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|The Journey Begins|
April 3, 2013
The Journey Begins is the first chapter in Book 1: Fire of Legacy of Chen.
Chen was just a normal earthbender, having a loving family, great friends, and having lots of fun, but when he learns that he is the Avatar, things start to change for him.
Fire...Air...Water...Earth; A long time ago, there was a time when the Avatar, Korra, and her team brought order to Republic City and the world; defeating Amon and his Equalist Army, ending the corruption of the Dark Spirit, and disbanding the New Fire Nation Army. Unfortunately, the old Avatar's life must end so that it may begin anew. Eighteen years have passed since Avatar Korra's death and the new Avatar has yet to be founded, but, some day, he will be found and he will restore the balance to the world.
208 AG; In the village of Wu Jing, in the southeastern part of the Earth Kingdom, Chen was in the courtyard of his house, practicing earthbending with his father. Their courtyard was a miniature earthbending arena, used by earthbending apprentices who are being taught by Chen's family. Chen was a young man, about seventeen, with light-tan skin and short, black hair. He was dressed in a tanned tunic over a pair of light-green pants and was bare-footed.
"Come on, son; let me see what you got," Chen's father, Sifu Chang, playfully, taunted his son. Hot-headed; Chen used lifted two stone disks and threw them at his father who, quickly, dodged them by moving left and right in a zigzagging motion. "Oh, come on!" Chen exclaimed, disappointed that he couldn't take down his father. Chang then countered his son's attack by stomping his right foot into the ground, sending a sharps of rocks out of the ground and at Chen. With timing, Chen was able to block his father's attack by summoning a man-sized stone wall. He makes a stance and punches the wall with his left fist, pushing it towards his father. Eventually, Chang managed to dodge it in time. Placing his right foot on the ground, Chen could sense his fathers' movement, via seismic sense, and sends an earth fissure at him, as well, redirecting his father's stance, forcing him to do a painful split. It was one painful split for his father was unable to stand up.
'This is going to be a hard to explain,' Chen thought with a shocked expression on his face. Chen lifted his hands, creating two stone polls that lifted his father off the ground. Then he, slowly, moved the polls together, carefully, and hoping to not injure his father even more so. Lowering his father down, Chen then starts telling his father to "walk it off." He was laughing a little on the inside; knowing he has, finally, beat the master, but he did feel bad about injuring his own father. Walking back into his house, his mother was waiting, patiently, in the dining room; sipping tea and relaxing.
Juan was a humble woman in her thirties. She was quite beautiful with long black hair, light-green eyes, and pale skin. Wearing a light-green dress lined in gold and yellow, she wore a panda-lily as a hair decoration. Her relaxing trance soon ended when her son, Chen, and her husband, Chang, stepped into the kitchen. Noticing how her husband was walking funny, she looks at her son with concerned eyes and inquires, "What happened to your father?" "Uhm...he, accidentally, slipped and injured himself," Chen didn't like lying to his mother, but telling her the truth would be a bad idea. "Yeah, he was teaching me a technique but, instead, did a painful split." With an honest smile, he waited for his mother to respond.
Irritated; Juan could see through her son's lie and says to her husband, "Chang, tell me what really happened?" Chen's jaw soon dropped from shock. Well, what did he expect? His mother has a gift for telling who is lying and who's not. "He...he finally beat me, hon. Somehow; our son defeated his old man," Chang explained, painfully, as he grinned. "I'm going to lie down...ow!" After he finished explaining to his wife what happened, Chang started walking toward the living room, hoping to sit and rest.
Turning his attention away from his father, Chen looked at his mother who stood up and walked towards him, looking at her son with such a proud look. Then, out of the blue, she started to hug her son. "I'm so proud of you, Chen!" Juan announced to her son. Hearing that made Chen so happy.
"Yeah, mom; I, finally, beat the master," Chen stated as Juan ceased hugging him. "Do you think I'm good enough for the Earthbending Competition that's coming up?" Surprised, Juan's eyes moved left to right when hearing her son's request. She acted fast, saying, "T-the Earthbending Competition; why would you want to participate in that place!?" She smiled and stepped back an inch away from her son. "I-it's better to just not do such an activity! You still have a long way to go, Chen!" She was acting quite suspicious. What secret was she keeping from her son? "It's getting late! You need to get up, bright and early, for your training session with the other students!"
