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Legend of Shin
March 30, 2014
"Rise and shine sleepy head," Rin whispered quietly into the corner room.
"Urggh! Wake me up in five minutes..." moaned Shin as he pulled his blanket over his head.
"Fine! But you're gonna be late for school," Rin teased, as she peeked into Shin's room.
The Great Battle had just come to an end. The war lasted fifty long years and was deemed the most violent period ever to be remembered in Earth Kingdom history. Nearly half the population had fallen and many of its cities perished. Sparked by a lingering conflict between the two leading provinces of the empire: The Chow province and Lin Province, the Earth Kingdom fell into an age of despair and chaos. Previously, the kingdom was separated equally into two halves; each province individually governing ten cities, as the settlers of the land knew one leading power proved too difficult to control an entire nation. Tensions grew between the two powers and eventually the two provinces were determined to empower one another in battle. The Chow province was to become victorious.
"You said 5 minutes! It's already been 10!" Roared Rin as she stormed into his room stripping his blanket away from him, finally losing her patience.
"Fine..." yawned Shin, lazily rubbing his eyes.
Shin slowly changed his clothes into his school uniform. It was a dark green colour, with hints of bright yellow around the edges of his sleeves. A large coin was pasted in the middle; the symbol of earth bending.
Shin walked out of his room, noticing Rin had left a piece of earth bread on a plate. He grabbed it and said a word of thanks to Rin before leaving for school.
"You better not get in any trouble this time!" shouted Rin. Shin ignored her, slamming the front door shut. Sighing, she picked up her broom and continued to sweep.
The wind blew heavily as Shin hastily made his way towards school. The ground was rocky and uneven, distorted by the relentless earth-bending battles between the provinces. The Earth temples were now in ruin and the once plentiful rice paddies were plagued with mountains of rock. Flyers with the infamous Chow province generals printed on them, scattered over the landscape, carried by strong gusts of wind. Earth Kingdom soldiers walked by Shin, amassed in large groups, wearing the conventional Earth Kingdom green steel-plated armor and thick straw hats.
"Can you believe we were posted all the way here in the Lin province? I can't stand being around these filthy people. This village is poor and deserves to rot," a soldier snorted to the other.
Shin turned back to face the soldiers: "How dare you say that about my village, take it back or you're gonna regret it!" he shouted, as he prepared his fighting stance.
"HAHHAAH! What are you gonna do about it, you little runt? I suggest you walk along before you get hurt," laughed the soldier, which in turn caused the whole pack of soldiers to roar laughing.
Shin's face grew red-hot, he clenched his fists tightly and darted towards the soldier.
"Leave this trouble-maker to me," smirked the soldier.
The soldier spread his two feet on the ground and raised his hands. Thick rock walls arose from the ground one by one getting in Shin's way, as he sprinted towards the soldier. Carefully choosing his steps, Shin predicted where each wall would appear and dodged it with ease.
"Looks like we have a fast one here men!" laughed the soldier, as he put his hands together into a tight fist. He slammed the ground, causing the earth below him to tremor and break, forming a pit. Having recognised this technique, Shin immediately stopped just inches away from the trench in front of him and made his way around it. Losing his temper, the soldier raised his hand and from the ground, he pulled a rock into the air. Groaning, he clenched his fists, breaking the rock into small pieces and aiming his palm at Shin, the small shards of stone flew towards him.
Shin dodged the first wave of rocks, but before he had a chance to avoid the others, the stones struck him. Shin spun in the air and fell to the floor. The soldier, spread his arms and raised his right leg in the air, causing the earth below to mould into a rock prison, binding Shin's body, leaving only his head above the rock. He could not move. Resisting, he tried to break free, but it proved too difficult.
Surprised, the soldier jeered, "What on Earth Kingdom are you thinking? You're a non-bender going up against a bender! You stand no chance!" Shin looked down ashamed.
"Might as well take this trouble maker to school, where I'm sure he will be rightfully punished."
"I am so sorry for the inconvenience my student has caused you" apologised Ms. Siew, as the soldier pushed Shin into his desk.
"As long, as he gets the punishment he deserves."
