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|Victories and Defeats|
6 January, 2015
Chapter 19 - Secrets of the Book
Child of the moon
For the sun will shortly rise
So very soon
And chase away the darkness
Left by those who have passed away
So honour their legacy
Every single day
--Excerpt from 'Child of the Moon'
Saskha quickly sped off along an ice path again, sliding past the remaining soldiers on their side to make her way to Onartok. She had to reach him; making a way over the canyon would require both of their efforts. Miki however stayed put, as it became apparent that her enemies were not going to wait for her to reach them, but were going to attack her instead.
The earthbender manning the last tower leapt from the structure onto the ground, taking a wide and steady stance as he brought his arms close to his hips. His grunt which followed was so loud Miki could hear him from even where she stood, and it was soon clear what move he was trying to perform. Instead of launching earth discs from the tower, he was trying to launch the whole tower itself. The humongous earthen pillar rose from the ground, and it took another earthbender as well to rotate it so it was horizontal in the air. With both of the benders heaving, the pillar rolled onto the ground and speed towards Miki with incredible force.
The young girl's eyes widened, a fearful gasp escaping her lips. She had no idea how to go about escaping this attack; the pillar was at least four times her height, so there was no going over it. And she was quickly running out of time to go around the incoming attack.
Feeling something furry move between her legs, Miki looked down to notice Ulva's head pushing her onto his back. "Ulva, you can't..." She mumbled while hanging onto her friend's back. She knew she was too heavy to ride Ulva for long; that's why he had been given a pack to carry instead of a person. But still, her loyal friend sprinted to the far left to avoid the earthen rolling-pin. The pair safely out of harm's way for now, Miki stroked Ulva's head as a means of thanking him.
By this stage the two non-benders had caught up to Miki and Ulva, one of which carried a chain weapon similar to the one Miki had seen before. The other was the man who called himself Lieutenant Shu, and unsheathed a long sword when he was close enough. "So, you're the Spirit of the North," He began, his voice shaky but still determined. "I suppose it has been our mistake to duel with you during the night when your powers can be used, though we will not let you leave easily. We have a duty to unite the entire of this continent, and you filthy peasants are not going to get in our way!"
The lieutenant ran towards them but it didn't last long as Miki swung her arms about, stopping him in his tracks. While stuck there, Ulva tackled the man into the ground, though it was quickly followed by a yelp from her friend. Shu had smacked the wolf in the face with a well-timed punch, and quickly got to his feet. "You... You're something else," He trembled while pointing at Miki, "Though I have fought many a beast before, and I will not be defeated by this wild animal!"
Miki watched as Ulva circled his opponent, ready to lunge at him. She tried to aid him as she had done before but the other soldier before them flung his chain weapon in her direction. Miki knew she would have to deal with him swiftly. Ducking under multiple strikes, the young girl raised each of her arms and took hold of the soldier's arm muscles. Swinging the man's arm to the left, his chain weapon did the rest of the work for her by wrapping around his body. It was almost comical that Miki had managed to force a man to tie up himself with his own weapon, and she managed a quiet smirk even in the midst of this battle.
Her attention quickly turned to Ulva tackling the lieutenant. A whimper cried from the wolf's mouth as Shu swiped his sword over Ulva's side, a shallow but painful gash left behind. Teeth clenching, Miki mustered up whatever strength she had left to grip the man's body, causing all his muscles to contract as she flew him high into the air and over to where the recovering earthbenders were charging from. Ulva managed to stand, though he was clearly hurt by Shu's sword.
Meanwhile, Onartok had swapped positions with his earthbender opponent; he now had his back to the ruins of the earthen towers, while his opponent's back faced the east. Fortunately they had been facing this way, as Saskha slid up behind the earthbender and froze his lower body before he could launch anymore of his earth armor at Onartok.
The councilman smiled as he saw Saskha approach, "Thanks for the save. How are the others doing?"
"Miki is trying to hold off the other soldiers with Ulva, though she looked pretty beat when I last saw her," Saskha worryingly glanced to the south, though she couldn't see her sister from here. She did notice however, many of the soldiers that had previously been knocked out coming to, collecting their weapons and heading their way. "We're going to need a bridge to cross a canyon we've been driven to, so we'll have to get there quick. Collect the packs and I'll get us there."
