
I believe Mozukai can save the world.
Water. Earth. Fire. Air.
As dawn sunlight filtered through the trees and illuminated the cool fog that hung over Kimanchi, a young boy rose out of his bed in his small house suspended in the trees. He changed into his brown tunic and tan trousers, and walked towards the door. Suddenly, the floorboards creaked loudly, waking the other occupants of the house.
The boy cursed under his breath as his caretaker stepped out of his bedroom.
"My gosh, Mozukai, what are you doing up at this hour?" he asked.
Muzokai rolled his eyes. "Hunting," he replied. "The village needs food and I need practice. I need practice." He put special emphasis on the word "practice".
His caretaker sighed and crossed his arms. "Make sure no one can see you," he muttered.
As Mozukai walked to the front door, his caretaker called out after him. "Stay safe!"
Mozukai chuckled. "You know I will, Gaidan," he replied.
The cool morning breeze felt refreshing as it washed over Mozukai, blowing back his hair. He looked around at the village of Kimanchi, his insides feeling shocked just by looking at it. An uneven ring of twenty-five huge trees surrounded a sheltered clearing with bright green grass, covered in nearly forty wooden, intricate buildings in an organized fashion. However, the trunks and boughs of the trees was the real spectacle.
Almost one hundred buildings were carved and built onto the trees, intricate and beautiful. Walkways encompassed the trunks, allowing for the people to have space to walk on. Rope bridges and wooden planks allowed for the citizens to go from one tree to another, as well as ramps to provide them access to the higher domains and buildings. Mozukai smiled. He never got over the view.
Mozukai slid down the ladder that unfurled from his walkway to get to the ground, where he set off at a jog away from the village and into the forest, dodging around trees and leaping over bramble patches. He was heading deep into the forest, away from the village so no one could see him.
Twenty minutes later, Mozukai decided he was far enough from Kimanchi to begin his hunting, as well as his practice. He breathed in deeply and then took an uncomfortable horse stance, ready to begin.
He surveyed the trees and branches around him, alert for any sort of mammal or fowl that was edible. He closed his eyes for a moment and then opened them again. A monkey squirrel was scurrying across a branch, heading for a large acorn hanging from the bough.
Mozukai swung one of his arms and then chopped down to the ground with the other, curling in his fingers. He looked up and saw a branch above the monkey squirrel swoop down and grab the monkey squirrel by the neck, suspending it in air. The monkey squirrel squealed and squirmed helplessly and Mozukai sighed. He needed to feed his village.
"Thank you, monkey squirrel, for giving your life to my people," he muttered under his breath, before totally clenching his fist.
A small crack echoed through the forest, the sound of the monkey squirrel's neck snapping. Mozukai brought his arm to his chest and the branch obeyed, extending down the Mozukai. The boy released his fist and the branch unfurled itself, letting the dead squirrel drop into Mozukai's open palm.
He grabbed the monkey squirrel and hung it onto his belt, walking away to look for more animals.
During the whole course of his hunt, Mozukai caught five more monkey squirrels, a dove, and a large lop-eared rabbit. He particularly prided himself in the catch of his lop-eared rabbit, seeing as he had spotted it from across a clearing, nibbling at grass around the roots of a huge oak tree. The lop-eared rabbit had hopped up high in the air at the sight of Mozukai, but it never reached the ground. Mozukai woodbent the roots and caused four of the to snatch up the lop-eared rabbit and then break its neck. It was a well-compromised kill and would feed a few people later that night.
Mozukai surveyed his kills; six monkey squirrels, one lop-eared rabbit, and a dove. It was a good load and he could sell it for some money. He was already imagining himself selling his meat to the butcher in the maple tree. Tokor always payed good money for Mozukai's catches.
The forest grew louder as Mozukai approached the village. Now everyone was up and about, starting their day. The noise could be heard, hammer on steel with the blacksmith, the butcher's knives hitting the wooden counter as he chopped meat. Children ran through the trees, playing tag and hide and seek. Mozukai smiled, remembering those days.
