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|A New Glider|
"The Shinu Resistance"
Previously on Avatar: The Sole Woodbender
|" "Go, Mozukai!" he urged. "Leave! They want you. They will take you to prison and kill you. Go!""|
|""Well, I was wondering. . . " he began. "No, I was thinking. . . Ah, I just wanted to know if you knew where to find any other woodbenders." He smiled brightly and bobbed up and down on his toes eagerly."|
|""I'm Saion," said the man. "And this is my family. My wife, Poli. My daughter, Shiun, and my son, Kyan. Kyan is the only earthbender in our family, the only bender in my family for three generations." His family all waved and smiled, Kyan displaying his talent by moving a rock on the ground and purposely bouncing it off of Shiun's head. "We're from a village near Tae Ming, which was quickly conquered by Chao Dao. My life as a bard was destroyed in his evil, iron grip, and for three years, we have been plotting our escape.""|
|"Mozukai was particularly interested in the town, for something seemed light-hearted and fun about it. He wanted to be distracted from Kimanchi. His thoughts were interrupted when Ishi shouted, "A festival is going on!""|
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 Cycle. Defied the world. But the new element is our only hope, our only way to survive. We must protect it. We must.
I believe Mozukai can save the world.
Water. Earth. Fire. Air.
A New Glider
"Can we go now?" Ishi begged. "It's boring just sitting here in the camp!"
Mozukai and his friends were sprawled out across their small campsite. Kori was hovering an orb of water while Shom spun some pebbles above his hands. Ishi was slumped against a tree, her cheek resting on her hand. Mozukai and Akhang were lying against the soft fur of Yangto.
"Patience, Ishi!" her older brother snapped at her. "For once!"
Kori dropped the water orb and cuffed Shom over the head. "No need to be rude," she scolded playfully.
Shom rolled his eyes and then rubbed the back of his head where Kori had hit him. Mozukai and Akhang leaned against Yangto, grinning as they watched the three squabble.
"It's always entertaining watching them fight," Mozukai chuckled.
"I don't find it entertaining," countered Akhang, "I find it beautiful. When they do it, they act like such as family. It, in my opinion, is actually peaceful fighting, because by doing so they grow closer together," he finished, a huge beam on his face.
Mozukai looked at him with a curious expression on his face. "Akhang, as anyone ever told you that you're rather odd?"
Akhang laughed. "Fifteen times, by the same person," he replied. However, his jovial mood quickly turned melancholy. "Ah, I miss Yasa. . . "
"Who's Yasa?" Mozukai asked, curious to learn about Akhang's childhood.
"Sister Yasa was one of my best friends, and she is the greatest airbender in the world. That's why she came to the Northern Air Temple to teach me airbending when I was announced as the Avatar at age thirteen. We'd met many times before, but we really grew close during those few years I spent with her. She was so lively and kind, but she wasn't like a mother. Instead, she was like the sister I never had."
Mozukai nodded, thinking of Gaidan. He missed the old man. A lot. It had been several weeks since he had last seen his guardian. "She seems like a very nice person," he muttered. "I hope to meet her someday."
Akhang shot himself six feet in the air, spinning around. "You can!" he exclaimed. "I traveled back to Air Temple to get Shom, Kori, and Ishi all gliders. And you can get one, too! We can go back to the Northern Air Temple and get you a glider. I'll get to see my friends again, and you'll get to meet Yasa! It's perfect!"
"What is that, Akhang?" Shom asked, as he walked towards the pair of them. Kori and Ishi soon followed.
Akhang swung himself towards Shom. "I was talking about how we can take a trip to the Northern Air Temple to get Mozukai a glider, and so he can meet Sister Yasa!"
Kori shrugged with uncertainty. "I don't know, Akhang. It's pretty out of our way."
"Sounds like fun!" Ishi exclaimed, throwing her hands in the air. "And you know I love having fun!"
Mozukai, Ishi, and Akhang all laughed, but Shom and Kori remained serious. Shom crossed his arms. "Akhang, going to the Northern Air Temple is out of our way," he said.
"How?" retorted Akhang. "We're wandering aimlessly through the Earth Kingdom, so how would going to my home be 'out of the way'?"
"But. . . well. . . however. . . Ah--you're right," Shom replied, hanging his head with a loud sigh.
Akhang leapt twelve feet in the air with a boost from his airbending and floated down slowly. "Fantastic!" he said when he had touched the ground. "When shall we depart?"
"Well, we should probably restock on our supplies, first," Kori said with resolution. "And maybe treat ourselves to some lunch down in the town?" she further suggested.
"Sounds great!" declared Ishi. "Let's go!" She jumped up and down, excited to go down to the town for some lunch.
The five of them gathered a little bit of money and headed off in the direction of the village. Dudom, Gugom, and Yangto patiently sat at the crest of the hill, watching their masters meander towards the festival town.
Mozukai strode a bit ahead of his new friends into the town, passing under the gate before them. The streets were now bustling with people and everyone still seemed pretty happy and lively from the festival the previous evening.
"Well, where are we going to eat?" Shom asked, a sour tone in his voice.
Everyone else shrugged in unison. "How should we know, dweeb?" Ishi retorted. "What, do we look like tour guides to you?"
Mozukai, Kori, and Akhang all chuckled while Shom's face grew red with frustration. Shom then crossed his arms and looked away from Ishi, trying to hide his embarrassment. The others just stood around awkwardly, wondering where some decent places for food might lie.
