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Book 2: Water
December 3, 2013
Unaraq grows curious if the Hermit actually exists.
Chapter 14: The Hermit
Book 2: Water
Chapter 14: The Hermit
Rong Yan, Unaraq, Tanaraq and Aloi, were walking in the woods of just outside of Nuo Ju. Unaraq was thinking about the hermit, and wanted to see if he was back from where he had left. He felt that with his curiosity the hermit must be an interesting person.
He spoke up, "Guys, I think we should head up the mountain range and see if the hermit is there."
Rong Yan looks over at him, and responds, "What if it was just an abandoned shack? Maybe its just haunted."
"Perhaps, but I want to check. We might meet someone interesting." Unaraq said.
"True, be on your guard, we don't know this guy. He might be nuts!" Aloi added.
"Alright then lead the way, big brother." Tanaraq said.
"Wait? Why me?" Unaraq asked.
"Oh, I'm sorry are you scared?" Tanaraq inquired.
"No, I just think someone else should go first this time." Unaraq replied.
"Ehh, forget I'll just lead everyone up to the hermit's shack." Unaraq added.
"That's more like it." Tanaraq smiled.
Unaraq made a sign with his right hand to move forward and follow him, they started to walk up the hill. After twenty minutes, they had reached the very top where the shack was settled atop of.
The red robed and hooded figure had just poured himself a drink, as he turns to look out the door he gets startled and jumps back as he sees four people walking towards his home. He spills his drink onto his red robes, grabbing the part of the robes that was just soaked by the juice, with his hand he lightly blasts his robe to dry the stain.
Aloi surprised at what she had just seen she leaps into the air with joy, shooting up three feet into the air, and slowly landing back onto her feet. She points and shouts to the hooded person, "You're an airbender!"
The hooded figure begins to remove its hood off its head, as it removes the cowl, it starts to resemble a man. This man was not only bald, but instead of the traditional light blue arrow tattoos. He donned gray tattoos at the top of his forehead he wore an arrow split in half proudly.
Aloi again pointed again when she had seen the gray arrow tattoos, she began to lose her words, as she tried to say the next two words.
"You're a S-soundbender!" Aloi said.
"Well I'm both an airbender and a soundbender, but actually I'm one of the last remaining Vibrant Ones." the old man shared.
Aloi was even more shocked and mindblown, she fainted. Well in any case of course she fainted, it's extremely rare to ever meet Vibrant One. Since their order is ancient and secretive yet the old man was polite enough to reveal his status to the gang. They should feel proud and lucky they met the last of the old man's kind.
"My name is, Giman. I know what you're wondering, why did she faint. She fainted because, it is such an honor to meet someone within my organization. She should consider herself lucky, not very many Air Nomads get to meet a Vibrant One. We may be very few, yet we are very powerful!" Giman introduced himself, and explained why Aloi most likely fainted of.
Meanwhile, at the Ba Sing Se Palace,
A royal guard walks toward the throne of Earth King Qiang Zhen, the Earth King was having a small conversation with his advisor. Yet when the advisor had noticed the royal guard he had stopped and walked off.
"Your highness, you have a visitor." the royal guard said.
"Who is it? Bring my visitor forward." Qiang Zhen requested.
"As you wish, my liege." the guard answered.
Walking back into the hall, he stuck out his hand in giving the visitor a signal to walk forward. The clinks, and stomping sounds of plate armor had collided with the stone floor of the throne room.
This visitor was wearing golden plate armor, along with a green belt, with a golden lion belt buckle, two hammers were on each side of the man's belt. He held a dark green helmet in his arms as he continue to walk towards the throne.
This soldier had experience in his face, the wrinkles and scars around his face and body could tell the story of what this man had went through. He also styled a gray beard, on his left arm he had two symbols engraved into his armor.
One of the symbols was that of the Earth Kingdom and the other symbol indicated his rank in the military, he was a general of the Earth Kingdom army. The old experience war veteran knelt in front of the young Earth King, the Earth Kingdom rises from his throne and speaks, "Rise, General Laobing."
The old man rises to his feet, and requests, "Earth King Qiang Zhen, General Senlin has killed my grandson Wei, he was Captain of the Royal Guard. I request that you lend me ten soldiers and have my request granted. If someone is going to rid this nation of that traitor, its going to be one of his comrades."