A girl dropped from the trees, three knives dangling from her belt. A beautiful girl, her name was Goji and she was Mozukai's age. Mozukai had always had a small crush on her, for she was beautiful. Her dark hair fell in waves past her shoulders and her eyes were a golden brown, shining brightly in the sunlight. Her teeth were a perfect white, standing out against her tan complexion. Mozukai smiled.
"Hello," he greeted.
"Out hunting?" Goji asked, eyeing his prey.
Mozukai nodded. "My snares are the best," he said.
Goji smiled. "Well, hopefully I'll buy some tonight. Bye."
Mozukai smiled as Goji jogged past him, deeper into the woods. What she was doing, he did not know. Shrugging, Mozukai walked out of the trees and into the village clearing, where several people bustled past.
"Mornin', Mozukai," an elderly man said.
Mozukai smiled and walked deeper into his village, towards the butcher's tree house. He decided to just sell his meat to the butcher and get some money for cheese, bread, and fruit. He climbed up the ladder and onto the rope bridge in between two trees. As he turned right to head to the butcher, a cry of pain made him turn around and look the opposite direction.
"Ow!" the man cried.
Mozukai raised an eyebrow and jogged over the bridge and to the front door of the house. The cry came again, this time even louder.
"Sit still, Rida, and I can get it out!" a feminine voice cried.
"Oww!" Rida, the leader of Kimanchi cried again. "Soshi, stop! Get Mozukai in here! He'll be able to get it out. He is good with this kind of stuff!"
"Fine," snapped Soshi. Mozukai heard her footsteps pounding across the wooden floorboards towards the door.
The wooden door swung open with a loud creak and a young woman with brown hair stepped over the threshold.
"My gosh!" she cried, jumping back when she saw Mozukai. She held her hand to her heart, breathing deeply. "You nearly gave me a heart attack!"
Mozukai smiled. "Sorry," he said. "I heard that Rida needed me?"
Soshi nodded. "Yes, yes, come on in," she muttered, pushing him inside.
Rida stepped out of his room and looked at Soshi. "Soshi, could you please go buy me a pack of leechi nuts?" he said. "I'm starving and we don't have any food."
Soshi nodded. "I might as well," she muttered. "I'll just buy some bread, cheese, fruit, and a monkey squirrel while I'm at it."
Soshi opened up the door and slammed it behind her, stomping down the platform. Mozukai turned to Rida. "So, what's up?" he asked. "I heard you screaming in pain."
"I have this huge splinter in my hand," Rida said, holding his left hand out.
"Holy-!" cried Mozukai. "That's huge!"
The splinter was the size of Mozukai's pinky finger and about as wide. It was dug into Rida's palm deeply, nearly four inches. "Where did you get this?" asked Mozukai.
Rida shrugged. "I have no idea. It was just there when I woke and it hurts!"
Mozukai nodded. "I can get it out for you," he said. "Just stay still."
Rida nodded and grimaced as Mozukai touched the top of the splinter and closed his eyes, seeing inside the splinter. With his other hand, Mozukai begin to clench and unclench a fist. Slowly, the splinter began to worm its way out of Rida's hand. The skin tore and shredded around the splinter as it came out, for it seemed to be barbed. Mozukai winced, imagining the pain that Rida was in.
And finally, the splinter popped out. Rida clenched his hand and looked up at Mozukai.
"Thank you," he said. "You have helped a lot."
Mozukai nodded and picked the splinter up from the ground. "See the Healer," he said. "That wound looks infected."
Mozukai turned and walked out the door, heading to his house. He stepped over the threshold to see Gaidan standing in the kitchen, washing a ceramic plate.
"Hello," mused Mozukai.
"What are you doing with all that meat?" Gaidan asked.
Mozukai looked down at his belt and saw all of his kills still hanging there. "Shoot!" he said. "I meant to sell those, but then I had to take a huge splinter out of Rida's hand with woodbending. I forgot about them!"
"Well, Rida said he woke up with a four inch-splinter in his hand and I got it out," Mozukai replied, handing Gaidan the splinter. "It looks deadly."