After she finished Onartok nodded, readying himself by bringing streams of water around his arms. Saskha stomped onto the ground, waving her arms to form an icy platform for the two to stand on, and pushed the snow in front of them under the platform. This propelled the waterbenders forwards, and Saskha continued the motion to keep them heading south. Onartok lashed out with a tendril to wrap around one of the packs, quickly searching for the others. He knew they wouldn't get far without their supplies, and so collecting their belongings was just as important as overpowering their enemies.
Miki was trying her best to fend off the earthbenders, though they kept their distance from her to fire boulders and hunks of rock her way. Solely relying on her powers now, Miki controlled one of their arms just as he was raising a boulder, though when he lost control the hunk of earth came crashing down on his partner next to him, knocking him off his feet.
A relieved expression formed on Miki's face when she saw her sister and councilman Onartok arriving with all their backpacks. Saskha dived off the icy platform she had used to get there and thrust both her arms forward, flipping it on top of the other earthbender.
Onatok used his water whips to throw the backpacks across the canyon, landing in the snow on the other side. Turning back to the gathering soldiers, he also sent a trail of water into the earthbender who had supposedly been crushed by Saskha's attack, though he held diamond shaped slices of earth around himself which was presumably how he had survived the attack as well.
Now that Oanrtok had taken over, Saskha made her way to the edge of the canyon. Arms outstretched, Saskha pulled water from her side and the opposite side of the massive gap to form a bridge, freezing it with a swift movement from her fingers. Turning back to the others, Saskha yelled towards her sister, "Miki! You and Ulva are up first!"
Miki let her hold go of the soldier she had been fighting, Onartok taking over by hosing the swordsman back a few metres. After calling Ulva as well, Miki found herself at the edge of the canyon, staring at the precarious bridge before them. As soon as she placed one foot onto the bridge Miki immediately retracted, imagining all sorts of scenarios where the whole thing would crack under her weight.
"Miki! We don't have time!" Onartok scolded as he battled another earthbender. More and more of the soldiers had gathered now, making it difficult for the two waterbenders to fend them off.
Breathing in deeply, Miki stepped onto the bridge. It was fairly slippery, though it was quite a wide bridge. She tried not to look down at the hundreds of metres of canyon below her, the bottom so far down she couldn't even see it. But she was doing well, and after a few more seconds made it to the end of the bridge and the other side of the canyon.
Ulva on the other hand didn't move an inch onto the bridge. He had watched his pal skate across the icy path just before, but couldn't bring himself to do it.
"Ulva! It's alright buddy, I'm here!" Miki tried to reassure him, holding her arms out to entice him to cross.
Reluctantly, the wolf stepped onto the bridge ahead. Every few steps he would hesitate and slip slightly, though after hearing Miki's voice his ears would perk up and he would be filled with confidence and determination.
Saskha turned back to see Ulva finally reach the end of the bridge. "Okay, I'll go next." She pulled her arms upward to form a wall from the ice, and then joined Onartok in forming a watery funnel, almost like a horizontal water spout. Their combined attack took out half of the soldiers in front of them, and Onartok then turned to give Saskha a nod. Onartok stayed put, flinging waves of water into the remaining soldiers.
In less than a few leaps Saskha had made it across the gorge. She turned back to the last member of their group, aiding him by sending streams of water into soldiers across the gap. The councilman then made a run for bridge, leaping onto it and trying to avoid the remaining soldier's attacks. Saskha was doing a good job of keeping them busy, and Miki tried her best to restrain one of the earthbenders from this far away. But neither of them could stop a chain from being flung around Onartok's arms as he tried to sprint across the bridge. He grunted as he pulled against the weapon, but its wielder was a heavyset man who maintained his grip with ease.
Saskha formed a shard of ice from the ground, spinning it at an incredible speed as she flew it into the chain, slicing it and freeing Onartok from the soldier's pull. Though his hands were still bound, and he was ultimately unable to anything as the masked earthbender he had been fighting launched a boulder into the bridge.
The structure fell to pieces around him, and Onartok cried out as he plummeted into the canyon. Saskha screamed out to him, trying to send a water tendril his way in the split second she had, though another attacker from the opposite side was making it difficult by firing earthen spears in her direction. The air left Onartok's lungs, his heart racing a million miles a minute as he helplessly watched the edges of the canyon grow smaller as he fell facing the sky. If he could just get his hands untied, he would be able to form a water funnel to fall into. Before the councilman could do anything, he felt something pull him and cause his whole body to stop. He glanced around to his sides, realizing that he had stopped falling, though he knew the ground was still far below him.