Chen was a little freaked out and curious by his mother's actions, but he just shrugged it off and walked toward his room. When he finally left, Juan turned around, placing both her hands on the table and sighed, saying to herself, "that was close."
Chen's room was located down the hall, on the left, which was good because the bathroom was right beside it. After brushing his teeth, walking into his own room, and shutting the door behind him; he took off his clothes, revealing his average built, leaving only a pair of underpants on.
He lied down in his bed and took out a book that he was hiding under the mattress. It was a copy of Avatar Korra's adventures, telling the stories of when she and Mako infiltrated the Equalists revelation to save Bolin and when Korra and Mako kissed; written by Jinora, herself. He had to hide copies of the Avatar's adventures from his parents because, for some reason, they would never let him read any of them.
It's already been eighteen years since Korra's death and there has been no sign of the new Avatar. The Order of the White Lotus has searched, constantly, for him/her but all they got were false alarms. 'I wonder who the next Avatar is,' Chen pondered as he tucks his book back under his mattress and turns the lights off from the lamp on his nightstand. 'By the earth gods, it would be nice to be the Avatar.'
Morning came and so did the students. There were, at least, twelve earthbending students, including Chen; recruited to learn how to bend the element. Chen's house looked like any other middle class house with a roofless courtyard about 30-feet-long. The arena where Chen and his father trained was triangular shape, about fifteen feet long and wide, with two, large, green earth coins on the left and right side, and four earth disks on both sides of where the coins were. At the south of the courtyard was a stone entrance with a sign saying, "Chang's Earthbending Academy," or "學的土", which is how it was written. Like many houses, it was made of stone with wooden support beams and a green, tiled roof.
Chang was giving another lecture on earthbending, "Okay, everyone; there is one important thing you must learn before we start! True earthbending comes from within! It is the element of substance and that means not taking the earth for granted!" He ended his lecture and started the training session. "Now, everyone find a partner and start fighting each other! I'll be judging how much you've learned from last week's training!"
Everyone was paired up with a partner, except for Chen and Hua.
"H-hey, Chen," Hua greeted, shyly, with her cheeks flushed red. "So, I guess we're partners...huh." Hua didn't make eye contact. She didn't want Chen to see her face. A beautiful young woman, about Chen's age; she and her family have lived with Chen's family, as neighbors, for many years. Now, Hua was dressed similar to Toph's clothing, except she was wearing shoes and was wearing a green skirt. She had long, brown hair, which was tied in a ponytail, dark-green eyes, and, like Chen, had light-tan skin. She would always wear make-up, mainly, to get Chen's attention, but the plan never works.
"Yeah, I guess so," Chen replied with his right eyebrow raised. Chen never understood Hua's strange body movements but he didn't care and just went with it. He places a hand on her left shoulder and said with a confidential smile. "Let's do our best, okay." Hua started to blush even more from feeling Chen's touch. "R-right," Hua, finally, made eye contact with Chen, nodding her own head and agreeing with Chen's optimism.
After the last group finished, it was Chen and Hua's time to fight. They stood, face-to-face, in the ring, making their stances and were ready to begin. "Ready; go!" the match started; Hua was the first to bend, lifting two boulders and jump-kicked them at Chen. Quickly, Chen ducked, by knelling on his right knee, and redirected one of the boulders, punching it with his left fist, at Hua.
Dodging it, Hua was surprised at how fast it was, shouting to Chen, furiously, "Chen, what the hell! Watch where you throw those things!" She didn't look too happy. "I thought your mother taught you to never hit girls!" Rubbing the back of his neck, Chen's face formed a big grin, saying, "Yeah, she did. Sorry, I'll be a little more careful."
Chen jumped and stumps his right foot into the ground, sending an earth line at Hua, which she dodges and is able to keep her stance. She retaliates, lifting up a large earth disk and threw it at Chen. Instead of redirecting it, Chen dodges the disk by bending over backwards and watching it pass over him. Where the disk landed; Chen didn't like. It landed straight through the west wing of the house where the living room was located. In the living room, the parents were having tea with Juan. They were' all shocked by the coin's arrival. The only one who wasn't surprised was Juan who, with one push of her right hand, removed the giant coin from the wall while still drinking her. She was, by far, the calmest woman you would ever meet. Unbeknownst to Chang, the giant coin landed beside him. Dodging it, Chang then exclaimed, "Um...honey! Thanks for bringing the coin back but could you not try to kill me with it, thank you!?"