"Granted. General Senlin, will not come quietly...if you do capture him make sure to keep him very secured and bring him here. But if he does not, I give you the right to bring down justice on the traitor and..slay HIM! I fear for your old age, though you're an experienced vet, and a master earthbender. You also have luck on yourself...otherwise your nickname would not make sense. The Earth Kingdom cries for your selfless sacrifice in hunting down General Senlin, you may now go." Qiang Zhen agreed to Laobing's request and sent the veteran off with ten soldiers and double line formation.
Before having to walk out, a courier runs into the throne room, with his mail satchel hanging off to his side. He reaches into his satchel and hands a scroll to the new captain of the Royal Guard. The man opens the scroll, up and begins to eye the words scribbled on the parchment.
"Captain, what does the scroll contain?" Qiang Zhen asked.
"There has been an arrest going out to five Earth Kingdom troops causing trouble in the nearby town of Nuo Ju. The scroll says, the men had killed a man, kidnapped two people and extorted the civilians of their taxes. The Avatar and three of his allies had rescued the missing persons and defeated the soldiers." the Captain explained.
Placing his two fingers of his left hand on his chin Qiang Zhen begins to think. After deciding what he wants to do, he orders the captain, "Take four of your best men and travel to the town of Nuo Ju and bring back these soldiers. Bring them to my palace, so I may relieve them of their duties and deal with their punishments when they're present. Not on my land will this travesty occur."
"You heard the Earth King! Four of my best men will join me!" commanded the new captain of the Royal Guard.
With that four men appeared in the throne room next to their Royal Guard Captain, and walked off following him and Lucky Laobing and his ten new troops.
Kimaru gently sits down on the side of the road still wincing in pain, Palartok crouches beside him, and slowly begins to remove the bandages. Kimaru jolts when he feels the bandages being removed from his burn wound.
"Hold still!" Palartok said.
Ignoring the pain, Palartok continues to remove Kimaru's bandages. Once he had removed the bandages, Palartok, pops the lid of his waterskin and bends a small amount of water out of the container.
Holding it just a bit above off of Kimaru's burnt flesh, he puts it down gently on his skin, and with both hands he begins to massage the water around the skin to heal the wound a bit more.
Continuing the healing process for another two minutes, he puts the water back into the skin, and places the lid back on. He then reapplies the bandages back on Kimaru's shoulder, and helps Kimaru to his feet.
"Looks better than a week and a half ago, ever since I've been treating it. Maybe in a week's time you should be as healthy as an ostrich horse!" Palartok proclaims.
Senlin had noticed smoke rising from the distance, looking at Palartok and Kimaru who both looked up to see the smoke. He nodded, and they walked in the direction of it. Just a few yards away they can make out a small camp fire, with three armed men and four merchants.
It looked like the armed men might've been guards protecting the caravan. The merchants looked like they had no skill whatsoever so they would just be easy prey. Though the armed men may pose a threat but the group knew he would walk out of this.
The merchants were dining as the guards watched them, all of a sudden, the earth trembled underneath the feet of the people by the caravan. Medium-sized earth cones emerged from the ground, and trapped the merchants in place.
One of the guards kicked down a stool, and shouted, "Damn we're under attack! Defend the merchants, boys!"
Unsheathing the blades from their hilts they stood in a combat stance waiting for the enemy to approach. The two barrels nearby the caravan also began to tremble as the lids shot off, and gush of water hit two of them and sent them flying. One had dropped his blade and the other held onto it.
Kimaru, dropped from the trees and wrapped his uninjured arm around the throat of the unarmed guard, and knocked him out unconscious. He dragged him into the tall grass and left him there. Senlin began walking towards the armed soldier who left alone by his friends.
The other guard charges at Palartok, about to slice the admiral in two, in the heat of the moment. Palartok counters by grabbing the guard's wrist and twisting it to bring great pain but not break his wrist. The guard quickly dropped the blade, and was elbowed in the ribs, and uppercutted in the face.
The first guard charged towards Senlin hacking away in hopes of cutting Senlin, but instead his blade met an earth wall, and shattered on impact. Senlin stomped and pushed the earth wall. The man was hit by the earth wall, and fell onto his rear.