Miki growled through gritted teeth, arms outstretched and holding the councilman in mid-air. She tried her best to keep him steady, though she had to fight the force of gravity and the momentum he had when he fell from the destroyed bridge. Tugging with each arm almost as she would a rope, Miki pulled one of her arms back at a time.
The councilman had started feeling a strange constricting force over his body; he could hardly move, only slight twitches and motions could be made. Though he didn't try to resist, now realizing that it was Miki who had saved him from falling.
Saskha had formed a large wall from ice to shelter Miki and the others while she rescued the councilman, though it wouldn't hold for much longer. Fortunately for Miki, the closer Onartok was to the edge of the canyon the easier it was for her to move him. With one final upward motion with both arms she managed to lift the councilman up and over the edge of the canyon, landing in the snow next to her. Miki lay in the snow for a few seconds, her chest heaving in and out while she tried to catch her breath. Onartok too took a moment to collect himself; he had just been falling to his death a mere few seconds ago, yet this girl with her strange abilities had saved him.
Now standing to his feet, Onartok lowered his arms and twisted his fingers, forming a platform of ice like what Saskha had made earlier. He motioned for Miki and Ulva to climb on, the girl having to use her friend as a support since her ankle was now badly swollen from putting pressure on it. Saskha quickly made a beeline for the platform, her wall she had made shattering around them from an incoming boulder. With water tendrils she collected the three packs and loaded them onto their getaway ice platform.
By this stage, the earthbenders left had started constructing bridges of their own or launching themselves over the canyon from pillars. But with the combined efforts of the two waterbenders, the icy platform sped off towards the southern mountains, leaving the soldiers from Utadano in their wake. Saskha also stood at the back of the platform, blocking projectiles and sending diamond shards of ice towards their foes. Even with many of their injured recovered, the Utadano soldiers could not keep up, and soon the travelers from Manirak were once again safe.
The General pressed a lump of ice over his wounded arm. It had been gashed by that councilman in their duel, but then he had managed to strike it again with the handle of his machete, leaving a nasty bruise to accompany the laceration. If only I could melt this ice into glowing water and heal myself, Huode thought to himself as he pressed the ice over the bandages, grimacing from the pain.
A rather intact and injury-less Shu strolled over to the General. A smirk formed on his lips as he glanced over the General with his brown eyes, "You look worse for wear, might I say."
"No, you may not," General Huode shot back, an irritated tone to his voice. "And mind your place; I am your commanding officer."
"Yes you are, but I will speak my mind regardless," Shu's teasing expression was replaced by a look of anger and bitterness, a look that even sent chills up Huode's spine. "This whole failure is your fault. Many of us suggested that we do not engage the Spirit of the North at night, since her powers were rumored to only be available to her at this time." Huode tried to reply to Shu's accusations but he was never given the chance, "Yet you drove these men into battle, fighting two experienced waterbenders, a demon-possessed girl, and her charmed beast! You have acted recklessly, and if it weren't for the grace of destiny we would have lost more men."
Huode laughed cynically at Shu's last statement, "What do you mean, 'grace of destiny'? There's no such power you fool. We were just outmatched, surprisingly so given that we outnumbered them vastly. But they won't get far; we nearly had them in our grasp, and left them with plenty of wounds to slow them down. We will continue tracking them in a few hours."
"You won't be coming with us, General."
The Utadano General stood up slowly, ignoring the pain in his left arm. His eyes narrowed into an ice cold scowl, yet so full of the fire of his fury and anger. "How dare you order me as if I am your subordinate! I am your commanding officer! You cannot tell me where I shall or shall not go!"
"Here's how I see it, General Huode; we were only meant to monitor those who left and came into Manirak village. Those were our orders given to us from Admiral Akumah. Yet you decided to follow this group of four to find out what their purpose was for leaving, though this action in itself was not anything too far outside what we were meant to do. But then you would have us engage them in combat? Even when we know not of their reasons for leaving?" The Lieutenant snickered in between his words, "You let your emotions get the best of you; you let your animosity for Councilman Onartok get the better of you! You could have killed him with that attack of yours! Do you know how bad it is that we even attacked them, let alone nearly killed one of Manirak's leaders? If they contact the other cities, they could very well pull out of our alliance. If they perceive us as a violent capitol that murders simple travelers just because we can how do you think others will react? You are reckless for not even considering Utadano's reputation."
