|More from Madman97||Adventure||G||None||No update page|
|Raiders of the South Coast|
October 13, 2013
The Earth Kingdom has the smallest amount of benders then any other nation. It goes to show with the people of the Farming Villages around the Southern Coast of the Earth Kingdom. Seeing a Bender was a very great surprise to these people, and unfortunately, the consequences of this rarity was apparent because there was a big divide on Benders and non-benders. Especially in the village Li Wei was born.
Li Wei's village had no name. It was simply known to the locals as "The Village." It was a small town, located in quite an isolated area of the Earth Kingdom. Most structures in the village did not exceed two stories, and they were square in shape, with slanted roofs and black tiles like the rest of the Earth Kingdom. Small windows dotted the first and second stories, and hanging plants were used as a decorative measure. The national color of green and the Earth Kingdom seal was found in flags hung from the village center, which was circular with a single post, where a flag flapped in the wind. The village was very well aware of outside events, surprising given its isolated standing. Everyone knew everything about the Republic City, the Avatar who helped found it, and even advances in recent technology. However, being a traditional village, they stuck to the old ways of doing things.
Farmland dotted the sides of the village, growing rice. The sea was just a ways over the hill where people at the docks worked tirelessly to catch fish to provide for the village. And a large portion of the village was made of wood. And that is where Li Wei and his family came in.
Li Wei was sixteen, long dark brown hair, strong complexion, and grew up being trained by his father as a carpenter. This was mostly a profitable business, as the docks were in constant need of repairs, and they always got a hefty sum of money for the job, so Li enjoyed a good life, at least by village standards. Life was pretty good around town. Li found himself when he wasn't working down by the sea, playing Pai Sho with his best friend, Suji Naka. Suji was the village lacker. He didn't have a specific job, and was very lazy. Other games they played were hide and seek, tag, really anything they could find to do. And at the end of the night, they went home. Li had a family of four, with his father, mother, and little sister who was eight, making up the other three members. Every night, Li's mother always had something on the table for them.
On this particular night, mother had made some Duck-fish and noodles. As they ate, they talked about what they did during the day. And not long afterward, they heard a knock on the door. Li went to answer it. Li opened the door and standing there was Suji, smiling awkwardly.
"Hey Li," he said. "I was going down to the beach to try some fake bending out. I was wondering if you want to come." Li turned to his parents. They smiled and nodded.
"Okay," said Li, and they hurried down to the beach. As soon as they got to the sand, Suji pulled out some kind of black powder in a pouch.
"My dad got this from some merchant in Republic City when he was visiting," said Suji. "It's supposed to explode if you light it." Li laughed in excitement.
"We gotta blow something up," said Li. "We can't just light it and have it just burn the sand. Let's get some spare wood and build a statue or something."
Suji laughed and they set out to get spare wood from the back of Li's house. A log was sitting in the back on top of some others, and Suji and Li picked it up on both ends and carried it down to the beach. Li went back to get his carpenter tools. He came back and started to hack away at the log until a rough shape of a man appeared. As soon as Li deemed it fit, he carved a hole in the center to place the pouch in. They stood it up onto the stand. Before Suji put the whole bag in, Li stopped him.
"Wait," he said. "Just a little bit of this black stuff. I want to see how powerful it is." Suji nodded his head and poured a small bit of dust into the hole and brought a match out.
"Here goes," he said as he lit the match and threw it into the hole. The dust caught fire and sparkled for a small bit but was not too impressive.
"Alright," said Li. "The whole thing then."
Suji laughed and put the entire pouch in. He lit another match and threw it in. The two boys ran back a bit before the pouch exploded. The wood stature shattered with the force of the explosion, but Li had to admit the sound of the explosion was way bigger than he expected...until he heard a huge crash afterwards.
Li turned to his village. One of the roofs was on fire. Li turned to Suji.
"Did we do this?" he asked, alarmed. Suji shrugged his shoulders, his expression shocked. Then they heard another crash. Li looked up into the sky. What looked like a massive fireball hurtled straight towards the village. Li forgot to breath.
