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One: Mel of the Earth Kingdom
March 26, 2012
This is the twelfth chapter of Book One: Mel of the Earth Kingdom. It tells of Mel and Hope's training experience and more. It is told from Mel's perspective.
Training started. And it was tough. It felt like Hope was doing a better job than me, and that was because she was! Even though she was very suspicious of Azula, she listened and followed directions very strictly. Sometimes it made me feel jealous.
"Heatbending," Azula stated. "Is the power to control the heat around you, in you, anywhere and everywhere. I will teach you how to move things through heat no matter living or not. I will teach you how to redirect lightning, how to make it in a second, and how to turn it back into energy. I will teach you how to control fire's temperature, and how to make anything and anyone to your bidding."
It sounded creepy and cool at first, but that all changed when she demonstrated it – she moved the tea pot, made lightning and redirected it, made a badgerfrog soar through the air and eat a mango-coconut. Then she demonstrated how to control the temperature of fire. She started off by making "regular", according to her, fire. She explained that "regular" fire was strong, but it was nothing more than the template. I had no idea what she meant. And then she explained it perfectly with a demonstration.
"First I shall make the fire... colder."
The fire started losing its orange-red color immediately and slowly turned into blue fire. It was creepy as heck.
"Now let us raise the temperature."
The fire started turning red, then orange, moving to yellow and finally turned white. The white fire possessed no shadow and no darkness, but heat. I was sweating as if I were being made into a boiled platypus-fish. The fire stopped.
"White fire," Azula spoke. "Is the hardest to produce. All other types of fire are diverse and can be made in many ways. But white fire can only be made by collecting extraordinary amounts of heat. And the moment it breathes, it creates a sense of despair." I felt nothing of what she explained. I just felt... hot. "You felt no despair, Mel," she read my thoughts. Great! "Is because I have mastered the technique. Otherwise, I think you would have been more than sweating."
She looked at Hope now. I was intrigued. Intrigued that Hope hadn't spoken at all. She has always seemed like a person who runs to the very edge of the cliff and tries to stop just when she reaches it. But this time, no. She was just listening there, quietly observing every single that Azula made. Every single word that had come out of her mouth was surely already defined twice in Hope's mind.
"Quite worried, aren't we?" Azula said. Hope made no sign that she had heard her. But I knew that she was digesting every word Azula had said. Azula turned away. "To make white fire, you must master the level of heat you put into it. But first you must master to control it. One tiny flame of white fire can do the same amount of damage as a hundred firefists made out of regular fire. The moment the fire touches you body, your skin, bones, anything... is gone. White fire melts metal and rock in less than a second. It leaves no scars for whatever it touches, it complete destroys. There is no middle control with it. There is only full and none at all."
I think Azula was purposely trying to freak us all out. And she was doing it very successfully. But it wasn't a matter of what I felt anymore. It was a matter of keeping the world alive. The raid of the Southern Water Tribe was going to be planned soon and I knew that the soldiers were probably training right now. I did not believe I had more than a couple of months. And so I started to think over everything Azula had said. Every single word I thought about. Azula dismissed us early, seeing that we needed time to take the information in. But that didn't help. I had thought and thought about what she said and the sun wasn't even setting. It was actually about midday, judging by its position. There had to be a more relaxing place than a cave hidden from anyone's eyes. I found a spot that was not visible from the Southern Air Temple. Then I just earthbended myself to the top of the mountain. Now the sun was setting... and it was amazing.
"Nice view," I almost fell of the mountain. It was Hope.
"Yeah," I said. "Pretty cool."
Hope sat next to me. I was considering jumping off. But the view was too magnificent – the girl I love on the highest mountain top around, just looking at the sunset, and sitting right next to me. I could never say goodbye to that.
"It's beautiful," she said. She seemed so serious, yet so happy. Then she laughed. "Now why did I say that?"