General Huode exhaled loudly. He was furious with his Lieutenant, though deep down he knew he had a point. Though he wasn't going to accept his mistakes without a fight, "But the fact that we lost to them is also your fault, Lieutenant Shu. If we had performed better than maybe they wouldn't have escaped, and so that rests on all of our shoulders. And as for being reckless, well, I hid my identity from the Manirak travelers so they do not believe it was Utadano waging war on them too soon but simply a scouting party from one of the nearby cities. If they knew that I, a general of the army and Minister of Foreign affairs, were outright attacking them than they would see it as an act of war. You on the other hand, blurted out your name and rank to them. Though fortunately, you are not a very high-ranking soldier being only a lieutenant, but nevertheless it was a negligent act to reveal such information to them." Huode glanced over at his injured men, "So I will be taking back any who are not fit to continue, and will give Admiral Akumah the full report of what happened tonight."
Lieutenant Shu had remained surprisingly composed throughout the General's words. He shook his head, "You do that General Huode. And while you are leaving I will lead the few men who are fit so we can actually complete our mission, rather than just return home with a gashed arm and a bruised ego, as you are."
Huode allowed the Lieutenant's comments to pass for a few seconds, watching him turn away and walk back to the others. "Lieutenant Shu, I should let you know that it pays for me to have good will with my men. But there will come a time when your bruised and battered body will be sprawled upon the ground, and your hand will reach towards me to save you. But no aid shall come for I have only ill will towards you."
Laughing before turning back, Shu stared at the General, "General Huode, there will come a time where I will outrank you, stripping you of your rank and position as Foreign Affairs Minister as well, and all you will be left with is," Shu smirked, "You're good will for your men you were once in charge of."
The Lieutenant marched back to the other men, some of them tending to the wounds of their comrades. They had only lost two men from the attack, though Shu would only be pressing on with less than ten men from the original twenty-five who left from Utadano.
You do that, Shu. Keep climbing this ladder to the top of the building. Maybe when you reach the top, you'll finally realize how futile it is to climb a collapsing building.
It took Onartok and Saskha nearly an hour of waterbending to propel their transport to safety. There were many wounded soldiers, and although they had not given chase the travelers from Manirak had thought it best to keep a good distance ahead of them. After they reached a small crevice in one of the rocky hills, Saskha sunk the platform back into the ground. Taking a few steps forward, the female waterbender wiped her brow before collapsing into the snow, moaning slightly. Onartok too took a moment to recover what little strength he had left, though slowly got up and walked towards the crevice in the mountain.
"It's not over yet," He spoke in an exhausted voice, his eyes nearly falling shut from tiredness.
Miki got up from the soft snow on the ground, shielding her face from the winds which had picked up, "What do you mean?"
The councilman turned back to the injured girl, "It seems that even with our best efforts the storm will still beat us to the mountain," He answered while pointing into the distance. The clear night sky had become shrouded in thundering clouds, smeared and drifting all over the black sky. Howling winds blew past, their sound almost like wolves wailing to the full moon. "But, this may work into our favor after all; these soldiers will not dare venture into such weather, so this will keep them off our tails for the time being."
"But how will we survive the storm?" Miki limped over while holding onto her pal.
"We build tunnels underground, and wait the storm out."
Saskha groaned again as she realized that her abilities would be need as well. It was a tough decision because they had decided to press on towards these mountains because they believed they could climb the range before the storm hit, though now they would have to wait it out underground. Still, they all knew there were not many options for them anyway, and perhaps waiting the storm out would work in their favor.
After half an hour, the two waterbenders had successfully carved a narrow passageway into the mountain side. It was a simple straight tunnel, though veered to the left slightly to avoid a rock which had become part of the right wall. To enter their temporary home, one would have to almost crawl on hands and knees before reaching the end, which housed Ulva and his pack. Two 'cabins' were also carved from leading tunnels from the main one, and in these rooms the occupants were able to stand upright. Saskha continued to extend her sleeping quarters, seeing as she would have to share them with her sister. Almost like an earthbender, Saskha cupped her hands together with her palms facing forwards, thrusting them ahead to force the snow back. The room was an odd shape, to accommodate for the rock which they could not bend, though all in all it was a solid effort from two waterbenders who had used all their energy to create it.
