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|A War Between Tribes|
July 23, 2012
Chapter 1: A War Between Tribes
Gyatso awoke, surrounded by mist and trees. This isn't the air temple, Gyatso thought for a moment. Then he remembered the tragedy he had borne witness to. I must find Roku. As if by magic, Roku and Fang descended before Gyatso at that very moment.
"Roku!" cried Gyatso. "The temple was destroyed! I was the last one! The People! We have to help the others! We must find survivors! We must help! We must..." Roku placed a hand on Gyatso's shoulder.
"I'm sorry Gyatso. Anything we could have done is too late now. There is no help left to be given. And there is no one left to receive it."
"But, there must be survivors! Jangmu! Chogyal! Any of the temples! Someone must have escaped!"
"There is no one at the temples except Fire Nation soldiers. Maybe a few escaped. I don't know. The Fire Nation probably already is trying to track them down. But someone wise I knew once told me we must not concern ourselves with what was, but we must act on what is."
"But, an entire nation is gone. Could there not be even one survivor?" Then, in nearly a whisper, "Aang?"
"Gyatso, I know how close you are to him – us – and he might still be alive, I haven't seen him here, but even if he is he'd be the last airbender. There could not have been other survivors." They both stood for a while, gazing across the vast plain. Then Roku broke the silence.
"Come. Let me introduce you to my past lives."
The Hall of the Avatar
Gyatso gazed down the long hallway. On either end were endless rows of chairs. Very few of them seemed to be occupied.
"This is the Hall of the Avatar," explained Roku. "Each of the Avatars has their own place in the hall. Earth and Air sit on the right, Fire and Water on the left. As you can see most Avatars are off in all corners of the Spirit World with friends and family. Normally, only a few are here at any one time. We have meetings on the solstices, but generally they're just ceremonial."
"How far back does it stretch?" asked Gyatso.
"Miles. There have been many thousands of Avatars since the beginning of bending. The Spirit itself is even older than the human Avatars."
"So if you walked a few miles down, you could speak with the very first Avatar?"
"On the winter solstice perhaps, but like most Avatars, he's almost never there. Come, take a seat. There's a visitor chair over there. Gyatso, I'd like you to meet Avatar Kyoshi, my immediate predecessor."
"A pleasure," said Kyoshi, who didn't sound pleased at all.
"Just the same to you," replied Gyatso, with just the slightest hint of sarcasm.
"And this is Avatar Yangchen, three Avatars before me," Roku said, Gesturing to the Air Nomad woman sitting next to Kyoshi.
"We've heard about the attack on the temples," Yangchen started, "I can't believe the Fire Nation would do such a thing. The last time there was an attack on the Air Nomads was in Kyoshi's era, right?"
"No," replied Kyoshi, "That honor would have to go to Roku."
"Hey, I was still learning airbending and I was the one being attacked. What did you expect me to do?" retorted Roku.
"Calm down everyone," said Gyatso. "We shouldn't get into an argument over this."
"What happened during Roku's era?" asked Yangchen.
"Please," said Roku, "If every time we meet you keep asking me what happened at some point in my life I might as well just tell you the whole thing beginning to end."
"Well, why not?" inquired Yangchen, "Your old friend is here to help tell it, and I'm sure Kyoshi would be overjoyed to hear it." Kyoshi, who did not seem to be overjoyed at anything, just sat silently in her chair.
"Come on," continued Yangchen, "What harm would it do? It's not like we're really pressed for time or anything, and it might help us understand our situation."
"How would story time help us in this situation?" Kyoshi asked sarcastically.
"History is always useful," replied Yangchen.
"But it happened nearly four hundred years after you died!" complained Kyoshi.
"Well," Gyatso chimed in, "It would be nice to have something to take our minds off this war."
"I don't think talking about a different war would help us," responded Kyoshi.
"No, Gyatso's right," stated Roku, "It would be better to have something else to think about."
"Great!" said Yangchen, "Let's get started."
"I'd have to start with the game of airball, where I was completely creaming Gyatso," Roku began.
"As I recall," Gyatso interrupted, "I was beating you five to three."
Southern Air temple, 65 BG
"Ha ha!" Roku shouted, "Roku three, Gyatso zero!" Roku moved his hands around in a circle.
"That's not fair!" retorted Gyatso, "You were using firebending to block all the goals. I would have scored five goals if you didn't cheat!" Gyatso held up the charred ball.
"Being the Avatar isn't cheating," Roku replied.
"It isn't cheating if you only use airbending."
"Yeah, yeah. Let's just keep playing."
"I'm sorry," someone interrupted, "But we need the airball field for emergency purposes."
"What?" asked a surprised Roku. "What emergency?"
"We have a ship full of refugees, some of whom are wounded. We're setting up temporary housing on the field," the monk continued. "The poles on the field are elevated above the ground so the tents won't be flooded by rain."
"Well," said Gyatso, "Guess that means we have to go help."
"Right you are," said the monk. "Go unload the ship's first aid supplies."
The Base of the Mountain
Alkenara stepped off the ship with the rest of her crewmates. They had had a rough time getting to the temple. With the Northern Water Tribe ship chasing them, they had no choice but to dock and escape. After all, they were just merchants trying to trade with Omashu. They had no armaments of any sort to defend with.
"Need a hand with that?" Gyatso called to her.
"No. Just because I'm a woman doesn't mean I need a hand," Alkenara sneered.
"I'm not asking because you're a woman," Gyatso replied. "I'm asking because you've still got half a ship to unload and certainly no one can do that by themselves. Now hand me a bag of seal jerky."
"Here," said Alkenara as she tossed him a bag. She hoisted her bag onto the back of the bison and headed back toward the hold to grab another.
"So you're the Avatar huh?" Alkenara asked Roku.
"Yeah," he replied, "Watch this!" Roku leapt up into the air on a wind funnel and created a flaming spiral around it.
"Pretty neat huh? I've been working on this combined move for weeks. Once I learn waterbending I'm planning on adding a fountain and for earth I'm –"
"Okay, I get it," Alkenara said. "You're the Avatar and you can do awesome stuff with bending. Now can I get something to eat around here? I haven't eaten all day. "
"I got some moon peach pie in the oven," Gyatso started, "But sometimes they come out a little burnt."
"Can I have some pie?" Roku asked.
"Yeah, sure," Gyatso replied as he went to the kitchens.
"So what happened this morning that brought you to the temple?" Roku asked Alkenara.
"You know about Kanalok right?" Alkenara asked Roku.
"Yeah, he's some guy in the Northern tribe who's trying to get everyone mad about losing the Earth States War," Roku replied.
"Well he's taken it upon himself to attack merchant ships from the Southern Water Tribe and press them into service for his continuing fight against Ba Sing Se. We think he was trying to take our ship like some of the others. Your temple was the nearest inhabited coast."
"I see. You're sure you lost them right?"
"I think so."
"So then what are those on the horizon?"
Alkenara looked where Roku was pointing. "I think you're just seeing things."
Gyatso walked back. "Hey everybody, I got pie! Say, what are those on the horizon?"
"See! I told you!" Roku exclaimed.
"It's probably just a low cloud," Alkenara said, not sounding too convinced of herself.
"Yeah," Roku replied, "but we'd better warn the elders just in case."
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