"Excuse me," a deep voice of stranger muttered behind them.
Mozukai turned around and saw a tall man in gleaming armor standing straight up, a long spear in his right hand. A thick, black mustache curled from his helm and extended in front of his cheeks.
"You are clogging up the road," he said gruffly to them, his mustache twitching. "People are trying to get through."
"Sorry, sir," replied Kori. "We are just looking for a place to eat."
"Mhm," the guard grunted as he turned away and walked back to the gate.
Ishi rolled his eyes. "Great help he was," she murmured.
Akhang shrugged. "Let's go find someone else to ask," he suggested, bouncing away.
Mozukai and the others followed the happy Avatar through the people moving through the streets. They kept looking for a man or woman to ask where some restaurants were, but nobody paid them any attention or walked slow enough to answer a question.
They meandered further and further into the town, finally deciding to just find a place by themselves. Mozukai walked through the streets, looking around at the buildings. This is so different from Kimanchi, yet so similar he thought. A choked gurgle rose in his throat at the thought of his old village. Was it still there? Were the citizens even alive? Luckily, the noise of the other's chatter drowned out his sob. Mozukai didn't want anyone to take pity on him.
"Hey, what about here?" Ishi's cheerful voice broke him out of his reverie as she stopped in front of a nice little building just down the street from a side gate. The sign read The Turkey and the Duck.
"Let's check it out," said Kori. With a smile on her face, she walked up the stairs and took a few steps across the porch. She stopped in front of the door and turned around. "You guys coming?"
Akhang nodded and Mozukai, Shom, Ishi, and the Avatar joined their waterbending friend and strode into The Turkey and the Duck. Smooth stone sat under their feet as they walked towards a table. It was a nice little restaurant. Seven or eight tables were spread out across the room. A small bar stood against one wall, with five stools and a couple extra chairs shoved in the corner.
A couple sat at a small table in the corner, while two burly men stood leaning against the bar. Two pretty, young girls sat a few stools away from the men. The bartender was a short and pudgy man with short hair and a thick beard. Lastly, situated in the farthest corner was a man slumped against the wall, a dark orange and yellow robe covering his body while a hood shadowed his face.
"Strange," muttered Akhang, looking at the figure in the corner. "Those are Air Nomad robes."
"What would a Nomad be doing here?" Shom inquired with curious skepticism.
The Avatar shrugged indifferently. "Maybe a mission from one of the other temples."
The group seated themselves at a table. The man behind the bar looked up at them and smiled. "Jojo, we have more customers."
A plump, young woman came out from behind the bar, her cheeks rosy and a smile on her face. Jojo deftly wove through the tables and stood just next to Shom's chair, looking cheerfully at the five friends.
"Welcome to The Turkey and the Duck," she greeted warmly. "Today, we will be serving the usual turkey duck poultry slow roasted over a fire. Our special is elephant koi stew with chili powder on top. A mango salad will come on the side of either dish, and a mango juice comes with every meal."
"Five elephant koi stew," Mozukai ordered, "for all of us."
"Make that four," Akhang said, looking at Jojo. "Instead could I please have some noodle soup, if you have it?"
"Great," answered Jojo with a nod, walking back behind the bar and into the kitchen.
Mozukai, stunned, flashed Akhang a glare. The Avatar looked back at him, "Air Nomads are vegetarian," he explained.
"Oh," Mozukai replied, his cheeks turning red in embarrassment. "I didn't know."
"Most people don't," he said. "There's always an awkward moment when something like this happens, especially when it is a meal at home, not out at a restaurant."
Ishi chuckled. "I remember my first night with Akhang, I tossed him a piece of pork. It landed on his chest and he screamed, scrambling away from the pork. It was hilarious." She laughed again and patted Akhang on the shoulder while he blushed. Mozukai and Kori both smiled, but Shom made no response to the story. His eyes were narrowed and focused on the two men standing at the bar, talking quietly to themselves. Shom's fingers tapped the table in a monotone fashion.
He leaned into the table, his eyes still on the men. Mozukai raised one eyebrow. "Is it just me, or do those two men look suspicious?" asked Shom.
"It's just you," Ishi answered without even glancing at the men.
Kori followed Shom's gaze and stared at the men for a few long moments. "I don't know," she answered. "There's something off about them."
Right when she stopped talking, the two men straightened up and walked over to the girls sitting at the bar, drinking some sort of juice. They sat down on either side of them and began to speak with them. The girls shifted uncomfortably, unsure what to do.
Shom growled and clenched his fists. His knuckles cracked loudly as he watched the two men harass the girls. Mozukai also watched with a distasteful look as the man on the left rolled back his sleeve and flexed his muscles at one of the girls.
His eyes fell on a tattoo resting on the side of the man's upper arm. There was a red circle surrounding the emblems of each nation. It was a strange tattoo, something that only the Avatar would seem fit to wear.
A quiet gasp came from Akhang sitting next to Mozukai. "What?" asked Mozukai, a bit startled.
"I...I know that tattoo," he whispered quietly. With a little more force and volume, he said, "Guys, I think we should go."
"Why?" asked Ishi, eagerly waiting for her food.
One of the men threw his arm around the girl he was next to and leaned his face in. The girl frowned and grabbed his arm, throwing it off of her shoulder. She muttered something to him and narrowed her eyes. But the man wasn't done yet. He grabbed her shoulders and spun her around so she would face him. The man wrapped his arms around her and pulled the girl in.
