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5 December, 2014
"The words we cannot say, the ones we do not dare utter from our mouths, are the ones that grow heavier in our hearts." –From the Book of Tutorik.
Saskha leaned on the railing of Anana's home after knocking on the door. Her wavy brown hair flowed like small rivulets and streams down her shoulders as she gazed into the late morning sky above her. She was really going to miss this place, but even more so the friends she had to leave. But as she had said at Junetsu's home, it would only be three weeks. Saskha leaned her fishing spear against the outside wall as she heard someone approaching the door.
Her friend opened the door, and after noticing who it was Anana quickly hugged Saskha. "Thank you for coming here."
"I wouldn't dream of not saying goodbye Anana," Saskha replied.
Anana smiled and ran her fingers through the base of Saskha's hair, "You know, we never got round to cutting your hair, did we?"
Saskha retracted like a defensive cat-hawk, "Hey, you know I like my hair long."
"Saskha," Anana chuckled lightly, "You're going to be in the Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation. They have much warmer weather than ours. How about I just trim it down a bit? I promise I won't cut it back too much?"
The waterbender laughed in reply, nodding a little as well. Anana led Saskha inside and sat her down on a chair positioned in front of a smoothed metal rectangle, serving as a mirror. Once Saskha was seated, Anana made her way over to a set of drawers and pulled out a small comb and dagger, both of which were made from the bones of some toothed animal. Smiling fondly, Anana ran the comb through Saskha's hair, smoothing out any knots, and then began trimming it down with the dagger. Saskha watched as loose stands of brown fell to the floor, landing softly on the wooden boards. She hadn't realized how long it actually was until now; of course she had a mirror of her own, but after all that had happened these past two weeks small details such as hair length seemed trivial compared to everything else going on.
It was a good few minutes of awkward silence before either of them spoke up. "I'm sorry I haven't said anything yet," Saskha began, "Part of me just... Doesn't know what to say, or how to explain this decision to you."
Anana smiled, "You don't have to explain anything to me. Just sit back and watch your hair be cut away." She laughed as Saskha pulled a face in the mirror. "I know why you're going anyway; there's nothing that I wouldn't do for my baby brother Kayi, or my older two siblings. You have to protect Miki."
"It isn't just about that," Saskha replied. "It's also about this war. I know you're scared Anana but we are going to survive. We will find this Avatar and bring him back to stop Utadano."
Her face slightly saddened, Anana pulled away for a moment. "I know that. And don't mind me; I've always been weak Saskha. You've always been the strong-willed one, able to do anything you put your mind to. Me? I just get to fearful at times. I freeze up whenever something big is happening."
"Hey," Saskha gently placed her hand on her shoulder, touching Anana's slightly. She then turned around, "You're not weak. I've seen you in the healing hut before. You're a brilliant healer, and you never let anything distract you when you're working, certainly not fearful thoughts or terror." Although she had tried to comfort Anana Saskha could see that she was still troubled. "You know, something like this happened with me and Miki a while ago," She began, a fond grin appearing on her face as she recalled the event. "Miki didn't want to come with me to the east coast, since that was where Mom was attacked by that serpent. And she asked me if I thought she was weak for not being able to go there." Saskha now stood up, holding both of Anana's hands in her own, "But I told her that we all have things that we need to work through. And admitting that you do... Well, that makes you strong."
Anana had started tearing up after her friend's words, "Saskha... I'm going to miss you so much." After her words she wrapped her arms around Saskha, gently weeping into her shoulder.
"I'm going to miss you too," Saskha could also not suppress her saddened tears from flowing. After a few seconds the girls left each other's embrace, but continued looking into each other's eyes. "I'll be back soon," Saskha reassured.
Anana nodded sincerely. After a small pause, she spoke, "Kesuk is waiting on the north coast. He told me to tell you. He should be just off the main path."
An anxious frown appeared on Saskha's face, "Oh... He didn't want to tell me himself?"
Anana walked over and placed her hands around Saskha's, "He wanted some time to think about everything. But anyway, you'll stop by mine after and we can take the supplies to the border?"
Saskha nodded. "I'll see you here soon. And thank you again for the hair, you did a beautiful job."
Her friend smirked in reply, "It was almost a mission to get it cut in the first place," she laughed. "Take care, we'll see you soon."
The sun beamed in the cloudless sky as it approached midday. There was little time left until Saskha had to depart on this journey of theirs. She knew that saying goodbye would be the hardest part, but fortunately things had been alright with Anana. Though now it seemed she was not finished with her goodbyes just yet.
As she approached the coast line, the rolling hills reflecting the pale blue light from the sky, she saw Kesuk seated on the crest of the hill just to the left of the path. Saskha took a deep breath and made her way over.
"Hey," she called out to Kesuk just as she was a few metres behind him. He turned around, a glare emanating from his greyish-blue eyes. "Anana told me you'd be here," Saskha continued, trying to ignore his stare. She sat next to him, facing the northern oceans in front of them.
