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|The Great Divide|
April 5th, 2012
"The Great Divide" is the 10th chapter of thecontinuity. It was written by .
Sha Lu walked up a hill dotted with maple-pine trees, and suddenly a plant a few yards in front of him caught his eye. He approached a large bush, and saw that it was covered with red berries. "Heh heh, well look what I've found," He murmured to himself, "finally, some grub."
He began to pluck the berries from the prickly branches, stowing them in the pocket of his shirt. Quickly, he ran back to the makeshift tent that he and Jenju had prepared earlier. Proudly, he placed the berries on a boulder and called out for Jenju.
Jenju ran into the camp and sat down next to the rock that held up the berries Sha Lu had found.
"What'd you find?" Sha Lu asked, hoping for some meat.
Jenju overturned a small bag, and out fell a tiny fish.
"Hey, it wasn't easy to get this, I looked forever, and couldn't see any meat-giving animals."
Sha Lu's eye suddenly was caught by a beast climbing high in the trees. "Meat," he muttered, as he salivated. He picked up his scabbard, tied it to his back, and dashed towards the tree. "Ahh," Sha Lu chanted as he attempted to climb the tree. He fell flat on his back, producing a thump to the ground. He grunted as he attempted once again to climb the tree.
"Calm down, Sha Lu, we'll find something around here," Jenju said, becoming increasingly mesmerized by the Hog Monkey climbing around and eating Leechi nuts menacingly in the high treetop. "Gah! I've gotta' have some of that meat!" He became hysterical.
Sha Lu watched as Jenju fought to get up into the tree. The hog monkey swung on a branch to the next tree, and gradually descended towards the dusty forest floor.
Jenju jumped to the ground, his eyes wide. He chased the hog monkey intently, until the woods came to an end. Sha Lu followed with a slow trot. Suddenly, the hog monkey lost its footing, and began falling into a sprawling gorge.
"Jenju, stop running!" Sha Lu called.
Jenju came to a hault, spinning his arms around to regain his balance.
Meanwhile, the wild mammal clawed its way to keep from falling any further, and barely made it out. It ran off, squealing the whole way.
"Thanks for reminding me to stop," Jenju said, out of breath.
"No problem," Sha Lu said, putting a hand on his shoulder, pulling him away from the cliff, "this really is an amazing place."
The two gazed out upon the deep twisting canyons, high mesas, and towering rock spires. Jenju fell into a daze, remembering the time he had first witnessed the rolling valley back home, a world away... in a different era of his life.
He snapped out of it. "Well, we'll have to cross it if we want to make it to Ba Sing Se."
"Yeah, we'd better get going, we're already burning daylight, who knows what night brings to this place."
Sha Lu scouted the area, and found a draw that began in the woods, and descended into the canyon. "I've heard of these side canyons, the sparkling blue pools of water, the towering walls, beautiful." Sha Lu looked around.
"Let's focus on getting to Ba Sing Se, not on a stupid canyon," Jenju snapped. Sha Lu flinched, surprised. Jenju thought for a few moments, and decided to apologize, "I'm sorry about that, I didn't mean any offense."
Sha Lu didn't respond, he simply stared at the blue water, his mind running wild.
As they forged deeper and deeper into the canyon, the sun rose higher, and the light reflected off of the walls, amplifying the heat that had come with early spring. For the remainder of the walk, an awkward silence hung between the two. The sun had begun set as Jenju and Sha Lu finally reached the center rock formations of the canyon.
Jenju and Sha Lu exchanged looks, and set up their camp, still not saying a word to each other. The sun had now descended below the horizon, and the stars, and the deep gorge experienced low temperatures. Sha Lu finally broke the silence. "Legends as old as earthbending itself say that there is a pattern of stars in the sky that looks like a big boulder."
"I don't think I've ever seen anything like that.." Jenju said quietly.
"It's there alright, people use it all the time to find their way out of the vast Si Wong Desert," Sha Lu explained, "they say that the stars line up with the borders of the desert."