"Yes, I will make sure he does," Ms. Siew said sternly, staring straight at Shin. The soldier gave a nod and left the room.
"Shin I have told you countless times to not get involved with the soldiers. Even if what they are doing seems cruel, you stand no chance against them. Let alone you are not even a bender. The Lin province had just fallen and here you are stirring up even more commotion. Do you want to this province look even more shameful?" lectured Ms. Siew, as Shin stared blankly down at his table.
"What I did was right," he mumbled, still looking down.
Blowing a puff of air, Ms. Siew, combed her hair with her hand and sighed "Whatever I say you would probably not listen anyway. Class, turn to page 23 in your text books."
The afternoon bell rang, notifying the teacher's that it was time for earth bending training. The children headed straight out of the class rooms, excited and noisy, ready for some earth bending after a long lecture about Earth Kingdom politics. Shin dragged his feet out of class, knowing that he was going to be teased again.
"Earthbending is a way of life. Never forget it children. Our ancestors built up our kingdom with earthbending. All the buildings and walls of this city were forged from the earth bending skills we have developed and helped evolve since the beginnings of this ancient art. We use it to defend ourselves and without it, we would be not be where we are today. Everyone in our kingdom is blessed with such power and to not harness it would be a waste."
With that last line, Shin turned away. He knew he was the only child in the village unable to earth bend. Ever since he was young, Shin was unable to move the tiniest of pebbles. He was ridiculed by his class mates for being unable to earth bend and most importantly his inability brought shame to his family. Shin never knew his parents. His father died in battle before Shin was born, but he had heard stories that his father was a master earth bender, able to even move whole villages with his bending. Soon after, his mother fell ill and passed away when Shin was only a baby, leaving his elder sister to raise him on her own.
"Come on! Ms. Siew wants us to pair up and practice," said Tang, as she tugged on Shin's sleeves. Tang was Shin's only friend in the class and she was known for her expert earth bending which was already better than many of the children years ahead of her.
"Feel the earth below you. Feel the movements beneath the ground .You are connected to the land. Listen to it. You have control!" Tang with closed eyes, lifted a boulder from the ground. Shin was surprised by how large it was and carefully watched as Tang projected it at a nearby tree. The boulder spun fast and hard colliding with the tree, ripping it into shreds. Bark sprayed out into the field, falling on all the students.
"What did I say about using too much power Tang!" scolded Ms. Siew as she shielded herself from the falling wooden pieces.
"Sorry, Ms. Siew."
"It's fine. Just remember. Control."
"Understood Ms. Siew! It's your turn now Shin!" Shin proceeded to where Tang was standing. He heard the echoes of Tang's voice in his head, reminding him to feel the earth and to control it. Concentrating all his energy, he raised his hands, but nothing happened. The other children in the class began to laugh. Disheartened, Shin silently walked away from Tang.
"Come back! Give it another try Shin!" yelled Tang.
"It's never gonna happen, Tang! I'm a failure to the village! No matter how much I try I will never be able to earth bend. Stop telling me to keep trying because it won't happen, I've been trying my whole life and I can't move the smallest stones! I'm not like you and the others who can move these massive boulders with such ease! Leave me alone!" cried Shin, running into the forest behind the school.
"I'm so sorry Shin. Come back!" pleaded Tang. But Shin had already disappeared from their sight.
"It's alright Tang. It's not your fault. He just needs some time alone," explained Ms. Siew.
"Shin is not back yet, perhaps he might have gotten hurt or lost?" Tang worriedly asked.
"You should go find him, he must have not strayed too far away. If you are unable to find him, you will report back to me immediately," demanded Ms. Siew. "Remember to leave before the sun sets!" she reminded Tang, as she scurried into the forest.
Tang was deep in the forest. Yelling Shin's name, she could hear the eerie echo of her now raspy voice resonating around the thick trees, almost as if there was another person replying back to her. The forest was rumored to be filled with spirits and it was unsafe for anyone to enter after dark, let alone a young girl. After some time, Tang grew tired and sleepy. The sun was setting and she knew it was time to head back to tell Ms. Siew that she was unsuccessful with her search. She found a nearby river and cupping her hands, she drank small sips of water. Suddenly she heard a voice behind her.