Palartok, punched the guard square in the jaw knocking him out unconscious. Kimaru bent more water from one of the barrels, and bent the water around the one Senlin was fighting and froze it. To keep the man from getting up again.
Kimaru and Palartok, carried the other two nearby a tree, and Senlin had brought the frozen guard next to the unconscious two. Melting the ice, Kimaru quickly wrapped it around all three and froze them together on a large tree.
Ignoring the merchants who were held in place by the earth surrounding them, Senlin believes they will soon starve. Leaving the poor merchants there.
"What do we do with the merchants?" Kimaru asked.
"Leave 'em be, they'll either starve or a wild animal will find them.." Senlin responded.
"I have a plan..I want to be merciful on these merchants.." Senlin added.
All four merchants had let out a sigh of relief.
"Kimaru, Palartok, I want you to drown them..they won't be much of struggle since they're encased in earth." Senlin ordered.
"Yes sir." Kimaru replied.
Kimaru and Palartok bend large water balls the size of each merchant's head, wrapping the water around the head of two, and holding the water there, as the merchant screams for air. Two of the merchants drown as Kimaru and Palartok move towards the last two. Senlin, frees the two drowned victims bodies from the encasement.
The last two merchants were also drowned by Kimaru and Palartok, Senlin released the bodies from their encasement. He then began to speak, "We take their identification cards, and merchant licenses, and we take the caravan and head off to the nearest town."
Giman, looks through some of his herbal cabinets to find the correct herb he is looking for. Grabbing a small sack he takes out a small brownish yellow root from the sack and places the sack on the table.
Kneeling by the fainted Aloi he puts the root by her nose, as she inhales the scent from the root she suddenly awakens. As she opens her eyes she sees that Giman was holding a small herb in his hand, sitting up she asks, "Is that a Konsui Root?"
"Indeed it is, young airbender." Giman answered.
"Where did you get Konsui roots? They're only grown around the air temples." Aloi asks.
"I took some bags of seeds with me when I left the Northern Air Temple, and planted them around my garden. Some of the things here around my home remind me of the air temples." Giman replied.
"Any fruits, vegetables, and/or herbs native to our air temples you will find around my garden." Giman added.
"Would you like to have a small tour around my garden?" Giman asked.
"Yes please." Aloi replied.
They walk out of Giman's shack, and walk towards the eastern side of the shack, where the garden is located. He leads her through the different plants, telling her about them, with each word she begins to feel a little homesick.
They continue around the house, and she notices the dome oven made out of stone. There was flour in a pot, and a jug full of water, the oven was lit, it had something inside turned out to be a large bread loaf within.
He pulls it out with a wooden paddle and gently places it on a large wooden plate, Aloi's face shows a little saddening. Giman looks at her, concerned he asks, "What's wrong?"
"It's just when you showed me around your garden, and your outside kitchen, I just-" Aloi replies with sigh before continuing her sentence.
"Just I miss the Eastern Air Temple, I miss the surroundings, I miss my people. Its just really hard to be away from home. Plus, I have a responsibility I need to travel with the Avatar and make sure he masters the four elements." Aloi finished.
"There's not one day, that I do not miss my people." Giman said.
"Why did you leave?" Aloi asked curiously.
"I did not leave, for the path that I chose as a Soundbender I was banished from the Northern Air Temple. An Air Nomad must never choose the ways of stealth, and deception. Though I never wanted to use my abilities for evil, I only wished to study my new abilities and use them for the greater good. But the Council of Elders did not see it that way." Giman explained.
Riding down a road on an ostrich horse, finally being able to visibly see the stone buildings of the coastal city of Taku. Laobing, was riding towards it, finally arriving after a three-day trip from Ba Sing Se to Taku.
There was some buildings being rebuilt from when the Water Tribe rebels had attacked the festival a few years back, Avatar Rong Yan had saved the city from destruction when he killed all of them in the Avatar State.
The city should be thankful for saving their city from further destruction. Dismounting from the ostrich horse, he asks a nearby guard, "Where is the mayor? I need to speak to him."
"Who are you to come into our city, and ask such a question? For all I know you could be an assassin!" the young paranoid guard replied.