Jenju turned around in the direction of the Si Wong, but still couldn't see anything. He shrugged and looked to Sha Lu for guidance.
"Hmm, looks like clouds are moving in, maybe we'll spot it tomorrow."
The two slept like rocks, exhausted from the walking in the rocky terrain. As usual, the boys slept propped up against a rock underneath the dark night sky. As they slept, the clouds grew thicker and thicker, and soon rain began sprinkling the slick canyon floor. In less than a minute, a downpour ensued the ravine with thick drops of water. It didn't take long for the side canyons to fill with a healthy stream of water like none other. That water then emptied into the main canyon, swiftly approaching Jenju and Sha Lu's campsite.
Jenju finally awoke in the midst of the deluge, but by then, time had nearly run out.
"Sha Lu! Wake up, there's a flood coming this way!"
The young man's eyes opened slowly at first, but they soon opened wide at the sight of a rushing wave of water coming their way.
They thrust to their feet and began running the other direction, only to find the water gaining rapidly. The cold liquid soon inundated their camp and caused Sha Lu to lose his footing and fall to the ground. Jenju tried to help him back up, but fell down in the process.
Sha Lu shouted over the roar of the water, "we need to get to higher ground, and fast, the rain is still coming down strong!"
Jenju spotted a bit of higher ground that sat just below a towering rock spire. "Over there! That's our only chance."
They stepped to their feet and ran to the small piece of dry land as quickly as their tired legs would allow. Splashing through the now knee-deep water, Sha Lu and Jenju reached the small plateau.
"Let's hope this rain stops," Sha Lu said as he breathed heavily.
"Who said that?" A frail voice from the other side of the rock formation was heard. Jenju stepped in the direction of the voice, but Sha Lu placed his arm across Jenju's chest, preventing him from stepping any closer.
Sha Lu quietly drew his swords and side-stepped to the other side of the rock spire. He gasped upon seeing three men in torn Fire Nation garments. "What the...?"
"Sha Lu, who are they?" Jenju stepped over, and he too was flabbergasted upon the sight. He drew his blade.
"Please, we're trapped down here," one of the men in the group lifted his hands in surrender.
Suddenly the rain slowed and the streams of water stopped running. The water flowed down the canyon, and the ground was dry within mere seconds. Sha Lu let down his guard. "Sha Lu, what're you doing?" Jenju was perplexed.
"They're lost, Jenju."
The young Earth Kingdom boy pulled Sha Lu aside. "Have you forgotten what the Fire Nation did to me, and to you?"
Sha Lu cringed. "No, I haven't forgotten, but look at these people. They're not dressed in warrior uniforms, maybe we should help them out of here. I'm not going to let the Fire Nation military make me prejudiced against all Fire Nation citizens. What good is that? That's like buying in to the Fire Lord's propaganda."
Jenju's heart softened for just a second. "This is a mistake, Sha Lu. If they betray us..."
"Don't say that, they look like honest people to me," Sha Lu whispered.
The Fire Nation trio, relatively small men, one of them young and two of them old, shivered in the cold.
"We've decided to help you guys out of the canyon, but after that we need to be moving on," Sha Lu said with a stern voice.
"Of course, thank you kind sir," said one one of the older men.
The rest of the night, Jenju slept on his own, away from the rest of his party. Sha Lu slept in higher area, fearing that more rain might come.
The next day, the sun rose and the group set off early in the day, hoping to beat the mid-afternoon heat.
The five men started off on the path. The youngest of the Fire Nation men was around sixteen, just a year older than Jenju. Sha Lu and Jenju walked together behind the Fire Nation men. Jenju especially was watching their every move - waiting for a slip up.
"You know, I don't see what's so bad about this place. Aside from the flood and everything, I've enjoyed it here." Sha Lu went on.
"If only it were safe from the Fire Nation..." Jenju said, knowing that only Sha Lu would hear.
They came to an area partitioned by a large and impressive rock formation with two walkways on either side.
