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|The Search for the Great Library|
October 15, 2013
Three days. Three days for one of the fastest animals on earth to reach Misty Palms Oasis. From the tales Li had heard about this place, he found they were all right. This place was a run down piece of trash, located on the very end of the sand. The sun was already beating down on Li as he slowed his Eel Hound down and stopped at the entrance to the Oasis. It was a small circle wall of sandstone, and a cluster of small homes circle around inside, with a melting piece of ice in the center. Li got off his Eel Hound and tied it to a post that was sitting outside. Around the town was also some light wood contraptions that had runners on them, probably to slide across the sand, and a sail in between them. Li knew that this was a Sand-sailer. So there must be some of those Sandbenders around. Li walked into town, quite aware some people were staring at him. He was still wearing his usual green clothing everyone wore in the more lush areas of the Earth Kingdom. It didn't mix in well with the tan look everyone else was giving off.
Li walked to the cantina that was so obviously a cantina, as there were men sleeping outside of it and bottles in their hands. But Li wasn't discouraged. But he was on his guard. Tales of Sandbenders treachery reached even the isolated lands of his home. Li pushed open the door, and stepped inside. The inside of the cantina was just as run down as the outside. Inside were a few rough wooden tables and on the side was a bar table. A man with two katana's was dicing some ice to make a mango drink for a customer dressed in tan clothing and a turban covering his face. A whole table of the guys were sitting nearby. Li walked up to the bartender, who was finished with his customer's drink and turned to Li. He looked confused at Li's choice of clothing but quickly put back on a polite expression.
"What will you have young man?" he asked.
"I need help finding some people who can help me," said Li. "Sandbenders. You know where I can find some?" The Bartender leaned his head sideways and looked back at Li.
"Over by that table there," said the bartender. "but be careful, young man. Those guys can be some tough people to be around. And I wouldn't be caught out in the desert with those clothes. There's some beetle headed merchants in town selling some suitable wear for a good price. I would get you some."
"Thanks," said Li and he turned over to look at the Sandbenders table. They were quiet, and Li had the feeling they were looking at him ever since he had mentioned their designation. Li mustered up his courage and walked over. Before he reached the table, a sandbender who wore a turban over his face so Li couldn't see, got up and turned to him.
"And what are you doing all the way out here kid?" he asked.
"I need your help," said Li. "My name is Li Wei, and my-"
"Village got raided by the South Raider's," finished the Sandbender. "Yes, I am well aware of that. We all are. News travels fast in the south, thanks to the sailors coming in and out of your village. Sadly, most authorities are up north, which is where I assume you are going, right?"
"Actually, no," said Li. "I came here because the authorities would not get here for months, which I don't have time for. I came out here looking for what some people say are spirits. They look like foxes." The sandbender stared at Li for a moment until he spoke again.
"What do you need these foxes for?" he asked.
"That's my business," said Li. "I just need a ride to where they have been seen." The sandbender sighed.
"Sorry kid, but my Sand-sailer is broken. Wood is all messed up," said the sandbender. "Until it's fixed, we ain't going nowhere." Li smiled.
"I can fix it," said Li. "I am a carpenter. In exchange for me fixing it, will you take me out into the desert? You don't have to pay me anything. I just want a ride." The sandbender was silent for a few moments, with his brethren watching closely.
"I think we got a deal," said the sandbender. "Alright, you fix it, we'll give you a lift. We know a spot where these foxes of yours might have been found. Plus, we really need to get back out in the field anyway."
"Thank you," said Li. "I'll do it as soon as I get some suitable clothes." Li said thanks again and exited the cantina. He saw a man with a beetle helmet on his head, just like the bartender said, and walked over. Also like the bartender said, the beetle headed man was selling desert clothes. Li paid for them for only a few coins, and he immediately saw why the price was so low. The clothes were not in the best condition, but it would have to do for now. Li walked out of the Oasis to where the Sand-sailers were parked. One of them, he saw, was in pretty bad shape.
Conveniently, there was some spare wood nearby. He removed one of the runners and replaced it, tying the sail back on again and hammering the nails back into place. The Sand-sailer looked good as new. The sandbender from before came out of the cantina to check on Li's progress. Needless to say, he was very impressed.
"I should hire you full-time," said the sandbender. "You could be our official maintenance guy."
"I just want to get this over with," said Li. The sandbender nodded and helped him onto the Sand-sailer. With a wave if his hands, the sandbender whipped up a miniature tornado of sand that created wind that filled the sail. With a jump, the Sand-sailer took off through the desert. After a bit, the sandbender started to slow down.
"This s the place," said the sandbender. "But I don't see any around. And we better hurry. The wind is picking up. A sandstorm could be rolling in any minute." Li groaned.