Two guards who were standing about overhear what the younger guard had said, and they pulled out their weapons pointing them at Laobing, an older guard saw what was going on and ran over to stop them when he saw the old man's face.
"Are you an idiot? Show some respect for a war veteran!" the older guard shouted. Grabbing the younger guard by his uniform and jerking him back, as the younger guard had fallen on his rear.
The older guard looks over at Laobing and salutes him then explains, "The mayor is in his home which is located in the east of Taku. I'm sure he is more than happy to see you, Laobing. Thank you, for serving our nation."
The older guard pulls out a map of the city from his back pocket, and marks the map before handing it over to Laobing. "I don't need this, take it. I know the city like the back of my hand," he said.
"It was a pleasure serving my nation, son." Laobing answered.
He walked off in the east direction, looking down at the map and back up to see where he was going.
Meanwhile, Senlin was rummaging through the goods he had discovered in the caravan. Finding a few valuables, he knows a fence who lives just a few miles away from the next town.
In fact, he's an old friend. He would most definitely buy the stolen property he just looted from the dead merchants and unconscious guards who were left frozen to a tree.
Palartok, was preparing food he had found within the caravan, on the campfire he had a skewer, with one of his arms he was rotating it to cook the food he had scavenged. Senlin sat down on the ground on opposite sides of Kimaru.
He then looked at Palartok and asked, "Palartok, are there any differences between the clothing of the Southern Water Tribe than those of the Northern Water Tribe?"
"Well we northerners wear darker blues, while the southerners wear lighter blues, there's actually a temperature imbalance on the North and South Pole. The South Pole, tends to be much colder so they wear more fur, while the North is a little warmer, we wear fur as well but it is popular in our society to clothe ourselves in leather." Palartok explained.
"Although, the wilderness is unpredictable as the weather may drastically change." Palartok finished.
Giman and Aloi, had placed dinner on the table for everyone including themselves. Each person began to take a portion of each dish and placed it on their plates and began to eat. Aloi on behalf of the gang thanks Giman for the dinner.
"Do you think you can teach us some Soundbending, Giman?" Aloi asked.
"Sure, I would love to have students. We'll train at an intermediate level of Soundbending." Giman agreed.
Meanwhile, in the evening of Taku, Laobing knocks on the mayor's door. The mayor answers his door and leads Laobing to the kitchen table. "Please sit." the mayor inquired.
"Thank you." Laobing replied.
"Would you like a cup of tea?" the mayor asked.
"Yes, please." Laobing answered.
While pouring tea into two cups, the mayor asks Laobing, "What seems to be your business here, general?"
"General Senlin.." Laobing answered.
"If you want to know about Senlin, look out the window. Look what his soldiers did to my city." the mayor shouted pointing out the window.
"Senlin, has an army?" Laobing replied with shock.
"Had an army...the Avatar wiped a good portion of them out here two years ago." The mayor began.
"When's the last time you heard about Senlin, general?" the mayor asked.
"...when the bastard killed Earth King Ta Po and escaped the prison.." General Laobing replied.
"Last I heard, the Avatar had also wiped out his entire army at the Southern Air Temple. He was blown off the mountain. Yet he survived. General, Senlin, is still alive causing havoc here in the Earth Kingdom, raiding villages and killing its civilians! Lives are being lost, when the sadist psychopath metalbended his way out of prison!" the mayor retorted.
"If you want to know about where Senlin is, well last I've heard he was on the road near Nuo Ju. But those are just rumors." the mayor claimed.
"Qiang Zhen.." Laobing whispered to himself.
"What was that?" the mayor asked.
"That was no rumor. I know Senlin well...he's after the Earth King! I need to leave now!" Laobing shouted.
"Stop that him before its too late! ...and Laobing...sorry about your grandson.." the mayor finished.
General Laobing, shut his eyes and nodded before bolting out the door. He and his squad of guards who were waiting at the entrance of the city in a bar, had mounted their mounts and sped off towards Ba Sing Se.
The mayor grabbed some parchment and ink, and wrote a letter to another general who was still active though he spent most of his days at Ba Sing Se where he lives. After finishing the letter he whistled and out came a messenger bird.
Placing the letter in the small satchel the bird had on its back with an Earth Kingdom insignia on it. The bird instantly flew off towards the Earth Kingdom capital.
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