"Hey, get off her!" snapped the bartender, lightly shoving the man.
"Don't touch me," he growled back.
Shom slammed his fists on the table and stood up. Akhang, his eyes wide, placed a hand on his shoulder. "Don't," he muttered through clenched teeth. "We need to go. Now."
The Air Nomad in the corner shot up from his chair, took three large steps and appeared next to the men and the girls. "You heard the barman," he growled. "Get off her."
The girl had her face buried in her shoulder, quivering and shaking under the man's arms. Her friend was staring, open-mouthed, at her as the man with her had his hands on her shoulder.
"Listen," the man replied, standing up, "this is none of your business. So go back to your corner and mind yourself."
The Air Nomad frowned and turned around, taking a few steps toward his corner. With a quick pivot, he spun around and thrust his arms forward. There was a loud whoosh and the man was thrown backwards. He crashed into a table, smashing it to the ground. He groaned loudly and began to pull himself back up.
One scream came from the couple in the corner. The man's partner yelled out and stepped away from the girl he was with. With a loud stomp, a slab of the stone floor came up and hovered above his hands. Grunting loudly, he heaved the rock towards the Air Nomad. One of the girls screamed and covered her eyes, and the airbender flinched, but stood his ground.
"Ahhh!" yelled Akhang. He jumped forward and threw his arms out. The slab stopped just in front of the nomad's face, floating in the air. Akhang began swirling his arms and the rock moved away. It fell into the corner with a loud thud.
The Air Nomad stumbled backwards and his hood fell down. He looked back at Akhang and his eyes widened. Akhang met his stare and groaned loudly. "Toshi," he muttered.
"Akhang," Toshi muttered back.
The man who had been attacked by Toshi pulled himself up and threw his hands out. A whip of fire sliced towards Akhang.
"Watch out!" screamed Kori. Moving quickly and gracefully, she streamed a bent ball of water onto the fire. The flames disappeared as steam rose up in the air.
"Get down!" Mozukai shouted. He grabbed the table, flipped it on its side and pulled Kori and Ishi right next to him. Ishi curled up behind the wood, taking up as little space as possible. Akhang dived over the table and landed next to Mozukai while Shom slid up next to them.
Mozukai shot up over the table and shot a wooden dart at the earthbender. The man nimbly dodged it and fired a wave of pebbles back at Mozukai. He ducked and morphed the wood of a chair together, making a shield.
Shom rolled out from around the table and hurled a large rock at the firebender. He attempted to sidestep it, but the tail end of the rock smashed into his thigh and he screamed out in pain.
Kori pulled another watery orb from her pouch and carefully looked over the table. She flicked out a water whip and aimed for the earthbender. It smacked him on the shoulder and he growled in annoyance. Mozukai grabbed one of his arrows and fired it forward. The earthbender shot up a rock wall and the arrow bounced off it with a loud scratch.
The door behind the bar opened and Jojo stepped out, carrying a tray laden with food. A burst of fire flew right past her head, aiming for the table. She screamed and threw up her hands. The bowls of elephant koi soup flew up in the air and landed on the floor, shattering into pieces while the thick stew flowed across the stone.
"Move!" Mozukai shouted. He rolled away from the table right as the fire ball exploded it into burning fragments. Through the smoke and shrapnel, he saw that all his friends and Toshi had gotten away safely.
The couple took the quick distraction and sprinted out of The Turk and the Duck, screaming and shouting as they ran. The two girls hopped out of their stools and slid down behind the bar. Jojo had already run back into the kitchen, while the barman watched with a mixture of anger and fear.
Mozukai jumped up and grabbed another table. He quickly threw it onto its side and yelled for his friends to join him. Then, working fast, he strengthened the wood and thickened it by adding several chairs to the front. Sweat poured down his head as he attempted to make the wood as fireproof as possible.
Akhang and Toshi both sent gusts of winds flying at the two men while Shom and Kori pelleted them with ice and rocks. Ishi sat against the table. She clearly felt useless as she had forgotten her weapons back at the camp.
A large rock came flying at the table, but the extra fortifications prevented it from causing too much damage. Shom returned the attack with a large rock shield sent flying at them. Kori followed up with a water bullet towards the firebender.
The firebender sent an arc of fire towards Mozukai and his friends. It sliced through the air and struck the table. The makeshift fort was thrown up in the air, but it otherwise did no damage. With a loud thud, it landed on the ground and began to sway back and forth. Mozukai quickly grabbed onto it, steadying the table so it wouldn't fall.
"These guys are good," Kori grunted to Mozukai. "Very good."
Then it hit Mozukai. These two men were very good. Almost too good. They were up against five talented benders and still couldn't lose. Mozukai narrowed his eyes, realizing that they might not be able to win the fight.
He peeked over the table and watched as three large slabs of rock were fired at the firebender. With extreme dexterity, the man dodged all three slabs and fired a large ball of flames at Shom. He ducked and Kori quickly quenched the fire burning on a nearby table.
More attacks from both sides followed and Mozukai knew that while he and his friends were tiring, the two enemies were not tiring as fast. Toshi rolled out from behind the table and kneeled, ready to fire a blast of air at the firebender.
