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26 November, 2014
"The betrothal necklace, a gift out of love and friendship. It is a sign of a great promise, a promise for a man and woman to faithfully live out their union for all time." –From the Book of Tutorik.
"You don't think this could have waited until morning?" Chief Iluliaq asked the two girls before him. The three of them sat at a table, only just showing up at his home in the centre of town. It wasn't the largest house in Manirak; Iluliaq only had his two children living here, one of whom was nearly ready to move out anyway with her marriage that was meant to be in a few months. Despite the fact that there weren't many living there, the house still had a wide living area where they sat now.
The sisters exchanged glances. "We thought it would be best to come to you immediately Chief Iluliaq, given the dire situation at the moment," Saskha answered.
Iluliaq sighed, "So, let me try and understand what you have suggested. You both want to be the ones who go in search of the Avatar, and make contact with the other nations?"
Saskha nodded, "I know it has been a quick decision in some ways; we only just found out about this war tonight. But we have given it a lot of thought sir."
The Chief paused a moment, gathering his thoughts before replying, "I know you must have given it a lot of thought. But please understand why I am hesitant. You both have gone through so much these past three years, even more so these past few days. And to be honest you two were the last people I would have expected to volunteer for this task. I would have expected you both to leave for the Northern Water Tribe and be with your other relatives. Do you not have family up there?"
"We have an aunt from our mother's side of the family, but other than that we don't have many relatives. Miki and I only really have each other in terms of relatives."
"I just don't want you two to be put through any more than you already have been," The Chief shook his head as he spoke, "Though it is hard to argue with this vision of yours Miki." Miki smiled in response. "We cannot forget how Manirak came to be where it is; the Spirits predestined this village to be here, giving us signs in nature for us to move here. And so perhaps the Spirits are also working through your dreams. Though we cannot make any major decision yet, so perhaps we can wait until tomorrow morning's vote?"
Saskha smiled, "That sounds like a good idea. We just wanted to come here and let you know that we are willing to go and search for the new Avatar."
Chief Iluliaq stood up from the table, followed by the sisters. "You have your father's stubbornness I can tell," He laughed a little while looking at Saskha, "But understand why I am reluctant to let you go through with this. Though I promise I will think about it and decide tomorrow."
"Thank you for seeing us at such short notice," Saksha and Miki bowed to their elder. It was understandable of course that Iluliaq hadn't just let them leave, but Miki knew that she would be. Something about that dream made so much sense, and it felt so real. And Miki couldn't help but feel that her powers were somehow associated with this dream.
The councilman's wife finished washing the dishes, even though it was nearly midnight. Her husband was still out, hopefully finishing his discussion. Onartok had been approached by a few young, foolhardy men who had wanted to join him on this journey of his. But Buniq still couldn't believe that this was happening.
The worst part was that he hadn't told her any details when he had returned from his meeting with General Huode and the other councilmen earlier this morning. All he had said was that there would be a tribe meeting tonight and that he may have to leave Manirak for some time. Buniq clenched her fingers around the wash bucket, small tears forming in her eyes. Part of her wanted to slap him for being dishonest, though she never would. Buniq was far too sweet for that and she had never struck another person in that way in her whole life. But she still felt a mixture of anger and anxiousness at this whole situation. As if it weren't bad enough that Utadano would wage war on them, but now her husband would be journeying into the wilderness to find some Avatar.
The door creaked open as Onartok made his way inside, letting in a small amount of cool night air. After closing the door and taking his coat off, the councilman turned and stared at his wife. A few seconds passed before he managed to say anything, "Buniq... I'm so sorry, I didn't--"
"Why didn't you tell me?" She took a few steps towards her husband, the anger in her voice evident.
Onartok hung his head briefly before answering, "I didn't want to see you like this," He began. He walked over to Buniq and placed his arms on her shoulders, "I didn't want to see you angry at me for leaving you here."
Buniq turned away from his embrace, and sighed loudly while closing her eyes. "I'm not angry at you," She replied, and turned back to kiss him on the lips. "I'm just angry at this whole thing. I don't understand why you have to risk your life for this useless task."
"It won't be for nothing," Onartok reasoned. "The Avatar is the one who brings balance to the world, and having him intervene in this situation is exactly what we need." He paused a moment to stroke his wife's cheek, "And I suppose that I am the only councilman who can do this. Besides, you'll be heading to the Northern Water Tribe with the other villagers, so we will have to separate anyway."
"I suppose you're right. I just... I just want you to be safe, with the other warriors, and not on some journey across the world."
"None of us are safe. Even if I was with the others," Onartok replied.
Buniq's eyes started to water again. She pressed her head against his chest, bringing her arms around his neck. "Hold me."
Upon her request, Onartok wrapped his arms around his wife, gently stroking his hand on her shoulder. He tucked his head against her neck, almost crying himself. His hand found its way up to Buniq's hair, which he ran his fingers through, feeling each silky, dark brown strand. "We'll be all right. We all will," Onartok reassured her, "I'll only be gone for three weeks. And then I will return to see your beautiful face again."
Buniq lifted her head to face Onartok, and then placed her hands on either of his cheeks. After a few seconds she pressed her lips against his, her hands sliding their way back down to his shoulders. Tears leaked from her eyes as she continued to kiss him. When she pulled away and opened her eyes, Buniq responded, "You have to promise me. You have to promise me that you will return."
Onartok laughed slightly as he placed his fingers on the object around his wife's neck, "You remember when I gave this to you? I made you a promise when I gave you that betrothal necklace. A promise to always be by your side, to always protect you, and to always love you with everything that I am. And now I make you this promise; I will see you again. I will hold you again. And I will be near to you again."
For the first time for the whole night Buniq smiled, even if it was only for a few seconds. The pair kissed again, their passion and love emanating between each other. Onartok ran his hands down her figure, caressing each surface and form of her body. Although neither of them cared to or wanted to admit, this could be their last night together. In the morning Onartok would be embarking on this mission to find the Avatar, a mission which could end in failure and him never returning home. But a promise was a promise; just as the betrothal necklace around Buniq's neck was a symbol of the promise between the married couple, Onartok too had made his promise to return to his wife.
|Spirit of the North|
|• Chapter 1 - Manirak • Chapter 2 - Memories • Chapter 3 - The Librarian • Chapter 4 - Liberation • Chapter 5 - Guilt • Chapter 6 - A Final Goodbye • Chapter 7 - Reconnection • Chapter 8 - Visitors from the East • Chapter 9 - Avatar • Chapter 10 - The Dream that Led to a Journey • Chapter 11 - Promise • Chapter 12 - The Vote • Chapter 13 - Unspoken Desires • Chapter 14 - Beyond the Borders • Chapter 15 - Foreseer of Futures • Chapter 16 - The Warrior Within • Chapter 17 - First Blood • Chapter 18 - Victories and Defeats • Chapter 19 - Secrets of the Book • Chapter 20 - Entering the Earth Kingdom• Chapter 21 - The Dream Nobody Thought Would Come True • Chapter 22 - The Great River City: Part 1 • Chapter 23 - The Great River City: Part 2|
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