Miki brought in a few sticks, lighting them with the spark rocks to serve as torches in the hallways and rooms. She didn't mind terribly that they would be spending at least a day in here, if not more, though it worried her how far it would set them back in their mission. It had already been three days now since they left Manirak, and it would certainly take many more to reach the Western Air Temple.
Knowing that they would be spending the next day completely underground, the four travelers went topside to get their last breath of fresh air. Huddled around a fire and shielded by large snow walls, Saskha began tending to all their wounds. First up was Ulva, who lay on his side. He whimpered every so often, though Miki ran her hands through his fur, particularly around his ears and face. Saskha could see that the slice along his stomach was not deep, though it would require time to heal even after she tried to guide his healing process. Coating both hands in water, Saskha gently pressed them onto Ulva's side.
With a bandaged ankle, Miki comforted her best friend. Her wounds were also quite severe; she had been struck twice with throwing hammers, weapons designed to kill and not simply injure opponents. She had been lucky to escape alive, though her wounds brought about waves of agony.
Onartok did not have as painful injuries as the others, and was happy to wait his turn to be healed. He took to making a sea prune stew over a fire, the smoke trailing into the sky before being swept away by the winds.
"Onartok, do you think the fire is... Safe to have lit?" Miki questioned the councilman. She still remembered only two days ago Onartok had put out their fire after an angry rant about how it would give away their position.
The councilman smiled a little, "I suppose we did earn it tonight. And this storm should keep our pursuers at bay for a while."
"Speaking of which," Saskha turned back while holding her hands on Ulva's belly, "Why do you think they were here? I mean, they said they were patrolling though could Utadano really spare that many soldiers for such a trivial task?"
"It makes me wonder if the Northern Earth Kingdom is actually winning its war with the south." Both the sisters turned back to Onartok with slightly puzzled faces. The councilman handed Miki a bowl of stew as he elaborated, "If they have soldiers to spare to protect their other borders from rebellious cities who have not joined them yet, than perhaps it is not as necessary for these soldiers to be on the front lines of the Earth Kingdom war."
"Regardless of whether they have enough soldiers to spare, it does seem a little bold for them to question us and threaten to take us to Jiangcheng." Miki replied after she swallowed a mouthful of stew. Onartok was surprisingly quite a good cook, the sweet taste of the prunes mixing well with whatever sharp and tantalizing herbs the councilman had added to the liquid.
Onartok nodded slowly, "Indeed, it does seem rather rash of them. And they weren't even a simple scouting party; that one soldier identified himself as Lieutenant Shu of the United Army of the Northern Empire. It's strange that Utadano's army would attack us given they have just given their proposal to our village."
Saskha and Miki nodded to themselves. All three of them took a moment to think about what Utadano's reasons were for attacking them, trying to unravel the mystery behind it. Saskha also took a few mouthfuls of soup before tending to Ulva again, who was already looking a lot better than before.
Setting his empty bowl on the snow next to him, Onartok paused to look at both of Keiro's daughters near him. "Miki I..."
The girl looked up towards Onartok, "Yeah?"
"I just wanted to thank you for what you did back at the canyon. I... I was falling to my death, and you used the very powers I feared to save me. Even after everything that's happened between us so far."
"Councilman Onartok, I just did what anyone would do. Saskha was trying to save you too with her waterbending. I just got to you first."
Onartok smiled a little, "It was much more than that Miki. Even after all the things I've done to you both; ignoring you and pushing you too hard, you still chose to save me. Even when I took the anger I felt towards your father out on you, you still chose to save me. Thank you, I am in debt to you."
Miki smiled in reply, "It's alright, you would have done the same for me." She took another spoonful of stew, the warm liquid soothing her stomach. Her thoughts drifted back to her father, since Onartok had mentioned their animosity towards each other. The more Miki thought about it, she actually didn't know why they didn't like each other. "Onartok, why did you not get along with our father?"
Even Saskha turned around to Miki's question. The councilman refilled his bowl with stew, though sighed loudly before answering, "I wouldn't want to speak ill of your father, not so soon after his passing."