"Hmm," Gaidan said. "Notify me if anyone else gets splinters," he muttered.
Mozukai nodded and stepped out of the door, heading back to the butcher's shop. People passed him on his way there, shouting greetings and smiling at him. More and more people flooded out of their homes, starting their work for the day. Soon, nearly all three hundred citizens of Kimanchi were out and about. The walkways were getting crowded and Mozukai couldn't wait to get inside the butcher's shop.
Soon enough, the sign hanging from the flagpole that read "Tokor's Butchery" could be seen across the bridge. Mozukai dodged his way through the crowd and slipped in the open door, where the hulking figure of Tokor stood, slicing meat into pieces.
"Morning, Tokor," said Mozukai.
"Ah, hey Mozukai," said Tokor, looking up at him. "See you have some catches?"
Tokor smiled and spread his arms wide. "Ada boy!" he cried.
There was a flash of a dark shape and then Tokor roared with pain, slamming his hand down on the table. "Ahhhhh!" he cried, holding his left hand.
Mozukai rushed to the counter. "What?" he asked.
Tokor turned his hand over, revealing a splinter four inches long, dug into his hand.
Mozukai's eyes widened. "Are. . . are you okay?" he asked, his mind lost in the image of Rida's hand punctured by a splinter.
Tokor gasped, sweat beading upon his forehead. He looked up pleadingly at Mozukai. "Please get it out," he whimpered.
Mozukai nodded and touched the tip of the splinter. "This'll hurt," he said. "Bad."
Tokor nodded and squeezed his eyes shut. Mozukai began to twist the splinter with one hand and woodbend it out with the other, as to seem like he was not woodbending. Gaidan, Rida, and a few others were the only people who knew what Mozukai was. He was not allowed to tell the other villagers about his ability.
Mozukai plucked the splinter out and Tokor keeled over, gasping in pain. "Ahh," he said. "My hand, it burns."
Mozukai grabbed Tokor's hand and, indeed, the palm looked purple and some of the skin was shredded, bleeding heavily. "Go see the Healer," he instructed. "She'll patch you right up."
Tokor nodded and walked out of the house. At the door, he turned around and said, "Leave your meat on the counter and take seven gold pieces, but don't take any more," he warned. "I know the exact amount inside."
Nodding, Mozukai unhooked his kills and laid them on the counter before pulling out Tokor's money pouch, taking exactly seven pieces before hurrying out the door. He had to tell Gaidan that Tokor had also gotten a splinter.
As his house approached, Mozukai started calling out, "Gaidan! Tokor had a splinter too! Something weird is happening!"
He stomped over the doorway and found Gaidan smiling, standing next to a tall, lean figure with long black hair.
"Ah, good, you are here," said Gaidan. "General Tao needs your help. He has found a splinter in his hand."
"Oh no, not you too," groaned Mozukai.
General Tao grimaced. "I'm not the only one, either," he explained. "Four of my best men have them too and they need someone to pull them out. Now, I am aware of your power, but I wasn't sure if I could let my men see it."
Mozukai sighed. "I know a way to get it out manually, kind of," he said. "I'll do you first."
General Tao stuck out his hand and Mozukai quickly levitated the huge splinter out with woodbending, before carefully laying it on the table. General Tao smiled. "Thank you, Mozukai," he said. "I'll go get my men over here."
"No, I'll do it at the barracks," argued Mozukai. "You go see the Healer."
Sighing, General Tao walked out of the house. "If you insist," he muttered.
Mozukai turned to Gaidan. "That's seven people that have been stabbed by splinters," he said. "What does it mean?"
Gaidan shrugged. "I truly don't know," he said. "Very mysterious. . . "
Mozukai rolled his eyes. "I'm off to the barracks. Hopefully no one else will be 'afflicted' by a splinter anytime soon."
"Don't give away your power to the guards," warned Gaidan.