"This is stupid," Kesuk grunted at last. Though he didn't elaborate, and instead continued to watch the waves pushing and pulling against the shore.
"What?" Saskha asked, a little too defensively. "That I'm going with my sister to find the Avatar?"
"No, that you're trying to go alone!" Kesuk shouted in reply. "You and Miki are inexperienced. And yet you even wanted to go without councilman Onartok!"
Saskha grunted angrily, "Onartok has never liked our father. We just didn't want to go with him. And what do you mean we're inexperienced? My father taught me all I need to know about hunting, and your father taught me waterbending."
"You've never been in the Earth Kingdom before! You're just doing what you always do."
"Yeah? And what's that?" Saskha sneered in reply.
"You're just running into battle, without a care or caution in the world or even a plan. Have you even thought about how you're going to convince the Avatar to join us? What if they don't want to? Have you even thought about the possibility of them not being in the Western Air Temple? What if we don't know who they are?"
"Oh, and you're 'Mr Plans' now are you?" Saskha retorted while waving her hands sarcastically. "You know, I recall plenty of times when you have charged into a fight or situation without a plan, so what is this really about?"
Kesuk didn't respond at first, but allowed Saskha's words to sink in a little. "I want to go with you." He replied at long last. Saskha's face softened after Kesuk's words, and she noticed the tone in his voice change from being so aggressive to now, more anxious and upset. "I feel so useless. My father wants me to go to the Northern Water Tribe to help the villagers evacuate. He also says that if Utadano manage to break through Manirak's defenses than they will need me to be able to defend the tribe up north. But..." he paused a moment, turning to Saskha sitting next to him, "I want to do more. Almost all my waterbender friends are staying here to defend against the attack. And you... You're going to be travelling across the Earth Kingdom to find the Avatar. Everyone seems to be doing something useful except me."
Saskha placed her hand on Kesuk's shoulder once he had finished. She could see the frustration in his eyes; they revealed his feelings of anger and uselessness at not being able to stay here in Manirak. "Your father is smart and wise Kesuk. I'm sure he's just doing what he thinks is best." Saskha turned to face the gentle seas before them, "That's all any of us are trying to do."
"But... I just wish I could be with you," He turned and held Saskha's hands in his, a gesture which surprised Saskha. A small gasp surfaced from her mouth as Kesuk continued, "I'm just worried about you. Utadano means business. If they catch you breaking their proposal by seeking the Avatar than they will not hesitate to capture you, or worse. And I... I just wish I could be there to stop them from doing that."
"Kesuk, I know it's dangerous but--"
"I care about you Saskha. I... I like you a lot." Kesuk stuttered, his eyes searching Saskha's light blue orbs of her own. Both of them noticed that Kesuk's hands had started gently caressing Saskha's, and soon after he realized Kesuk pulled away, an embarrassed look on his face.
Saskha sighed deeply, "I know it's dangerous, but I'll be back after three weeks." She seemed to ignore the brief moment of physical touch before, or perhaps didn't think of it in a romantic way. She stood up, helping Kesuk stand to his feet, "And when I get back, I'll go easy on you the next time we have a snow fight."
Kesuk managed to grin slightly, before his eyes grew wet, "Be careful Saskha. I... I'll miss you."
The pair hugged each other tightly for a few moments, and Saskha too started crying. Her warm tears flowed down her cheeks as she snuggled close into his jacket, though all the while she smiled. After a few more seconds Saskha and Kesuk stood upright, their arms falling to their sides. "You want to walk back with me to the village?" Saskha suggested.
"No, I think I may stay out here a while longer." His eyes began to search the horizon again.
"Well, we'll be leaving in just under half an hour. So don't be late." Saskha laughed slightly before turning to leave for the village. Kesuk watched her as she trekked through the snow back to the main path. She had such a confidence in her stride even at a time like this, yet her movements were graceful in his sight.
Kesuk swallowed and turned back to the seas when his friend was no longer in sight. His fingers fumbled the object in his pocket. It was a small emblem of three swirling waves and a crescent moon, carved into a circular blue stone attached to a midnight-blue string. It was the symbol of unity, commitment, and love, to be shared between man and woman in marriage. It was his gift to Saskha, a gift which he almost gave. But instead of giving it, he now held it in his hands, the sun's glow reflecting off the smooth surface of the stone.
No. It isn't the right time.
His eyes closed, Kesuk placed the necklace back in his pocket. He would hold onto this stone until Saskha returned. Just as she held onto the hope that she would one day return to Manirak alive and with the Avatar, Kesuk would hold onto this betrothal necklace to remind him that his love would return to him safe and sound.
- SotN is now over 50,000 words long! Yay! :) Thank you for sticking around this far. Now, onto the next 50,000 words...
|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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