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|A Warm Beginning|
April 22, 2013
The Chilly Night
15-year-old Nuan plotted her Pai Sho tile on the circular game board. Her piece had just finished the long and deep game against her father, Karrok.
"Good game, dad." she smiled and bowed politely from her kneeling position.
"You did a good job. You managed to beat me again." he bowed with respect to his daughter who prevailed over him, and smiled in pride that he taught her so well. She was maturing to be a great lady, even though her mother left the world when she was twelve, and great ladies always leave to accomplish great things. His delight of her aging and the sorrowful thought of her leaving, brought him little tears in the corner of his eyes. Not noticing the heartfelt tears in his eyes, she stacked her flower designed pieces on the left side in front of her. When she finished with her after-game task, she grasped both ends of her blue bandana and tied it around her brown hair.
Standing off her cushion where she placed her knees during the their favorite pastime, she straightened out her thick, periwinkle blue dress. Her shawl was picked off the floor and slumped onto her shoulders, "I'm going to the market to buy food for dinner." She strapped on her brown boots, threw her matching satchel over her shoulder, and headed for the opening to her house, "Good bye." her arm swished a bye at her father as she exited her small, wooden home into the semi-brisk cold morning.
"Show yourselves, cowards!" an unknown voice of a teen who sounded like he wanted to fight, shouted at five girls dressed in green uniform of the Kyoshi Warriors. A peak through two of the female fighters, and three teenagers tied tight to the base of Kyoshi's statue came into view. One of them, a young boy with an arrow on his forehead, had on a strange orange and yellow garb. The one who apparently gave his voice to call the Kyoshi Warriors cowards, was a teenager who wore a blue jacket of substantial thickness that had a furry, white trim with high, brown boots. The only female of the group donned almost the same clothes as the teenager that liked to talk.
"Throw the impostors to the Unagi." the old leader of the town turned while the warriors took out their fans and drew close to the three. The weird looking boy in orange jumped up into the air and broke his ropes off. While he floated down, all of the villagers oohed and aahed. The cheering began as her spun around some marbles.
'The Avatar?' she thought doubtingly, but it was no question that he was the Avatar. The man the world waited for a hundred years to turn up and save the world from the tyranny of the Fire Lord, showed up on the small island she called home. The group of three were apologized to and ushered into one of the bigger houses in village. While the majority of the town's people rejoiced, and a smaller amount trailed behind the three friends; Nuan did nothing of the sort. To visit the Avatar and his buddies later was her decision, uncommon with the people at the moment.
After she dropped the vegetables off at home, she strolled to the house where the Avatar was staying. It was a rather sizable house compared to the other smaller ones that were set out on either side of the residence. It overlooked the statue of Avatar Kyoshi that was being repainted in honor of Avatar Aang's arrival. The little girls in the village with their blue outfits that matched very closely to Nuan's, yelled outside the door. The older female quickly moved around the little ones and into the building. The wordy boy from before marched out the door, looking irritated. She glanced at him with a snicker about his state of, what she figured out to be, unwanted defeat mixed together with an immense amount of humility. Nuan walked up to the Avatar's room and opened the door just as Aang jumped out the window. Just a second too late to meet the great Avatar, but she just shrugged since she didn't really care. Her trip to the house was just to be respectful to some strangers.
"Um, hello?" the only other one in the room, the woman of the group, looked at Nuan questionably. She wore a light blue tunic with white trimming, something that wherever she came from evidently liked to do to all their clothes. Then it came to her that the girl's home was the Water Tribe, most likely the south tribe too.
"Hello." Nuan smiled, "I'm Nuan. Nuan Kue. You wouldn't happen to be from the Water Tribes, would you?"
The girl's mouth lifted to a twinkling smile, "Yes. How did you know?"
"My father was from there, the South Water Tribe. What is your name?"
"I'm Katara," she answered and then questioned, "Your father was born in the Water Tribe? Is he a waterbender?" glee and excitement were obvious with her eyes shining and her mouth made into a wide smile.
"Yes, and I am too."
"That's great! Could you teach me?" hope banded with symptoms of excitement and joy.
Nuan smiled and nodded at this girl so hopeful, "Sure."
The two girls, Nuan and Katara, practiced for the duration of the morning. Breaks that had no specify time were taken after every other technique that was taught and mastered. During the intermissions, Katara told her new friend about how she and her brother, Sokka, encountered Aang frozen in an iceberg. The Water Tribe girl informed Nuan about how the Southern Water Tribe was; that was information that she would pass over to her father later seeing that he was always worried about his home. She was intrigued by Katara's story of their travels so far with the Avatar. Thoughts of travel entered her mind, she loved the idea of going around the world, but her concentration was refocused to an old memory. Her brother said his goodbyes to the village when she was six-years-old to voyage around the world with a gang of pirates. The memories she had of her brother were vague; the only thing she remembered of him was the day he left. That day, Nuan gave chase to her older sibling who she caught leaving in the middle of the night. She bawled his name to make him stop but it was to no avail. The thirteen-year-old boy, despite the tears his sister poured and her heartbroken wailing, jumped on the ship. She looked up at her brother's face that held no regret to deserting his family. He glanced at her only for a second, while a man dressed in a red coat grabbed his forearm and led him under the deck. She understood that her brother, the one she loved, never wanted to see her again. Her knees gave way to weakness, sad droplets fell from young and dejected orbs to the ground.
"Nuan?" Katara snapped Nuan out of her reminiscence.
"You zoned out a little." she smiled with a giggle.