The earthbender saw Toshi out of the corner of his eye and stomped on the ground. The ground shook and a column of earth shot up right under Toshi. He was flung backwards and thrown against the wall. He slammed right through the wood and flew out of the restaurant in a cloud of dust and smoke.
An idea flickered in Mozukai's mind, one that would surely end the fight. He turned towards Shom and shouted, "Put up an earth wall around us!"
Shom looked at him skeptically. "What? Why?"
"Just do it!" the woodbender screamed back at him.
Shom obliged and quickly formed a wall of earth around him, Mozukai, Ishi, Kori, and Akhang. Satisfied, Mozukai closed his eyes and breathed in deeply a few times. Then he slowly raised his hands right in front of his chest. Wood crackled in his ears as he clenched his fists, preparing to make his move.
Mozukai shot his hands outward and the walls and roof of the shop exploded, wood flying outwards at extremely high speed. Ishi screamed and Kori covered her head with her hands. The two benders staggered backwards, startled and confused. Just a split second after thrusting out his hands, Mozukai snapped them back in and clapped his hands together. The debris and fragments of the wood stopped in midair and then zoomed straight back at the remainder of the shop.
Wood slammed at the earth wall from all sides and splinters and debris tumbled over the wall. Large pieces of timber flew around them, smashing into the ground. Mozukai peeked up and saw a huge beam from the ceiling ram into the earthbender. The firebender screeched and ducked as a sharp plank of wood nearly took off his head. A cloud of splinters pelted the firebender and he fell to the ground, writhing in pain.
Dust swirled around the battle scene and Mozukai coughed as he inhaled some of the air. Akhang stood up and gently blew the dust away with a light gust of wind. Mozukai pushed himself off the ground next to him and surveyed the area. Piles of wood and fragments of tables and chairs were scattered about the stone ground. The bar was half-destroyed and the bartender was sheltering the two girls in his arms. The girls whimpered and shivered in fear.
Mozukai found the unconscious bodies of the two men slumped together, half-buried under wood. A large crowd of people were gathered at where the front of The Turkey and the Duck had once been. Two columns of guards were jogging down the street towards the battle zone.
"We better get going," Shom murmured.
Akhang shook his head. "No. We have to say and tell them what happened."
"Shom's right," said Kori. "Look at what happened here. No matter what we say, all of us are going to be arrested. Mozukai destroyed this building, even if he saved three innocent lives." She flashed him a sympathetic glance.
"Well, let me go get Toshi," Akhang grunted. "We can't just leave him here."
Shom rolled his eyes. "Be quick about it."
The Avatar sped off and Mozukai hopped over the earthen wall. Calmly, he strode over to the barman and the girls who were just starting to stand up. The barman was looking around in shock, tears watering in his eyes.
"My shop," he cried. "My shop! Oh my shop!" He breathed unevenly as tears began to trickle down his cheeks.
The two girls looked over at Mozukai as he approached. "Thank you," one said. "You helped save us."
Mozukai nodded in reply and then placed his hand on the barman's shoulder. "Sir, I am very sorry for destroying your restaurant, but I had to do it to end the fight."
The barman looked at him blankly, the words barely registering to him. Mozukai patted him on the back. "It's not much, but at least I can help you start anew." He pulled a pouch of coins off of his belt and set it in front of the man. He muttered something too quietly for Mozukai to hear but then grasped the bag in his hands.
"Mozukai, come on!" Kori's nervous cry came from behind him. His friends were standing in a clump, Akhang holding Toshi in his arms. The guards were getting closer and ordering for them to stop.
The group clustered together and weaved through the crowd as the guards jogged towards them. His heart racing, Mozukai kept glancing back to make sure no guards were right behind them.
Shom ran in the front, clearing a path for the rest of the group to follow. Akhang trailed right behind him, carrying the unconscious body of Toshi over his shoulder. Mozukai was impressed by the small airbender's strength and the ability to run fast while carrying a full grown man. It must be his airbending, he thought to himself with a shrug.
The group rounded a corner and saw the side gate of the town standing right ahead, a few ignorant guards leaning against the wall. Fanning out, Mozukai, Shom, and the others zoomed past the gate and sprinted towards their campsite. In just a few minutes, they reached where Dudom, Gugom, and Yangto were resting in the warm sun.
Shom boosted himself onto Yangto's neck with an earth pillar and grabbed hold of the reins. "Come on!" he shouted. Akhang leaped onto Yangto's back and rolled Toshi out onto the saddle. Mozukai quickly swung up over the sky bison's side while Ishi, Kori, and the two pumas used the tail as the ramp. Mozukai leaned against the sleeping bags tied to the side of the saddle, panting and gulping nervously. He was anxious to take off to evade capture, because he did not have time to be arrested.
"To-fao!" screeched Shom, flicking the reins.
Yangto grumbled as he took off from the ground. Shom urged him straight forward and the sky bison flew the group over the town. Mozukai looked over the edge of the saddle and saw several of the guards look up in shock and awe with relieved amusement.
Ishi leaned over the saddle and waved down at the guards a few hundred feet below. "Suckers!" she cried, sticking her tongue out at them.
Mozukai laughed and grabbed onto the side of the giant saddle as Yangto banked sharply. The sky bison quickly soared over the hills surrounding the town and in just a few moments, the town was out of sight.
"Yangto, head home!" Akhang gleefully said to his sky bison, twisting the long fur in his hand.