"No problem, sweety!" she replied as she returned to sipping her tea. All the parents in the living room, excluding Juan, were all non-benders and are good friends to Chen's family. The academy was their first choice for their children to bond and learn how to master their abilities. The second was the rival academy down the street that is run by a complete con-artist. "M-my, there seems to be a lot of destruction going on, out there," said Hua's mother.
"Yes, but don't worry. That's all part of the training," Juan confirmed. At the courtyard, Chen and Hua were becoming very tired and felt the need to rest, but there was no time for rest. "Are you ready to give up?" Chen inquired, maintaining his pose while heavily breathing.
"Nope, I'm not giving until you give up, first!" Hua stated, maintaining her pose while heavily breathing, like Chen. The final blow came. Both using their earthbending abilities, Chen and Hua lifted two giant rocks and slamming them into each other. A powerful explosion came from the impact, creating a large dust cloud and flinging the two away from one another. Flying in the air, Chen landed into a pond in the neighbors yard. Hua, on the other hand, landed in a couple of bushes. 20-minutes-later, the two returned to the arena; Chen soaking wet and Hua covered in leaves. Arms crossed; Chang stood in front of the two and did not look happy.
"Unbelievable, I am appalled at what you two have done!" Chang scolded at the two. "Oh, come on, dad; we did the best we could. Don't we deserve to pass?" Chen inquired. He was dumbstruck by his father's judging eyes, Hua was, too. Chang's right eyes was raised as he shrugged his shoulders, correcting his son, "Well, of course, you and Hua passed, but...I'm talking about the damage to the house! Even the others didn't do this much damage!"
Spitting a leaf out of her mouth, Hua started to explain, "But, Mr. Jiacu, we didn't mean to cause this much damage." Chen, hotheadedly, added, "Yeah; besides, isn't that what earthbending is all about?"
"No, that is not what earthbending is all about—okay maybe it is, a little bit—but both of you can't just use earthbending for destruction," Chang began to teach the two an important lesson. "Chen, Hua, remember that there is something called 'jing,' which is when and how you know when to use your bending abilities. Now, there are about eighty-five types of jing, but, since we don't have enough time to explain them all, I'll start with the three main types of jing." Chang unfolded his arms, getting ready for the lesson. "First jing is positive jing where you use your bending to attack; second jing is negative jing where you use your bending in defense; the third jing is neutral jing where you just wait and listen, or, as the late King Bumi would say, 'to do nothing.' You see, it is up to you two to know how to use your bending and when to use it." Chen and Hua understood what Chang was saying. "Earthbending cannot just be about force; it, also, has to be an art of patience. Now, do you understand?" The two nodded in response and bowed to their teacher, who, also, bowed back.
1-hour-later, many of the students, and their parents, returned to their homes; all, except for Chen and Hua since the academy was Chen's home and since Hua needed to clean up. Hua was now given new clothes to wear while her old clothes were being washed. The new clothes belonged to Chen's older sister who now resides in Omashu. It was about the right size for Hua; a green dress with hints of gold and yellow lines, like many middle-class women; however, the belt was not yellow, but black, which is unique in Earth Kingdom fashion. Chen was dressed in casual Earth Kingdom attire; consisting of a green tunic, white baggy pants, and black cloth shoes. The two walked into the living room together, seeing both their parents talking to one another.
"Ah, look; a beautiful couple walking together!" Hua's mother commented from seeing the two, side-by-side. Chen and Hua moved away from each other, feeling embarrassed from the comment.
"Stop teasing them, Ayaka. They're just friends," Hua's father defended.
"What, I can't help if I want grandchildren," Ayaka countered as she smiled. Juan looks at her son and says with a large grin, "So, are you two going out on another date, again?" She, too, was teasing her son.
"Mom, we are not going out!" Chen shouted in defense. He sighed and made a calmed expression. "Hua and I are just going to see Kyung."
"Well, don't be out too late," Juan replied.
Chen and Hua finally left the house, ran through the courtyard, and walked up the street. They wanted to walk across the street but they couldn't due to the moving automobiles. Not much has change in the Earth Kingdom, except for the power lines, telephone poles, and automobiles. Chen and Hua stood in front of the traffic light, waiting for it to turn green. When it did, the two walked as others did, too.
Kyung's house was about 3-blocks-away, taking about fifteen minutes to get there. They stood at the front door, knocking on it and waiting for someone to answer it. The door opens. Standing it front of them was Kyung, himself.