"It's alright, I... Just want to know more about him I suppose," Miki confessed.
Onartok turned to face the girls, taking his time as if he were planning his words carefully. "We did once get along quite fine, me and Keiro. Buniq and I traveled from the Northern Water Tribe as did he and your mother, since me and your father had been given an offer to serve on the council of Manirak. We were in the same boat – literally." He chuckled lightly after he finished.
"Well, for as long as I can remember you two haven't gotten along." Saskha joined in.
"That's because our grievances between each other began soon after you were born, though even more so after your mother passed away." Both the sisters quickly turned to the councilman, prompting him to expand, "I am sure your father loved you very much, though he was also an extremely ungrateful man."
"Hey," Saskha shot the councilman a glare.
Onartok shook his head slightly, "I... I'm sorry, I should have worded it differently. It's just, he always wished he had a son. A baby boy, who he could teach all he knew about waterbending and hunting as he grew older. And as I said, I know he loved you very much, but he would always share with the others on the council how badly his desires were for a son. They clouded his vision so he could not see what was in front of him."
"What do you mean?" Miki questioned.
"He was so obsessed with having a son that he failed to see at times that he already had two beautiful daughters already. It shouldn't matter that he wouldn't be able to teach either of you waterbending, yet after your mother's death he went to great lengths to be able to teach you waterbending Saskha," He motioned in her direction, "Even to the point of practically begging Chief Iluliaq, just so he could entertain this fantasy of his."
"It wasn't like that!" Saskha yelled from where she sat. "Father taught me waterbending and hunting because he wanted to, because I wanted to, not because he wished he had had a son."
"I know, he did teach you these things because you both wanted to," Onartok admitted, not wanting to anger the sisters further. He sighed before continuing, "But you never heard him when he was around the other councilmen. He would always tell us how much he wanted a son, and was envious of the other councilmen who did have sons." Onartok laughed to himself, "I suppose I wasn't much better with my own jealousy."
"I take it though our father's desire to have a son wasn't the thing that drove you two apart?" Miki asked.
Onartok hung his head low, not answering the question right away. Miki and Saskha could tell that this was a touchy subject for the councilman, and he probably felt a little uneasy sharing such personal details with two people he hardly knew. "My wife Buniq and I had been trying for a baby for many years. But... It seemed that the spirits would not grant us such a joy." The councilman nearly shed a tear after he had spoken. "So hopefully you can at least appreciate why your father was so ungrateful and frustrating in my sight. I would have given anything to at least have a child, boy or girl, bender or not, healer or not. It didn't matter to me who they were, I just wanted my wife to have the joy of being a mother, and my own joy of being a father, both of us raising a child in the likeness of ourselves yet letting the world shape them and grow them into their own person. Yet your father still had the nerve to rub it in my face that I would never be a parent by complaining that he would never have a son and how his life was somehow incomplete. It made me resent him all the more."
The councilman finally looked up at the girls, his eyes watery though no tears fell from them. "But the final wedge driven between us was when I brought up whether or not Keiro should be removed from the council. It would be a lie to say it wasn't personal, or that I didn't let my anger towards him cloud my judgement. But it would also be a lie to say that my only reasons for bringing the notion up were because of the animosity between us. Manirak needed good, sober-minded leaders, and while you father had done much for us and his village the majority of us councilmen thought it would be best if her were not on the council since he had developed his problem with alcohol. Your father never forgave me."
Saskha took her hands from Ulva, having done as much as she could for now. "So is that why you didn't want to be around us? Because we reminded you of our father and how he annoyed you?"
"The way I have acted towards you was wrong, and for that I apologize," The councilman didn't nod or directly answer Saskha's question, though the sisters gathered that what Saskha had said was correct. "You both share qualities of your father, though none of you are actually him, so my distance and rudeness towards you was misguided. And I suppose looking back, it was also unfair of me to place blame on your father as well, just because I was having my own difficulties. Though I hope at least now you will be able to see why I have acted the way I have."
There was a moment of silence before anyone spoke again. All three of the members here had learnt from their conversation. After a few seconds of silence, Miki looked back to the councilman, "Onartok, I'm sure you and Buniq would have made great parents."