Mozukai nodded and headed out of his house and out around to the back deck, which looked over the serene forest. He climbed up onto the plank that reached into a nearby tree and walked to it, soon stepping onto the bridge. For nearly a half mile, Mozukai walked on bridges, wide branches, and planks on his way to the barracks.
And there they were. A huge building was built on eight trees forming a square. A tower sat at each corner of the building and had little slits for windows. A gate dominated the front side of the wall. On the inside of the wall were eight buildings, six dorms for the guards, and one for eating and meetings. The final building doubled as the armory and the infirmary.
Mozukai walked up to the gate. "General Tao sent me here for your men with splinters!" he called to the guards up at the top of the wall.
One of the guards nodded and the gate opened. Four soldiers were waiting right at the entrance, all holding out their palms. Mozukai sighed heavily and went to work on the first one, until all four guards didn't have splinters anymore. "Listen, go to the Healer in the village and have her take a look at your hands."
All four guards nodded and jogged past him, out the gates. Mozukai climbed down a ladder and walked back on forest floor.
As the village came into sight, Mozukai set off at a run. He wanted to see if the Healer had made any progress on all the people he had sent to her. His surroundings began to blur as he picked up his speed and then. . .
Mozukai went sprawling to the ground, his head aching badly. He brought a hand to his forehead and touched it; a bump was already forming on it. He looked around and saw another figure leaning against a tree.
"Sorry about that, Mozukai," said the man.
It was Paimok, the only earthbender in Kimanchi village. "Oh, hey Paimok," he stuttered.
"I needed to find you, because I have a splinter in my hand," Paimok said.
"Oh no," muttered Mozukai.
"What?" asked Paimok.
"You're the eighth person in the village with a huge splinter in their hand," he explained. "I don't think anything good is about to happen."
"Just use your woodbending to get it out," snapped Paimok. "It hurts!"
Mozukai raised his eyebrows but approached Paimok nevertheless and quickly removed it with woodbending, before scraping up a hole and covering the splinter in the ground.
"Thanks," Paimok muttered, holding his left hand tightly. "I'll go see the Healer."
"I'll walk with you," Mozukai said. "I want to see the others who have gone there, too."
The duo walked back into the village together, heading towards a small shack on the ground, where the healer lived. It was on the outside of the village square, one side of which was facing the open forest. All the people that had been stabbed by splinters were lingering at the entrance.
"Mozukai," said Rida, dipping his head. "The Healer cannot do anything about our splinter wounds."
"Strange," Mozukai said.
"Mine really hurts," said one of the soldiers.
Another muttered, "I think mine is infected."
By now, most of the village was watching and listening at the conversation. Most heads were turned to them, most eyes looking confused, most ears eager to hear the rest of the story. Mozukai felt a bit uncomfortable and looked around awkwardly.
Rida stepped forward. "Thank you, Mozukai, for taking out our unusual splinters," he said. "You have helped-"
Rida's eyes rolled into the back of his head and he slipped to the ground, unconscious. The four guards did the same, followed by Tokor. General Tao started yelling commands, none of which Mozukai understood. He stepped back in fear as the village began to mutter loudly and nervously. Then, General Tao collapsed and Paimok was the final one standing. He looked around nervously and opened his mouth. . .
It was too late. He slumped down on the floor; a spread eagle on the ground.
Several people screamed and panic began to spread throughout the village. Mozukai's head turned to the source of the sound and he saw twelve shadowy figures standing under two large trees, each holding large flames in their hands.
The village was under siege.
- The author enjoys leaving the readers on a cliffhanger, like he just did.
- Even Henryjh98 admits the splinters are a rather silly and confusing method of pre-attack.
- For some reason, he has left only two notes on two pages. Whoops, he just realized that he had three on this page XD
For the collective works of the author, go here.
|Avatar: The Sole Woodbender Chapters|
|• • • • • • • • The Shinu Resistance • A Brewing Storm • To Flee, or Not to Flee • A Gale for Battle, Part 1-Four Fusion Furies • A Gale for Battle, Part 2-Airship Escape|
|Crash Landing • Imprisonment • When Paper Comes in Handy|