An hour later, the hills of the town were just on the horizon and flat grasslands were flying by underneath. Mozukai had seen a few small farm towns, but nothing else interesting was down there to look at, unless one found gazing at flocks of livestock interesting, but Mozukai sure didn't.
"Toshi's waking up!" announced Akhang, sitting up.
Mozukai eagerly scooted closer to the Air Nomad. He wanted to hear the story of how he had wound up in the town they were in.
A groan was the first noise the airbender made. He threw his hand on his head and blinked a few times. "Where am I?" he croaked.
"We're over the Earth Kingdom, flying on Yangto," Akhang replied quickly.
"My head hurts so much," groaned Toshi, wincing in pain.
"Here, drink this." Kori pulled her water pouch over to her hip and pulled out a small orb of water. She moved her hands around it for a second before nodding. "It's really cold water, so it might alleviate some of your headache pain."
Toshi opened his mouth and Kori skillfully put the ball of water into it. He closed his mouth and then swallowed before yelping. "That's cold!"
"I told ya," Kori said, shrugging.
"Well, it did help. Kinda," muttered Toshi, his muscles still shivering.
"So, Toshi, what were you doing in that town?" inquired Ishi.
"I was being punished," he answered simply.
For a few, long drawn-out moments, there was a silence until Akhang sharply said, "Elaborate, please."
"My bad," grunted Toshi, though Mozukai could tell he wasn't actually sorry. "As I said, I was being punished. After a, uh..., accident at the temple, the elders decided that I needed to be punished for my behavior. So they flew me down to this part of the Earth Kingdom to think about what I did and that in two months they would come back to pick me up. Oh yeah, and I had to help some farm town for two weeks."
"How long had you been down there?" asked Mozukai.
"Had you helped the farm town?" he continued with an incredulous look.
Toshi shook his head. Ishi, Kori, and Mozukai laughed, but Akhang put on a stoic face. "The elders won't be happy, Toshi."
"I still had two weeks!" Toshi retorted.
"Not about that," clarified Akhang. "They'll be mad that you got into a fight."
Toshi bent his head and scratched it. "Yeah, that probably wasn't the best idea."
"Of course not!" Akhang exclaimed. "You know how the elders feel about physical confrontation!"
"I don't care about what the elders think about fighting," replied Toshi, glaring at Akhang.
Mozukai got the feeling that Akhang and Toshi didn't get along with Akhang still lived at the Air Temple.
Toshi continued. "I shouldn't have started a fight with those two men. It wasn't a smart idea."
"And why is that?" asked Akhang, crossing his arms.
"Because they were part of the Four Fusion Furies," Toshi mumbled after a short pause.
Right as Akhang was saying, "Are you serious!?", Mozukai asked, "The who?"
"The Four Fusion Furies," muttered Kori, holding her face in her hands. "A terrorist group."
"Are you stupid, Toshi?" said Akhang fiercely. "Do you realize how much trouble you've put the Northern Air Temple in? The Four Fusion Furies won't take this lightly. At all."
"A terrorist group!" exclaimed Mozukai. "And we attacked them?"
Toshi nodded slowly. "The group consists of one hundred and four people, twenty-six benders from each nation. They are all extremely powerful benders, and the top four are the most feared people in the world. The two we fought were some of the newest and freshest recruits. That's the only reason we won."
"So now an extreme terrorist group is gonna be after us?" Mozukai inquired, still taking it all in.
Akhang glared at Toshi while the older nomad nodded. "We have to warn the elders. We can't let them catch us off guard," stated Toshi.
"And Toshi forgot to say that the Furies are growing," the Avatar said. "They only take in four benders at a time, one from each nation, but it's happening. I'm sure that they'll have four others by the time we meet them again."
"I thought Air Nomads were peaceful," said Mozukai, tilting his head to one side. "How did they become a part of this group?"
"We are," answered Akhang, "that is, until one of the elders from the Southern Air Temple tried to kill two other elders. He had a whole group of airbenders who supported his cause throughout the four temples. I know that twelve of them fled with him when he vanished and joined the then Three Fusion Furies. But there are still others who support him. Over the past few years, we've had them trickle out and find him. At least, we assume they found him, because the FFF is growing."
"That's not good," said Mozukai. "I can't believe I'd never even heard of them."
"That's probably because Kimanchi was a bit...isolated," commented Ishi. "But I'd heard of Kimanchi and the Four Fusion Furies."
"How'd you hear of Kimanchi?" Mozukai asked.
"Oh, our town had some tales of a town in the trees," replied Ishi. "There was also a traveler that had seen it, too, so I decided it was true."
"Great story, Ishi, but we need to focus on the Air Temple," Akhang said, breathing heavily. "I have this awful feeling that the Four Fusion Furies will try to seek revenge upon us Air Nomads."
"The Four Fusion Furies indeed are a vengeful type," agreed Toshi.
"Shom, speed Yangto up!" Akhang yelled to Shom who was still sitting at the reins of the sky bison.
"To-fao!" he yelled.
Yangto grunted and flapped his tail once. He zoomed up and Mozukai had to grip onto the saddle to keep from falling off during the speed transition. The wind whipped his face and blew his brown hair out of his eyes. He shut his eyes to keep them from drying out in the strong wind.
The sun was setting to the left of Yangto and Mozukai was starting to feel tired from the long day and his muscles were sore from the battle.