When noon came, Katara resolved that it was the best time to purchase some food, and the other girl went with her. Nuan was looking at some fruits when Aang came up to the Water Tribe girl. The two of them talked about carrying a basket back to the room and a ride on Aang's flying bison, Appa. Once their conversation ended, Katara walked away, mad, and Aang was dragged away by his fan club of little girls, laughing. Nuan accompanied Katara as she walked back to her room. The two of them decided that it was a good idea to just talk. They believed that she, Katara, needed to calm and be at peace. They talked and focused on making water float from a bowl; Nuan loved being with another waterbender and Katara was a great friend.
Aang walked to the entrance of the room, "Hey, Katara, you know how the Unagi almost got me yesterday?"
Katara kept trying to focus on the water, "Yeah."
"Well, I'm going to go ride it now. It's going to be really dangerous." he tried to get a reaction out of her. 'Good for you' and 'Have fun' were not what he was looking for, but that's what Katara gave him. "I will." he replied to her nonchalant retort.
"I'm glad your glad!"
"Good!" Aang turned and started to depart, just pausing for a second outside the door way. Katara's water collapsed into her red bowl after losing her focus to vexation, she looked at the ground. There was a moment of silence after he was gone.
"Go after him. Its probably for the best." Nuan spoke, looking at Katara in the corner of her eye.
Katara nodded and stood up, "Mind putting the bowls away, please?"
"I don't mind at all." the other girl grabbed the dishes, standing up. Katara left to find the Avatar.
Nuan lifted the olive colored curtain to her house, "Hi father. My fortune is good. Just like the tea leaves said, but I do wonder..."
Her father looked at the door with a gentle face, "Wonder about what, honey?"
"Nothing." she smiled, "Oh, the girl who was with the avatar," Nuan paused her sentence in suspense.
"She's from the Southern Water Tribe." she sang out.
"Really? You're sure?"
Nuan nodded surely, "She says the village is doing fine." She began to think of travel again.
"That's good. Now, that is at rest." her father bobbed his head in thought. Nuan sighed happily. "Honey? Are you okay?" her father said.
"They're traveling all the way to the Northern Water Tribe, Dad, to learn waterbending. I would love to travel." she looked at her father's face that slightly arched into a frown, "Not that I don't love this town and you."
"I knew this day would come, Nuan. I prayed to the spirits it wouldn't come soon." he sighed.
"Dad, I wish I wouldn't be leaving you alone-"
"Nuan, Nuan, its okay." he came to his feet and pulled out a piece of string from a small box. Surprisingly, that was all that was in the square box. "Hand me my lotus piece, please."
She questioned him, but did so anyways. Her dad formed an ice needle and forced the smallish tip through the wood of the pai sho tile with the durable, yet thin brown rope following behind it. His aged hands held a younger hand, he put the necklace into her palm and curled her fingers around it, "Wear this wherever you go. If you need help, as long as you wear that necklace with pride, help will find you."
"But this is your special pi-"
"You are more special than it, and I know that it will have more use to you than to me. That necklace will help you make good friends with good people. Keep it."
"Thank you, father." she tied the necklace close to her neck.
"Come out Avatar!" a commanding, seemingly angry voice not known to be anyone's from the island interrupted her father, "You can't hide forever!" Nuan peaked outside her little wooden opening of a door and saw what she never wanted to see, the red, metal uniforms of the Fire Nation.
She hid again and doing her best to remain calm, "Father, you must get out of here. Get out the back. Firebenders are on the island."
"Firebenders???" he stood up and quickly made his way out back and into the forest. Nuan grabbed her Kyoshi fans and quietly sneaked out of her house, ready to ambush. She spied on the Fire Nation men for a few seconds as they walked by her house on rhinos. Suddenly, the Kyoshi Warriors jumped one of the men, knocking him off his animal, another took the second man on the animal down.
'For the time being, I will take out fires.' she fixed that to be heroic in that matter. Nuan ran away from her house and across the battle scene and with the snow that she turned into water, started to take out fires. The firebenders made more fires than she could put out. She looked up and saw Aang flying above her, looking at all the devastation that fire made. Nuan continuously tried to burn out the flames, which was still proving difficult in this battle site. Appa sent to the sky with Katara, Aang, and Sokka on his back.
"Back to the ship! Don't let the avatar out of your sight!" the teenaged male, who was obviously the commander of these men climbed onto the only rhino around, followed by his other six men that also jumped onto the very displeased rhino. They rode off and out of the town, much to everyone's relief. Nuan proceeded with watering the fires down when a pour down of water came from the sky and put all the fires on the houses, the trees, and statues out. She looked towards the west where the rain came from and saw Aang jumping into the huge paws of Appa as they set off.
A day later and everything was working its way back to normal. The houses were being fixed, the wooden statue of Avatar Kyoshi was renovated, and life was back to the ordinary days. Today was also the day that Nuan was to picked to sail, a dazzling day with few clouds passing over the sun. She stood at port with a boat, dark blue satchel and water pouch, and katana that she convinced Suki –her best friend and Kyoshi head warrior– to let her take. Her father led her to sailing off location, hugged her, said her the answer riddle she never quite understood about a garden gate, and wished his only daughter good luck. She was ready to travel and see the world, and this very day would be her start. Her small and slender boat was set into the water, she stepped inside. Nuan paddled her way out of port while she shouted out byes to her father who waved from port, rubbing his tears away. She knew that his tears were not completely out of sadness, but a feeling of dignity that he parented a little girl who would follow her dreams. Smiling at the small image of a man, she took in one large breath to let out in a final goodbye.
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