"Little Girl, where are you from?" the voice hissed, behind a shroud of leaves coming from the bushes near the river. Tang was speechless. She could not tell whether it was man or spirit. The voice had a strange accent, one she had never come across before. A slurred tone that sounded sinister, yet calm all at the same time. "I won't bite" the voice chuckled.
Tang, took small steps backwards petrified with fear. Her legs violently shook and sweat trickled down her forehead, blurring her fixated eyes on the bushes behind her. "GO AWAY!" she shrieked, throwing boulders recklessly into the bush, hoping she could scare the voice away.
"Watch where you are throwing those rocks! I've heard what your people are capable of. The power to control the earth. It is truly marvellous." Tang was almost certain the being behind the voice was smiling. She steadied her feet on the floor, and concentrated hard on the bush. She slammed her fists on the floor hard, creating a large rock pinnacle erect beneath the bush, protruding into the sky and piercing straight through the bush.
"Silly girl" laughed the voice from behind her, coming from the river. Turning around, a wave of water shot straight at her, knocking her off her feet. Suddenly, two whips of water lashed out at her, tightly grabbing her arms. Tang's vision was still a blur, but she knew she was against a man, not a spirit. Unable to use her hands, she smashed her feet on the ground. A boulder flew in front of her and with this, she kicked as hard as she could at the person. The man propelled out of the water almost as if he used it as a jet to send him flying into the sky, dodging the rock bullet. "Got to watch out for those legs too." The man moved his hands in a fluid motion, conjuring more whips of water that wrapped Tang's feet securely. She could not earth bend.
"Shame, I have to do this to such a pretty girl. You were a tough fight too, for such a sweet thing" exclaimed the man, as he got closer to her.
"Who are you? How are you able to control water? What do you want with me?" Tang shouted. She realized his skin was dark, darker than anyone else is in the village. He was a fully grown adult and wore his long hair in braids
"Easy with the questions. Didn't you know there were others? People who could control different elements. I am a waterbender," he explained. Tang was speechless. No one in the Lin province has ever come across another bender before, no one thought it was possible. "Anyway, I'm here to find an earth bender to bring back to my Water Tribe. The elders are curious in their ways and asked me bring one back."
"Let me go!" screamed Tang, struggling to break free.
"You're not going anywhere," the man whispered, running his hands down her long black hair.
"Get away from her!" yelled a voice behind them. Tang recognized it immediately. "Shin. Get help. Don't bother fighting him, he's too powerful. He can control water," her voice stuttering.
"By the time I get help, you would be long gone!" He shouted back at her.
"Oh! A lover's quarrel. Sure brings back memories," the man laughed. "Let me get rid of your boyfriend, before he causes any trouble." The man pushed Tang down, freezing her onto a nearby tree.
Shin ran fast at him. The man dipped his arms into the lake, creating a large torrent of water spurting from his arms. He rammed the whips of water at Shin. Shin skilfully dodged them, knowing one direct hit would be knock him unconscious. The man then gracefully drew some water in his hands and swirled it around him, creating a ring of water that surrounded his body. Spinning the ring faster, he released the pressure causing the ring, to expand slicing everything around it. Shin bent backwards, just missing the ring of water that would have cut right through him. Finally reaching the man, Shin threw a punch but the man blocked it easily. "You are fast, but weak," the man panted. Drawing water from the lake, he froze Shin's body. It reminded him of his situation with the earth soldier, where he was rendered helpless, just like this.
"I thought right. So you can't bend after all. That's why you were dodging all my attacks! How did you think you could possibly save your friend?" He roared laughing. "This day gets even more bizarre!"
Shin knew this was the end. Tang was going to be taken away. His only friend in the village. What would his dad think of him? He couldn't even protect his own friends. Shin looked at Tang. She was looking down. Her long hair, falling over her face, covering her expression. He knew she was crying. The man leaned towards Shin. "Looks like you have nothing in you. Weakling." That was it. Roaring as loud as he could, a breath of fire exploded from Shin's mouth, fireworks of red and blue flames surged into the air, burning the waterbender's face.
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