"Guys, I'm going to try and sleep," he muttered, lying down at the back of the saddle and using a sleeping bag as a pillow. He quickly drifted off into a deep slumber.
Thick fog on his face woke Mozukai. He sat up, stretched out his arms and yawned, blinking the sleep away. Sunlight streamed through the fog, making the horizon glow a golden color. Tall, craggy mountains glowed in the sun, so immense and large that Mozukai could hardly they were real.
Shom was sleeping at the front of the saddle, with Akhang slumped against Yangto's neck, the reins held loosely in his hands. Toshi was sitting cross-legged, twiddling his thumbs, while Ishi was holding her arm off the side of Yangto. Kori was swirling three small orbs of water in her hand.
"Good morning, Mozukai," the waterbender greeted, letting the water orbs dissolve into the fog.
"Morning," he replied, yawning.
Yangto did a steep bank and Mozukai was tossed to the side. Luckily, the saddle rim caught his and he crawled back up to a sitting position. The sky bison curved around a mountain. Mozukai felt as if he could just reach out and touch the massive rock structure.
"We're here!" exclaimed Akhang, sitting up in his seat.
The fog began to part and Yangto shot through a cloud out into open air. Mozukai craned his neck and looked out across an empty expanse of clouds.
A tall, thin mountain sat just a few thousand feet ahead. Dozens of towers stretched into the sky, gracefully overlooking the skies around. Mozukai was awed by the beauty of the temple. The enormous towers were so amazing. He'd never seen anything like it.
Tiny shapes glided around the temple, while larger ones soared faster. Sky bison and airbenders were flying about the temple. Mozukai was eager to try out the glider he hoped he would be able to get.
"We're home, buddy," Akhang said, patting Yangto's head.
They soared over the clouds and a few gliders flew out to meet them. Akhang waved to the airbeners flying alongside them. They looked at Mozukai with confused looks. When they saw Toshi, they frowned and shook their heads.
Akhang gracefully brought Yangto to a land on a small ledge just below a part of the Air Temple and hopped off of the sky bison. The nomads gliding landed and Akhang ran up to them.
"Hey Ying!" greeted Akhang. "Hey Sonu! How are you guys?"
"We're great!" replied the taller of the two nomads. "Who's the new guy?"
By now, everyone had slid off of Yangto and were walking up to Akhang and his friends. Mozukai smiled. "Hello. I'm Mozukai," he said, sticking out his hand.
Ying and Sonu both shook hands with him and then started to converse with Akhang and the others. Mozukai and Toshi stood at the back of the group, feeling a bit awkward.
Footsteps on stone brought Mozukai's attention to the staircase leading up to the rest of the temple. Five old men walked in a single file line down the stone steps. Their hands were folded into their sleeves and they wore placid expressions.
"Greetings, Avatar Akhang," the head elder said.
"Masters," Akhang replied, holding a fast and flat hand together while bowing.
One of the elders in the back eyes darted to Toshi, who was trying to hide behind Shom. "Toshi!" he snapped. "Is that you?"
Toshi shuffled out from behind Shom, who turned around with a puzzled expression on his face and then shrugged.
"What are you doing here?" the elder interrogated.
"Master, see--" began Toshi.
"It's a long story," Akhang interrupted. "First, I would like you to meet my new friend, Mozukai." Akhang pulled the woodbender forward.
Mozukai stumbled forward and smiled weakly. "Hello," he grumbled. "I'm Mozukai. Nice to meet you."
The elders looked at each other and then dipped their heads at Mozukai. He backed up a few steps, his cheeks red in embarrassment. The elders looked back to Akhang. "And what is the purpose of your coming here?"
Man, these guys are cold, Mozukai thought to himself.
"We wanted to get Mozukai a glider as we have with Kori, Shom, and Ishi," explained Akhang, shuffling his feet.
"We shall ponder the decision," muttered the head elder, stroking his chin. "But first, Akhang, you and Toshi must come with us and explain why Toshi is back two weeks early."
The five elders started to ascend back up the stairs, while Toshi followed right behind them. Akhang turned to his friends and rolled his eyes and then followed the Air Nomads up the steps.
Mozukai turned to the others. "So, what are we going to do?"
Shom shrugged. "We could go to the airball field and watch some Air Nomads play airball," suggested Ishi.
"Sounds good," Kori agreed.
The group set off up the stairs with Dudom and Gugom trailing behind them. For a while, they wandered around the outside of the temple before they reached a large ledge occupied by dozens of wooden poles sticking up out of the ground.
"Wow," gasped Mozukai as he watched several airbenders jump from pole to pole, tossing a wooden, porous ball back and forth and bouncing it off of the wooden poles. "That's so cool."
The group settled on a spot overlooking the court. For a moment, the airbenders looked at them but then continued on playing their game. Three goals were scored in the next minute and Mozukai was awed by how fast the game was played.
One of the nomads blew the ball away and it bounced off of a pole at an awkward angle. The ball came flying towards the precipice where the group was spectating. Mozukai shot out his arm and the ball stopped in midair. He pulled it back and then fired it forward towards the players.
A few surprised and confused shouts came up from the athletes. They sent the ball flying back towards Mozukai and he jumped up, halting it five feet in front of him. He spun the ball around his waist and then lightly threw it back to the airbenders.
Awed, the airbenders beckoned for Mozukai to come join them. He looked at his friends.
"You should go, Mozukai," said Kori. "We'll be cheering for you."