The fireball hit the village and took out one of the buildings. People started to run out of their homes, no clue what was going on. Suji and Li started to run back to get their families, but Suji turned towards the docks.
"Li! Look!" yelled Suji.
Li turned to look. Docked at the boardwalk was a small boat, a junk ship with red sails, and men were jumping off of it and running into the village. Li started to run to his house. Thank goodness it wasn't damaged yet. Li ran to the door and opened it. Standing in front of him was a man, dressed in the black and heavily armored, wielding in his hands what looked like daggers made from flame. The man turned to see what had interrupted him and he looked at Li. He had black hair, and was heavily scarred. He wore a sneer on his face, and had the most evil looking grey eyes. On looking a Li's terrified expression, the man laughed. Li looked behind the man. Tied up and looking very afraid was his family. Li instinctively made a rush for them, but the man was quick. He punched his arms out and made a wall of flame, cutting off Li from his family. Li had his carpenter's hammer with him, and he grabbed it and threw it at the man. The man momentarily stopped making his flame wall to duck before the hammer hit him, and Li took it as an edge. While the man was momentarily distracted, Li tried to attack him.
It was very unsuccessful. The man had already dodged the hammer and made a wide arcing kick, which a wave of flame promptly released itself, fast moving forward towards Li. Li barely managed to duck underneath it, somersaulting and rising up again only to have the man grab him by the throat with his right hand, an a flame dagger in the other.
"I like your spirit boy," he sneered, "but your father had this long coming. We are taking his payments he owes us, along with interest." The man turned to look at Li's family, who were trying to yell run under their gags. Li tried to say something, but fear had gotten hold of his tongue. The door of his house opened again and two more men dressed in black armor came in and grabbed Li's family by the arms and ran out the door with them. Li could do nothing about it, as he was still in the grip of the man. The house was burning down all around him. But the man stood there, unaffected by the heat, staring at Li's face. Finally, his grip slackened and he dropped Li to the ground, and began to walk for the door. He stopped before he went out and looked at Li, who was clutching his throat.
"Tell anyone who ever thinks about messing with Wang Zhou and the Southern Raiders that this is what happens to them," he said. With that, he exited. Li immediately got up and tried to run after him. When he got out the door, all he could see was the man, whose name was Wang Zhou, kick his feet onto the ground and a large amount of flames propelled him through the air and onto his ship, which with the help of a few waterbenders, turned and sailed quickly away. Li's mind was swimming, brewing with emotion, but he could show none. There was simply too much for him to feel at once that he didn't know what to feel first. Anger, confusion, anguish,...revenge. As his home burned down behind him, the only thing Li could think of was that his family was gone, and he wasn't able to do anything about it.
How could such a mere person who possessed no bending abilities do anything against such power? There was no one to help Li, nothing to help Li. He felt as if the very spirits themselves had abandoned him. Thinking of nothing else to do, Li went down to the beach and stared out into the sea, the waves smoothly crashing onto shore, staring into the sea that swallowed the sight of his family from his eyes and left him alone. He stared out at the sea all night.
It was only the next day when he found out that Suji had been taken to, along with his family. A large portion of the houses were burnt down to the ground, and those that were not burnt stood out. The people had gathered in the village center and were discussing the recent raid. Li thought he may as well join them. There was no elected leader of the village, but a shell was passed along when someone wanted to speak, and everyone was to remain quiet while they spoke. An old man was currently speaking when Li got there.
"Those Raiders took all of my produce!" he shouted. "Those were half of our food supplies! We need to get them back!" Another man called for the shell and the old man gave it to him.
"I agree," said the man. "We need to alert soldiers or some kind of authorities to fight these Raiders and get back the village's supply. We will not survive the winter without it. We have about maybe weeks to get them back before they spoil." At this time, Li grew a bit angry. He shoved his way through the crowd and took the shell away from the man.