"I just need more time," said Li. "Just tell me if you see one." After about ten minutes, there was no luck. Li felt his resolve sinking below the depths of hopelessness. He had to save his family. And he needed help. Just some help is all.
And then he saw it. B some miracle, he saw some fox looking figure running away into the dunes.
"I see it!" said Li. "I can see one! Follow it!"
"Kid, I'm sorry, but the sandstorm is coming in fast!" said the sandbender. "We have to go." Li had noticed that the sand was starting to drift around a little, the wind picking up. But this was his only chance. He didn't if he would see any the next time.
"I have to go," said Li.
"Kid, I'm sorry, but we have to get out of here now!"
"Then go!" said Li as he jumped off the Sand-sailer and ran in the direction of the fox, with the sandbender watching him for a few moments, realized that he was never going to convince Li to come back, and took off back to Misty Palms Oasis. Meanwhile, Li had looked over ahead. A massive sandstorm was coming right at him. He was starting to wish he didn't leave the sandbender. But as he ran over a dune, he saw the fox trotting casually away, but it looked like it started to dig. It started to go under the sand. Moving quickly, Li sprinted as fast as he could, the sandstorm hot on his heels, and grabbed the fox'stale just as it went under the sand, and he found himself in a free fall. He started to scream.
Until something caught him. Li opened his eyes, and he screamed again. Staring at him was a large owl-like creature. And even more shocking, it started to talk.
"What are you doing in my library?" it asked. Li was to afraid to answer, until it clicked in his head.
"Are you a spirit?" Li asked in a hush voice. The owl answered in that monotone voice.
"I am Wan Shi Tong," it said. "I am the keeper of this great library, and no human is to be allowed in. it is a miracle you even found this place. How did you do so? And what do you want from my library?"
"What?" asked Li. He looked around. His eyes went wide. Before him was a massive library, rows and rows of books, with fox's running around with books and scrolls in their mouths. "I-I didn't know about any library. I came here to find the spirits, the foxes. I needed help." The owl stared at him.
"Hmm, well you are not lying," said Wan Shi Tong. " It seems that you have stumbled here upon accident. What help were you seeking from the spirits?"
"My family was taken by Southern Raider's days ago," answered Li. "The Raider's were all benders. I came to see the spirits to see if they could give me bending as well to help get my family back."
"Bah!" said Wan Shi Tong. "Power is what you seek, just like all humans"
"Please," said Li. "I just want to know if it's possible. I just want to save my family."
"And then what human?" asked Wan Shi Tong. "Then what will you use it for?"
"Only to defend," said Li with the utmost resolve. "I just need a means to save my family from being killed." The owl turned away.
"I cannot help you with this," said Wan Shi Tong. "Such a thing has never been done. Even the Avatar couldn't do this for you."
"That's why I came to you," said Li. "Growing up, my father always used to tell me that the spirits watched out for us, to guide us in times of need. Well he was wrong, because you won't help at all. I am begging you! There must be a way!" The ow was silent, and then turned back to him.
"No such knowledge exists in my library," said Wan Shi Tong. "However...it may be...possible." L's face picked up.
"Really? How?" he asked.
"I do not know," said the owl. "But it may indeed be possible. Perhaps there are a few ways to consider. But it is dangerous. Extremely dangerous. You are likely not to survive."
"I am ready to face it," said Li.
"You'd better hope so, because they test you simply for that," said the owl. "There is a place, far into the Fire Nation, where an ancient city waits, a place where Sun Warriors used to dance with the Eternal Flame. There are beings there that may be able to help. But I can tell you no more."
"Thank you," said Li. "I promise that if I do receive these powers, I will never use them for anything other than the right thing."
"I take promises very seriously human. You would do well to remember that."
"I understand. However, there is a sandstorm raging outside. I have no way to cross the desert." Wan Shi Tong flapped his wing and a fox assistant came running to him.
"This here assistant will transport you through the desert," said Wan Shi Tong. "You will find yourself back where you started. Before you go, you need to promise me something else. Do not speak a word of what you have seen here, and do not say where you have been. Humans are to be closed forever from this library, and you only live because you did not try to seek it out willingly."
"Thank you," said Li. The fox trotted up to him and nuzzled his hand. Wan Shi Tong started to flap his wings. A powerful gust started up, and Li had to close his eyes. When he opened them again, he was laying outside the Misty Palms Oasis, with the fox nuzzling him one more time before running back out into the sand. Li got up and brushed the sand off of his clothes. He could have died out in that desert, and he could have been killed by Wan Shi Tong. He didn't find what he was looking for, but he got the next best thing.
He got a lead.
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