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|In Foreign Lands|
May 19, 2015
Ratana sulked, for even the Fire Nation had not proven to the task of distracting her from her banishment. At a time like this, whacking around some firebenders would normally not fail to take her mind off things, but the battlefield had been relatively quiet in the few days following their recent gains. Resigned, she finally decided to return to the infirmary, which was quieter than right before her and Tooru's trip to the Inner Wall. There were only two patients in sight, both regular army non-benders, who were also coincidentally both sleeping. In the corner of the room, Ratana found one of the healer women from the Northern Water Tribe. It was the head healer as a matter of fact, and the same healer that had talked to her and Tooru days earlier.
"Hello," Ratana waved like a scarce koala sheep.
"Hi, I remember you," said the loan healer present. "You're Ratana, the new captain, aren't you?"
"Yes," Ratana confirmed with a nod. "It's Hasida, isn't it? I wanted to apologize for the way that I acted the last time that I was here."
"It's perfectly alright, my dear. I know that you go through a lot in fighting a war such as this, so as a side effect, saying things you later take back is something that any reasonable person would do if they've been through what you have. I can relate."
"You can?" asked Ratana, surprised. "I didn't think that you would have fought in any actual battles, being a healer and all."
"Oh no," Hasida shook her head. "I haven't fought in any battles myself. That is not my area. I am no stranger to being close to the harshest atrocities of war, though. It's a reality that you grow accustomed to serving on sea vessels filled with men bleeding to death before your eyes. My life is close to as much on the line as many of theirs. By the Moon and Ocean spirits, I wish I could help them more, but they need someone to heal them right as they're being killed by a Fire Nation fleet scarcely a hundred feet away. I am ready to be that someone to them."
"I understand now," said Ratana. "You see, a lot of us here in the Earth Kingdom think that your people just hide out in the Northern Water Tribe behind your icy fortress, and leave everyone else to fend for themselves against the Fire Nation, even your own kin down south, who have suffered the worst, except for the Air Nomads of old of course."
"It's quite alright," said Hasida. "I've heard the same attitude from others all across your nation. I've been serving abroad a lot since my husband was killed fighting the Fire Nation. My son has been living with his aunt, uncle and cousin most of the time since then."
"Condolences," said Ratana, drawing something large and brown from her belt. "I brought you healers this sack of sugar tarts. They're one of my favorite sweets from my native nation, and I wanted to express my gratitude for your coming over here to help us."
"Thanks," said Hasida, taking the sack from Ratana's outstretched hands. "If it's alright, I'll take one home to my niece Yue when I depart. She loves treats like these. And I'll go ahead and pass that message that you gave me last time onto my brother. We do have some more resources to spare than we share out; there's truth to that. And we of the Water Tribes and Earth Kingdom must stick together if we ever want to triumph over the ever-expanding Fire Nation."
"Huh?" Ratana raised an eyebrow, confused. "What do you mean? When did I ask you to pass a message on to your brother."
"If I recall correctly, you said last time that you wanted us to say something to the Chief of the Northern Water Tribe," Hasida clarified. "That would be Arnook. I'm his younger sister."
"Oh," Ratana's eyes widened. "Forgive me - should I call you 'princess' then?"
"There's no need for that," Hasida waved this suggestion aside. "Out here, I'm just another person that's trying to do all they can to help out."
"I'm trying to do all I can, too," said Ratana, breaking eye contact and staring at the ground. "But getting banished from my own city hasn't been easy."
Hasida nodded sympathetically. "I mean no intrusion in saying so, but sometimes we must accept our circumstances and move on."
"Do you miss home?" asked Ratana.
"Every day," answered Hasida. "I miss my son, I miss my friends, but at the same time-"
"I'm sure that they'll all be happy to see you when you finally do return home," Ratana told her encouragingly.
Hasida smiled weakly, retracing her thoughts to before Ratana interrupted her. "My son may become chief someday if my brother has no sons of his own," Hasida said, seeming torn and unsure how to feel about it. "In my homeland, we have very rigid roles, more so than any other nation, I'm afraid. Back where I come from, I can only do so much, as a woman. Here, in Ba Sing Se, I can be more useful."
Ratana gave this afterthought a half-smile. "I'd better get back to the barracks. As captain, I have some preparations to go over with my men."
The ancient city of the long-lost Sun Warrior culture was just as vast as it had been on the last occasion that he visited the area. This time, however, it was less overwhelming. Even though Heidze was alone now, whereas on his last expedition that lead him here he had been traveling with Ratana, June and Nyla, he had been here before and had felt like he belonged by the time his last visit had ended.