He was a non-bender with light-green eyes and a long ponytail that stretched down to his waist. Unlike Chen and Hua, Kyung was dressed in a white and gold robe, showing his Gan Jin heritage to those around him; however, he didn't act like a Gan Jin, greeting Chen and Hua with a "Hey guys, what took you so long to get here?" while he closed the front door behind himself.
Chen responded while waving his right arm, nonchalantly, "Oh, you know, we had to do a little training, here and there. Then we had to change clothes and walked over to here."
The three continued talking as they walked down the street. They were heading to a cliff outside of Wu Jing where they would go "Rock-Surfing." 12-minutes-later, the three walked through the "Forest of Gou-Ren," which was named after the founder of the village who was said to have disappeared in the same forest. The sunset was very beautiful. Chen felt enlightened by its glow while Hua said to him, "Sunsets are so romantic; don't you think, Chen?"
"Umm...I guess so, but we didn't come all the way up here to talk about sunsets," Chen retorted with a childish expression. "We came to Rock-Surf!" Stomping his left foot, Chen forms a board-like rock and tears it out from the ground. "Ready to catch some ground?"
Hua and Kyung looked at each other with irritation. Chen didn't hesitate to jump off the cliff, sliding his board on the dirt and using his earthbending skills to control his surfing. Jumping in mid-air, Chen let out a "Woo-hoo!" and crash landed on the ground. He looks up to the cliff and yells, "Come on, guys! What are you waiting for!?"
Hua looks at down at Chen and then turns her attention back to Kyung, "Should we really do this?"
"Well, he invented this crazy game. So why not give it a try," Kyung shrugged. "Besides, what could possibly go wrong?"
Hua stomps her feet, forming two extra surfboards. She grabs the first one and hands the second one to Kyung, but Kyung buts the board on the ground and replies, "No thanks, I'm sitting this one out. I don't want my mother yelling at me for having my clothes all dirtied up. Also, I'm not an earthbender so it's possible I'm might get hurt along the way."
Hua shrugged and responded with a smirk, "Suit yourself." She jumps off and starts sliding down the dirt. Chen watched but, for some reason, something was calling him in the forest. Landing on the ground, Hua, excitedly, shouted with a happy expression, "Chen, did you see that!? Chen!?" but Chen wasn't around.
He starts walking through the forest, following the strange aura that's calling him. Since Chen was barefooted, it was hard to walk on the stick-covered ground, feeling a sense of pain coursing through each step. 12-feet-away, Chen stumbles upon a shrine, dedicated to the Avatars of the past. Isolated for many years, the shrine was covered in vines, leaves, and moss. There were many statues of the Avatars lines up in order of their native seasons. Chen felt a 'spiritual' connection within the area.
"Wow! This is amazing!" Chen murmured to himself. He was then standing face-to-face with the statue of young Avatar Korra. Gazing into the statues' eyes, Chen began to fall into a strange trance, but was snapped back into reality when he started hearing a howling sound coming from behind.
Chen turns and sees a pack of forest coyotes, growling as they stood, staring at him. They were brown furred and quick, charging at their prey with lightening speed. Instinctively territorial, they attack anything, or anyone, who trespasses into their land and it seems the shrine is built on their land.
The coyotes charged. Not wanting to harm the shrine, Chen uses the fallen debris against the beasts. Chen was able to scare away five of them away; however, they surrounded him and were preparing to strike. He ran out of debris to use and didn't want to ruin the sacred shrine. One coyote charged and tore a fabric of Chen's pants leg. He was reluctant to dodge the curs' attack.
Chen shouted with such fury, "Stay back!" and with one quick punch, something odd happened. His stance was odd for an earthbender, having his legs formed in a horse stance while his left fist was at his side and his right fist was punched outward. Fire burst out of his right fist, scaring the three remaining coyotes with such power.
He looked at his hands with such shock. "D-did I just firebend!?" he said to himself. He sat on the ground and looked at the statues. "Who, or what, am I?" 9-minutes-later, Chen walks back on top of the cliff where his friends waited for his return.
"Chen, where were you!?" Hua exclaimed with a worried expression as she ran towards him. "We've been looking everywhere for you!" Arms crossed, Kyong looked at Chen with aggravation, "Yes, you disappeared into thin air and we didn't know where you went. Hua started panicking when you didn't come back. We started looking for you but stopped when we heard the forest coyote's howls."