It took a while for Miki's words to sink in, though once they did Onartok beamed for a few moments, his eyes and smile conveying the gratitude he felt from her comment. He turned to the distance once again, as if to gather his thoughts, "Miki, many in the tribe fear you because of your power. They believe that you have been possessed by some malevolent spirit, and I once thought the same." He looked back into Miki's eyes, "But from what I have seen and felt today, I know that your heart is pure. Both of you have displayed such courage and selflessness to be out here, and I couldn't have made it without you."
"I suppose we did get off to a rocky start," Saskha mentioned while she began working on Miki's shoulder, "But perhaps it was for the best that we have each other. We may just be a great team yet." She grinned after her comment. All four of the travelers from Manirak took a moment to stare into the wilderness they had come from. Even after three days so much had happened, and although they all knew there was still a way to go, having worked out their differences had certainly benefited them as a group.
A few hours later, Miki made her way to the top of a hill near their underground home. Surprisingly, the storm had started heading to the southeast, leaving a small pocket of calm before the rest of the thundering weather made its way over them. Miki took this opportunity to gaze into the stars above, the other three having gone into the tunnels to prepare for bed. The howls of winds could still be heard, though for the most part the night was perfectly calm at the moment.
"Hey Mom and Dad," Miki began, her voice quiet yet relaxed. "It still feels strange to talk to you both, but somehow I feel like you both are watching from somewhere up there." She smiled to herself, thinking of all her memories of her two parents. Her mother and father had loved each other so much, and whenever they were together all they could do was hold each other, kiss or show affection in any other way they could.
"I've learnt more about you tonight Dad. I think you and Councilman Onartok might have actually gotten on quite well if you had just talked about things; Saskha and I seem to be alright with him now, though I suppose you're probably screaming from wherever you are now because we're getting along," She laughed to herself, though it was laced with sadness. She still missed her parents dearly, and was still trying to work through her own guilt about what happened and forgiving her father for what he had done. With this mission and all, emotions like grief were simply put away to be dealt with later, since all their attention had to be placed on how they were going to find the Avatar.
Miki looked back into the stars, "But I've also learnt so much about myself. I've learnt that my powers do not define me, and although I can use them for good what matters is my own heart, and whether I want to do good in any way I can." She took a moment to look down at her hands, the instruments she had tried to break and bruise in front of her father's grave. But they were the same tools she had used to save her mother, even for only a few weeks after the attack, and also save Ulva and now Onartok. "But I also want to know more about my powers; Junetsu gave me a book which has the location to a cave in there somewhere, a cave where an all-knowing spirit may be able to help be discover where my powers come from." She thought back to the book Junetsu had given her, the Book of Tutorik, a man who Junetsu claimed was her father.
"Though it's also more than that; I have a mission now to find the Avatar, and hopefully get them to help us in our situation. And I just hope that in all this that... I can make both of you proud of me. I have made so many mistakes already; I've doubted myself, blamed myself, and sometimes used my powers out of anger. But I know that I'm changing, growing into someone stronger and better. And I just hope you somehow get to see that." Miki took one last look at the stars as she stood up. Unlike the last time she had spoken aloud to her parents, Miki didn't cry this time. She missed her parents dearly, though the determination and confidence she felt now was enough to keep her tears at bay. Trekking through the snow back to their camp, Miki smiled to herself. She didn't know exactly how their mission would play out, but could only hope that whatever happened she would be able to do the right thing.
As mentioned before, this was meant to be part of chapter 17 but it just seemed way too long to be one chapter :P I'll be taking a wee break from SotN for a while, not because I'm stuck for ideas or lost motivation (I'm actually really excited to write the next few chapters so those airbending brothers from the title image can be introduced into the story :D ) but the break will give me time to work on the other 101 fanon ideas that I have. I promise it won't be for too long, maybe just a month or so.
I was also thinking of stopping the whole 'quote' thing at the start of each chapter. While it's been fun I've always felt it's a little cheesy, though let me know what you think and I might keep doing them, even if they are sometimes the hardest part of the chapter to write o__O Haha. But I hope you've enjoyed learning snippets of just who Tutorik and Avatar Furuki were, and more will be revealed (the next chapter is actually called 'Secrets of the Book', which may or may not have some more of Miki's book in it ;) ). Anyway, thank you for reading and I look forward to writing some more chapters after the break ^^".
|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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