"What about my family?" shouted Li. The crowd looked a bit confused and concerned. Li continued. "What about my friend Suji and his family? That crop is as good as gone. Even if we alerted some kind of authority, it would take days for them to get here, days the Raider's can use to hide out, which I am sure they will do after a hit like this. We need to track them down now. The Authorities are too far away. We have to act now, if we want to save the people that were captured." A woman called up from the crowd.
"We aren't warriors!" she said. "None of us know how to fight, and even if we did, we can't combat Benders. They're too powerful!"
"Then what would you have me do?" yelled Li. "Let them all die?"
"Kid," said a man in the crowd, "I know this is a tough time for you, but you gotta face it. We are not Benders, and we never will be. The only thing we can hope for now is to pray to the spirits." Li thought about this. Then, in a rush of hope, it dawned in his face as his sad and confused expression turned into one that said, "Eureka!"
"That's it," said Li. "I'll find the spirits. Maybe one of them can help me." Some in the crowd actually snickered. Some looked even more concerned than before.
"Kid," said the man from before. "I know in these situations, anything would be preferable, but the Spirits are unreachable. No one can get to them. Their world is separate from ours."
"What about the Avatar?" asked Li. "She's in Republic City isn't she?"
"I heard from some of the dock workers that she has gone missing," said a person in the crowd. Li nearly yelled in frustration. However, he quickly composed himself.
"Then that's it then," said Li. "I don't care if you people think it's pointless or won't help me, but I have heard stories of different spirits inhabiting our world. Maybe they can help me."
"Li, listen to us," started a person, but Li cut them off.
"No YOU listen!" he yelled. "I am willing to do whatever it takes to save my family, and if you won't help me then fine, but I am going to look for a spirit who can help me, and none of you are going to stop me." The crowd was silent for a bit, and then started to murmur among themselves. Then finally, they turned back to Li.
"We are sorry Li," said one woman. "But we cannot help you with this. We don't even know where to look."
"I do," said Li. "My father used to hear storied from the dock workers who have sailed in who have been up north before to the Si Wong Desert. They told my father that they have seen fox-like creatures running across the dunes and then vanishing into the sand without a trace. They must be some kind of spirits. The dock workers said there aren't any other creatures like that on earth, and that a creature like this would absolutely not be found in a desert. They have to be otherworldly in origin." The crowd looked at one another, not sure what to say. Li decided to elaborate further.
"There is a place on the southern edge of the Si Wong Desert called Misty Palms Oasis, a place where sandbenders often go. I can hire one of them to take me out into the desert to find one of these fox spirits."
"The sandbenders are thieves!" shouted a person. "How do you know they won't double-cross you and leave you to die?"
"I don't," said Li. "So that is why I will offer them a deal they can't refuse."
"And what's that?"
"Again, I don't know," said Li. "But I will come up with something. I give you my word. I will find these men and bring them to justice. You can call the authorities if you want, and if they track the Raiders down, good, then I will return. But until then, I will go on this journey. I only ask that you give me a bi of food and perhaps provide an eel-hound to make my journey go faster, as time is of the essence." After some thought, a man came up to Li.
"We can't stop you from going on this journey," he said. "And we would be terrible if we didn't help in at least some way. I know a man who has an eel-hound that you can ride. Be outside the village by sunset and it will be waiting for you, along with some supplies."
"Thank you," said Li. "I won't let any of you down. I will search tirelessly for these spirits, and I will return."
"We wish you luck son," said the man who provided for him. "Have a good journey." Li nodded. As the hours went by, he started to exit the village. As the man had said, an eel-hound was waiting. On its side were bags of supplies, graciously provided by the village. Li smiled for the first time since his family and friends were gone. He had a good feeling about his quest. He only hoped that those stories about those spirits were true. Li saddled up and kicked his heels gently and started to steer the fast moving eel-hound down the road up north, to where the Si Wong Desert lay waiting. He also hoped that the second part of his plan, one that he didn't mention to the village, was also possible.
To give himself bending.
For the collective works of the author, go here.