"Yeah, sorry to make you guys worry about me," Chen apologized, scratching the back of his head and smiled. "I just had a weird moment in the forest." "Please, tell me it's not some kind of earthbender thing," Kyong commented, annoying Chen with what he just said. The three started to walk back to the village. It was safe on the path since forest coyotes, rarely, leave their territories.
"No, it's not an earthbender thing. It's more like a spiritual enlightenment thing. You know, like how the Air Nomads tend to have when they're doing their rituals." "Yeah, I never studied Air Nomad culture. So, I wouldn't know what they do in their spare time. The only thing I know about them is that they tattoo a blue arrow on their heads, meditate, and control the air."
30-minutes-later, as the sky turned dark, the three returned to Chen's house. Opening the door, they noticed that everything was dark and the lights weren't on. Chen reached for the light switch and when he flicked the switch on, everyone jumped out and shouted "Surprise!" That's right, it was Chen' eighteenth birthday and he forgot about it.
Chang and Juan were standing next to Hua's parents. All of his friends were here and greeted him with kindness. Even his grandparents were sitting in the living room. Kyong's parents were there, too; his father, a Zhang male, and his mother, a Gan Jin female.
Juan saw the rips and tears of Chen's clothing and ran towards her son, saying, "Chen, what happened to you? Why are your clothes ripped?" Avoiding to make eye-contact, Chen looked at Kyong who was moving his hands, signaling him to not say anything. He sighed and gave his mother an honest answer, "Me, Hua, and Kyong were playing in the Forest of Gou-Ren and I was attacked by a pack of forest coyotes."
Juans' calm demeanor soon disappeared, replacing it with a scary silhouette, which caused Chen and the others to quiver. "You went into the Forest! We've told you' all many times 'never to go into the Forest'...wait, coyotes?" Juan soon realized something else from what her son had said. "You were attacked by coyotes? Are you okay, Chen? Are you hurt?" Both of Chen's were concerned for their son, with his mom placing both hands on his shoulder and examining him for any injuries while his father crossed his arms and stood.
"I'm fine, mom, but something weird happened in the forest," Chen started explaining everything. The strange aura, the shrine, the coyotes, he told them everything. "The weirdest thing that happened was that when I was attacked, I moved my right fist out and, somehow, I shot fire out of my knuckles. I, actually, firebended and scared the coyotes away."
Everyone's jaws dropped from what they had just heard; all, except for Kyong. He just laughed as he placed his right hand on his face. "Yeah right, you being able to firebend! You can earthbend and firebend, then that would make you the Avatar!" he, cynically, replied.
Chen looked at his parents and inquired, "Mom, dad, am I...the Avatar?" Looking at each other, Chang and Juan turned their attention back to their son and gave him a straight answers. Chang was the first to say it, "Yes, son. You are the Avatar, the incarnation of the world."
Shocked, Chen couldn't think of anything to say. Everyone looked at Chen and his family with surprised expressions. Chen started to murmur something: "That...is...so..." and out came after that was a loud. "...Cool!!!" They've never seen him this excited before. "I can't this is happening. Me, the Avatar; I never thought I would amount to anything like that." Chen realized something and turned to his parents with wide eyes. "Why didn't you tell me this before!?"
Chang and Juan looked at their son with a frown on their faces. Juan replied to his question, "We didn't want you to suffer the same fate as Avatar Korra. 37-years-old and dying at such a young age." tears flowed from her eyes.
Chen's face soon turned to realization. It's true; despite twenty years of her great achievements, Korra was the youngest Avatar to die. He was now sad. He excused himself and went to his room, needing some time to think. The party still went on without him, playing music and the guests socializing with one another. Juan went up to check on her son. Knocking on his door, Juan opens it, slightly, saying in a concern voice, "Chen, are you alright? I'm just here to see if you are."
But when she opened the door, no one was inside. Window opened; the room was empty. The one thing she saw was a note lying on Chen's bed. Picking it up, Juan starts reading it and began to cry, placing a hand on her mouth. The note read: "Dear mom & dad; thank you for all you have done for me and for raising me to live a happy life, but I am now an adult and can make my own decisions. Please, do not worry about me for, one day, I will return and see you and my wonderful friends, again. Tell Hua and Kyong that they've been the best friends I have ever known and tell grandma and grandpa that I am going to make them proud. Best wishes; Chen."
Chen ran away, walking through the empty streets and towards the village's front entrance. This is the start of Chen's adventure to being the Avatar. This is where the Journey Begins.
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