"Okay." Mozukai set off down the trail towards the airball court. He reached the bottom of one of the poles and then simply moved his hand away from it. Several wooden pegs shot out of the pole, allowing for him to climb up to the top.
"Hey!" cried one of the airbenders, waving his arms. "I'm Gemu. Do you know how to play airball?"
Mozukai shrugged. "Mozukai. Pretty much. I just hit it off the poles, correct?"
Gemu nodded. "You'll be on my team along with those two guys over there," he replied, pointing at two tall nomads standing by the goal posts. "Ready?"
Mozukai nodded and stood on a pole near the center of the court. Gemu rocketed the ball forward, bouncing off the giant pegs towards the opposing teams goal. It zoomed past Mozukai and towards one of the other players. The nomad let out a gust of air and the ball came flying towards Mozukai.
He spun his arms over his head and the ball turned away. With a downward thrust of his hands, the ball bounced off one of the poles and sped into the opposing team's goal.
A loud bell rang and Gemu yelled, "Alright Mozukai!"
Mozukai could hear Kori and Ishi clapping for him up on the ledge. He smiled and waved. Gemu hopped over onto the pole beside him.
"Well, you just won the game for us!" he congratulated, patting Mozukai on the back.
"Awesome!" exclaimed Mozukai, though he wished he could play the game longer. It was a lot of fun, even though he had only been playing for a few minutes.
Gemu and Mozukai hopped down onto the rocky floor. "So, how'd you control the ball like that?" inquired Gemu.
"Oh, I'm a woodbender," answered Mozukai, scratching his head.
"A woodbender? I've never heard of one of those."
"That's because I'm the only one," Mozukai muttered solemnly, suddenly feeling alone in the world.
Gemu nodded and patted Mozukai on the back. "That's okay, buddy," he said peacefully. "Think about it! You have a power no one else in the world has! That's great!"
"It's the lonliest feeling in the world, sometimes," grumbled Mozukai, looking down at the smooth rock ground with a frown.
Gemu backed away, realizing that saying that hadn't helped the situation at all. Mozukai looked up and smiled at Gemu. "Thanks for letting me play," the woodbender said.
Mozukai looked up and saw Akhang sprinting down the slope to where his friends were sitting. He reached the ledge and jumped off, landing on the ground with a soft touch.
"Mozukai!" the Avatar called, jogging up to his friend. "The monks approved of you getting a glider!"
Laughing and smiling, Mozukai bounced up and down. "Really?! That's awesome. Let's go!"
"We'll be right back guys," Akhang called to Shom, Kori, and Ishi sitting up on the ledge.
With a giant burst of air, Akhang bounded to the top of the cliff overlooking the airball court. Mozukai jumped up and pulled his arms down. Woody bushes on the precipice bent down towards him and he grabbed onto their sturdy branches. He kicked his legs and swung upwards. The branches followed his movement and flung him up and over the cliff.
He landed with a thud and took off after Akhang.
They wound up and up the outside of the temple, passing all sorts of monks and airbenders. Winged lemurs flew around, diving in and invesitgating Mozukai.
"We'll be going up to Glider Tower," said Akhang, "the most popular place to start a glide." He pointed up ahead of them were a single tower stood further apart from the others, a large, open window facing the open skies around the Northern Air Temple.
Akhang and Mozukai clambered up a large staircase and started walking on a walkway at the rim of the temple. Akhang led Mozukai through a door at the base of the Glider Tower and they began to jog up the steps.
Five minutes later, huffing and puffing, Mozukai arrived at the doorway to the top floor. He strode through, where Akhang was standing next to a tall Nomad with graying hair.
"Guraydo, meet Mozukai," Akhang said, pointing at Mozukai. "Mozukai, meet Guraydo. He's in charge of the gliders around the temple."
Guraydo smiled at Mozukai. "You're glider will be a bit different than our regular gliders, due to the fact that you cannot airbend. So these will look the exact same, and I will describe to you how to use them."
He walked over to the wall where a solitary wooden stick lay. Delicately picking it up in his hands, he held it out to Mozukai. Mozukai took the glider in his hands and ran them down the smooth, firm wood. He closed his eyes and let his chi delve into the stick. He could sense the fragility and serenity of the staff.
Mozukai released the connection and then looked back up at Guraydo and Akhang. "Thank you." He bowed his head and both of them and then spun it in his hand. "So, how does this work?" he inquired, examining the outside.
"There's a small button near the top," Akhang explained. "Just press it and the wings will shoot out."
Mozukai located the button and gingerly pressed it. With a click, two large wings slid out of the top, while two smaller wings emerged near the bottom. He jumped back, surprised by how quickly the wings came out.
"How do I fly it?" he asked.
"You use your center of balance to keep it steady," began Guraydo, "and then tilt to either side to bank. The rest really just depends on the air currents. So try and not fly during a storm."
"Also, Mozukai, you'll be able to control it a little easier with woodbending. You could make it go up by shooting the staff forward and such."
Mozukai nodded, looking at the staff with excitement.
"Shall we go?" asked Akhang, pointing out the window.
Nodding Mozukai grabbed onto the handle-like bars of the wings and threw the glider behind him.
"I'll go first so I can help you if you fall," Akhang said. He ran to the window and jumped out, saoring out over the temple.