"I wonder how they've been doing since I left with Ratana to go back to the Earth Kingdom," Heidze said aloud to himself only, for there was no one else around to here him. "I do hope that nobody else has stumbled into the Sun Warrior civilization unwittingly since we were here before." He thought of those like Yao and his friends from Nongkun, and their ignorant innocence. Even if someone like them had discovered the Sun Warrior city, they could still potentially put the secret of the dragons at risk, even if they would not be the ones who would hunt them when the time came. As he had witnessed all too well last time, even someone like Ratana, with nothing but the very best of intentions, could put the dragons at risk by taking the wrong action for the right reasons. In the end, she was only trying to protect her own country from an outside threat.
Heidze took great care to make sure he was not tracked or followed on his trip. He knew how to do this on his own, having never been taught; he had instead picked it up on instinct. At ease, he allowed for his mind to wander in remembrance of all that he had seen transpire the last time he was here. Initially, he had been with Ratana and June and Nyla, and they had lost much of their supplies when they had become split up from the travelers that had originally told them about the Nongkun dragon rumor.
After a frightening run-in with a Sun Warrior trap that was still in place, Ratana and Heidze had run into a group of warriors from the Sun Warrior tribe. Chief Shang of the Sun Warriors himself had been among them, as had been the Sun Warrior Shaman Wu, and the Princess Chang Lei, whom Heidze had noticed instantly. Fortunately for Heidze, when the shaman Wu began to question them, his question to him was less revealing than the one that he asked to Ratana. Thus, while Ratana was thrown into Sun Warrior jail, Heidze was allowed to roam free, and they accepted without question the idea that multiple outsiders happened to arrive in the city at the same exact time through similar accidental events, whereas a similar occurrence had not happened beforehand for several years.
A ceremony that Heidze later witnessed involved the dragons themselves, who the Sun Warriors it turned out had an intimate history with. Now that the shaman Wu had deemed Heidze trustworthy for the rest of the tribe, they did not hold back in sharing the secrets of the dragons with him, and even told him about a way to ignite a dragon's colorful fire simply by burning a scale. When Heidze finally did see Ratana again, she realized that this was the way that she could prove the existence of these creatures to the world and expose Fire Nation Prince Iroh as a fraud for having not allegedly hunted them to extinction. Heidze realized what this meant, too, and that's where he got cold feet.
As some of the original benders of one of the four elemental types, the dragons represented an essential part of the core balance that allowed the world to exist in harmony. With one of the four nations already wiped out nearly a century ago, the balance was already in disarray, and having yet another of the original bender species go extinct could potentially plunge the world into more disorder and chaos than it already was. Since Heidze had only ever known a chaotic state of things, he did not want to picture living in a world such as that. He tried to share with Ratana his feelings, and thought that she could sympathize with keeping hope alive. She did not. Having come to the Fire Nation as a soldier, there was nothing for her except completing her mission, whatever the cost, and she threatened Heidze, warning him to stay out of her way.
Fortunately for all of them, by the time that they awoke the next day, June, Nyla, Ratana and Heidze were reunited and all agreed to keep the secret of the dragons for themselves, and not to reveal it to anyone. Ratana had received a talisman from the Sun Warriors as a parting gift, and Heidze had been invited back to stay among the Sun Warriors, should he choose to do so. At the time, he could sense that Ratana needed him by her side still during this time of trouble for her, and so he declined their offer for the time being. Now, Ratana and the rest of her fellow members on the Terra Team defended their city of Ba Sing Se against the Fire Nation invasion force, and there was little that Heidze could do to help them. Thus, he set his eyes back on the Sun Warriors, and came back to live among them once again, hopefully to forge a future destiny for himself.
Near the ceremonial circle where he had first seen the ceremony and participated in it with the Sun Warriors on his last visit, Heidze came across a familiar figure with a headdress on top of his head. It was Wu, the shaman of the Sun Warriors, and he was sweeping up the grounds, as no ritual was currently taking place.
"Heidze," greeted Wu, his lips rising up to form a smile. "You've come back to us."
"Yes," Heidze confirmed with a nod. "I have just come back from the northeastern part of the Earth Kingdom. It was high time that I returned to my homeland, and I wanted to come back. I feel like I can belong here much better than I can belong back in Gangkouz."
"I see," said Wu, putting down the oddly-shaped broom that he was using to sweep the ritual circle. "If that's the case, can I assume that you're done traveling around with Ratana now?"
"Yes," said Heidze. "She has her own battles to fight, and she doesn't seem to need me any longer."
"Very well," said Wu. "Let's go take you before the chief."
- Hasida is the paternal grandmother of Tonraq and Unalaq, as well as the great-grandmother of Korra, Desna and Eska.
- This is Sun Shaman Wu's first appearance in twenty-six chapters. Then again, the chapters are shorter than in other fanons, so that can add up pretty fast.
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