"Because it is," I was about to ask the same question she just did, but I already knew the answer. I was just one move away from paradise; just one foot away from utter happiness. I move a bit closer and then a wet little drop of something hit my nose. Then followed a few more... and more... and more. It was now raining. And if we didn't get out of here soon, we'd be eating lightning for dinner. Hope laughed. I, personally, was not very happy. She started laughing even harder. That made me laugh. It made no sense, but I could not stop. Next second we were both laughing so hard we didn't notice anything. Then the usual happened – I made a fool of myself by falling of the mountain. Luckily I earthbended myself back up. Hope was now laughing twice as hard. Me too, but I was furious at the same time. There was no telling how awkward everything was. Yet it was so funny. And then lighting struck. What happened next was not as amusing, but was quite an adventure. So you could say we had quite a relaxing afternoon. Now the not-so-amusing part was the lightning striking the mountain top and that us falling off, but it got better when I earthebended us to the ground safely. Hope burst laughing. I followed. We then finally walked ourselves back to the cave, where Azula had prepared a surprisingly nice dinner. It appeared to be fired three-tailed squires and mango-coconuts. Finally it was bedtime. I knew to when or how I had fallen asleep; I just knew I had.
Next day was it was dark and rainy. There was no going outside, and so we just trained all day. We started with making fire. Simple enough. But when we moved on to actually controlling fire's temperature, well that was just to compensate for the simple five minutes of making "regular" fire. Both I and Hope were just hopeless. Or at least I thought so until Hope succeeded.
"You do not try to make white fire for the sake of it being white," Azula said. "If you do so, it shall not work. But if you concentrate on the temperature rather than on the color, you shall... succeed." If that was what she considered helpful advice, well then I needed to request specialized assistance.
Day three was the toughest day yet. Nonetheless, it was quite worth it in the end.
I woke up quite early and decided that I would go train on my own for a while. I slowly walked to the end of the cave with a slow and patient walk. I was enjoying hearing the nature that had survived the pollution and the Fire Nation attack. It was funny how all these creatures could survive such times by just making changes. I could relate to them.
As I arrived to on the other side, I had some mango-coconuts from the near tree. By the time I was done with the second one, I felt refreshed and ready to train. I positioned myself in the right stance and took a deep breath. Then I concentrated on all the heat around me. Azula had taught me that if I collected it, I would make hotter fire. It sounded easy enough until I tried. As the energy came pressing at me, I could see the near plants and trees freeze to death and all the warmth in the near nature disappear. I wanted to stop and so I let the energy go. This was my bigger mistake. The energy was released into a huge amount of fire. Everything was going to burn. Even I was not going to make it out. And then it all stopped. I looked around and saw no one else but Azula herself. She had a neutral look on her face, a trait I strongly dislike in people, since you cannot read their feelings.
"First control," she began. "Then fire." She really had changed. She certainly wasn't the person my father told me off.
"Training starts in fifteen minutes," she finished as she turned away.
And so this was the first thing Hope and I trained in the morning – control. When I finally got it, Azula allowed me to try to make fire with a custom temperature again. I was successful, but I dared not go over the temperature of yellow fire – I did not want any more incidents.
We moved on to making lightning. Since Hope already knew how to do so, she got a lesson on redirection instead. But I actually got to be pleased with myself after making lightning on my fifth try. Even Azula admitted that I had done better than she expected. And then I got to join Hope and her lesson. Redirecting lightning was not like making lightning – it did not require peace of the mind, but it required a well planned path of flow of energy. After we had mastered the technique, I asked Azula if we could give it a try. She, surprisingly, strictly refused, and said she would not risk it. I found that a little ironic, seeing that she had shot lightning at us before. Well she had had total control over it, but still...
We were released earlier today.
"Go have fun while it isn't raining," Azula had said. I hadn't even noticed that it had stopped. But it was going to be great to enjoy some nature. And I knew exactly where I was going – the mountaintop. When I reached my secret spot, I elevated myself with earthbending. It took at least ten minutes to climb that high, but the view was worth it – the sun and the sky were in perfect harmony, and the rainbow was the cherry on top of the cake. It was indeed a sight to behold!
When had Hope climbed on here? How?
"I firebended myself up here," she read my mind. "It was quite tough, but the sight is worth it." Here she sat down. It was a wonderfully awkward moment. Neither one of us were saying anything. I knew I had to break the silence and so I did.
"It was a tough day," I said.
"Yeah," she agreed.
"You were really good, though."
She blushed. Then I just turned my head toward the sun. At about this time, two days ago, I had attempted to kiss her. For the last forty-eight hours I had blamed it on the rain. But here I was, standing on her left shoulder, looking at the sun, saying nothing, doing nothing, but just thinking. I had to do it. I just had to. I turned and looked at her. I was surprise to find that she was also looking at me. Neither one of us said anything. And in that very moment of silence our two heads met in a mutually shared kiss. A kiss that was to be never forgotten...
- This is the longest planned chapter in Book One: Mel of the Earth Kingdom.
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