Looking out through the window, Mozukai's stomach momentarily curled at the thought of dropping hundreds of feet to the ground. But excitement prevailed and he sprinted forward and jumped out of the window.
For a moment, he freefell through the air, but then a strong updraft caught the glider and he jerked to a stop. A breeze pushed him forward and he began to zoom across the sky.
"Woooooo!!" he yelled gleefully.
Akhang flew up beside him, smiling. "How do you like it?" he yelled over the wind.
"It's amazing!" screamed Mozukai, a huge grin on his face.
The two friends soared over the temple. Mozukai banked to the left and he glided over the airball court. Ten nomads were competing against each other while Shom, Ishi, and Kori relaxed on the ledge, watching the unique sport. Cool summer breezes blew around Mozukai. The sun shone in the sky, casting a golden glow across the clouds beneath the temple. Mozukai dove down and then tilted the glider straight again, slowly gliding around the temple. A sky bison with several Nomads on its back soared out of the clouds, leaving a streak of the sky-fog curling up from the white covering.
Akhang floated down beneath Mozukai. The woodbender looked at his friend happily, joy dancing in his eyes. "This is the greatest feeling in the world!" he exclaimed, catching an updraft and shooting upwards.
Akhang followed Mozukai higher into the sky. Mozukai spun around and faced the temple again. The soaring spires of the Northern Air Temple stood proudly beneath them, looking small and diminutive from such a high altitude.
"Everything's so peaceful up here," muttered Mozukai, looking down on the temple with a placid expression.
"Yeah, it is," Akhang mused. "We should probably get back. The elders want to talk about what happened in the town."
"But didn't you already tell them?" Mozukai asked, tilting his head to one side.
"Well, Toshi said he wouldn't speak until you got your glider," explained Akhang, "and then continued to say that the entire group would come and explain what had happened."
With a nod, Mozukai replied, "So he just doesn't want to be around the elders alone, or with a fellow Air Nomad. He wants foreigners with him so the elders can't punish him too severly in case we would spread rumors that the Air Nomads are cannibalistic savages."
Akhang started to nod, but then paused and blinked abruptly, looking puzzled. "Well, I guess you could put it that way."
The duo glided down to the airball court and landed just beside Shom, Ishi, and Kori. They hopped up. "How was it, Mozukai?" asked Kori, staring at his glider.
"Amazing," answered Mozukai breathlessly.
"No time for small talk!" urged Akhang. "Come on!" He took off sprinting up the path. The others followed him at a steady pace and they wound up the temple tiers towards the elder's tower.
The tower began lower on the mountain, allowing an entrance at the top room to be open on one of the higher-up tiers. Akhang led the group through the door and into a warm-lit, circular room with a spectacular view over the temple and the mountain.
"Greetings," said one of the elders, sitting on a small platform alongside the other leaders.
Akhang dipped his head at them as the others filed in, Toshi running up behind them. He arrived at the door and strode into the room with an air of calmness and indifference.
The head elder shifted his shoulders and glared at Akhang. Mozukai flinched at the daggers his eyes were sending and immediately felt pity for Toshi and the Avatar.
"Explain everything," he demanded.
Akhang cleared his throat. "Well, first off, we met Mozukai in an area of the huge forest in the western Earth Kingdom. From then on, we stopped at a town a hundred miles east of Mt. Makapu. There was a festival going on, and the next day we stopped in the town for lunch.
"That's when we met Toshi. He was sitting in the corner, trying to remain inconspicuous. But when two thugs began to harass two girls, he tried to stop them. They fought back, and Mozukai, Kori, Shom, and I all joined in the fight."
"The benders were amazing," put in Kori. "Much better than two on their own should have been."
"After a long fight that we were losing, since Toshi had been blasted out of the shop, Mozukai exploded the wooden roof and walls, thus ending the battle," Akhang carried on. "We grabbed Toshi and fled tje city with the guards chasing after us.
"Once Toshi awoke, he revealed that the two men were from the Four Fusion Furies, and then we came here," concluded Akhang, drooping his shoulders.
Gasps of shock and expressions of disbelief arose from the elders and their eyes widened, fear pervading through the room. The head elder stood up, anger flashing in his gray eyes.
"Toshi, how dare you put your own temple in danger like this?" he hissed, glaring at Toshi.
The young Nomad also rose, his eyes narrowed at the elder. "I didn't realize who they were until the battle started, so let's stop wasting time pointing fingers and start working on how to defend our home."
Mozukai nodded in agreement and looked at the elders. "He's right. I may just have arrived here, and it might not be appropriate for me to be speaking out, but I agree with Toshi. And I will fight alongside you and do anything I can to help you before the Four Fusion Furies get here," he concluded, his insides flickering nervously. He wasn't sure if the elders would punish him for speaking out against them, but he had to do it.
Akhang and the others nodded their consent. The elders looked at each other through the corners of the eyes and then nodded. "You are right, Toshi, and young Mozukai," the head elder announced, dipping his head at both of them. "We will begin preparations right away." He turned his head to a short elder at the end of the platform. "Fetch Yasa. We must begin planning immediately."
The elder nodded and jogged out of the room. Akhang smiled up at the head elder. "Thank you, Master Gyan. I am sorry for the trouble we have called, but we won't let the Four Fusion Furies take down our home!"
Mozukai smiled at Akhang's words. He was ready to fight alongside his friends and defeat the Four Fusion Furies.
|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|
For the collective works of the author, go here.