The oldest of the Fire Nation men pulled out a handkerchief and wiped the sweat from his face. "What's the matter, Xing?" asked one of the two older Fire Nation men, named, Zheng.
"Nothing, it's just hot. We should stop for lunch," Xing replied.
"Sir, may we stop? My brother is getting tired, and it's time for lunch," said Zheng.
"Wait, you've brought food down here?" Sha Lu quickly turned to the men.
"Yes, we have plenty if you'd like some," Zheng said as he pulled out a roll of bread.
Sha Lu smacked the piece of bread from his hand, "you idiot! You can't bring food down here!"
"No food? But why?" Zheng asked.
Jenju looked to his friend for the reason.
Sha Lu's hand went to his forehead, leaving a red imprint of his hand. "Canyon crawlers, they'll come gobble up the food faster than a fat man in Ba Sing Se." Sha Lu chuckled a bit, "now ditch the food, we need to get out of here."
The men dropped the impressive amount of food they had been harboring, and the five of them began running for the towering canyon wall.
Jenju was even more angry at them men now. 'They've ruined it all for us,' he thought in the silence of his mind. He was especially cautious of the youngest member, he was a small, but strong looking young man wearing a top knot, and he hadn't spoken a word yet. "How are we going to get up this wall?" Jenju asked aloud.
They heard a booming sound echo throughout the canyon, and at once they all knew what it was. The Canyon crawlers had come to collect their bounty. As they ate away at the bread and meat that was scattered on the ground. Suddenly the beasts saw the humans by the wall, and they turned around and ran to them.
Sha Lu's eyes became wide, and he said, "I don't understand, why are them coming back this way?"
"Someone still has food!" Jenju shouted, looking at the Fire Nation men.
"What's your problem, hotman?" said the youngest one, named Li.
"My problem? Ha, you have no idea what my 'problem' is."
"You're another one of those guys who treats all Fire Nation citizens like enemies; but we're not all like that, some people are different," Li explained.
Jenju stared at him with a menacing look.
"Boys! Enough fighting, we have to escape this death trap!" Xing shouted.
Sha Lu found a steep and narrow side canyon, overgrown with vegetation. "Everyone in, quick!"
By now the canyon crawlers had made it to the wall, just as Jenju, Sha Lu, Xing, and Zheng were in the side canyon. "Li!" Zheng shouted, "my son is being taken by that beast!"
Jenju ran down the canyon past everyone else, and witnessed Li being swung around, his shirt collar in the canyon crawler's mouth. Jenju ran to the midsection of the wild creature, pulled out his machete, and scraped its stomach. At this, the scavenger dropped Li and stepped back on its back feet, and fell onto its spine. Li and Jenju ran up the steep side canyon and met the others on the surface.
They all assembled at the top, and Jenju said to the Fire Nation men, "I'm sorry that I just assumed you guys were bad all along. It's just that the Fire Nation has done bad things to this country, but when I think about it, that's just the government and soldiers doing all that. It doesn't automatically make you guys bad."
The men put the hands together and bowed after Jenju's short speech.
"Would you like to go with us to Ba Sing Se?" asked Sha Lu.
"Nope," replied Zheng, as the men walked away.
A few moments later, Sha Lu and Jenju began heading east once again. "You're lucky they aren't coming along," Jenju said, as he playfully punched Sha Lu on the arm. They both laughed as the headed for the great Earth Kingdom capital.
For the collective works of the author, go here.
|Child of the War|
|Child of the Woods - The Life of an Orphan - A Rough Start - Sha Lu - Duel at Mount Makapu - The Fortuneteller - Intelligence - Rescue, Part 1 - Rescue, Part 2 - The Great Divide|
|Jenju - Kin - Jenju's father - Ying - Shopkeeper - Liam - Sha Lu - Colonel Mongke - Aunt Wu - Shen - Shinu - Zheng - Xing - Li|
|Jenju's settlement - Backwoods Pirates' outpost - Mt. Makapu - Makapu Village - Great Divide|
|Interview with Omar067 - Review by Omashu Rocks - Review by Mageddon725|